We were sitting on a balcony overlooking Milan at the time, because the music industry was absurd back then and would fly you to places like that to interview people like him.“I think the world is ready for spectacle, for something big,” he said excitedly.I’ve never witnessed such intense fandom, before or since.Still, the resolutely black-clad supporters seemed skeptical of their beloved band’s slow progression into the light.Most of all, they were performers, using light humor and heavy makeup to celebrate the majesty and ridiculousness of first feelings: love, death, the pain of piercings both literal and otherwise. Rock critics have long fallen back on superhero mythology to describe musicians; it’s a handy way to add grandeur to what tend to be fairly rote backstories, bending boring arcs of rehab and redemption into the Hero’s Journey, all in a quest to avoid quoting the drummer.They ganked attitude and artifice from Bowie and Queen, stole moves from the ’70s campfest , and dueted with Liza Minnelli. But My Chemical Romance was the first group I covered that actually used that mythology for themselves.Regardless of how I wanted to put things down, they just came.
In that, they were just part of a great tradition of hardworking, self-made dreamers to emerge from the swamps of New Jersey, a wallet chain that stretches from Springsteen to Snooki.
(Gerard later told me that bender was the inspiration for a song called “You Know What They Do to Guys Like Us in Prison,” which featured the lyric “do you have the keys to the hotel?
/ ’cause I’m gonna string this motherfucker on fire.”) Onstage, assuming they were able to stumble up to it, the pair were complementary as well: two stringy suburban weirdos peddling punk uplift bruised and blackened with mascara and talk of murder.
“We’re all about being the escape artists, throwing the fuckin’ straitjackets on, covering ourselves with chains and having somebody push us in the river.
And then trying to get out of that,” a bleached-blond, clean-and-sober Gerard told me in 2006.
He flashed and strutted, naturally assuming the role of dangerous front man whether he had a mic in his hand or not.