Whatever Happened To My Chemical Romance?

My Chemical Romance dominated the American rock scene during the mid-2000s. Releasing four albums during its 12-year tenure, the New Jersey band was best known for its epic 2006 concept album The Black Parade. But in 2013, the emo outfit shocked fans when lead vocalist Gerard Way, lead guitarist Ray Toro, rhythm guitarist Frank Iero, and bassist Mikey Way decided to split. What have these rock stars been up to? Let's find out.

Why did they break up?

My Chemical Romance announced its disbanding in March 2013 with a brief note on its website. "Being in this band for the past 12 years has been a true blessing," the group said. "We've shared the stage with people we admire, people we look up to, and best of all, our friends. And now, like all great things, it has come time for it to end."

Fans wondered why the "Welcome to the Black Parade" rockers abruptly called it quits, and they got their answer a few days later—well, sort of. 

"The triggerman is unimportant. There wasn't even a blaze of glory in a hail of bullets," Gerard wrote on his Twitlonger page. "My Chemical Romance is done. But it can never die. It is alive in me, in the guys, and it is alive inside all of you. I always knew that, and I think you did too. Because it is not a band—it is an idea."

"It was time," Gerard said during an interview on BBC Radio 1 in 2014 (via NME). "I think because it was so special and it was such an amazing thing...to keep going and let it rust out on the rails? That was not the way that band was supposed to go out... I think we're all pretty upset. It wasn't an easy thing to come to. It was sad, because it wasn't a situation where anybody hated each other. It was nobody's fault."

Ray Toro went solo

Ray Toro took time to find his own voice after MCR split, releasing a string of songs independently via Soundcloud. Tracks included the pop-rock tune "Isn't That Something" and "For the Lost and the Brave," a tribute to transgender teen Leelah Alcorn, who tragically died by suicide in 2014.

"I'm excited about the unexpected," Toro told Alt Press in 2015, while in the midst of recording his album. "The band was great because we all came from different backgrounds and different personalities. The question then was 'Okay, what can these guys make together?' Now it's about, 'Okay, what else is going on inside the head of this one personality?' There might be expectations, but I'm out to shatter them."

The finished product, Remember the Laughter, was released in November 2016. "I couldn't be happier to get the record in your hands and in your ears, and the response from you all has truly blown me away," Toro wrote to his fans on his website. "I really hope these songs become a part of your lives, as they have become a part of mine."

Frank Iero turned to punk

Frank Iero's first post-MCR endeavor came in 2014 with the release of Stomachaches, a solo punk album under the moniker frnkiero andthe cellabration. 

"It's a very intimate, revealing record," he told Radio.com at the time, explaining that the songs were inspired by his chronic digestive issues and recorded in a makeshift studio in his basement. Iero played every instrument on the album, apart from drums, which were handled by Alexander, the former MCR drummer.

"I wrote the songs and recorded them kinda just for myself, for my own sanity, trying to forget about the way I felt physically," Iero said. "I'm proud of it but at the same time, while writing it and recording it, I never thought that anyone was going to hear it. You know I never edited myself." 

For all its rawness, the album was well-received, with All Music calling it  "passionate" and "slightly unruly."

In October 2016, Iero released his follow-up sophomore effort, Parachutes, under the guise of Frank Iero and the Patience. The reformed band included his brother-in-law, Evan Nestor, on guitar, Steve Evetts on bass, and Matt Olsson on drums. It peaked at No. 26 on the Billboard Top Rock Albums chart and garnered favorable reviews.

Mikey Way formed Electric Century

When MCR parted ways, Mikey Way (Gerard's younger brother) teamed up with vocalist David Debiak of Sleep Station to form Electric Century in 2014. The electronic-inspired duo's self-titled EP came out a year later, following the release of its first single, "I Lied." The song earned a spot on the Alt Press "100 Bands You Need to Know" list, and the group's debut LP, For the Night to Control, debuted in 2016. 

As Mikey told Billboard in 2017, Electric Century's sound is heavily influenced by "Britpop, new wave." He said, "I always wanted to scratch that New Order itch. Since I was a teenager, I wanted to do my version of New Order." 

The group is still going strong. "Me and Dave are working on the second Electric Century record," Gerard told Billboard. "I could see us touring this, but I don't want to jinx it. The project has been around so long, but it's still new to us."

Gerard Way went solo

When Gerard struck out on his own, he opted for a slightly different sound on his solo debut than the emo-punk flair MCR fans had known and loved. 

"I have all these amazing Britpop records, and I have shoegaze records, but I don't have anything on the radio anymore," he told Rolling Stone in 2014. "So, the main objective was to change the landscape of music a bit. To kind of re-boot Britpop in America, see how that goes." 

The sonic shift on Hesitant Alien actually marked a return to Gerard's roots. "When I was in art school, I worshipped Britpop," the "No Shows" singer explained. "It's almost like this solo record is a re-education of what I was into before My Chem." When explaining the inspiration for his unique album title, he said, "My whole trip through music, I always felt hesitant, and I always felt like an alien." Gerard said he spent his MCR years "constantly rallying the outsiders" even though the band was "a really big machine" in the music industry.

Hesitant Alien sold moderately well, peaking at No. 16 on the Billboard 200. However, it received overwhelmingly positive reviews, topping the Alt Press "Ten Essential Albums of 2014" list. 

Iero was involved in a terrifying bus accident

Frank Iero and the Patience's international tour was cut short in October 2016 when Iero, Nestor, and band manager Paul Clegg were involved in a horrible accident in Sydney, Australia. While the trio was unloading its van before a gig, a public bus collided with the van. 

