Approaching a second album is tough for most musicians. But it’s even tougher when the record is for your side project which followed the international success of your iconic band My Chemical Romance. This is indeed the unique situation former My Chem guitarist and now solo front man Frank Iero has found himself in.
After MCR announced their heart-wrenching breakup in 2013 (some wounds never truly heal), Frank quickly redirected his creative energy into a new side punk rock project under the name of frnkiero andthe cellabration. Inspired by Iero’s anxiety-induced chronic tummy aches, the first album stomachaches was released to much acclaim in 2014.
Without having completed a proper tour with the band in Australia, Iero already has a legion of Aussie fans down under. This absence from our shores isn’t for a lack of trying, though. His band was initially slated to appear on the 2016 Soundwave bill before it was cancelled. Determined to see his Aussie fans, Iero then did a run of free acoustic sets at Utopia Records in Sydney and Eureka Rebellion Trading in Melbourne in January this year. With modest expectations that a few fans may rock up, Iero was clearly overwhelmed when over a thousand fans showed up (most of which were unable to watch the set due to limited capacity), with punters arriving as early as 9am on one of the mornings to wait in line. So it was no real surprise when Frank Iero announced that the whole band would be returning to Australia for a much larger nationwide tour this October.
After spending the rest of the year touring and polishing off their latest record, Iero and his band have returned under the new guise of FRANK IERO and THE PATIENCE with a new album Parachutes. Due out on 28 October (3 days before Iero’s 35th birthday), the 12-track album explores everything from love and loss to all of the parachutes that carry us through life.
We had a chat with Frank Iero about the new album, his upcoming Australian tour and that mysterious band name change.
Music Feeds: Hey Frank! Congrats on wrapping up the new album Parachutes which is out at the end of next month!
Frank Iero: Hey! Yeah, I’m very excited. Thank you very much.
MF: First of all, we need to ask, everyone was very confused when you made the change from FrnkIero and the Celabration to the FRANK IERO and THE PATIENCE. What inspired the band name change?
FI: Well, I realised that every time you go in to make a new record you have to kind of burn down the past and reinvent yourself a little bit. You learn again how to make music in a different way and try to chase greatness and get to that next level as an artist. So inevitably, when you go into a studio and you do these sorts of things, you’re going to come out with different-sounding record because there’s no point in making the same record over and over again.
The pitfall is, though, that you come out of the studio and people say “Oh, well it doesn’t sound like the same band” and you’re like “I know, because we did something different!”. So, I was like, for me, if I’m going to be a solo artist and have my name in front of it anyway, I have the ability to change the band name every time because if it’s a different band and it’s going to sound different, the name has to be different.
The first time around, I wrote these songs and found myself with a record deal kind of out of nowhere. Then when I realised I had to go out and tour and stuff like that, I thought “Alright, well the best thing for me to do is bring along a band that will distract from the fact that I don’t really know what I’m doing up here as a frontman or as a solo artist”. So I thought that if it was titled like a party or a celebration then maybe that’ll get people’s attention off of me.
Now, two years later, I don’t feel that way anymore. I feel like I’m more comfortable in my role and I know how to do this on my own terms. I don’t feel deficient in that role anymore. This time around, what I really felt like I needed to bring along with me was the ability to take a step back and appreciate the now and to have the patience to really take my time and take a deep breath and enjoy it. So that’s why I decided to name the band The Patience this time. I think for every record it’ll change and for every record it’ll be something that I need have with me that is a constant reminder.
MF: You’ve defined Parachutes as “life saving devices” and mentioned that this new album is one of your parachutes. Did you only realise this after you’d written and recorded the album or was this something you were conscious of in the creating process?
FI: It actually came about while I was making it. I started to have these conversations with Ross Robinson, who made the record with us, and he would talk about instances that inspired songs. And he asked me “what’s the worst thing that ever happened to you?” and we would talk about these things, these milestones in your life that kind of shape the person you become and I started to come to these realisations that sometimes things don’t happen to you, they happen for you.
Sometimes the thing that we perceive to be the end of the world or the worst thing that could ever happen, it was actually the best thing that ever happened because it taught us how to get back up and we learn from it. It’s another opportunity for us to become the people we eventually become, the people that we were always meant to be. So if you think about it in that way, even the worst thing you could possibly ever imagine is actually the best thing that could ever happen to you and that in itself becomes a parachute. It’s all in the way we perceive these little instances that make up this crazy thing called life.
On the first record, I could trace back every song on that record to an illness or a stomach ache I had, you know? (laughs). It was really how those songs came about, because it was my way of dealing with how I felt physically and it made me feel better. Now I can trace every song on this record to an instance in life that was a parachute for me and that’s why the record is called that.
MF: You mentioned that you worked on the new record with Ross Robinson, who has produced the likes of Korn, At the Drive-In and Slipknot to name a few. It sounded like an amazing experience, but you also have described it as a bit of a dualistic one that was both beautiful and painful. What was it like working with him?
FI: It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in my life (laughs). Hands down. I heard these stories about Ross and the process and how he gets that performance out of you and that scared me a lot. And for years I was just deathly afraid of ever working with Ross Robinson. Then, finally, I wrote a few songs and they kind of demanded to be pushed to the brink and I felt like this was my shot to either put up or shut up. So I called Ross up and every story I ever heard didn’t do the process justice. It was totally unbelievable, but it was way more positive than I thought it would be. You hear these stories about Ross, and you think he’s going to be a very aggressive presence and it’s not that way. It’s just super positive. He builds you up rather than tearing you down.
