Jersey Beat Music Fanzine

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 decade?

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 good.

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 movie.

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 Horror Saturdays.

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 sue.

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 (both laugh.)

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 a grown-up.

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 their song?

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 worse, just…different.

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 imagine.

Frank: And as far away as you possibly can be too - it was super shitty.

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 connection.

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 you care.

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, tests.

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?

Q: Both?

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.

Frank: True!

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 with.

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 about you?

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 dreading it.

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, but…

Frank: Yeah, I try to keep that in mind, that each culture is different.

Q: Thank you so much for your time, Frank, I’m looking forward to the Brooklyn show.

Frank: I can’t wait! Thanks, Deb.

Read up, listen up, watch a vid, and buy some shit:

Give Frank a shout:
Twitter @FrankIero

Tweet the rest of the Patience:
@ TeamGrippo


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