Sitting in his manager’s basement in Los Angeles, My Chemical Romance guitarist Frank Iero took calls from college journalists across the country while the rest of his band was in Japan. Just a few days earlier, he had one of his wisdom teeth pulled and with it, came out his sinus wall. After a long flight to Japan, Iero had a serious infection and was forced to return to the states to receive medical care. Meanwhile in Japan, his band is promoting their latest album “Welcome to the Black Parade,” which Iero describes as an “epic battle of life and death set to music.”
The album is the latest in a long line of concept albums released by band in the past few years. The title track and first single, “The Black Parade,” follows the struggles of a dying cancer patient from planning the funeral to saying goodbye to loved ones. It was written nearly five years ago when the band was on tour. Originally recorded to be on their 2004 release “Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge,” the song was called “The Five of Us are Dying” and Iero said it sounded like Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.”
“We couldn’t make it work, maybe it wasn’t the right time,” Iero said. When the band sat down to make “The Black Parade,” they knew the song was going to be the cornerstone of the concept album. They rewrote and rerecorded and the new song was named “Welcome to the Black Parade.”
“It was the anthem of the record, if that was wrong, the record wasn’t going to work,” Iero said.
The band, dressed as members of a skeleton army, introduced the single to the world when they performed on top of Rockefeller Center in New York before the MTV Video Music Awards last August. The single earned the band their first no. 1 on the Billboard charts and created media frenzy around the band and their following performances.
As 2006 came to a close, “The Black Parade” received a wide range of critical attention. Blender Magazine said the band had “created the Sgt. Pepper of screamo” and rated the album as the best of the year in both critics’ fans did the same in their polls. Rolling Stone, The Los Angeles Times and Entertainment Weekly all gave the album highly positive reviews.
Despite all of their success over the past two years, Iero says My Chemical Romance (or MCR as their fans refer to them) are still “the same awkward guys” from New Jersey that started a band in 2001. They listen to Danzig and Creedence before taking the stage every night. They also frequently perform private shows for their street team, the MCArmy, to show their diehard fans they haven’t forgotten them.
As we finished up the interview questions, I asked Iero what he does while all the journalists on the phone call are scurrying to write down every word.
“I’m sitting here at a desk next to a phone. I write down everyone’s names, what they ask, and where they’re from,” Iero said.
His attention to detail and his fans is one of the most important factors in the success of MCR. With each new show, Iero said there are more and more fans showing up. He attributes their success to the band’s presenting darker topics to teenage fans that aren’t usually taken seriously. Making an impact with good music, more than anything, is important to My Chemical Romance.
My Chemical Romance will play the Merriweather Post Pavilion with supporting act Muse on April 27.