18 years ago today, My Chemical Romance released their debut record ‘I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love’. Little did they know when they dropped this scrappy little number that they would be building the foundations of an empire. To celebrate let’s take a look back on the album that started it all.
New Jersey, 2001. A storm was brewing unlike anything that had come before.
Deriving their name from Irvine Welsh’s novel ‘Ecstasy: Three Tales Of Chemical Romance', My Chemical Romance was formed by vocalist Gerard Way and drummer Matt Pelissier with Ray Toro joining not long after as guitarist.
The earliest recordings of that band can be found on the so called ‘Attic Demos’, a chaotic and, at times, near unlistenable handful of scrappy, melodic punk rock tracks that despite their budget appearance were unlike anything else anyone was producing.
Like an alley fight between AFI, Alkaline Trio and The Misfits, the band sounded hungry, ambitious and, more than anything, brimming with ideas.
The momentum was there. It was time for a debut album.
Recruiting Frank Iero as an addition guitarist from punk band Pencey Prep, Gerard’s brother Mikey as bassist after him admitting to liking the demo and sticking Thursday’s Geoff Rickly behind the mixing production desk, ‘I Brought You My Bullets…’ started to take shape.
The album was recorded and produced just three months after the band had formed. The inspiration pulsing through their demo recordings was still very fresh, which reflected in the imagery that the album’s tracks took on.
Horror is a theme that flows through ‘I Brought You My Bullets...’. ‘Vampires Will Never Hurt You’ is very clearly based around one of the princes of darkness, whilst ‘Our Lady Of Sorrows’ and ‘Headfirst For Halos’ contain plenty of blood-chilling lyricism drawn straight from the depths of hell.
The whole record feels like the audio equivalent of being trapped in a basement with just a single light bulb swaying side-to-side above you; terrifyingly real but also impossible to ignore.
Musically, ‘I Brought You My Bullets…’ is a far stretch from the rest of MCR’s career. Scrappy, angry, discomforting and utterly unique, the band was on a completely different wavelength even at this early stage of their time in the limelight. Darting between melodic highs and screamo influenced lows whilst tying everything together with rampant riffs and dread-filled bass lines, it’s the sound of a band creating a sound of their very own which no-one has since been able to replicate.
Though scrappy wasn’t the only string in their bow. ‘Early Sunsets Over Monroeville’ and ‘Demolition Lovers’ show off tenderness and vulnerability in equally affecting measures. Put together, it equates to a band that knew that they were on to something special. Showing off every skill in their arsenal in one swift 41-minute burst, this was MCR introducing themselves to the world in the most brilliantly twisted way they could.
The rest they say is history. The band was picked up by Reprise Records and released their sophomore breakthrough ‘Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge’ in 2004. Then they released ‘The Black Parade’ in 2006 and became the biggest band in the whole entire world.
Yet the spirit of ‘I Brought You My Bullets…’ lived on through the band at every turn. Their infatuation with darkness and mortality. The discomforting atmospheres that they adored so much. The layer upon layer of invention and intensity that could be found in every three minute masterpiece. The band may have had their big break later on, but without their debut none of it would have been possible.