Frank Iero’s debut album, ‘Stomachaches’, was a modern day gem for alternative music. It was loud, harsh, abrasive, but also both poppy and melodic, while also being quite personal. It showed the great songwriting tips and tricks he learnt while in My Chemical Romance and the energy and aggression of his time in the sorely underrated Leathermouth.
Originally called Frnkiero andthe cellarbration, his band now goes by the name of Frank Iero and the Patience. With this new name comes the next chapter in Iero’s and his bandmates careers and inevitably a new album – ‘Parachutes’. Much like it’s predecessor, ‘Parachutes’ is loud and abrasive, but also poppy and melodic and it’s even more personal and honest if that’s possible. It’s also quite good!
With their second album dropping late next month, we recently spoke with Iero about where the band’s long-term view, the new album’s artwork, understanding the responsibility of honest songwriting, and on writing one of the hardest songs he’s ever had to write.
With Soundwave Festival being cancelled and your first Aussie tour being solely acoustic, you still got such a warm reception from the fans. So does that set expectations for your October tour with the full band?
I guess so? I’m not sure, really. We did that tour because we just wanted to come over so badly. But now I am really excited because so many people are excited about this project and with the full band coming with me. It’s fun to do acoustic shows as songs can take on a different shape. But rock music is often meant to be played in a club and in the dark. One’s not better than the other, its just a…different feeling and I’m keen to play these songs with the original intent of the record.
For sure man! Songs like ‘Joyriding’ become so different in that sense. Now, how are you and the other three guys seeing the long-term stretch of the band right now? What with having a new name, a new album, and a slightly different vibe.
That’s a very good question, because when I started this, it was a selfish project. It was something that I felt I needed to do. I had to write those songs to feel better. For all respective purposes, I thought I was done with music. I was just going to record a CD and leave it in a drawer as a time capsule. But then I got signed to a label, people heard it, I went out and toured it. Now, with a new album, I know what it all entails. Which is scary, because now I had to sit down and write a record, which wasn’t the mentality I had with Stomachaches. This time, I knew I could write and record music with people in a room as opposed to just being alone with a computer. So now, the sky’s the limit. You can hear me as an artist growing in confidence and you can hear the band growing as well. To me, I hear a band playing instead of just one person makeshift making a record. This album feels more visceral and it has more life to it.
The re-naming was interesting to me because people usually tend to associate patience with the soft, the slow, and the restrained. Yet this album is still very punk; it’s very loud and intense at times. Like, with your screams on songs like ‘Dear Percocet’, it reminded me so much of your vocals from Leathermouth.
Well, thank you, I appreciate that man! I think that those factions of my personality are always going to appear in my various projects and the things I like to play.
I think that the moniker, may for different people, exude a feeling of quietness or solace, but I think you can find solace in chaos. The idea of bringing the Patience along was really a direct correlation to when I named the band the Cellabration. Two years ago, I felt very unsure as a songwriter and a frontman and I needed a distraction. So people who came to the shows, wouldn’t realise I was deficient in those roles. But now, I don’t need that anymore.
Good to hear! On ‘I’m A Mess’, there’s the line ‘I like the saddest songs, pretending I’m alright’, and I think that that really sums up a lot of the personal honesty you’re showing with this record.
Well the first time around, I wrote a record that I didn’t care how it came off because as I said, I didn’t think anyone would hear it. This time around, I knew that people would hear it and would want to read the lyrics and interpret them. With that newfound realisation, I wanted to drill certain point’s home here. When you write music or when you create art, you can’t dictate what people will feel and how they’ll interpret things or their very first experience with it. That’s one thing I wanted to be really conscious of and it drove me nuts writing these lyrics. Which was maybe why Ross (Robinson) was the perfect person to work with on this record. He cared so much about what was being said and the song meanings. Working with him, you learn a lot about songwriting and your songs. I would think a song was about one particular thing but it was actually about another.
But you’re right, there’s a sense of honesty on this record that I didn’t know that I’d be able to accomplish. There are two ways you can look at it when you finally realise that someone’s going to read your lyrics. You can either overly veil the truth or lie, or you can be as honest as humanly possible and as clear as possible. That’s the route I took.
Yeah, you really did! I think a lot of people will enjoy that. On that, with lyrics of this nature, there are going to be fans that will analyze this to the craziest degree. With the fame that you had prior to this and the fact that people will get these lyrics tattooed on them, does that ever weigh on your mind the impact you can have?
I think…there’s a fine line. I think knowing how people consume what you put out and how much it means to them and that is a great responsibility. It’s one you may not want to have, but it’s there. So you can go to one side and let that dictate what you write, and I don’t think that’s a good option or you can over think what you’re writing until it drives you crazy that you’re so clear about the message. When people come to you and say that a certain song helped them out and they show their tattoo, their homemade shirt, or this art project, the connection is so real and it is also so positive.
Well, on the actual artwork of the album, it really stuck out to me. As you’ve said in the press release and in so many interviews now, the idea of parachutes being life-saving devices was interesting. As I saw the child as you and those two figures as your parents. I’m not sure if that’s actually the case…
No, it is! I’m glad you brought that up, that was the exact idea. When thinking about making the album art, which is hugely important to me as a first impression, I thought about live-saving devices and things that bring safety. The first time you experience that is when you meet your parents. So it was imperative to have my folks in the art. I spoke to Angela Dean, who is great with working with found photography, and I sent her this old photo of my parents holding me. The two ghostly figures on the cover are my actual parents.
Oh, cool! It gels so well with the meaning of the album. Now, on parental figures, I want to talk about the final track, ‘September 6th. I saw that as about losing a close father-like figure and I wanted to ask about it if you’re of course open to the idea?
That song is about my grandfather. September 6th, 2015 was the day he passed away. That song was so important for me to write, and it was probably the hardest song for me to write. It was the cornerstone of the record. I am…shocked sometimes I made it through it, to be honest with you. It’s a rough one. But I know that it’s a song that he would love and I’m most proud of it. There’s no way I could write a song about parachutes and not mentioning him. He was the end-all, be-all.
Of course man, and thank you for sharing that with me. As you said, it is a rough one and I can really hear and feel it in your voice. I think if you were ever going to point to a Frank Iero song in terms of its honesty and how forthcoming you can be, I’d say that that’s the main song to pick out.
Oh, wow man, I really appreciate that, and I would totally agree with you.
Well with that Frank, we’ll have to leave it there so you can do the rest of your interviews. Thank you so much for jumping on the phone with me today, it was a good chat!
My absolute pleasure Alex, thank you so much.
‘Parachutes’ is out October 28th via Vagrant Records/Cooking Vinyl Australia. Frank and his bandmates will be touring Australia with Walter Schreifels next month. Tickets here.
FRIDAY 7 OCTOBER: ASTOR THEATRE, PERTH – all ages
SUNDAY 9 OCTOBER: THE TRIFFID, BRISBANE – all ages
MONDAY 10 OCTOBER: THE GOV, ADELAIDE – all ages
TUESDAY 11 OCTOBER: CORNER HOTEL, MELBOURNE – 18+
WEDNESDAY 12 OCTOBER: ARROW ON SWANSTON, MELBOURNE – all ages
THURSDAY 13 OCTOBER: METRO THEATRE, SYDNEY – all ages