2000s Emo Pop Bands: Where Are They Now?

It was the time of checkered skate shoes, studded belts, skinny jeans, and most importantly, the Vans Warped Tour. The 2000s gave way to some of the most beloved "emo" pop-punk acts in recent history. From My Chemical Romance to Mayday Parade, Paramore to Pierce the Veil, the emo scene was as much a music movement as it was a cultural one. "Emo is about emotion," musician Wisnu Ikhsantama W shared with The Jakarta Post, adding, "Lyrically, emo is straightforward and revolves around sadness. It is quite nihilistic, really." And for millennial-aged adults looking to relieve their nostalgic adolescence, recent revivals of the genre's glory days like the When We Were Young Festival have done just that. 

If the resurgence of their youth has taken emo kids worldwide by surprise, it seems just as skeptical to bands from back in the day. "The day they announced the line-up [for the festival], ] was the first time I had seen the flyer, or heard of any other bands playing the show," revealed Nick Wheeler, lead guitarist for The All-American Rejects, to Talkulture. "I learned about it because my phone f***ing exploded!" Set aside your straighteners and slip on those Vans — it's time to revisit some of the greats from the 2000s emo pop scene and see what they are up to today.

My Chemical Romance had a long-awaited reunion

Fresh on the heels of a surprise breakup announcement, New Jersey-based emo legends My Chemical Romance released their greatest hits record "May Death Never Stop You" in 2014. The album highlighted 12 years of music spanning four studio albums and several series of b-sides and included the unreleased track "Fake Your Death." "Ending felt like something honest, and honest always feels like something new," vocalist Gerard Way tweeted. The members of the group — Way, his brother and bassist Mikey Way, rhythm guitarist Frank Iero, and lead guitarist Ray Toro — have since embarked on solo projects, started families, and left fans heartbroken. That is, until Halloween 2019, when the group announced a reunion show in Los Angeles.

After leaked reunion rumors and an extended pause due to the pandemic, the group finally hit the road in 2022 for a long-awaited, and yes, emo-tional, reunion tour. Devoted fans worldwide, aka the MCRmy, flocked to arenas and festivals in droves for a number of well-reviewed shows. The group also released "The Foundations of Decay," their first single in almost a decade." By 2023, the group planned oversea tours and showed no signs of stopping. "To me, performing live, and the reason I do it, is for that energy exchange," Way shared in an interview with Aidan Gallagher. "You're putting out energy, the audience is putting out energy, so ... you find yourself in a collaborative situation."

Fall Out Boy keeps the records spinnin'

In 2019, Chicago natives Fall Out Boy were ready for the Hella Mega Tour, a giant stadium jaunt with fellow rockers Green Day and Weezer. At the time, the foursome – lead singer/guitarist Patrick Stump, guitarist Joe Trohman, bassist Pete Wentz, and drummer Andy Hurley — had released seven albums since 2003 and had a legion of dedicated fans called Youngbloods. COVID complications made the group cancel a few dates on the major tour, which left fans clamoring for fresh news from their favorite rockers. "I do know that the next record we put out, or whatever we do next, it's going to be something that we really care about," Stump shared with Kerrang! In 2019. "And it's something that we're going to spend a lot of time on."

In January 2023, the group announced the lead single "Love from the Other Side" from their eighth studio album "So Much (for) Stardust." The announcement was significant for the group for several reasons: it was their first record on their original label, Fueled by Ramen, since their debut in 2003, and is also the first album without Trohman. "We wanted to create an album that merged those points together – something new, but carved from our foundation," Wentz said in a statement given to Variety. The group released the second single "Heartbreak Feels So Good" and announced a tour with fellow rockers Bring Me The Horizon.

Panic! At The Disco packed it up

Las Vegas vagabonds Panic! At The Disco started as a foursome (with an ever-changing lineup) but essentially became a one-man-band by 2022. After being signed to Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz's label Decaydance in 2004 (a sub-brand of parent label Fueled by Ramen), the group exploded with seven feature length albums across multiple iterations of the band's lineup. Singer Brendon Urie remained the only constant, maintaining the band as a solo act from 2016 on. Throughout their career, P!ATD had a number of chart-topping hits, including 2018's "High Hopes," which peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100. The 2022 release, "Viva Las Vengeance," spawned a nationwide arena tour. "[The album] is a look back at who I was 17 years ago and who I am now with the fondness I didn't have before," Urie said in a statement (via American Songwriter).

