The Black Parade sounds like Queen, and I mean ‘Fat Bottomed Girls’ to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Queen. It’s very, shall I say, ‘Queeny.’
There is a huge Queen influence in our band and everyone in the band is psyched on Queen. They broke so many boundaries and experimented and were great musicians, so it’s hard not to look up to that kind of band.
When going into this record, there were three records that we put on a pedestal: Pink Floyd’s The Wall, Queen’s A Night At The Opera and The Beatles’ Sergeant Pepper. They are our favorite records, and they are concept records, which we’ve always done. These bands transformed themselves and when they achieved greatness they took a lot of chances, and that was our goal for this record, to have a turning point in our band and in our lives as musicians and to take that chance. So when you say it’s ‘very Queeny,’ that’s huge for me to hear.
The record is not very contemporarily driven. It’s more classic sounding. We wanted to make a classic record, something that would be timeless. Not just for us but for our kids. We can show our children what we did. We can show them this record and whether we failed or succeeded, we will know that we gave our hearts. Shed some light on this record’s concept, please.
In a nutshell, the main character is The Patient. And he dies at a pretty young age, not young as in a child, but tragically young, in his 30s, of a debilitating disease. When death comes for him, it’s in the form of the strongest memory he has as a child, which is of his father taking him to the city to see a parade. The black parade memory takes him to the afterlife. In this journey he lives his life again, and loves, loses and realizes he didn’t live his life to the fullest. He asks himself about all the things he could have done better and asks himself why he let things roll by.
Like a parade rolls by its spectators!
Exactly. It ends with him pleading for another chance. It ends on a note of hope, but I’m not giving any more away.
‘Teenagers’ is a great anthem, and it reminds me that My Chem are still a band for the kids to cling to. Do you ever worry about how much reverence your fans are putting on your words and music? That’s got to feel like a bit of a responsibility.
There was a heated debate about including that song on the record, because it went through a lot of changes, and mostly because we were asking ourselves, ‘Will the listeners be intelligent enough to get what Gerard is trying to say in this song?’ By putting it on the record and including it in the concept, we made the bet that our kids and our fans are that intelligent and will get what he’s saying.
Okay, so Liza Minnelli on a My Chem record. How the fuck did that happen? And is it really her?
It’s really her, indeed. It’s so weird. We wrote the song ‘Momma,’ and the story is basically about the character Mother War. It’s about her losing her children to this terrible war.
Basically, the character of Mother War should be played by Liza. All our parents love Liza; it’s a New Jersey Italian thing, and Mikey and Gerard’s grandmother loved her. Her voice would make it work. Gerard bought her DVD and we started asking, ‘Could we get her to sing?’ A phone call was made to her people, and the next thing we knew, she had gotten our last record and we were told that she said she was dancing around her apartment to ‘Helena,’ and all of a sudden, she was agreeing.
We couldn’t get into the same studio as her. She was in New York and we were in Los Angeles and we recorded it through a board. She was everything you’d think she’d be. We’re trying to work out plans to go out to eat with her. If I was a fan of my band and I heard that we were hanging with Liza, I’d be frightened beyond belief. I’m a fan of your band and I’m not afraid of you pairing up with Liza. It’s something different and unexpected.
Give me some final thoughts about The Black Parade.
I want to get across the fact that I am so proud of what we did. My best friends in this band really stepped it up on this record and it got to the point where they dug so deep that you can hear the pulse of everyone who worked on this record, and it’s our finest moment.
Whether critics like it or kids in general like it, I hope that happens. But at the same time, right now, it’s a success to me, because of how we worked together and what we made. When you dig so deep, demons start coming up and things get really hard and you need family to be with you and support you through it. And we all did. It was a crazy, hard experience, but it was worth it.
The Black Parade is in stores now. Visit mychemicalromance.com for more information.