My Chemical Romance’s ‘The Black Parade’: 13 Facts Only Superfans Would Know
When My Chemical Romance released The Black Parade in 2006, it was clear they were working on a creative plane few bands will ever reach in their careers. The album was masterful, complex and completely, ridiculously over-the-top in every way. The band tore themselves to shreds during the making of it, then continued dragging themselves through gravel on tour for two straight years in support of it. It was such a force that they had to figuratively “kill” The Black Parade in the end, laying it to rest at a 2008 arena show in Mexico City.
Every anniversary, it bodes well to pay The Black Parade a tribute—a sacrifice, if you will—to keep its powers from overtaking us all. As its legendary spirit turns 13, we’re sharing 13 facts that only the most invested fans might know.
1. It was supposed to be My Chemical Romance’s final album
MCR were always known to have planned things far in advance. Vocalist Gerard Way often spoke about having titles and concepts in his head far ahead of their release, but that was not the case with The Black Parade. In a 2014 interview with NME, Way said that as they approached recording for The Black Parade and it still didn’t have a title, it felt like it was the end. “The end of Black Parade felt like a very natural ending,” he said.
“To go beyond that, felt like betraying some sort of artistic command that I had within myself.”
2. MCR started writing “Welcome To The Black Parade” in 2002
Speaking of planning in advance. In the band’s infancy, they began piecing together a track tentatively called “The Five Of Us Are Dying” that would eventually become “Welcome To The Black Parade.” You can hear a rough demo of what it once was on the band’s Black Parade 10th anniversary release Living With Ghosts.
3. The “Famous Last Words” video seriously injured two members
On August 3 and 4, 2006, My Chemical Romance joined forces with Sam Bayer to film two videos in two days. “Welcome To The Black Parade” and “Famous Last Words” were shot back-to-back, so by the end of day two, when their massive parade float was set ablaze, they were feeling some type of way. Vocalist Gerard Way described the vibe as “like ‘Lord Of The Flies.’” Things got rough. First, rhythm guitarist Frank Iero tackled vocalist Gerard Way, resulting in Way tearing multiple ligaments in his ankle. Drummer Bob Bryar’s kit was set up a little too close to the flames, and he received second and third-degree burns on his leg, which eventually festered into gangrene.
4. Those weird characters in the videos? They have names.
It’s well-established that The Black Parade is a concept album, but deeper within those layers, there are characters. Listed from left to right in the above still from the “Welcome To The Black Parade” video: Fear, The Patient, Regret and Mother War. Oh, and the skeleton on the album cover is called “Pepe,” far predating the now-corrupted sad frog meme.
5. “The Black Parade” are also a band. And they’re from Italy
At MCR’s premiere Black Parade show in London, a recording preceded their taking the stage, saying, “Unfortunately, My Chemical Romance will not be able to perform tonight due to unforeseen circumstances. In their absence they’ve asked their good friends to fill in for them.” After beginning their set with “The End,” Gerard introduced the band by shouting, “We are the Black Parade!” On their Black Parade world tour, the alter-ego “opened for” My Chemical Romance.
6. “Mama” actually features some of their mamas
Along with Liza Minelli, the track “Mama” also features some of the members’ parents. Iero’s mother and the Way brothers’ parents sing along the pirate shanty-ish bit at the end of the track. Oh, and don’t be fooled by some of the bizarre voices in this song, most of them are Gerard playing characters.
7. There’s a “Woody The Woodpecker” reference in a song about death
Cartoon bird Woody The Woodpecker has a distinctive laugh in both rhythm and pitch. Imagine it. Now, go to your handy-dandy streaming platform of choice, turn on “Dead!” and listen to Ray Toro’s ripping guitar solo at about 2 minutes in again. You’ll never unhear it. You’re welcome.
8. The album was literally written in a haunted house
The Canfield-Moreno Estate in California, also known as “The Paramour” is notorious for being haunted as shit. The band report having had doors slammed in their faces throughout its halls and a profound dark and heavy feeling that hung within bassist Mikey Way’s room. Other bands who have recorded there report the same things. Papa Roach, for instance, said they heard footsteps and singing in the house.
9. Gerard Way’s short white hair was a means of method acting
MCR got really into the vibe of this album, especially Gerard Way, who decided he needed to look the part of The Patient to really get into it. In a press conference the band held prior to the release of the album, he said, “To me, I wanted this short white hair so I would look like the character The Patient, who I imagined had gone through some sort of illness or chemotherapy. When I first did it, I looked sick, and it really helped me channel that character.”
10. Tim Burton-favorite Colleen Atwood designed the band’s uniforms
If you’ve seen the whimsical costumes in Edward Scissorhands (1990), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street (2007) or Big Fish (2003), then you’ve seen countless examples of Academy Award-winning costumier Colleen Atwood. Where you may not have realized you’ve also seen her work is in My Chemical Romance’s music videos and onstage at their earliest Black Parade tour dates.
11. The album caused protests in the U.K.
In 2007, notoriously garbage U.K. paper The Daily Mail set off a worldwide outrage among fans when they began railing against “the cult of emo,” going as far as to blame My Chemical Romance, who staunchly rejected the label, for a specific young woman’s suicide. Fans gathered in London to protest the scapegoating, the band lead “Fuck the Daily Mail!” chants at music festivals, and eventually the shitrag shut up about it.
12. Metal fans really fucking hated it
While some U.K. music fans were fighting for My Chemical Romance in 2007, some metalheads were literally waging war on the band. During their Black Parade-era set at Download Festival, the band had all manner of projectiles pelted at them, including but not limited to fruit, garbage and bottles of urine for committing the perceived crime of headlining over Megadeth.
13. Ozzy Osbourne played a role in their completing the album
Little did these metalheads know, guitarist Ray Toro frequently expresses his love for heavy metal and you can hear it resounding in his playing style. In fact, it was his playing songs from Ozzy’s Bark At The Moon that helped jar the band out of a dark point when they were living at the Paramour. Gerard had overheard him playing those songs, slower and darker-sounding, alone, and it broke his heart knowing Toro truly wanted to be playing their music. Eventually, they sat down together and started writing again. Thanks, Ozzy.
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