Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys

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Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys
Studio album by My Chemical Romance
Released November 22, 2010 (2010-11-22)
Recorded June 2009–July 2010
Calabasas, California[1]
Length 53:56
Label Reprise
Producer Rob Cavallo, My Chemical Romance
My Chemical Romance chronology
¡Venganza!
(2009)
Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys
(2010)
The Mad Gear and Missile Kid
(2010)
Singles from Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys
  1. "Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)"
    Released: September 28, 2010
  2. "The Only Hope for Me Is You"
    Released: October 11, 2010
  3. "Sing"
    Released: November 3, 2010
  4. "Planetary (Go!)"
    Released: March 25, 2011
  5. "Bulletproof Heart"
    Released: June 10, 2011
  6. "The Kids from Yesterday"
    Released: January 20, 2012

Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys is the fourth and final studio album by American alternative rock band My Chemical Romance. Like its predecessor, The Black Parade, the album was produced by Rob Cavallo and was released by Warner Music and Reprise Records on November 22, 2010.

The final edition of the album and its music videos are set in a fictional post-apocalyptic California in the year 2019 (resembling the film Blade Runner), in which a few outsiders dubbed 'Killjoys' are engaged in conflict with a nefarious corporation that seemingly controls the population.

The promotional tour for the album, The World Contamination Tour, lasted from October 2010 to February 2012 and saw concerts in Europe, America, Asia and Oceania. Danger Days topped the Billboard Rock Albums and Alternative Albums charts, and peaked at No. 8 in the overall Billboard 200 with 112,000 first week sales,[2] as well as appearing in charts in numerous other countries. As of February 2011, Danger Days has sold over one million copies worldwide.

Background[edit]

The album's concept is based around the lives of the "Killjoys", a group of rebellious rogues living in a post-apocalyptic California, in the year 2019 (a reference to the film Blade Runner). Promotional websites for the album reference the alleged 2012 doomsday prediction as a possible cause of the fictional catastrophe. Like many concept records, the band members are in character, in the case of this album, as their "Killjoy" alter-egos: "Party Poison" (Gerard Way), "Jet Star" (Ray Toro), "Fun Ghoul" (Frank Iero), and "Kobra Kid" (Mikey Way), which can be seen in the music videos for "Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)" and "Sing". The Killjoys are a group of outlaws who are fighting against the evil corporation Better Living Industries (BL/ind.) and its various "Draculoids" and exterminators, such as Korse (Grant Morrison), from the S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W Unit.[3] The character aliases were originally the names of their "designer" guns.[4] Their guide is a pirate radio DJ named Dr. Death Defying who is voiced by Steve Montano (also known by the stage name "Steve, Righ?" when performing with Mindless Self Indulgence[5]). Two of the album's music videos show a little girl known as The Girl (Grace Jeanette[6]) and Dr. Death Defying's sidekick 'Show Pony' (played by a performer known as Ricky Rebel[7]). '"Na Na Na" shows the Killjoys' daily lives until Korse defeats them and captures The Girl, while "Sing" shows the Killjoys' rescue mission to get her back.

The final track, "Vampire Money", was a reaction to the band being asked to do a song for the Twilight franchise. Gerard Way said that the reason the song was on the album was because "there’s a lot of people chasing that fucking money. ‘Twilight?’ A lot of people around us were like, ‘please, for the love of God, do this fucking movie.’ But we’d moved on."[8]

Production[edit]

Composition and recording[edit]

My Chemical Romance began writing material for their fourth album during The Black Parade World Tour, the promotional tour of their third album. At that time, they intended to create a more simple and stripped album, and claimed that they missed being a rock band. After finishing the tour in May 2008, the band took a break.

To define their plans for the fourth album, the band reunited in early 2009 at Mates Inc., a rehearsal room in Los Angeles. Vocalist Gerard Way said, "There was a set of songs that captured what I wanted to achieve: The Stooges, MC5, The Damned ..., whose style matched the material that the guitarist Frank Iero had composed." After a first phase composition, the quintet then presented him ten to thirteen songs with producer Brendan O'Brien (who previously worked with Pearl Jam, Mastodon and Bruce Springsteen, among others).

The recordings of the album were initiated on June 11, 2009, with Brendan O'Brien and mixing engineer Rich Costey. At the time, they were creating an album called Save Yourself, I'll Hold Them Back. The working title of the album eventually was used to name the ninth track on the disc. Later, the album title would be Conventional Weapons: We're No Match for Them. This was subsequently described by the magazine Alternative Press as "a case decidedly schizophrenic". The release also adds that "Save Yourself" sounded like a band in their umpteenth album, in which the obsession with the craft took precedence over form and promulgate an attitude, which is the very element that made the earlier work of MCR something intriguing to hear.