In January 2023, Urie took to Instagram to announce that Panic! At The Disco would be "no more." "I am going to bring this chapter of my life to an end and put my focus and energy on my family," the statement said. The act's last hurrah would be the previously scheduled Australian and European tour, which was set to close on March 10 in Manchester, England.

Paramore continues to play it cool

Tennessee-based Paramore exploded onto the scene in 2005 when they signed to emo hub Fueled by Ramen. Led by vocalist Hayley Williams, along with a revolving roster of musicians, the group released five albums through 2017. This included the Billboard hit, "Ain't It Fun," from the band's 2013 self-titled album. In 2017, the group took a break from live performing. "Let's see what it's like to not hang our identities on Paramore all the time," Williams recalled in an interview with The Guardian.

By September 2022, Paramore was ready to return and announced the dual single and album "This Is Why," released in February 2023. "It summarizes the plethora of ridiculous emotions, the rollercoaster of being alive in 2022, having survived even just the last three or four years," Williams said in a statement (via Billboard). Paramore kickstarted their comeback headlining several major festivals, including Austin City Limits and the revival of the When We Were Young festival. The latter was an emo-centric, mid-aughts showcase of emo, pop-punk, and overall nostalgic bands, co-headlined by My Chemical Romance. "We fell in love with this subset of post-punk + hardcore likely because nothing else moved us," Williams shared in a hand-written note posted to Twitter before their WWWY set. "We didn't fit in other places. To be a young girl in love with this scene was to have the hope that I might find my own way to belong."

The Used re-entered the emo-verse

Utah rockers The Used were well known in the mid-2000s for their peak emo vibes. The group signed to Reprise Records, a branch of Warner Bros Records and home to fellow emos and once-close confidantes My Chemical Romance. Longtime vocalist Bert McCracken and bassist Jeph Howard have remained the only original members of the group since their 2002 debut, but a series of shredders have cycled through over the years. The outfit has released eight albums, including 2004's "In Love and Death," which spurred classic emo hits like "I Caught Fire (In Your Eyes)" and "The Taste of Ink." In 2020, the band released their eighth studio album "Heartwork," their first on record label Big Noise. "We've never experimented this much with music, and it's got some of the heaviest songs The Used have ever produced, and some of the poppiest songs as well," McCracken revealed to The Soundcheck. "We've never been this excited, to be honest!"

In October 2022, timed along with their appearance at the When We Were Young festival, the group released the single "F*** You," the first song off of a new record planned for 2023, as of this writing. "We can't help but write exactly what we are feeling," McCracken shared with RockSound. "That's been the same since the very first record. That is what makes all of this sort of music so special."

Simple Plan has stayed active for over two decades

Canadian rockers Simple Plan arguably veered more to the pop-punk side of the street back in the 'aughts, but were a beloved staple of the emo revolution nonetheless. The band, which was founded in 1999, featured a bevy of musicians, but vocalist Pierre Bouvier, lead guitarist Jeff Stinco, rhythm guitarist Sébastien Lefebvre, and drummer Chuck Comeau have remained with the group past the pandemic. Former bassist David Desrosiers remained on-and-off with the band through 2020, but left that year after being accused of sexual misconduct. Their 2002 debut album, "No Pads, No Helmets...Just Balls," featured a handful of hits revived in the TikTok era, including "I'm Just a Kid," "Perfect," and "Addicted." Much of their music hit home for young emo kids thanks to some classic early 'aughts cinema, including the 2003 remake of "Cheaper by the Dozen" and the Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen comedy "New York Minute."

In 2022, the band announced their sixth studio album, "Harder Than It Looks," featuring the single "Ruin My Life" (which includes Sum 41 singer Deryck Whibley). The group also recorded a new "What's New Scooby Doo?" theme song in 2021, delighting even more youngins' and young-at-hearts. "Now I think we feel like people wanna hear Simple Plan ... [they] wanna hear stuff that sounds familiar but new, and we really leaned into that for this record," Bouvier shared with Consequence podcast "Kyle Meredith With."

30 Seconds to Mars created spacey musical escapes

30 Seconds to Mars, fronted by Oscar-winning actor Jared Leto, predated many of their 2000s emo contemporaries (they were founded in 1998), but they didn't break big until the release of their 2005 album "A Beautiful Lie." With singles including "Attack" and "The Kill," the album marked the first time the group expanded past singer/guitarist Leto and his drummer brother Shannon Leto. "In the past, it was very difficult for me to let other people participate [in recording] because it was such a special, private and personal experience for my brother and I," Jared shared with Universal Music Group. "Now ... we have a group of four people who have the same vision, share the same tastes and dreams." The group went on to have several iterations throughout the years with only the Leto brothers remaining constant, and released a total of five albums.

