'10 Years 10 Days' · brain chat · MCRmy · My Chemical Romance (get a category)

In which my Killjoy jacket went on an adventure to Milton Keynes

Hello darlings,

Two posts in a week? Is it 2011? Perhaps perhaps. I tap this out on a train back to Uni City, with The Raven Boys propped in front of me, and when I’m not falling asleep sitting up (quite the ability if you ask me) I am thinking about how grateful I am for all the music and books and creations I get to consume. I’ve slept maybe 8 hours in two or three days, because I’m doing an online writing course taught from the USA, and the first class was the day before/day of MCRMK. So I went from thinking about establishing the mood and tone of a series at 2am to dancing my feet off with twenty thousand odd other people really quickly. And as I haul my arse across England back to uni, in that hangover-esque fug you get from continual interrupted sleep, I’m just thinking about how grateful I am to live in a world at the same time as My Chemical Romance, in the same week of a new MCR tour, and new Måneskin and Hayley Kiyoko singles, and the new Umbrella Academy trailer. How mad is it that we get to be alive at the same time all these people are bringing out new work. 

Maybe this is the acceptable reaction to 11 years between MCR shows, when MCR was in the past tense for 7 of those years. I remember people saying, ‘Fake Your Death means they’ll be back one day!’ and I thought, ‘That sounds like bullshit,’ because the cardinal rule of creating is that you stop when it’s not fun anymore. I made my peace, eventually, with past tense MCR. I never expected a return, much less live shows, much less new material. So I’m here for a dance and a laugh and I’m never going to assume there will be a next time. Also, last time I saw Chem live, I was a barely-sentient child. I had more stamina then, and didn’t have to stop moshing partway through a song in case one of my knees gave out, but I’m more Francesca-shaped now. Spikier, but more solid round the edges. The sad songs mean more now. The angry-determined songs mean more now, and they meant a lot last time. Side effect of life for most of us, I guess? More years on the clock, more people to think of during a song about dying. The dirty jokes are funnier now, too, obviously. I keep remembering that not everyone’s lucky enough to bookend whole chunks of life with live shows from one band. How strange and wonderful to get to do that.

I took a few photos – no spoilers, I promise – but no video whatsoever. I realised yesterday I don’t need to film a clip of a show, because I’m not interested in retaining visuals or audio. I never rewatch videos because it’s not about looking at a version of what I saw. I’m interested in remembering how I felt. The mood and the tone, ha! They’re harder to lose, aren’t they, feelings, because even as you settle back into the averages of everyday life, you never know when you will stumble into a new experience and think, ‘this feels like Blah,’ even if Blah has nothing obviously in common with this new experience. There’s something deep in your brain that recognises the link between the two, and there you are feeling again.

MCR show feelings have only ever happened at MCR shows which is probably why I’ve been in a bad mood since 2013, It’s sort of like seeing your family you don’t see very often, and having a loud party. At the same time as going to the gym wearing a lot of jewellery. And tearing up a bit because everyone likes the set list and everyone’s there with their own lil MCR stories and experiences and what are the odds of all of you all being in the same room, right now, after however many years away? 

It’s also sort of not like that. It’s like… I don’t know. When you come home after a long day and put your slippers on. Oh, by the way, the Killjoy jacket survived and thrived! Very grateful for pockets that can fit entire bottles. I have some not-bathroom pictures, but I don’t like to share photos of my friends on here these days, so you’ll just have to assume a) I have friends and b) we took pictures together. Anyway, yeah, smudged eyeliner and a jacket that smells like Milton Keynes:

Francesca throwing a peace sign in a mirror selfie
Why the pink background blurring? Well, one because I don’t like to share other people’s bathrooms. Or my own, come to that. You never know when you’re accidentally showing the world a medical prescription or awkward cream. And two because there’s a bit of pink MCR merch I nearly bought and may still buy, so, yeah.

No spoilers if you have a show ahead of you, but you’ll like it. Don’t leave til the house lights come on. If your life changed so much in the last couple of years that you can’t go, I was thinking of you yesterday. I was thinking of everyone who couldn’t go because they’re not here anymore, too. I like to think I enjoyed myself enough for all of us. I hope I did, because that’s sort of the point, isn’t it.

Stadium MK just before My Chemical Romance's set, 19th May 2022.

Look after yourselves and if you get to see this tour, tell me your thoughts!

Francesca


Want to support this blog and/or enjoy exclusive access to stories and chatter from me? Join the No. 1 Reader’s Club on Patreon! Alternatively, use the button below for one-off support of as much or as little as you’d like (if you’d prefer, you can use PayPal or Ko-fi). If you’re into fairy tales and/or want a brief respite from reality, you can also buy my bookThe Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes, from most ebook retailers and as a paperback from Amazon. (That link’s an affiliate. Gotta scrape every penny from Bezos, you know?)