"Hi friends," Iero tweeted following the incident. "Thanks all for the well wishes. We're pretty banged up but miraculously alive and in stable condition. I'm still in a state of shock." 

The frontman opened up about the traumatic event in 2017. "The amount of HD-clarity that transpired in the next few moments is engraved in my memory," he told MTV News. "I can remember every second, every action, every sound." He continued, "I ended up underneath the bumper of this massive vehicle. From my vantage point, I could only see Evan, and I could hear Paul. I thought whoever I couldn't see or hear had to be dead, and if they weren't dead yet, then we all would be soon."

It's incredible to me that we're all still alive," he said. "No one that witnessed the accident thought that we would be."

Gerard shifted to comic book writing

Gerard's career took a surprising turn after the release of Hesitant Alien when he shifted his creative focus to comic book writing for DC in 2015, but he's no comic book newbie. According to The Guardian, Gerard began the non-DC series Umbrella Academy in 2007 under the publishing company Dark Horse, after completing his studies at the School of Visual Arts in New York. 

"I guess I've been a comics reader all my life," he told The Guardian in 2017, adding that he started writing comics at age 8. "I wanted to tell strange stories, stories that had heart." 

Gerard's experimental style has certainly worked in his favor. Umbrella Academy, a superhero saga set in an alternate 1970s universe, won him the coveted Eisner and Harvey awards and was picked up by Netflix. At the time of this writing, the Ellen Page-led show is scheduled for a 2018 release.

Toro started a family

2013 was a year of profound change for Toro. Following MCR's breakup, he and his wife, Christa, welcomed a son. 

"Having the band was such a huge part of my life but then I had something new introduced to my life," he told Team Rock in 2014. "The split was almost like a blessing in disguise because, without the band, I was able to be home and be a part of my son's life in a way that some of the other guys didn't get a chance to—they were touring when they had kids. I felt like it came at the right time—it's been great." He added, "It's nice to lay roots down rather than just work all the time."

Toro admitted that dealing with the breakup while preparing for fatherhood was a lot to handle. "It was definitely interesting!" he said. "But it was good because it was a way to channel energy, and it was really positive energy too. Having a kid is definitely stressful though—everything you do, you feel like you're f**king up." 

Gerard got sober

Though he'd been sober since 2004, Gerard struggled after the release of MCR's last album in 2010, Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys

"I relapsed, not into drugs but booze. I was self-medicating again to get through, and I'd forgotten how miserable that made me," the singer told NME in 2014. "It took me to the dark place again, but there was more at stake this time," he explained. "I started to face the hypothetical reality of [daughter] Bandit not having a father. I started taking that seriously, thinking, 'I want her to have a dad. A guy that's present. Because one way or another—either by death or by asylum, she's gonna be fatherless if I keep this up.'"

He faced a choice: "Break the band or break me." 

Fortunately, Gerard appears to be doing great now. "The last three years definitely feel like ten. In a much better place—happy, productive," he tweeted in 2016. "Of course I miss everyone. Thanks for the support."

Mikey went to rehab

Mikey has also struggled with addiction, and things came to a head after the band broke up. 

"Drug addicts are notorious liars and at the time, I was a notorious liar about my addiction, that I didn't have a problem," he told Billboard in 2017. "I was in denial for decades."

"The band ended, and I was going through a divorce at the same time. I do the most stressful things in clumps. The way I knew how to deal with that, through life, was to self-medicate so that's what I did," the bassist said. "The tail end of [My Chemical Romance] was so dark for me—I was in a fog."

As he continued to spiral, it was his new bandmate, Debiak, who finally staged an intervention. "I thought we were going to finish the album," Mikey said. "I woke up at Dave's house, we went for coffee and I said, 'When are we starting?' and he said, 'You're not here to record.'" Debiak reportedly drove him to a treatment facility.

"It was a relief," Mikey said. "It was something I put off for a very long time... For me to be me, sober, that was the true journey afterwards. When you get out of rehab, that's when the real sh*t starts."

Gerard opened up about his gender identity

In 2014, Gerard opened up about his fluid gender identity during a Reddit AMA. During the Q&A, a fan told him they figured out their own identity from watching the rocker's gender presentation both on stage and in MCR's music videos.

"I have always been extremely sensitive to those that have gender identity issues as I feel like I have gone through it as well, if even on a smaller scale," Gerard revealed. "I have always identified a fair amount with the female gender, and began at a certain point in MCR to express this through my look and performance style. So it's no surprise that all of my inspirations and style influences were pushing gender boundaries: Freddie Mercury, [David] Bowie, Iggy [Pop], early glam, T-Rex. Masculinity to me has always made me feel like it wasn't right for me."

Advocating on behalf of transgender and non-binary kids has become a staple at Gerard's live shows. "I support you so much," he told a crowd in 2015. "It takes a lot of courage; I know it takes a lot of courage. And it's really f**king hard, and I appreciate it. And I love to see you being you. If you have a friend who's transgender or non-binary and you're good to them, I love you."

Will My Chemical Romance ever reunite?

Everyone wants to know if My Chemical Romance will reunite. Please? Pretty please? 

The answer is a bit complicated.

"I wouldn't count [a reunion] out, but at the same time everybody's doing stuff in their lives now that they're really enjoying," Gerard told Billboard in June 2017. "In some ways I don't really miss it; It had gotten so big it was very unwieldy. It took a toll on my mental life and personal life. The thing I'm happiest about right now is everybody's relationships with each other are really strong. That's more important than anything else to me."

This seems to be the general consensus among the former bandmates. "Here and there I think we all probably miss making music together," Toro told NME in 2016, admitting that it feels "really good" to be missed. "But I think at the same time we're all very focused on our current projects."