Despite Jared Leto's prominent star status, 30 Seconds to Mars aren't a group primed to tour and record extensively. The group has continued to tour into the 2020s with full-length releases including 2018's "America" and a special 20th anniversary edition of their debut self-titled record in 2022. "[There's] a lot of memories to share with you guys," Jared Leto shared in a Twitter video announcing the anniversary edition. "Maybe one day we can make a little documentary or something about the first album. It was a journey, a challenging one, but just mind-blowing as well."

Taking Back Sunday just kept touring

Taking Back Sunday has the rare distinction of not being formed by their lead singer. Instead, guitarist Eddie Reyes and bassist Jesse Lacey (both of whom have since left the band) started the group in Long Island in 1999. Lacey ended up founding the group Brand New, and with it made waves that collided with his former band members. With a number of members rotating through their rolodex in their two-decades-plus career, the longest tenured are singer Adam Lazzara and drummer Mark O'Connell. The band also remained unsigned until 2002, when they signed with Victory Records and released their debut album "Tell All Your Friends." They later signed with Warner Bros. Records and released their major label debut "Louder Now" in 2005, which introduced songs like "MakeDamnSure" and "Liar (It Take One To Know One)" into the emo-sphere. The band would endure a number of lineup changes amongst four additional album releases until 2016.

In 2023, it was announced that Taking Back Sunday would headline the appropriately emo-titled "Sad Summer Festival," that also boasted the likes of The Maine, Motion City Soundtrack, and LS Dunes on the lineup. "We believe the bill this year will take the tour and experience to a new level," the Festival team said in a statement given to Live Nation. "Thanks to all of our loyal fans who have helped grow this brand with us; we see you."

All Time Low is a band that keeps evolving

Towson, Maryland-based band All Time Low technically formed in 2003, but it wasn't until they signed with Hopeless Records and released their second studio album "So Wrong, It's Right" in 2007, that they reached major success. Their single "Dear Maria, Count Me In" catapulted them onto the Billboard charts and into the hearts of emos everywhere. With eight studio albums released between 2005 to 2020, vocalist/guitarist Alex Gaskarth, lead guitarist Jack Barakat, bassist Zack Merrick, and drummer Rian Dawson have stayed true to the band from the beginning. "I think we're just learning more and more about where All Time Low is able to go in the current landscape of music," Gaskarth revealed to Kerrang! "I think that's really exciting, because we understand the space we're working in it feels really authentic as we do it. It just allows us to be creative and a little bit more experimental with certain aspects of songs, without coming out with something that doesn't sound like our band."

In 2017, the band signed to the eponymous emo label Fueled By Ramen and continued making music as a foursome. The group has continued to stay afloat in an ever-changing music scene, releasing acclaimed singles with artists like blackbear and Demi Lovato, to announcing their ninth studio album "Tell Me I'm Alive," releasing in March 2023, as of this writing.

The All-American Rejects released some timeless classics

The All-American Rejects (AAR) are an Oklahoma-grown outfit founded by singer Tyson Ritter and lead guitarist Nick Wheeler. Rhythm guitarist/bassist Mike Kennerty and drummer Chris Gaylor round out the group, who first exploded onto the scene with their self-titled album and debut single "Swing, Swing" in 2002. While the group was on the early side of the mid-aughts emo craze, the group has only released four full-length albums. This includes 2005's "Move Along," which features the hit "Dirty Little Secret," and 2008's "When The World Comes Down," headlined by the popular break-up anthem "Gives You Hell." Despite maintaining a steady touring schedule and a devoted fan base, the group eventually parted ways with Interscope Records in 2018 and signed to Epitaph Records in 2019. The group released a handful of singles before announcing a hiatus of sorts in 2020. "It's not going to be very likely that we are going to do another record anytime soon if ever, it's given birth to these other projects that I've started," Ritter explained on RADIO.com's "Emo Nite" podcast.

In October 2022, the group performed alongside many of their contemporaries as part of the 2022 When We Were Young Festival in Las Vegas. Like headliners My Chemical Romance, AAR had a throwback moment — literally — on stage by performing in old person makeup and outfits. As Ritter tweeted after the show, "Thx for tonight kiddos.@/WWWYFest, ya made an old man proud to give some hell."