How Gerard Way Punched Up His Vocals on My Chemical Romance's Debut
A new book reveals a strange trick that elicited some of the strongest vocals on My Chemical Romance's debut album.
Dan Ozzi's Sellout: The Major-Label Feeding Frenzy That Swept Punk, Emo, and Hardcore (1994–2007) tells the story of a dozen alternative bands as they crossed over from independent success to major-label hype. A colorful segment on My Chemical Romance's early days was excerpted in Rolling Stone and tells a crazy anecdote about how frontman Gerard Way - listless and in pain after some emergency dental surgery - found his sound during the recording of debut album I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love.
“He had a terrible earache and this pain in his head,” co-producer Alex Saavedra recounted in the book. “We couldn’t figure out what was going on with him. The dude was really in major pain, but...we kept bringing him to the ER and they were like, ‘There’s nothing wrong with you!’"
Even after the surgery was completed, Saavedra and producer Geoff Rickly (best known as the frontman of Thursday) found Gerard's vocal takes listless. So Saavedra, after taking Way's pain pills away, took matters into his own hands - literally. "I punched him in the face," he said. "In hindsight, it was very jockish, but at the time it made sense. I think the masochist in him really enjoyed it. It definitely hurt, but it amped him up. It was a different kind of pain. He slayed that vocal take right after that.”
Within months of the album's release, My Chem would be punching above their weight class as openers for Jimmy Eat World. Today, they're one of the most beloved alt-rock bands of their generation.