(All Hail) Creation · Colour · My Chemical Romance (get a category) · The No. 1 Readers' Club

Making a Killjoy Jacket Part Three

It’s been almost 18 months since I last posted about customising my jacket? What is time?! Anyway, it’s nearly done. For the purposes of Thursday’s spiritual experience Milton Keynes show, it is done. I want to add one or two more things, but we’ll get to that.

So, here and here are where I talk about finding a plain-ish, second hand, cigarette-y jacket back in… 2019. I don’t think MCR had even returned, I think I just liked the look of the thing… Anyway, in 2020 I added an Aglionby Academy patch, my Fun Ghoul patch (purchased circa 2012 haha) and the lovely Little But Fierce rose. I’m still pleased about how well the colours match with one another and the khaki. And this weekend I got more pleased, because…

khaki jacket with various patches including Aglionby Academy, Fun Ghoul, Little But Fierce and pink bees.

PINK BEES.

Look how lovely they are! They’re from Batwalk. I’ve had my eye on them for months. Bees are great, they remind me of The Raven Cycle and summer and, you know, a working planet. All motifs I am happy to carry around.

I originally thought they might go on the back of the jacket, because I had a plan for a VERY LARGE patch which, upon measurement, would not fit. So I thought a couple of little bees might work well with some added floral patches? To be honest, I’d wanted to do bees and the VERY LARGE patch, but when I got the tape measure out it was a bit crowded. So I bought the bees and realised they’d look great on the empty front pocket and on the sleeve, covering the slightly-discoloured area where there was an original patch. I suppose it’s the rest of the jacket that’s slightly discoloured? Hmm. Anyway, I was going to sew MCR’s 2001-2013 mourning band on the sleeve, but I a) forgot to bring it to University City and b) it’s huge. Aimed at a large manly arm. I have teeny wee arms. So we’ll re-evaluate what I do with that… one day.

So, the bees went on. Look at them! Love a bee. Thing is, though, a day or so after I purchased them, I realised I was fixating on the LARGE PATCH. I’d also had my eye on it for months. I liked it a lot. I couldn’t commit to anything else, and when you’re going for a slightly hippie-goth look, really liked your original idea and have a budget of twelve pence, you don’t have a lot of choice. So I went back to Batwalk… and purchased:

khaki jacket with a black and white crystal-ball-and-hands back patch.

It’s huge. I love it. It’s also not as big as I thought! I iron-sewed it to the bottom of the jacket to avoid the hood covering it, and there’s enough space left below the hood for… something. I don’t know what, and I won’t find it between now and Thursday, so ideas on a postcard please! Something at the top might make the crystal ball look less wonky, too – it’s not actually wonky, I measured out the layout and the bottom of the patch is centred, but the hands and eye effect are a little dizzying. Hmmmm. We’ll see. The current design is not overtly MCR-themed, but if you get it, you get it. The jacket’s got great pockets too. Look at me, wearing the thing (thank you to T for taking a photo and proving I exist).

short lady with dark hair, wearing a black dress and patch-covered khaki jacket
Remind me to catch some sun this summer. Also I might hem this dress. What do you think?

So, here we are: one Danger Days-inspired jacket, eleven years after it was cool… but weirdly in time to be cool in a more general, strange alternative style way, going by the reactions to Foundations of Decay. I have had a lot of conversations recently in which being an MCR fan has elevated me in people’s estimations. Someone wrote a Guardian article the other day about MCR’s cultural significance. There’s a less-than-grudging mainstream respect for these weirdos now. I guess if you’re odd for long enough, eventually you become cool.

I’m off to prepare for Thursday. Need to rest my voice and do some preparatory stretches. Oh, while I’m here: commissions are open through end of May. Come and join us at the No. 1 Readers’ Club! And if you see me at Stadium MK, say hi.

Look after yourselves,

Francesca


Want to support this blog and/or enjoy exclusive access to stories and chatter from me? Join the No. 1 Reader’s Club on Patreon! Alternatively, use the button below for one-off support of as much or as little as you’d like (if you’d prefer, you can use PayPal or Ko-fi). If you’re into fairy tales and/or want a brief respite from reality, you can also buy my bookThe Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes, from most ebook retailers and as a paperback from Amazon. (That link’s an affiliate. Gotta scrape every penny from Bezos, you know?)

