INTERVIEW: Frank Iero
MEGHAN GILLEECE: In 2013, following the split of My Chemical Romance and during a particularly abhorrent bout of illness and digestive issues, Frank Iero began concentrating his efforts on his solo project Frnk Iero And The Cellabration.
The result was debut album Stomachaches, a candid, raw and brazenly punk insight into Iero’s life which has been met with rave reviews and critical acclaim – impressive when you consider that he recorded the entire album himself in his basement, aside from drums which are provided by former MCR drummer Jarrod Alexander.
This summer, he announced three Irish dates (much to the excitement of unashamed ex-emo kids like myself), and I was lucky enough to have a chat with him earlier this week.
So, you’re playing a couple of shows at Belfast’s Bar Sub at the end of the month. Have you ever been to Ireland before and if so, do you have any special memories of being here?
“Yes, I have been before! Not as much as I would’ve liked to. I remember it was at a festival, I was with My Chemical Romance at the time. We were backstage and a lot of good bands were playing that day, and among them were Weezer and I remember getting to hear Rivers play, and getting to hear him warm up, and do vocal warm ups. They were doing Teenage Dirtbag. It was unbelievable. It actually made me, like, upset how wonderful it sounded.”
You’ve been on the road for most of the summer. How do you manage to balance family life and your busy touring schedule?
“Yeah I have. We did June, July and August. It is hard, it’s a juggling act. How to do it? I don’t know if I’ve figured it out totally yet, you know? My kids are at that age where they notice that you’re gone and they tell you, ‘no, just don’t go.’ It’s heart breaking really. When you think about it though, if I had just a normal, everyday job I’d probably only get to see them for maybe an hour a day.”
What would you say are the most major differences for you between what you’re doing now and what you were doing with MCR? Do you feel like you have more freedom creatively now that you’re solo?
“Yeah, well it’s good but it’s a completely different animal. It is different, because there’s so much on my shoulders and sometimes that’s great. I never wanted to be a front man, I never really wanted to be the singer in the band. I only did it kind of out of necessity because no one else would do it. I feel like there’s a thin line between being a musician, and being this joke. Like, I never wanted to be like David Lee Roth, that kind of central front man thing. He does a great job of it, but it’s just not my deal.”
I know that you were unwell during the making and recording of Stomachaches. Was writing almost like a form of therapy for you during this time? And aside from your illness, what influenced you during the making of the record?
“Well, yeah it definitely was. That’s the thing about the record too. There was never the intention to make the record and put it out. It was a therapy and a way to block out the way I was feeling and get through it. I feel like that cliché of something good coming out of something bad is true. It turned a bad thing into a good thing and that was something I wanted to do.”
“Oh man, you know, I have favourites and I have least favourites I guess. Neverenders is always really fun. I really like that song a lot. I think it has a lot of good qualities to it.”
Who do you admire most in the industry, and is there anyone you admire for their longevity such as the Neil Young’s or the Dylan’s?
“Tom Waits. He’s done it off his own devices. I like people like him that do everything. That’s something that I’m very interested in. I think I’d like to do it that kind of way.”
And do you have any more mainstream influences musically that your fans might be surprised by?
“I don’t know, that’s kind of like what’s your guilty pleasure. No, I mean if you like a song, you like a song, and you shouldn’t be ashamed of it.”
I’ve been a big fan since the early My Chemical Romance days. Do you think there’s any chance of a reunion in the future and do you still stay in touch with the band?
“Yeah, not now, but who knows. If you were to ask me now, I would say no. But, we talk as much as we did back then when we were on the road which is not a lot. Any band that you’re in, when you’re on the road that’s the family, and when you go off the road that’s it.”
Are there any plans in the works for a new Death Spells album/tour?
“There is yeah. I feel like James and I are going to have to get together and finish the stuff, but I’ve been saying that for years! Right now I feel like it’s such an unfinished project, and I’d like to see it finished.”
I know you’re doing Reading and Leeds next week, what are your plans for the rest of the year? Are you going to relax after such a busy summer?
“That would be nice, right? There’s something else in the works, but I can’t really discuss that just yet! But I would like to do some more writing.”