It only takes one lunatic...
It was the last tour and everything was going so well. The audiences were having a wonderful time and so were we. We feed off each other so much that we’re all exhausted but happy after a gig – the band, the audience, everyone! Everyone, that is, except some members of the press. It seems they’re only happy if things go badly for us. I don’t really know why, but some newspapers and magazines never liked us from the word go. By the time The Black Parade was released they loathed us. We’ve always had pretty weird things written about us, but the one thing that continues to puzzle us is the insistence that we encourage teenage suicide. If there’s one thing that anyone who listens to our music, comes to see us or even listens to an interview knows it’s that we go out of our way to discourage such a drastic action. So, you can imagine, when it was suggested that we were part of a death cult movement, we were mortified! Thank goodness for our fans; they knew, of course, that it wasn’t true, and weren’t afraid to say so.
I’ll never forget that night. I doubt anyone who was there will.
Eight weeks ago…
We were touring and so far it had been awesome! The audiences were always excited to see us – they cheered, sang along, everything. They were having a fantastic time and so were we. Suicide was most definitely the last thing on anyone’s mind. I’d never seen so many happy smiling faces. The atmosphere was electric and we were about to go on.
“Listen to that crowd!” Frank cried excitedly. “It’s going to be a hell of a night!”
“We’re gonna blow them away!”
As it would turn out, Gerard’s words would be strangely prophetic.
The lights dimmed and the audience screamed even louder than before; they knew this was it, we were coming out.
It’s an unbelievable feeling stepping out onto the darkened stage. Feeling your way past all the cables and wires taped down. Trying not to trip – I’ve done that before now! The audience can see the movement and they’re screaming at the top of their lungs, and you know they’re there to see you. You can please them, give them what they want. You want nothing more than to play your heart out for them. There’s no feeling in the world quite like it; it’s such a rush.
We started the set. The sound of the heart monitor teasing the audience. How long would it go on for before we joined in? Tonight, we opted for twelve bars. The audience were hungry and we were fighting to hold ourselves back. We launched into ‘The End’ like it was the last time we would ever play. The adrenalin flowed, the enthusiasm. We rocked!
The audience were still screaming when we went seamlessly into ‘Dead’; a perfect changeover. Everything was working fine, all the monitors, amps, P.A., everything. We were relaxed and ready for anything – well, almost. Gerard bent low for the opening scream and the noise of the rifle shot cut through everything. The bullet ploughed into my bass drum, splinters of wood flew everywhere and, picked up on the microphones, the bullets announced themselves to the entire arena.
The fans’ screaming took on a different tone and I knew that fear had gripped the auditorium. The fans weren’t alone; my heart almost stopped when I saw Gerard drop to the floor, I really thought he’d been hit. One by one the others dropped to the stage, casting aside their instruments with an inordinate amount of care, given the situation. Don’t ask me why, but somehow, I was frozen to the spot. My eyes scanned the crowd as if I truly believed I would see where the shots came from. A third shot, aimed lower then the first two, clearly aiming at Gerard sounded through my monitor and I dropped to the floor from my stool. Looking to my left, I screamed.
“What the fuck is going on?!”
Gerard tried to move and another shot rang out pinning him to the spot. By this point the audience, those who hadn’t left after the first shots, were crouched on the floor, too terrified to move. I’ll admit, we were in the same position. Mikey had tried to edge his way forward, only to encourage a further shot.
My heart was racing. Was he trying to kill anyone, or just scare? If it was just his intention to scare us, I’d have to say he did a damn good job!
It felt like forever, but was probably only a few minutes before we got the word that he had been caught and arrested. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I nearly collapsed at the news. So much adrenaline had flowed and I was spent; more exhausted than I would normally be after an entire show.
After a few minutes huddled together, you know, counting limbs etc – we were all in one piece – we decided to carry on. The scream we got from the audience was incredible; enough to lift the moment back up. I guess they expected us to cancel. We were really shaken, I can’t deny it and it did take a while to relax again, but we got there, thanks to our fans.
We found out later why he did it. He wanted to make us fear death; the same death he insisted we promoted. It was truly frightening; we’ve never promoted death, far from it. And the scariest thing of all is that this whole thing was caused by that stupid press report. Some people will always believe what they read, but scarier still, is that some of those will act on it.