(All Hail) Creation · My Chemical Romance (get a category)

Making a Killjoy Jacket Part Two

I was under the impression I’d already done a sequel to this post, but I’ve clearly made far less progress on my killjoy jacket than I thought I had. The MCR show I’m making it for is meant to be in June, but I’m pretty sure it won’t happen. Part of me wants another year to get fit enough to dance for 90 minutes and decide what I’m going to put on the back of the jacket, even without the ongoing worry of Covid and vaccinations and which tier I’m in (I can’t remember, I’m assuming it’s a bad one).

Anyway, the jacket. It needs a back piece! I could sew on a large patch or I could stencil something? I’m not good enough an artist to freehand it. There are some nice larger patch designs available online that I might save up for. BUT THAT IS FOR ANOTHER DAY. Here is the progress I’d made in June, adding an Aglionby Academy patch and a Fun Ghoul patch:

dark green New Look jacket with My Chemical Romance patch and The Raven Cycle patch

Here is the progress I’ve made since June:

Yes, it’s only one pocket patch. It is a very large patch, though. Shout out to Jayne at Tickle and Thread on Folksy for being so helpful when I Instagram messaged her about restocking the design I was after! I’m so pleased with the contrasting yellow/khaki colours. It’s also matchy matchy with the Fun Ghoul patch. I’m not sure what will go on the other pocket. Maybe something else book-inspired, or maybe something tarot-y. I’ve seen some lovely little designs inspired by Greek mythology. Hmmm.

In the mean time, I have a conundrum regarding something I already know I want to add:

This quite large mourning band came with… a CD. Presumably May Death Never Stop You? I can’t remember. Obviously it would go perfectly on the left jacket sleeve, which is where mourning bands traditionally go unless the internet has lied to me (what a thought). It would now of course be delightfully ironic.

Had I purchased it, though, I’d have bought one that fit my arm instead of the arm of the Average Man, which I think is who this one is designed for. My initial plan was to stitch it around the arm of the jacket, but it’s so big! Should I cut it shorter to sew it on? Or sew on the design part of the patch first and then wrap the rest of the fabric to fit?

Sewers of the universe, lend me your opinions. I definitely have a while to decide how to do it, but it’s nice to have little goals in lockdown… once I’ve proceeded with whatever I choose, I’ll take another full photo. I might even – but don’t quote me – be in the picture, wearing the jacket. We’ll see what my hair’s doing then.

Look after yourselves!

Francesca


Want to support this blog and/or enjoy exclusive access to stories and chatter from me? Join the No. 1 Reader’s Club on Patreon! Or we could just get coffee? If you’re into fairy tales and/or want a brief respite from reality, you can also buy my bookThe Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes, from most ebook retailers.

Music · My Chemical Romance (get a category) · September 2016 · Videos

Heart Palpitations on One, Two-

It’s been another week, Francesca. Where have you been, Francesca.

On a first aid course, that’s where. Now I know what angina is, and why the recovery position is important (do not let your drunk friends fall asleep on their back or front if they haven’t puked yet). I’ve also been writing, which is more draining than I had remembered. I need a short nap every five hundred words.

Anyway. Remember this?

My order has arrived.

I’m not ready.

I can’t believe it’s been ten years since I first heard Welcome to the Black Parade.

There’s a flag in my bedroom and I might remove a wardrobe to make room for it.

I might have to put myself in the recovery position if the music hurts.

July 2016 · My Chemical Romance (get a category) · Videos

And we thought the year was fucked when David Bowie died

206 YOU HAVE REDEEMED YOURSELF.

June 2015 · Music · My Chemical Romance (get a category) · Photogenius

So ‘Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge’ is Old Enough to Go to Hogwarts

On Saturday I started a wonderful post about summer sunshine and light evenings and then… I went outside and enjoyed the summer sunshine and light evening, and forgot to write more than a few sentences. I think we all know I made the right decision for everyone involved.

So it’s someone’s birthday today…

Revenge

I can’t believe I was listening to this thing when I was 13 and never even considered it to be a dark record… I just thought it had lovely imagery and was a lot of fun to dance to – don’t get me wrong I can still bop to ‘Thank You for the Venom’ with the best of them – but sometimes now I consider that there are songs like ‘Thank You for the Venom’ and wonder what life would have been like if I’d only listened to the Jonas Brothers.

Existential questions, eh. My gut feeling is that I’d probably have a desk job and far less understanding of why it’s important that men wear eyeliner. The whole album still as fresh, as the kids (might) say, as it was when I first got it circa 2008… funny, back then I felt like MCR’s stuff had been knocking around forever. I probably should admit that I still can’t remember the song titles properly – I tell anyone who’ll listen that my favourite band was clever enough to write a song called ‘It’s Not a Fashion Statement, It’s a Fucking Deathwish’ but I put the record on shuffle and have to check what’s playing. Not because the titles are overly long and theatrical but because I pretty much just let it melt into one and imagine I was separated from my significant other in a gun fight and made a deal with the devil to get back to them.

