Artist Interview – Frank Iero

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I’ve always been a Frank Iero fan, and I was lucky enough to go to a frnkiero andthe patience show on Monday. The show itself was beyond amazing (check out my review here!), and I got the chance to talk to Iero after the show. I’d had an interview scheduled, but there was a mix-up and Iero wasn’t able to make it before the show. Fortunately, his tour manager is incredible and got me in afterwards. Everyone that I got the chance to interact with, all of Iero’s crew, were incredibly thoughtful and genuine, from Frank himself to the rest of his touring band. Anyway, without further ado, here it is:

Indientry: Hi, it’s really nice to meet you. Thank you so much for meeting with me afterwards.

Frank Iero: Thank you so much, I really appreciate this.

I: Sorry for all of the hassle. So, you said that you were feeling sick because you guys were just going, going, going?

F: Yeah, so last week, we left on Thursday and flew to Paris, we did this press trip, we went to Paris, London, Amsterdam, Berlin, and then back to London, and we did all of these acoustic sets, and we did interviews all day, so I was talking for maybe 12 hours straight and I had two double-headers, acoustic shows, and then we flew back and I was home for a minute and then we flew out and did this tour, the double-header with Death Spells and the patience, and then a Death Spells set the next day, and yesterday we did a double header a patience set to another double header, and I have nothing left.

I: Wow. That’s a lot. I’m impressed that you’re still out here giving it everything, that’s awesome.

F: I don’t know if it’s everything, but it’s everything I’ve got.

I: It was a lot, it was good. It was an excellent show. How’s your family? I always hear about them.

F: They’re good, yeah, they’re the best. They’re the reason I can do this stuff. They’re so awesome. Like, my girls are starting first grade, and my son is in pre-k, and my wife’s just like, the f*cking supermom of all supermoms. I think I’ve got a busy schedule, and then I realize she’s at school and f*cking being a mom, and putting up with my sh*t too, and it’s like, I can’t imagine, I wouldn’t be able to do that. All I gotta do is sing.

I: Yeah, that’s really great. So your birthday is on Halloween, talk about that, I love Halloween!

F: I like Halloween too. If I could’ve picked a birthday it would’ve been on Halloween. Yeah, it’s always been my favorite holiday. Not because it was my birthday, but actually because, I think it was the freedom, you know? When you were a little kid, you got to go out and be an adult for a couple of hours. You got to, like, just go out with your friends and knock on peoples’ doors and be nuts and pull pranks and stuff like that. You could be whoever you wanted to be, you know, I guess that was the appeal to it. And I always gravitated towards the imagery of it and it was the best weather, especially in Jersey where we get one month a year that’s really nice out, and it used to be October, now I feel like winter starts in October. Yeah, it’s always just my favorite time of year. Just so happens our record comes out around then, too.

I: Yeah, I was just about to ask about that!

F: Well, it just so happens that I was talking to my friend and he was like, “Yo, wouldn’t it be good if it came out for your birthday,” I was like “I guess so!”

I: It’s the day after my birthday, too, so it’s perfect for me!

F: Is it? Wow! So you’re a Scorpio?

I: Yes!

F: Nice! It’s hard for people to put up with us, huh? *laughing* We don’t realize it sometimes.

I: I was about to ask about the album actually! What can you tell me about the sound of Parachutes as opposed to Stomachaches and your previous solo stuff?

F: So, Stomachaches started out as I was writing these songs, and I didn’t know why I was writing these songs, I just had these songs in my head and I didn’t know how to get them out. And I kind of felt like if you had asked me then what the plan was, I was like, “Oh, I probably am done playing music, I just wanna do, like, other stuff and I wanna write a book.” I wanna, like, I had this really weird thing where I would really love to be a mailman.*laughing* I think it’d be really fun. I don’t know, yeah, it’s weird. That was, like, a goal of mine. So I thought, “Alright, well, I’ll just do this stuff in my free time, pursue my other interests.” And one thing led to another, and I got out the doors on some Death Spells stuff, James was on tour, and a friend of mine, Matt Galle, he’s my booking agent, he asked me what I had been up to, and I played him the stuff I had made in my basement, and he was like “You should do something about this.” And so I played it for some people. Basically, when I wrote those songs, I wanted it to be like a moment in time, like, I wanted it to be like, I wanted you to feel like you were listening in on something, it was like a time capsule for me. This time around, y’know, life got in the way, I got a record deal, we went on tour with it, I’m more comfortable in that situation and I came to grips with the fact that I was gonna do this again. And I knew I was gonna have to write a record that people were gonna hear. I’m a big proponent of letting songs tell me what they wanna sound like, so Stomachaches, I guess the songs, they told me that they wanted to sound like a makeshift art project. And this time around, the songs, they were kind of begging for a little bit more. I felt like I needed to kind of push myself a lot, almost to the brink, y’know? And so I decided that it was the perfect time, it’s one of those bucket list things, so I called Ross Robinson, somebody that I was always too scared to call. And it just so happened that he wanted to make a record with me too, and so this record is definitely a lot different than Stomachaches. And that’s also, too, why I thought I gotta change the name of the band. If I’m gonna reinvent myself and reinvent the way I think about music, and how I’m approaching this project, it’s not the same band, I gotta change that. I think every record you should do that, so I think every record the band name will probably change.

I: So do you plan on releasing more?

