Gerard Way – vocals
Ray Toro – guitar
Frank Iero – guitar
Mikey Way – bass
Bob Bryar – drums
When My Chemical Romance released Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge in 2004, they were praised for being aggressive, melodic and forward thinking and quickly became one of the biggest bands on the modern rock scene, going platinum in the U.S. and selling over two million copies worldwide. But as theatrical and dramatic as the album was, it was a mere dress rehearsal for My Chemical Romance’s dark, bombastic album The Black Parade.
While Three Cheers and its predecessor I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love were loose concepts lyrically, The Black Parade is a breathtaking, fully-formed epic in the vein of David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust or Pink Floyd’s The Wall.
“When we started working on the record, all of these theatrical songs that were about life and death started to come out,” says frontman Gerard Way. “That’s when we decided we wanted to throw all caution to the wind and aspire to make a huge record.”
Guitarist Frank Lero expounds, “We said let’s just dive in. We go all the way or we don’t go anywhere.”
On The Black Parade, My Chemical Romance does exactly what they set out to do. Key touch-points include The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Queen’s A Night At The Opera, however My Chemical Romance never let their influences overshadow their musical vision, instead using them to color their own creative ideas. The first single “Welcome To The Black Parade” begins with a sparse, haunting piano line, then evolves through marching drums and dramatic guitars bends before bursting into a blistering verse and a triumphant chorus. Other songs are equally dynamic: “House Of Wolves” combines blues, rockabilly and punk ethos into a turbulent cauldron of contempt, while “Mama” exudes romping blends of vaudevillian rhythm.
“While we were working on this record, every emotion, good and bad, poured out of us, shaping the songs,” bassist Mikey Way explains. “It was a really intense period and we had the most incredible time. Sometimes it was amazing and fun and sometimes it was really hard, but it was always incredible.”
“Creating this album brought some new things to the table,” adds Toro. “Most of our old songs are either mach-speed or have a slower tempo. With this album we experimented with different tempos and different feelings while working as hard as we could to make the most musically of every single note.”
The lyrical content of The Black Parade is every bit as groundbreaking as the music. The album tells the story of a young man, referred to as The Patient, who is dying in a hospital bed. The strongest memory from his youth is when his father took him to see a parade when he was a child, so when death comes for him, it is in the form of a Black Parade. The Patient encounters various characters leading him toward his final resting place, aiding him in the reexamination of his existence while teaching him about theirs – thereby giving The Patient new insights about the beauty of both life and death.
My Chemical Romance started writing music for The Black Parade while on tour for Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge. After returning from their Australian tour, they went to New York and started assembling songs, six of which led them in the ambitious direction they would take with the new record. “We came up with two types of songs,” explains Way. “One set were these fast driving songs with catchy melodies that were good, but they didn’t really seem special. And the others were theatrical and smart and really told us what the record wanted to be.”
Bob Bryar adds, "It's a great feeling to be in a band that has constantly evolved and continues to grow. We always give each other the encouragement, drive and space to be as creatively free as possible at any given moment."
In March 2006, My Chemical Romance flew to Los Angeles to begin pre-production with Rob Cavallo (Alanis Morissette, Goo Goo Dolls). “Rob was important to the creation of this record,” Way says. “He pushed for us to face our greatest fears because he said the most sincere music comes from what you’re afraid of the most. I used to be afraid of death, but I found out while making this record that I was more afraid to live. I was afraid to show the world who I really was, and for the band to show who they really were. And we were afraid to live our lives how we truly wanted and make the record we really wanted. Making this album was about facing those fears.”My Chemical Romance formed in suburban New Jersey in 2001 out of a mutual love of horror movies, music and punk philosophies. The group’s first song was “Skylines and Turnstiles,” which was penned after experiencing the devastation of 9/11. The band recorded I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love, which was released on in 2003.
The band entered the studio in February of 2004 with producer Howard Benson (All American Rejects, Motorhead, Less Than Jake) for their second album, Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, which featured the hits “I’m Not Okay (I Promise),” “Helena,” and “The Ghost Of You.”
My Chemical Romance has toured extensively with bands such as Green Day, Taking Back Sunday, and many others, and also played the 2004 and 2005 Vans Warped Tours, headlining the latter. Various live performances were recorded for the CD and double DVD package Life On The Murder Scene, which came out in March 2006 while the band was hard at work on songs for The Black Parade.
Now, having completed The Black Parade, My Chemical Romance is a changed band. They’re more accomplished, more experienced and more tuned into real life instead of horror fantasy. And while The Black Parade is a dark record, it’s also filled with hope and promise.
“I feel like we as a band have a very clear, direct purpose and a direct mission now, which we didn’t have before,” Way says. “We may be over the top, but it isn’t about arrogance, it’s about confidence and believing that you have the power to make a difference if you have the guts to try.”