Since the untimely end of My Chemical Romance, Frank Iero has spread his wings in the form of a few different musical projects. He’s adapted the role of a frontman, though somewhat reluctantly, and faced a few hardships along the way. However, now stronger than ever, Frank Iero and his touring outfit are back in the fray of playing shows, landing them right in the middle of all the Slam Dunk Festival chaos. We sat down with Iero for a quick chat about coming back from the crash, the most recent album Parachutes and the importance of love in music when the world is faced with the most horrific acts.
OR: To start off, how are you and how have you found Slam Dunk so far?
I’m doing very well, I found it to be really fun and there’s a lot of old friends that are playing this festival. I’ve gotten to see everyone that I’ve wanted to see and hang out with everyone that I wanted to hang out with, which is really cool. I mean, it’s only been one day but from that one day, so far, it’s been really amazing.
OR: I wanted to touch on last year, as you had a pretty awful crash, I think in Australia?
OR: How has everything been since then?
It’s coming along. The thing about recovery is that it’s non-linear, so some days are amazing and some days you feel like you’re right back to square one. Maybe even negative two and that’s frustrating but I feel like, at the same time, we’re still here. I didn’t think I would ever play again and the fact that I’m able to do that, I mean with some discomfort, is huge.
I think it was a huge milestone for us to tour on this record, because I remember writing these songs and thinking about what the reaction to some of the songs would be – that really drove me in the writing and recording process – and to be stopped, dead in our tracks, right before the album came out was heartbreaking. So the fact we’re able to play it, that was a big goal in our recovery. Now that we have done it, I’m looking forward to taking some time off and being with family because it’s been a real crazy six months.
OR: It seems to have been. Not long after that happened you actually came to the UK with Taking Back Sunday – how was that, going into that tour after the accident?
That was – well, I’d had certain things booked and I didn’t want to cancel everything because I felt like having that goal was going to help us recover. So I kind of forced the recovery process? Probably a little too soon but I needed to know that I could do it. It’s weird, if it was up to me and I was like ‘oh no, I don’t want to do this anymore’ that would be a different story but to have – I’ve been in bands since I was eleven and I’ve been touring since I was seventeen, it’s something that I’ve done for more than half of my life – to have that be taken away from me is such a horrendous feeling.
Aside from the physical aspect of it, the mental was unbearable, so I needed to kind of keep that stuff in place and it was strange to go back on tour but I think that was the right band to tour with. They (Taking Back Sunday) were the first band that I toured with when I started this project, I’ve known them for so long and being a UK tour, it just felt right. I’m so glad that we did it.
OR: You said yourself that you didn’t think that you would play music again, other than it possibly being taken away, what motivated you to keep going?
I think because it scared me so much. I think the things that really scare the shit out of me are the things I tend to really throw myself into (laughs). I don’t know why, I mean I have some ideas but I don’t know specifically why. Regardless of that, I just knew I needed to do it even if it was just once. I couldn’t have it taken from me without a fight.
OR: Speaking of the accident, which was awful, there are a lot of truly terrible things going on in the world right now. How do you think music, whether yours in particular or someone else’s, can help people to get through this?
That’s a really good question. I feel like, now more than ever, the world needs it’s artists. The role of an artist is to remind people what it is to be human and that the most important thing that we can do and share is love. To show acceptance of one another, of who we are and also self-acceptance. It’s crazy to me that, that word love, that idea, is so political now but it is! It’s something that’s very human and it’s turned into an agenda, where certain people infringe on other people’s love – how dare you? If there’s anything that should be experience by all people, no matter what incarnation that takes, it should be love. That’s why we, all collectively here, need to remind people of love.
OR: Definitely. So on your music, your career as a whole has been pretty vast. You’ve had numerous projects, including solo projects under a few different names as well, but what prompted the reinvention from the Cellabration to the Patience?
Alright, so, I’ve always realised that being in so many different projects, you have a lot of time. Basically, the way people say it is, you have an entire lifetime to make your first record and then you only have about six months to make your second (laughs). You know what I mean? And you need to reinvent it at that point, you can’t repeat yourself. You have to really figure out; how do I make music? What is it supposed to sound like? How do I do it differently? How do I turn it on it’s head? How do I forget everything I thought I knew in order to make something new? Ultimately, if you succeed in that, you come out of the studio and you sound different, you’re a different band. The pitfall then is that you have to call yourself the same name, it seems asinine.