A few weeks after recording the songs, the group gave two concerts in Los Angeles and two in the festival Japanese Summer Sonic. These were three of the new songs they were working on, called "Kiss The Ring" (which was eventually a track on the compilation album Conventional Weapons), "The Drugs" and "Death Before Disco". According to guitarist Ray Toro, during that trip to Japan the band was listening to the songs they had recorded while traveling in a TGV and the vocalist Gerard Way felt that what had been recorded was not robust enough to form an album. Therefore, Way bought a notebook in China, which he filled with new ideas and lyrics. The group then returned to Henson Recording studio in Los Angeles to record ten more songs, which completed a record that Way defined as a reaction to their third album and as a protest against themselves and against music with vague messages. In late 2009, the band gave a preview of the album showing some songs to different media, among them were titles like "Trans Am" and "Still Alive". Jason Pettigrew of Alternative Press says of "Still Alive" as follows: "A chapter in the mythology of My Chem embodied in a song...This rocker with Britpop sound focuses on the legendary story of the band when a bottle of urine was thrown at them at the Reading Festival in the United Kingdom, from the point of view of throwing the bottle. In his letter included the following passages: "We came here to rough up everyone we see / Get off the stage and ask yourself: "Am I still alive?". "The Light Behind Your Eyes," according to Dan Martin of the magazine NME, is "a maudlin song." He also specifies that Gerard regrets to departed friends and channels a message to "live for today" in a song dedicated to his daughter. Alternative Press indicates that the issue is "an atmospheric track that would not sound out of place on a playlist between The Church and Talk Talk" and that, according to the lead singer, "We're looking for a style similar to the late period of Pink Floyd, around The Division Bell '. The magazine Spin found that these songs were influenced by bands like Judas Priest, Def Leppard and The Hives, in addition to those declared by My Chemical Romance.

Once twenty-eight had recorded songs, My Chemical Romance admitted their displeasure with the album they were doing; as declared, proved to be "a boring album that added nothing to the genre." Frank Iero commented: "I think we were totally frightened by the situation..., touring for two years straight, being misinterpreted and misunderstood. We had "Desolation Row" and thought maybe the key was to make hard and fast songs, and make a stripped rock album. So I think what you hear [in Save Yourself] is a band making an album they believe they want to do, but not sure why."

Consequently, while the previous tracks were still mixed, they decided to start again and record more songs. The first was "Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)", which was written by Gerard Way around January 2010 during a stay in the desert, and is described by him as an act of honesty about his feelings for the album that the band finally discarded. Along with "Na Na Na" the band wrote a song called "First Chance" would not be included in the album. Then, they wrote the songs "Vampire Money", "Planetary (GO!)" and "SING" among others. The last song recorded was "The Kids from Yesterday", which has been marked as a favorite by all group members. These sessions were conducted under the supervision of producer and friend of the group Rob Cavallo, in his own home studio. On this album, new resources were used for the band, such as the use of synthesizer & samples of battery and loops, what gave rise to songs that would represent a significant change from their third album. The final edition of Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, which would also include some songs from the first session, would be released on November 19, 2010.

Influences[edit]

The band has stated that the creation of the album was initially influenced by 'the spirit of bands like The Stooges or MC5". This then evolved to include a wider array of artists such as The Chemical Brothers, Primal Scream with their album XTRMNTR, Teenage Fanclub, Pulp, Manic Street Preachers, and the David Bowie album Diamond Dogs. My Chemical Romance has also stated that there is a significant influence of cinema on the album, with films like Blade Runner, A Clockwork Orange, The Warriors , Vanishing Point and Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back providing the futuristic elements that are seen throughout the album's concept. Note that the futuristic is in California in 2019, in the same place and year that the plot of Blade Runner takes place. Another influence have stated is that of Quentin Tarantino, as the soundtrack of his film Reservoir Dogs inspired the idea that the album was a DJ to introduce the songs. Also, Gerard Way commented that the album is heavily influenced by Japanese cartoon Akira, the director of the film Visitor Q Takashi Miike, and other filmmakers and Japanese cartoonists. Others have pointed out that the varied colors are an homage to Andy Warhol, being described as "a great disk of pop art in many aspects".

Musical and lyrical content[edit]

When asked about the album title in a November 2010 interview, frontman Gerard Way said that "Danger Days is what it takes to do something great. It refers to us, to the fans, for all we know and artists who helped shape the album".

