2020 was meant to be quite different for Gerard Way. Late last year, My Chemical Romance started playing live again, with a mammoth run at festivals and beyond poised for this summer. That reunion is still happening just on hold for a bit. But he’s keeping himself busy regardless.
Soundtracking the trailer for the second season of The Umbrella Academy – the Netflix series based on the comic book he writes – ‘Here Comes The End’ is as suitably larger-than-life affair. Pulling from the swagger that dominated his debut solo album (2014’s ‘Hesitant Alien’) but infusing it with the freewheeling psychedelia that’s threaded its way through everything he’s done since (‘Getting Down The Germs’, ‘Baby You’re A Haunted House’), the track dances with a devil-may-care rebellion. There are hints of 90’s baggy indie scattered across it – perhaps it’s where he originally wanted to take recently-released demo ‘PS Earth’.
The past few years have seen Way toy with collaboration. Both ‘Happy Together’ and his cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Hazy Shade Of Winter’ (recorded for series one of The Umbrella Academy) feature fellow MCR member Ray Toro while the jazzy yuletide dream of ‘Dasher’ sees The Regrettes‘ Lydia Night brought into Way’s world.
‘Here Comes The End’ is more jagged, with the iconic Judith Hill (Stevie Wonder, Prince) trading blows and wrestling for the vocal spotlight. The competition sees both artist shine a little brighter and her powerful voice gives Ways’ fuzzy glam-rock a burst of superstardom.
No shock here, but the song deals with the end of the world. Duh. But instead of a timely beleaguered coronavirus anthem, Way was inspired to write this track as The Umbrella Academy‘s first series was being filmed. Fantastical and full of superhero optimism, it twists the fear of constant, imminent destruction into a call to arms. There’s references to the Cold War (“The clock is moving, hands to midnight,”) but with both feet firmly in the present, the scuzzy psychedelic punk anthem offers hope, solidarity and unwavering resistance.
“By the time I finished it 2020 was in full swing, the world had taken a profound turn and the song was finished in a surreal new reality,” he explains, taking a stand. “Here to tell ya / Well, that it’s time to stand up ‘cause we won’t give in / Well yeah, everybody gets through this,” sings Way, the punk rock Captain America.
2020 was meant to be year of My Chemical Romance’s grand return and while there’s nothing of their emotional fury in ‘Here Comes The End’, it is full of that powerful gang mentality that turned the band into a phenomenon. Inspiring, uplifting and dancing in the face of doom, there aren’t many people who can turn the apocalypse into a party. But Gerard Way has always been an optimist of sorts, and on ‘Here Comes The End’, he refuses to go out quietly.