When My Chemical Romance first learned of the devastating natural disasters that struck Japan in March, they didn't wonder, "Should we help?" Instead, their first thought was "How can we help?"
"Japan has always held a special place in our hearts, really from the first time we had a show there. ... We just had such an amazing response there, and we're just such fans of the culture," MCR guitarist Ray Toro explained. "And then all of the fans we met out there, they're just so polite and there's just a really great energy over there. And we've been back there many times and have a really strong connection.
"And I think we were in London, we were watching the BBC, seeing these events unfold, and as more and more time went by, the gravity of the situation really struck everybody; it just was getting worse and worse," he continued. "And we talked about something that we could do, and at first we were thinking about writing a new song to raise money for charity. And on Twitter, something we had seen was #SINGitforjapan, and it was kids starting this Twitter feed, writing messages of hope. And that really inspired us, and we just set to work, and after a couple weeks, we were able to pull this thing together."
This thing, of course, is "SING It for Japan," a reworking of MCR's "Sing" featuring a full orchestra and a video shot during the band's ongoing tour. And, being that it was MCR's fans that served as the inspiration for the project, their artwork and inspirational messages to the people of Japan were included in the clip. All proceeds from the download of the song — or from the purchase of a "#SING It for Japan" T-Shirt — go to the Red Cross' ongoing recovery efforts in the nation.
"It was really exciting; it was a really collaborative thing. Like anybody we [asked] to be part of it wanted to give their time — all the orchestra players, they were looking for a way to help and we got in contact with them and they said, 'Absolutely,' " Toro said. "And then having kids submit video footage and drawings and pictures, it was overwhelming."
And while the contributions from their fans definitely touched them, what My Chemical Romance were most inspired by was the fact that their song was chosen to serve as a message of hope — not just for people in Japan, but for young people all over the globe. In a way, it sort of proves that one of the central messages of their Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys album rings true: that music can be a tool for genuine social change.
"We started to see stuff really early, with what was going on in Egypt and then Libya, like everybody was always taking this song," frontman Gerard Way said. "And we'd take notice of it, and then Ray saw this great opportunity to say, 'Well, they're doing it for that, and now they're doing it for Japan. Let's make something out of that.' "