He does this thing called mental surgery, and that involves sitting down for a very long period of time and discussing and analysing the songs and what we’re trying to sing and what we’re trying to get across in the songs. I learned so much about myself and the things I was writing that, oh man, I’ve never been more emotional and exhausted but inspired at the same time in my entire life.
MF: That sounds pretty overwhelming and amazing. I think you can hear that on record in the way you experimented with so many different sounds this time. ‘I’m a Mess’ and ‘Viva Indifference’ have that signature angsty and fast punk rock vibe, whereas songs like ‘Miss Me’ almost have a country western vibe. Do you think this came out of working with Ross or was this variety something you always wanted to explore?
FI: Well, I like to be a vehicle for things that inspire me. I don’t want to colour those inspirations in too much, like I want them to just flow through me. So that whatever happens at that moment, is what I try to latch on to. I think it’s an impossibility for me to not wear my heart on my sleeve. So my inspirations come from the stuff my dad played as a kid, the stuff I grew up on like the punk and hardcore scene in the ’90s and that stuff I think will always be in my DNA. But with a song like Miss Me, I’ve wanted to write a song like that, jeez, I think ever since I first heard Johnny Cash. It was just the coolest shit in the world. You know what I mean? (laughs). You don’t get much cooler than that. So to have somebody like Ross there, he helped me chase these goals and that was priceless.
MF: I know it’s like asking to choose your favourite child, but do you have any favourites off the album that you can’t wait for fans to hear or to play live?
FI: Well, you know, we had 17 days to make the record and I wrote 18 songs and I convinced Ross to let us record 12 of those songs. When I got the record back I thought, alright, maybe if I chuck out two of those songs and I can make a ten song record, but I couldn’t for the life of me take any off. It just felt like everything needed to be there. So, as a whole, I’m really excited for people to hear it.
But if I had to pick one song, definitely the hardest song I had to write in my lifetime was the last song on the record which is September 6th. That song is about my grandfather, who I lost last year. It was a keystone of the record and it definitely was one of those songs that took the longest to write and I wasn’t sure if I was going to get through it but I knew I needed to in order to make the record feel complete. There’s no way I could’ve written a record called Parachutes and not include a song about my grandfather. He was the ultimate parachute for me. He was everything. So, I guess that’s one of the songs I’m most proud of. I’m still shocked that I got through it and got it done. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do it again, but it’s definitely something that I’m excited for people to hear.
MF: Yeah, kind of like you mentioned before, I think it was definitely a way to turn one of those tragic milestones into your life into something beautiful and it really caps the album off perfectly.
FI: Thank you so much. I really appreciate that.
MF: Before the record is released, though, you’ll be making a visit down under for the second time this year. Last time you did a few acoustic shows in Sydney and Melbourne and received an unbelievable response and a massive turn out. What are you expecting this tour to be like?
FI: Oh, man. Yeah, that was overwhelming. It was amazing to have that many people care and show up and hang out and have a great time. The original intent was always to bring the whole band down and unfortunately that didn’t pan out, but we got something just as special by doing it the way we did it. Now, I’m just looking forward to finally bring the band in and getting to play the show that we’ve wanted to play for the last three years.
MF: So obviously the new album doesn’t drop until a few weeks after the tour, but what are the chances that we’ll get a sneak peek of a few new tracks while you’re down here?
FI: That would be really fun. You know, that’s the thing. It’s rough because we’re in this day and age where… Well, I remember back when I was a kid and you’d go see a band and they would play a bunch of new songs and it was really exciting and that was the way you first got to hear it and then maybe a year down the road you’d hear a bootleg of it and how these songs were evolving. But now, everything is so immediate. The second you play a new song, it gets recorded on a cell phone and ultimately it’s released.
I don’t want that to be a first impression and I want people to hear the record as I intended it to be heard. So I don’t want to give too much away, but I think we’ll be able to play some songs. It’ll be really fun.
MF: Well, we’ll just have to wait and see! Regardless your Aussie fans are super excited, it’s been a long time coming!
FI: Yeah, I think there will definitely be some fun surprises. So I’m really looking forward to these shows so much. It’s even hard for me to put into words. Like I said, I’ve been thinking about these shows for two to three years. So it’s definitely been a long time in the making.
‘Parachutes’ will be released on October 28th. Frnkiero andthe Patience will kick off their Australian tour just prior on Friday, 7th October. See dates and details below.
Watch: Frank Iero – All I Want Is Nothing (Acoustic for Music Feeds)
Frnkiero andthe Patience Australian Tour
Friday, 7th October (All Ages)
Astor Theatre, Perth
Tickets: Live Nation
Sunday, 9th October (All Ages)
The Triffid, Brisbane
Tickets: Live Nation
Monday, 10th October (All Ages)
The Gov, Adelaide
Tickets: Live Nation
Tuesday, 11th October (18+)
Corner Hotel, Melbourne
Tickets: Live Nation
Wednesday, 12th October (All Ages)
Arrow On Swanston, Melbourne
Tickets: Live Nation
Thursday, 13th October (All Ages)
Metro Theatre, Sydney
Tickets: Live Nation