And that is how every good record should be.

DISCUSS. · March 2015 · MCRmy · Music · My Chemical Romance (get a category)

Graffiti on Graves

I don’t know if you guys share my morbid fascination with dates, but if you do then this is the post for you! It’s also the post for you if you like My Chemical Romance because it’s been two entire years since that day. There’s been some things I’ve wanted to talk about for a while, and now is as good a time as any. I’m going to use the five stages of grief because it was like getting dumped over the Internet the experiences of ending a relationship, bereavement and having your favourite band end are weirdly similar, and I think I can finally talk about My Chem (relatively) objectively, without wanting to cry or throw things.

Denial

After reading the announcement on the computer (the first hint I got was a lot of activity on my phone notifications) I think I wanted to puke for a couple of days, either from denial or shock. Then I read Gerard’s letter, cried a bit and I think I accepted it as reality. I am very aware that a lot of people on the Internet are still in denial – there was a spate of rumours last week, because the MCR website moved hosts and somehow streamed information about a Bruno Mars show. Then it was put on Tumblr and hey, MCR was back together! It made sense because it was near the second anniversary, and Gerard’s letter was very cryptic and they’ve attended each other’s shows recently and the breakup didn’t make sense and-

You get the drift. If anyone reading this is still at that stage, maybe because you didn’t get to attend a show or only got into them recently: I am very sorry that you missed out, but that doesn’t make you any less of a fan. It doesn’t invalidate your love of the music. It’s totally okay that you’re only getting into MCR now. I’m late to the Monty Python party by about 30 years. It doesn’t mean I’m any less into the parrot sketch.

Anger

There’s only one aspect of the breakup that has really angered me over the past couple of years, and I’m still not sure if I’ve recovered, but I’m not angry at MCR because it wasn’t in any way their fault. A big part of something being over is that it gives you the freedom to talk about it in a way you couldn’t when it was still around. Just as you can discuss aspects of a person’s life after they’re gone that you wouldn’t bring up while they’re still living, the MCR guys can be honest about what being in MCR was like. It was almost harder to hear than the end of MCR.

When I was first getting into the band, there was five years’ worth of interviews, videos and media to pour over, and it was pretty clear that The Black Parade and its touring cycle was bleak. What had been a rock opera about life and death which pushed the boundaries of modern rock became bastardised, twisted by ignorance into something unrecognisable. MCR was ‘the voice of a generation’ but the generation either loved it or beat up kids for being part of it. MCR was a suicide cult, a bastion of rock, an expression of everything right/wrong with the 21st century… everyone was glad when it was over. I kept up with the news from about 2008, and as time went by we learnt that the next record MCR made wasn’t good enough for release so it was shelved, re-imagined and transformed into Danger Days, which was exactly what MCR wanted to be making. It was everything art should be: unapologetic, the opposite from what you’ve just made and incredibly polarizing.

Except it wasn’t.

In the flurry of press that’s accompanied Hesitant Alien, G has talked a lot about how the band did not enjoy the recording nor the touring process, that the concept was very intense and the effort forced. It hurt to hear, partly because it always hurts to hear that someone you love who you thought was having a good time was not having a good time… and it hurt because during Danger Days I had the best time. I went to shows with my friends (and from our side of the stage it was a fucking party), I dressed up in stupid clothes, I absorbed all things Danger Days and decided that artistically, that was how I would work. Now I am an artist (well, I work in the arts) and I try to stick to those values. So learning, years later, that for MCR Danger Days was the opposite of what it taught me to be pissed me off. I don’t love the music any less, but I really, really wish I’d known when I was 15 that everything was not as it was portrayed in Kerrang!.

Can’t think why I’m reluctant to go into journalism.

Seemed pertinent. From  justkeepyourselfalive.tumblr.com
Seemed pertinent. From justkeepyourselfalive.tumblr.com

Bargaining

I do not know if this is something I’ve experienced, but I think other people might have. I’m not interested in offering up my soul, or money, to get the band back together. I don’t want to hear MCR songs played by the guys on solo tours, because that’s not MCR. I do not want to listen to a band that’s trying to be MCR, whether copycat or tribute. MCR only worked because it was those guys on that stage playing those songs. Anyone else, as far as I’m concerned, can fuck off.

