By Deb Draisin
Frank Iero, now that his stint in My Chemical Romance is
behind him, is nothing if not a man with 25 irons in the
fire while the flames lick the ceiling. His current undertakings
this year include a six month world tour, which commenced
with two months in Russia, for the October release of “Parachutes,”
the fledgling project of his latest outfit, Frank Iero and
The Patience (which includes all members of frnkiero andthe
cellabration, save for newcomer Alexander Paul, replacing
Rob Hughes on bass.) He is also releasing a four-track EP
entitled “Keep the Coffins Coming,” has contributed
a track to the ACLU benefit album put together by Taking
Back Sunday’s John Nolan entitled “Music For
Everyone,” all while the patience recover from a terrible
accident which almost claimed the lives of his bandmates
– and it’s only April.
Frank was sweet enough, as he always has been, to give JB
a bit of his time this morning as the band gears up to hit
the road next week, with their first stop being the iconic
Music Hall of Williamsburg.
Q: Good Morning, Frank – it’s been a while since
we’ve spoken last - how are you doing?
Frank: Good Morning, Deb. Yeah, it has. I’m great,
thanks, and you?
Q: I’m good. Tough year though, for both of us: death,
accidents, insanity, lost wages.
Frank: So just like every day, in other words (laughs.)
Q: Point. Okay, first things first, since we’re both
aficionados: best horror films to come out within the last
Frank: “Fun and Games” was fantastic.
Q: Thank you, I’m gonna go check that out, because
everything that I’ve watched is just awful. Like “Annabelle”
had such high ratings – it was terrible.
Frank: I’m so disappointed by every one of those movies.
Like “The Conjuring,” all of those movies –
they’re all fucking bullshit.
Q: Awful. “American Horror Story” was awful.
The only thing decent was “Lights Out,” that
one was alright – you should check it out.
Frank: I heard “Get Out” was really, really
Q: Yeah, but here’s the thing: “Get Out”
had some slasher stuff, but it’s more like a comedy.
You think you’re going to get scared out of your wits,
but you’re laughing the entire time. It’s kinda
like a Freddy Kruger movie.
Frank: Ah, okay – well, that doesn’t bum me
out too much; I like the campiness. If somebody were to
try and do that in a newer realm, that could get really
dumb, but, for the most part, I can really appreciate camp.
Q: All the Vincent Price shit was really, really good.
Frank: Oh yeah, anything with Vincent Price, you can’t
go wrong. Like “Last Man On Earth,” when he’s
putting the stake in?
Q: Oh, yeah!
Frank: (laughing) You couldn’t cut an apple with the
amount of force that he’s using. I love that fucking
Q: He was the master. There’s a scene in “Dr.
Phibes Rises Again”where he’s eating fish through
his tracheal hole. He starts choking on a bone, so he pulls
it back out through the side of his neck. That will never
be topped. The Hitchcock movies were also really good. What
was the best classic, for you?
Frank: Maybe “House on Haunted Hill” - I love
that movie. The Universal stuff was fantastic, but I have
a specific memory of watching “House on Haunted Hill”
with my father as a kid.
Q: Yeah, I used to watch with my dad too. We used to have
Frank: Totally, yeah. I definitely got to see a lot of shit
that there’s no way I should have (laughs.) My dad
went to go see “House on Haunted Hill” when
he was a kid, and it scared him shitless. You know that
scene where they have the skeleton go across on a cable?
Q: I love that scene, it’s so fucking funny.
Frank: So, they did that in the theater when it first came
out, and people lost their fucking minds.
Q: Yeah, they used to do things like that. Like that fifties
alien movie, when they ran all this viral marketing on the
radio, and people thought aliens were really landing.
Frank: “War of the Worlds?”
Q: I think that was it, yeah - I fucking love that shit.
Speaking of Vincent Price, there was a scene in one his
films where he addresses the audience directly - the one
with the hand that comes to life by itself?
Frank: Oh, was that “The Tingler?”
