Not the Life it Seems: the True Lives of My Chemical Romance

Let’s get this out of the way up front: yes, it does seem odd that someone has written a bio on a band that was around for just over a decade; and a band that is (rightfully or not) maligned for their connection to the watered-down nu-Emo genre (I actually think a lot of the criticism is misdirected as the band were closer to Glam than they were Emo). It’s also a little difficult to judge just how influential they are/will be as they have been disbanded for just over a year… All of that being said, if you’re willing to put prejudices and prejudgments aside, Not the Life it Seems manages to be a pretty compelling read.

The brothers Way (Gerard and Mikey) had a rough upbringing in New Jersey and sought art and music as a way to a better life. Much like the Smashing Pumpkins (an early, but important influence) their music was aimed at the angst and struggles of the average teenager and damn, their message was easily relatable to kids across the globe, helping them sell millions of albums and tons of merch, and in doing so, painting a big target on their backs by music writers everywhere. One of the most interesting sections of the book discussed the enormous controversy stirred up by right-wing London tabloids that tried to target emo, and My Chemical Romance, as a suicide cult.

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The writer, Tom Bryant, who has been covering the band since their first album, had great access to those surrounding the group, including guitarist Frank Iero, and as a result this is the most exhaustive examination into the band that grew from a small indie punk group to one of the biggest rock bands in the world (if only for a brief couple of years).

Not the Life it Seems: The True Lives of My Chemical Romans/Paperback/352 pages/Da Capo Press/2014

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