So, I saw other bands that I’d been in do this time and time again and had been frustrated by it. I thought, ‘if there’s one thing that I’m gonna do – alright if I’m going to do a “solo project” – then I’m gonna have no fucking rules, nobody can tell me what I can and can’t do’. So, if my name is going to be in front of it, why can’t I just change the name every single time if it’s going to be a different band? The first time around I needed the Cellabration because that was something I needed to bring more out of me, I wanted a distraction from my deficiency of being a frontman – it’s just not something that I feel comfortable in. I was like ‘alright, if I bring a celebratory band then no-one will pay too much attention to what I’m doing’.
OR: That’s actually a really cool idea to deal with that.
Thank you, yeah, that was the idea. Sometimes you name something like that and it becomes kind of like a self-fulfilling prophecy and that was my idea behind it. Then this time around, I felt more comfortable in my role, I didn’t need that distraction anymore. What I did need was that virtue of patience, where you kind of take a step back and appreciate the now. So that’s where the second name came from and the next time around is going to be something totally different.
OR: Whatever you find you need next.
At that very moment, yeah.
OR: Parachutes came out around 7 months around now, I believe?
Yeah, October 28th so about right.
OR: I read that you had recorded that album in just 17 days, how come the time for it was that short?
That was – Alright so, actually, if it were up to me I would have done more songs in that amount of time. Ross (Producer: Ross Robinson) was like, ‘no, just no, do ten songs’ and I was like, ‘hm how about twelve?’ and he said ‘no, how about ten?’
OR: You just kept pushing?
(Laughs) Yeah, yeah, I told him ‘no we’re doing twelve, I’ve gotta do twelve’. I don’t know, for every record, for some reason twelve just feels right to me. I have a weird thing about odd numbers, I like even’s and twelve just feels right. I don’t know why that is. So, if you notice like Stomachaches is twelve, the Death Spells record is twelve and Parachutes is twelve, we’ll see what the next one holds for me.
OR: I imagine hopefully twelve again?
(Laughs) I mean, it might well be. So, I went in with the twelve songs and went to do it in the seventeen days because he was booked solid, basically. We were supposed to go into the studio a week before we started and something had happened with the project he’d been working on before, so he needed to push us back a week and I actually got really freaked out. I thought we were going to have more time but here we are, another project has us pushed back and so we end up with just seventeen days – I was hoping for like twenty? But seventeen is what we got.
It was a rough one because he pushes really hard and everyone is playing constant, you’re singing from the moment you get there until the moment you leave. I had to go to the doctor like, two or three times, to get steroid shots just so I could finish the record.
OR: How long were you there for each day?
Oh you sleep there, we slept there. So you start as soon as you wake up and you keep going until everyone is passed out, basically.
OR: Just going back to how you said every album is twelve songs. I read in another interview that you have to start with the first track and the last track, to know how it starts and ends…
I need to know, in writing, yeah. When I’m writing a record, I can’t – if I don’t know how it’s going to start or how it’s going to end, I can’t fill it in. I don’t know what the full story is. So I can write, I’ll write and write and write, but if I don’t know which one is the first and the last song then I can’t think about recording or anything like that because I don’t know what it all means yet.
In the actual recording process, I don’t have to do it in a certain order but I remember we did the last song last… I think we might have done the first song first (laughs). That wasn’t because of anything else, it just ended up working out that way. Otherwise I’m lost, I’m totally lost. But with Stomachaces I didn’t really do that because I didn’t know I was writing a record. However when I wrote ‘All I Want Is Nothing’ I knew it was going to be the first track. And it’s important too when you’re doing a setlist for a show like, if you know how to start and you know how to end you can fill it in. They are the two most important things.
OR: Just one last question, the album is very raw, emotional and honest. Do you think the time constraint helped to push that out because there wasn’t enough to time to go back and change it and master it as much as you may have wanted?
I would say this, even if there was an amount of time to do that, Ross (Robinson) wouldn’t let you. He spends a lot of time, before you actually track, talking about the song; what is it you stem from? What is it you’re saying? What happened in real life that made you feel this way? And then when you get it to a point where everyone in the room is on the same pace then you hit it, you do it like three or four times and that it. Then he picks the tracks that has the most mistakes.
OR: It seems a good way to work though, the album worked out really well.
Thank you, it was by far the best creative experience of my entire life.
OR: That’s all the questions we have, thank you for talking to us!
It’s been a pleasure.