Q: Pretty sure. The theater would turn all the lights off,
and while Price is telling the audience “Nobody move,
it’s amongst you!” the theater would zap them
with buzzers underneath their seats. They don’t do
shit like that anymore, Man.
Frank: Nowadays, people would just have a heart attack and
Q: True, you’re probably right. So, let’s take
a moment for this, since all of us parents love to crow
about our kids: name one really cool thing about each of
your little guys.
Frank: I love how fearless they are to be themselves. That
is one of the things that’s so precious about youth,
you know? There’s no self-consciousness at this point;
they just have this inherent weirdness that they’re
not afraid to show.
Q: Well, that’s you guys, too. If your parenting style
allows them to express themselves, then they’ll feel
comfortable doing so.
Frank: I hope so. That’s the thing: once you smother
that – if you snuff that out, then you’re in
for a long haul of shit. We have our entire lives to feel
self-conscious - you don’t need that at six.
Q: No, but they’re fucking schoolmates will do that
for you. Also, you know, the therapy bills will get really
high once they start blaming you for everything that you
sucked at. Now, considering the current unfortunate political
climate, is it maybe time to resurrect “I Want to
Kill the President?” You could give it another name,
they won’t know.
Frank: Oh, man…that was an expensive, expensive mistake
Q: Nobody prepares you for that, unfortunately.
Frank: That kinda shit is funny if you’re a single
person, but not if you have, like, kids and a wife - putting
other people at risk, that’s not cool.
Q: They don’t tell you these things when you become
Frank: No, they don’t, it’s a shame. I should
have been smarter about it.
Q: You should have just given it another title – that’s
all you had to do. They would have never known the difference;
it’s artistic license.
Frank: Well, you know, when you’re young, you don’t
have any fear of anything.
Q: And then they teach you really quickly that you definitely
should. So, let’s talk about this EP that’s
coming out, “Keep the Coffins Coming.”
Frank: Once the touring for “Stomachaches” was
over, I had a conversation with my manager, Paul, around
January, and he was like “Alright, what do you want
to do? What’s the next thing?” I really wasn’t
sure just yet, so we had this discussion about bucket lists.
I was writing a little bit, but I really didn’t know
what the next record was going to be yet. It came up that
I had always wanted to work with Steve Albini.
We called Steve, and he had like three days free, so we
packed the cars up, and I drove out to Chicago and recorded
this EP. The only songs that I had, as far as new stuff,
was “I’m A Mess,” and this demo idea for
“Veins.” “Veins” never got finished,
but we recorded “Mess,” an alternate, full-band
version of “Best Friends Forever,” “No
Fun Club” and a cover version of “You Are My
Sunshine.” So, those four songs are the EP.
It’s weird, though: I don’t consider that version
of “Mess” to be a demo - it’s still a
full version, just different than the LP version. When we
went in with Ross, I didn’t know if we needed it,
but I love it just as much. I love both versions the same,
and I think it’s really cool to hear where that song
started from, and then where it ended up. Both versions
have validity, you know? That’s why releasing this
EP made so much sense, I think – it’s such a
bridge between “Stomachaches” and “Parachutes.”
Q: So which version of “I’m A Mess” will
you be showcasing on the road?
Frank: Ha! A different live version.
Q: Cool, sounds good. How do the kids feel about you covering
Frank: Good question! Lily’s psyched about it, because
I showed her a video of us playing it in Russia, with all
of these kids singing along to it, so she went “Am
I…am I famous?” I said “Yeah, I guess
you are. You’re an international songwriter now –
all of these kids know your song. That’s kinda huge.”
Q: That’s right. Nepotism is alive and well in the
Iero household. Alright, so it’s been a really tough
year for you. You lost your beloved grandfather (I feel
you there,) and then you had a near-death experience yourself.
How has that all changed your approach to your art, and
to life, really?
Frank: Geez, I don’t know. I guess…I’m
still here? It’s non-linear: each day is different.
I think about all of it a lot, on a daily basis. It just
changes you. I don’t know if you know specifically
how it changes you, you just know that you’re a different
person – not necessarily for the better or for the
Q: Of course. How is everybody doing? Are you guys physically
and emotionally okay? Is it relative?