Album logo (left) and The aftermath is secondary, one of the slogans used in the album (right).

The album and its music videos are set in California, in the context of a 2019 post-apocalyptic future. The theme is developed in Battery City, a fictional city where everything is easy and secure, and where people can erase their emotions through tablets. Outside the city is a dangerous desert, inhabited by a gang of strangers called Killjoys, who must contend and fight against the corporation, Better Living Industries. The band has stated that this is a metaphor for the things they went through to create the album, and a reaction to "eliminating the special things, eliminating art, and absorbing such low-risk culture as rock." The theme of the album has been compared to the 1970s films Vanishing Point and Mad Max and the disc also notices some elements similar to the concept album Kilroy Was Here from the U.S. group Styx. Ray Toro has said that for him, the message of the album is "about freedom [...] simply about being the person you've always wanted to be."

The characters played by the band are Party Poison, Jet Star, Fun Ghoul and Kobra Kid (corresponding to Gerard Way, Ray Toro, Frank Iero and Mikey Way respectively). There are also other allies, such as the radio host Dr. Death Defying. In addition, the social network Twitter user accounts were created for other characters from the album, as News A Go-Go and Tommy Chow Mein.

The magazine Rolling Stone says the frontman "dyed his hair fiery red, and he's pissed at everyone: junkies, party girls, Hollywood, and most of all himself, for getting so damn famous," and that Danger Days is a total rejection of the rock infladísimo celebrity. In the same vein, the song "Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)" presents a stand of criticism of consumerist culture of the United States. The magazine Chilango argues that "the letters of the album have elements of science fiction, horror and comics, which helps to create an atmosphere of pop culture that is heard along entire disk." Similarly, claims that the songs "Party Poison", "Vampire Money", and "Planetary (GO!) "show a new side of the band: a fun and partying, previously seen for a moment in the song "Teenagers".

The album is set in a fictional desert town of California.

This phrase also gave its name to the first track of the album, which consists of an introduction of a radio announcer. The name chosen for this presenter was Dr. Death Defying, a phrase that is described by Way as a summary of what the band is. About the first song on the album, "Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)", Dan Martin of NME said that "as creepy as it sounds, of things to be found here [in Danger Days], this is the closest thing to My Chemical Romance so far. The band has said that Jenny, one of the protagonists of "Bulletproof Heart", could be the Jenny of the song Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine, as a tribute to their countrymen The Killers. The quartet has indicated on the song "SING as follows: "The idea of Danger Days and especially that song is subversion, and to delve under the skin of certain individuals politically, socially, and also to reach national television to talk about how we feel about the world." The issue of "Planetary (GO!)", meanwhile, was inspired by the 1966 song "Paint It, Black" by The Rolling Stones. It is also the first time band wishes to create a dance song. Gerard Way has stated that in the intermediate track "Jet-Star and the Kobra Kid/Traffic Report", they wanted to create "two characters that feel like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid". The rock ballad "S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W" is, in the words of guitarist Ray Toro, a psychedelic song that "shows the artistic side of the band", and that they tried their best to make a song like "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" by The Beatles. The garage rock song "Vampire Money", the last track of the album, was created after the group refused to contribute to the soundtrack of the film New Moon of the Twilight series, whose main characters are vampires. Gerard Way said: "That's why this song is on our album, because there are many people taking that damn money." Spin said that "On Danger Days, My Chemical Romance appears as a muscular band exploring the intersection of risky glam of the seventies and the new wave of the eighties."

Promotion[edit]

Gerard Way in Montreal (Canada) during the tour Honda Civic Tour, in August 2011

The band posted a teaser trailer for the album on September 17, 2010 via their official YouTube account, entitled "Art Is the Weapon".[9] This was followed by the announcement of tour dates throughout Europe as part of the World Contamination Tour.[10] The album's first single "Na Na Na" premiered on air September 22, 2010 via WRFF in Philadelphia, Zane Lowe's radio show on BBC Radio 1, and KROQ-FM in Los Angeles.[11] It has also been announced that "Na Na Na" will be sung in Simlish in The Sims 3: Late Night, to be released October 26, 2010.[12] "Na, Na, Na" was also named the official theme song to Movie 43, the WWE PPV event, TLC: Tables, Ladders, & Chairs 2010.[13] The single for "The Only Hope for Me Is You" was released as a single on October 11, and it was also given as a free download to anyone who pre-ordered the album at the iTunes Store. On FOX show, Glee, the song "Sing" was performed. The song "Planetary (Go!)" featured as the lead song in Gran Turismo 5 and in the opening credits to the game (except for the Japanese version), on PS3 and was premiered live on October 23, 2010. "Planetary (Go!)" was also used in an advertisement for Super Bowl XLV. "The Kids From Yesterday" was also premiered live on October 23, 2010. Earlier in October, all four members of the band had a world exclusive interview with Kerrang! as a means of explaining Danger Days. "Save Yourself, I'll Hold Them Back" was released as a free download on the band's official website on 5 November 2010.[14] The album premiered on November 16, 2010 on the band's official website, hosted by Dr. Death Defying.[15] The songs "Na Na Na" and "Destroya" were also featured on the MTV show Teen Wolf. Sing was used in a promotional trailer for its Sky Living premiere.