Reluctance to get the band back together may in part be to the guys’ willingness to be open and generous with their time – Gerard’s Twitters, Frank’s insistence that he’ll meet everyone at a show, their continued kindness to the MCRmy. The end of MCR was not easy for anybody involved with it and they’ve been generous enough to make it easier. The guys who formed MCR are alive and continuing to make excellent music. The music itself is not going anywhere and I am grateful beyond words that it exists. The MCRmy is the same group of smart, friendly misfits it was when I first found it. I dunno about Tumblr, but I’ll take that over an actual death any day.

Depression

I must say I had a big problem with music magazines for a lot of 2013. I didn’t really go in music shops or watch music channels, and I couldn’t listen to live recordings because the hardest part to come to terms with was that there will never be another show. Then I went to #revenge10 and I don’t know if it was an inadvertent equivalent of a support group, but they had live recordings playing all day and it felt really normal. I suspect that’s because I was hanging out with other MCR fans and reaffirming my belief that we are the nicest group of people on the planet – plus that weekend I read Tom Bryant’s book, and reading MCR’s history from an objective viewpoint helped get some perspective and, I guess, closure.

Acceptance

MCR is done. Completely. I will never go to another show or spend an evening on a YouTube listening party. I’ll never have heart palpitations ordering show tickets again. I don’t think I want to, for two reasons. The first is that if you love someone, you want them to be happy. As hard as relationships are to end, or death is to cope with, if it means you aren’t in a bad relationship or someone you love isn’t in pain, it’s the right thing. Plus now we have solo albums to rock out to alongside MCR albums.

The second reason is that most bands get back together a few years down the line, either to top up their bank account or to assuage the onset of middle age with a trip down memory lane. MCR is not most bands. It has a start date and an end date and during those 12 years it was exactly what the world needed. Time will tell if the music stays relevant and in my incredibly not humble opinion I think it will, because good music is like good wine and there will always be people who need to hear those records and interviews and recordings. They’ll just hear them in the context of their time and circumstances.

Maybe they guys will play together again as friends – I have a daydream they’ll be in a blues and jazz band together in New Jersey when they’re 65 – but My Chemical Romance is finished.

I think I’m okay with that. Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to go rock out to my favourite band and send my friends pictures of us at the shows we went to.

Complaints · DISCUSS. · Internet · March 2015 · My Chemical Romance (get a category) · Social Media

International Women’s Day ft. Men

Happy International Women’s Day! I spent ages looking for a GIF of Mary Elizabeth from Perks of Being a Wallflower saying “thanks for the crumb” but I couldn’t find one, so I’ve decided to not be too cynical… apart from to say “thanks for the crumb, we’ll go back to not existing for the next 364 days!”

Wait, I’ve changed my mind. I just glanced through the #HappyWomensDay tag on Twitter and Christ almighty, there are things to say.

This is an MCR reference that's actually relevant (well it had to happen sometime). from sunshinethekatt.tumblr.com
This is an MCR reference that’s actually relevant (well it had to happen sometime). From sunshinethekatt.tumblr.com

I almost wrote a blog yesterday about Selma and MLK’s I Have a Dream speech, but it felt contrived partly because I hadn’t done a lot of research but mostly because I haven’t been on the receiving end of racism to the point where I feel qualified to write about it. And that feels weird, because if, as a women, I read an article by a man which thoughtfully and carefully discussed women’s rights and sexism, I’d be delighted.

I recently stopped calling gay rights ‘LGBT rights’ and started saying ‘civil rights’ instead, because civil rights are people rights, and we are all people… right? At the risk of sounding like Tumblr, we all have something that makes us less-than citizens in the eyes of the law and society – unless we’re incredibly wealthy, straight, white men who have been highly educated. But that doesn’t mean wealthy, straight, white men who are highly educated can’t be just as passionate about civil rights as everyone else. Maybe they have a direct link with a minority group through their family or friends, or maybe they just have the capacity for empathy. Some of my favourite civil rights rants and gestures have been by the MCR guys – remember Frank’s homophobia is gay t-shirt? Or when Gerard did that Q&A and talked about gender fluidity?

I’ll probably end up writing something about MLK or Selma, but not until I’ve got the time to make it a decent piece of work. I’ll still get really nervous, though, that black people are will say “fucking white girl has no idea what she’s on about and just made things worse.” I don’t want to step on toes, I want to show that we are all people who deserve the exact same rights and treatment regardless of the characteristics we can’t control.

I’m going to stop talking before I ramble my way into a hole. Does any of this make sense to you guys? I mean, I’m definitely more eloquent than those people on Twitter, but it wasn’t hard…