Frank: Well, there’s a lot left to do recovery-wise,
and a lot more living left to do.
Q: Christ. Do you know how that happened? Do you have any
details as to why?
Frank: You know, we’ll hear certain things through,
like, third parties – police reports and stuff like
that. There is an investigation that’s ongoing. From
what I can gather, I think it was just a terrible accident.
Q: Whew, crazy shit, Man.
Frank: Yeah, it’s super fucked-up.
Q: The story you told was insane: I can’t even picture
that. Did your fucking life flash before your eyes?
Frank: It does a bit. You think about a lot of things; things
become really clear. Even though it’s just a moment,
it lasts a very, very long time. Quite honestly, you think
about everything. There is a peaceful realization that you
come to, and you kinda say goodbye to everything.
Q: (sucking in a breath) Wow…what was the first thing
you did afterward, call home?
Frank: Yeah, once everyone got packed up. The first thing
is to make sure that everyone is getting some kind of medical
attention. The second thing is to call home and let them
know that something’s happened, and you’re all
going to the hospital and will contact them from there -
and whatever they do, they should not look at the news.
Q: Sure, because the news will just say that there’s
been a horrible accident, and that’s it. God, poor
Jamia: two of her family members hospitalized in another
country. That had to be the worst. Whoa, I can’t even
Frank: And as far away as you possibly can be too - it was
Q: I’m glad you guys are okay, or at least working
on being okay.
Frank: Thank you, Deb.
Q: Has the accident brought you all closer together in a
way? Does something like that change your relationship?
Frank: Yeah. It’ll be six months on Thursday, so we’re
gonna have a little get-together. It’s impossible
to live through something like that and not have a special
Q: Absolutely. Wow, six months already, holy shit. I get
it: nobody else really understands what it felt like in
that moment but you guys. Whew. Okay, let’s get off
this subject and find something happier to discuss. You’ve
mentioned that you had considered going back to school at
one point – what would you have studied?
Frank: I had close to a Bachelor’s, but left just
shy of it. I would like to have a diploma – I’d
like to have finished. As far as a specific major or concentration,
I don’t know. I was working on an art major, but it
was like “Well, I can quit now, and go and really
live in the art world, or I can stay here and study about
it and at the end of it, then I’ve got to get a job?
I have a job right now, what’s a piece of paper?”
I felt like opportunity was knocking, and I had to go and
live it. So, that’s kinda the thing, right? Do you
sit there at home and talk about art, or do you go out and
live it in the real world?
Q: I don’t think anybody else at 18 or 19 years old
would have made much of a different decision. You think
differently when you’re older.
Frank: Yeah, but I would like to finish it somehow. I don’t
know if I have the time just yet.
Q: It’s fucking hard. I’m in my third year now,
and it’s going to take me five years to get my B.A..
Frank: Sure, once you’re out of it for so long, it’s
a hard thing to get back into, I would imagine.
Q: It’s hard, but your attitude is different, because
Frank: Yeah, I feel like you’re not as concerned with
it. There are other things that are way more important to
you, but when you do go back, you’re going back specifically
to finish – you have a goal in mind.
Q: Because you want it – you’re not trying to
make your parents happy, or whatever.
Frank: Exactly, exactly – and I think that’s
a great thing, but at the same time, I haven’t written
a paper in a very, very long time. I don’t even know
if I have those muscles anymore.
Q: Well, if you’re a writer – which you are
– that’s actually the easy part, especially
if you’re writing about art. The harder part is, like,
Frank: That’s true. Studying, I guess, is going to
be the hardest part.
Q: Studying sucks, and I’m terrible at it. Okay, so
let’s get into “Parachutes” now. Do you
have a favorite line from “Parachutes?”
Frank: A favorite line, or a favorite song?
Frank: Favorite song is “I’ll Let You Down.”