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 70/100
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[16]
Alternative Press 4/5 stars[17]
The A.V. Club D−[18]
Entertainment Weekly B−[19]
Kerrang! 5/5 stars[20]
IGN (9/10)[21]
Melodic 4/5 stars[22]
NME (8/10)[23]
Rock Sound (8/10)[24]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars [25]
Spin (7/10)[26]
USA Today 3.5/4 stars[27]

Upon its release, Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys received generally positive reviews. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 70, based on 26 reviews, which indicates "Generally favorable reviews".[28]

Rock Sound received a preview of the album, commenting "the way they've used everything they learned on The Black Parade and tightened up in certain places feels natural and confident" and that it sees "the creativity of the band taking flight musically, graphically and literally."[29] Dan Martin of NME got the chance to preview the album and had equally positive reviews. He stated that "[t]his is the best rock record of the year by such a margin that you actually feel rather embarrassed for everybody else."[30] Alternative Press has reviewed the album, and comments, "It's truly hard to believe this is the same act who exploded onto the scene six years ago with the emo anthem, "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)"", as well as stating, "MCR have fully followed their own larger-than-life creative vision", with a rating of four stars.[17] Matt Heafy, frontman and guitarist of the metal band, Trivium, listed the album as the 4th best album of 2010.[31] Stephen Erelwine of Allmusic awarded the album four and a half stars out of five and said the band were "Swapping gothic pomp for metallic power pop..." and that "there’s no emo bloodletting but for most listeners it’s crystallized fun, the purest rush My Chemical Romance has ever delivered."[16]

Rock Sound later reviewed the album, saying that "If MCR were your favourite band in the past it might feel like it’s going to take some steady reappraisal before you ink their new logo on your rough book" and that "Danger Days simply sounds like they’re having way more fun than ever." with a rating of eight stars out of ten.[24] It was number 28 on Rolling Stone's list of the 30 Best Albums of 2010.[32]

Editions[edit]

Gerard Way at a concert in August 2011

In addition to the standard CD edition, the band also offered the California 2019 Edition exclusively through its official online store. The edition features the standard CD version of the album as well as an exclusive EP, The Mad Gear Missile Kid, a 48-page book entitled Art Is the Weapon, a wooden "bad luck beads" bracelet, one of four polyresin prop ray-guns and a matching mask housed in a white box adorned with a photo sleeve. Because of manufacturing problems involving the craftsmanship of the 'ray-guns', the packages were shipped later in the year in February 2011, with the pre-ordered CD and EP arriving on time at standard shipping speed.[33]

An iTunes deluxe version was also released featuring the song "We Don't Need Another Song About California" and the music video for "Na Na Na".

Tour[edit]

On September 19, 2010, the band announced "The World Contamination Tour", so far taking place in parts of the UK, France, Amsterdam and Germany.[34] This was followed by US radio dates in December before moving onto Japan, a full Europe tour, a US tour, European festivals and the Honda Civic Tour with Blink-182 in 2011.

Comic series[edit]

In 2009 Way announced his intent to create a comic series entitled The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys.[35] He later announced at the 2012 New York Comic Con that the series artwork would be done by Becky Cloonan and co-written with Shaun Simon, and that the first issue of the series would be released on June 6, 2013 with a preview of the book getting released on Free Comic Book Day.[36] Way commented that the series would serve as the "last part of the story" and as a "coming to age story about a young girl".[36][37]

Track listing[edit]

All songs written by Frank Iero, Ray Toro, Gerard Way and Mikey Way, except where noted.