F: *laughing* I never said that! We’ll see.

I: At least plan on making more, whether or not it gets released?

F: That ties into this: basically, I thought for a very long time that making music and art projects, that that was just something that I did, and real life was separate. And I’m starting to realize that the things that I do, making music and art and photography and all that, it’s not just something that I do. It’s who I am. So I don’t think I’ll ever be able to stop. It’s like that curse that you live with, this thing that you love but you also hate it at the same time. It brings you a lot of joy but also a lot of heartbreak. So I’ll probably always do it. I don’t know if anybody will ever hear it, but I’ll always do it.

I: Good! So Death Spells and the patience, do they have any influence over each other, or are they two separate entities?

F: I feel like with everything you do, everything you make, everything you experience, y’know, even the dumb stuff that you don’t even really pay much attention to, like the mundane stuff that happens to you every day, it shapes the person who you are. And I think that’s really the beauty of life, like, we’re this collection of moments, this collection of experiences that we’ve had, or little tics that we’ve stolen from other people, it’s like we’re this amalgamation of all of that. So I feel like when I was doing Death Spells, no one ever heard the record, it made me feel weird because I felt like I was building this skyscraper with the middle floor missing. And I knew that there was stuff that I got to on the patience record that I never would’ve gotten to without Death Spells. So I feel like it’s definitely a journey, y’know? And how’d you get to this point without that road in the middle? I didn’t really plan on releasing them both at the same time, but it just so happened to be that way.

I: Awesome. There are so many fans who you’ve influenced, who you’ve helped through your music, and the positive vibes that you put out there, the positive vibes. I’m sure they tell you this all the time. How does that make you feel, and is there any responsibility there?

F: I mean, I thought for a long time that within art, that you would come up with an idea, you would labor over it intensely until you felt like it was done, and then when you finished it, that was the final stage. I started to realize that that’s not actually the completion of it. The final stage of any kind of art is to really lose control over it and let it affect other people. You can’t control the effect that it has on people, but you hope that it has some sort of reaction. You just hope that they’re not indifferent to it, you wanna make people feel something, whether it’s love or hate. Sometimes art is just about getting a reaction, that’s really the end-all be-all. I’ve been really fortunate where I’ve made stuff that connects to people on a positive level, and that makes me feel really good, but I can’t feel comfortable in dictating what they’re supposed to feel out of it, nor am I a professional in something where I can really help people any farther than creating the things that I make to help myself. It’s nice that it helps other people, it’s really not my job or my place, but I have found that sometimes people just need to say certain things and they need someone to talk to, and if I can be that sounding board sometimes, then that’s cool. Sometimes it’s a little overwhelming to take on other people’s stories, that’s just the kind of person I am, maybe I’m empathetic to a fault, I internalize a lot, so it can be a bit hard sometimes, but I understand that that’s what they need, and if I can do it, then I’ll do it, but if I can’t, then I’ll try to take a knee.

I: That’s really awesome. Tell me about your tattoos. You have a lot of them, which are your favorites?

F: These are birthmarks. *laughing* Some of my favorites are the worst ones. I tend to really like things that are broken, I like the ones that are perfectly imperfect, but I have a couple of tribute pieces to my grandmother and my grandfather that are very special to me. Y’know, this kind of goes back to what I was saying before, that every experience that you have is important. I found out recently, it’s taken me 35 years to figure this out, but I realized that things don’t happen to you, they happen for you. And it’s the same thing, every tattoo you have is part of a scrapbook, it’s a memory, whether that’s good or bad, it’s about a time or a place that affected you. So there’s a special place in my heart for all of them, even the ones that are real f*cked up.

I: You talked on your website a little bit about the name of the new album, Parachutes, they’re life-saving devices, music is one of your parachutes, talk about that a little bit.

F: I feel like the older I get, the more I start to think about life in general. All the clichés that people tell you, the ones that you hear over and over and over again, there’s a reason they’re cliché, there’s a reason you hear them over and over again, because it’s all true. As much as you don’t wanna hear it, it’s true. You’ll find out later on, like “Man, they’re all right.”*laughing* So I started thinking about how life is a lot like getting pushed out of a plane. You didn’t ask to be here, none of us did. But we’re all careening through space towards an eventual end that no one’s gonna be able to put off. That’s the only thing that’s definite, this impact. So I started to think about how a lot of us fall at an incredible velocity, and it’s over in the blink of an eye. I’ve always tended to emphasize that, I did for a long time. But I’ve started to realize that’s not what I wanted out of this fall. I like taking my time and seeing the things around me and appreciating the now. I started to realize that the things that helped me do that were these things that brought me love, brought me joy. And if we’re all just falling towards an eventual end, falling towards the ground, then these things are parachutes. We’re all gonna land, we don’t have rocket packs that last forever. But these things that we love, these things that give us purpose, these moments along the way are our parachutes. So I feel very fortunate to have all of these. Art and my family are pretty much my biggest parachutes.

I: Since we have to wrap it up, can we take a picture for the article?

F: Sure. Thank you so much.

I: Thank you! Good luck on the rest of your tour, and I hope you feel better!

I can’t thank Frank and his crew enough. The show was incredible and they all stuck around afterwards so I could talk to him for a few minutes. Keep an eye out for Parachutes, the new frnkiero andthe patience album, coming out October 28th! I can’t wait to hear it!

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