It might be because that song was never supposed to be,
to be honest. I’d written it on acoustic guitar, on
tour, and I really thought of that song as only an acoustic
song. But our recording process got pushed back a week,
and in that week, we were just kinda sitting at home in
this, basically, holding pattern, and I had that song. So,
I wrote a quick, live band arrangement for it, and said
“Well, let’s just try this while we’re
here.” It ended up being one of my favorite songs
on the record.
Q: I like that one too – it’s fucking super
catchy. I’m looking forward to seeing it live.
Frank: Oh, thanks – yeah, I hope so! (laughs)
Q: Right? Imagine I was like “Oh, fuck you, I don’t
care.” Okay, so that’s the favorite song. What
about the favorite line?
Frank: Geez, I don’t know if I can boil it down to
one. Maybe “Nothing can hurt me like I hurt myself.”
Q: That’s fucking relatable; seconded. That pretty
much sums up how everybody feels most of the fucking time.
Q: Do you think that heartbreak is the artist’s bread
and butter? Do you think you could continue making art if
you were one hundred percent content with yourself?
Frank: You know, that’s a hard question, because I
don’t like to think that you can only create when
you’re unhappy. I think that you need the experience
of both. I think sometimes it’s easier to create from
misery, but I’d like to think that it’s not
the only way, that it’s not a requirement.
Q: Well, we wouldn’t know, right? For those of us
who are never satisfied with ourselves, we don’t know
what it’s like to be that way.
Frank: That’s the thing, right? Everybody asks “What’s
your best advice for somebody who’s aspiring to be
an artist?” So that’s basically: only do this
if you really, really wanna be in an old, loveless marriage.
Love something so much that does not give a shit about you
- lifelong self-hatred and disappointment.
Q: Yes! My boy and he and his guitar player have been scolded
that if they’re any more self-deprecating, it’s
going to become uncomfortable for the audience (both laugh.)
Frank: That was one of the things that made me so leery
of going into the studio with Ross Robinson – I thought
that he was going to be this imposing breakdown of a force
– yelling at you and throwing things at you. But it
really was the exact opposite! It was all positive - I’ve
never been a part of something so positive. A lot of dudes,
like, break you down to build you up, but all he did was
built you up from where you were. He was more inspiring
for me as an artist than anyone else I’ve ever worked
Q: So you got off on positive feedback, imagine that!
Frank: I know, isn’t that crazy? How did at happen?
Q: I don’t know! Okay, so you’ve stated that
the lyrics on “Parachutes” were intended to
be an unfiltered snapshot into your mindset at the time.
What’s one thing that you wish that more people understood
Frank: Oh, man…wow. That, I think, I have to answer
with a line from “Mess:” “I’m tired
of miracles and being so understood.” I don’t
think you need to be that understood. I think it’s
okay that certain things are just for you – you just
create and you get it to come across, and if you’re
telling the truth, then that’s fine, whether people
truly get it or not is secondary. One of the things that,
as a younger person, I didn’t truly understand about
art is that the final act in an art project is to release
it to the world and relinquish control. I was so worried
about that, like “Oh, this is mine,” you know,
it’s your baby, blah blah blah – but that truly
does not matter, you know? It’s about the final act,
and just kinda putting it out there and releasing it –
just like the final act of parenting; relinquishing control.
Q: No, I’m on the cusp of that right now, stop! I’m
Frank: It’s the hardest thing, the hardest fucking
act, but it’s so important.
Q: Yeah, I know, it is important. Can you say something
about fan boundaries issues again - something you’d
like to let people know about how frightening and intrusive
fan behavior can be?
Frank: Well, I think it’s important to remember that
we’re all people – all of us – fan, artist,
everybody. When you start to see someone as not a person,
but just like a product or an entity, that’s when
things get really hairy. It’s important to have that
sense of personal space and time so that we can give you
our all at the show.
Q: You have always been super chill about coming out and
meeting fans every show – it’s surprising to
me that you’ve run into issues. I realize that sometimes
you’re in a country where you don’t play often,
Frank: Yeah, I try to keep that in mind, that each culture
Q: Thank you so much for your time, Frank, I’m looking
forward to the Brooklyn show.
Frank: I can’t wait! Thanks, Deb.
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