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Look Alive, Sunshine"     0:29
2. "Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)"   Bob Bryar, Iero, Toro, G. Way, M. Way 3:25
3. "Bulletproof Heart"   Bryar, Iero, Toro, G. Way, M. Way 4:55
4. "Sing"     4:29
5. "Planetary (GO!)"     4:06
6. "The Only Hope for Me Is You"   Bryar, Iero, Toro, G. Way, M. Way 4:32
7. "Jet-Star and the Kobra Kid/Traffic Report"     0:26
8. "Party Poison"   Bryar, Iero, Toro, G. Way, M. Way 3:35
9. "Save Yourself, I'll Hold Them Back"   Bryar, Iero, Toro, G. Way, M. Way 3:49
10. "S/C/A/R/E/C/R/O/W"     4:27
11. "Summertime"     4:06
12. "DESTROYA"     4:32
13. "The Kids from Yesterday"     5:24
14. "Goodnite, Dr. Death"     1:58
15. "Vampire Money"     3:37
Total length:
53:56

The Mad Gear and Missile Kid[edit]

The Mad Gear and Missile Kid is an exclusive three-track EP by a fictional alter-ego band of the same name, and comes with the California 2019 special edition of the album.[33][38] Guitarist Frank Iero told MTV "It's basically what the Killjoys are listening to in the car as they're having those gun battles".[39]

Release history[edit]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2010) Peak
position
Australian Albums Chart[42] 10
Austrian Albums Chart[43][44] 15
Belgian Albums Chart (Flanders)[45] 79
Belgian Albums Chart (Wallonia)[46] 99
Canadian Albums Chart[47] 13
Dutch Albums Chart[43][48] 60
European Top 100 Albums[49] 18
Finnish Albums Chart[43][50] 9
French Albums Chart[43][51] 80
Greek Albums Chart[52] 32
German Albums Chart[43] 18
Irish Albums Chart[43] 14
Italian Albums Chart[53] 37
Japanese Albums Chart[54] 8
Mexican Albums Chart[55] 9
New Zealand Albums Chart[56] 4
Norwegian Albums Chart[43] 21
Polish Albums Chart[43] 46
Scottish Albums Chart[57] 13
Spanish Albums Chart[58] 31
Swedish Albums Chart[59] 34
Swiss Albums Chart[60] 25
Taiwanese Albums Chart[61] 5
UK Albums Chart[62] 14
U.S. Billboard 200[63] 8
U.S. Billboard Rock Albums[64] 1
U.S. Billboard Alternative Albums[65] 1
U.S. Billboard Digital Albums[66] 3
U.S. Billboard Tastemaker Albums Chart[67] 3
U.S. Billboard World Albums Chart[43] 7

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Ireland (IRMA)[68] Gold 7,500x
New Zealand (RMNZ)[69] Gold 7,500^
United Kingdom (BPI)[70] Gold 100,000^

Chart procession and succession[edit]

Preceded by
Born Free by Kid Rock
U.S. Billboard Rock Albums number-one album
December 11, 2010 – December 18, 2010
Succeeded by
Born Free by Kid Rock
Preceded by
What Separates Me from You by A Day to Remember
U.S. Billboard Alternative Albums number-one album
December 11, 2010 – December 18, 2010
Succeeded by
Sigh No More by Mumford & Sons

Personnel[edit]

Band
Additional
  • Rob Cavallo – producer, drums on "The Kids from Yesterday"
  • Dorian Crozier – drums on "Bulletproof Heart"
  • Airi Isoda as NewsAGoGo – vocals on "Party Poison"
  • John Miceli – Drums, Percussion (tracks 2, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, & 15)
  • Steven Montano (Steve, Righ?) as Dr. Death Defying – vocals on "Look Alive, Sunshine", "Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)," "Jet-Star and the Kobra Kid/Traffic Report", and "Goodnite, Dr. Death"
  • Jamie Muhoberackeyboards, sound design
  • Michael Pedicone – drums on The Mad Gear and Missile Kid EP
  • Jonathan Rivera – additional vocals on "Save Yourself, I'll Hold Them Back"
  • James Euringer (aka Little Jimmy Urine) - Additional Vocals on "Destroya"

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  65. ^ "Billboard.com - Alternative Albums". 
  66. ^ "Billboard.com - Digital Albums". 
  67. ^ "Billboard.com - Tastemaker Albums". 
  68. ^ "Irish album certifications – Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys". Irish Recorded Music Association. 
  69. ^ THE FIELD id (chart number) MUST BE PROVIDED for NEW ZEALAND CERTIFICATION.
  70. ^ "British album certifications – My Chemical Romance – Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 25 July 2012.  Enter Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Click Go

External links[edit]