PARACHUTES: Frank Iero Explores Depth in Music, Life and More
Construction railings shield the growing line outside of U Street Music Hall from the scorching heat in Washington, DC. With just one look at the crowd, a passerby cannot pinpoint what the line is waiting for. From My Chemical Romance to Death Spells, each avenue Frank Iero has taken in his music career is represented.
A van pulls up, and out comes Frank Iero and company, all of whom have spent the past hours visiting Dischord Records in the city and grabbing lunch. The call time for loading in their equipment had been pushed an hour, so we make our way down into the heart of U Street, along with the equipment.
The green room is a grungy hole where countless artists have set up before. Furnished with old, black leather seating and a simple bathroom, the artist’s bags have been dropped off and Iero graces the room. Debuting his fresh haircut, Iero immediately fills the space with his charm. Dressed in black head to toe and adorned with an assortment of pins and patches, Iero recounts his last time in DC for his tour promoting Stomachaches with frnkiero andthe cellabration. This time, the band is nearing the end of their east coast dates, which will culminate in New Jersey, Iero’s hometown.
In October of last year, Frank Iero and the Patience released a sophomore album, Parachutes, which has given listeners everything they could ask for. Iero’s music progressed from the rigged, DIY basement punk that sounds homemade and raw, to a more refined and polished punk rock masterpiece. The lyrics are unregrettably honest and come from the depths of Iero’s soul, only to give listeners a true sense for what goes on inside his head. With bringing Ross Robinson on board, Iero tells Teal Magazine about his experience working with the legendary producer who pushed him out of his comfort zone: “[Ross] is just so kind and so supportive and emotionally present. He asks all of the right questions, like questions you don't necessarily want to answer. He really gets into your head, but like in the best way possible. And here’s the thing too, you see, I don't know maybe the process is different for other people, maybe he is able to see what you need as a person. But my experience was just the most positive beneficial experience I've ever had.”
With the release of any album, artists go on tour to create a live experience for listeners. Unfortunately, the band found themselves in a life-altering accident days before the release, which stole that initial period of excitement every artist looks forward to when sharing their work. Parachutes carries an overarching theme of how things in life essentially happen for us instead of to us. There is always a reason and always a lesson to be learned, and that is the beauty of it. Iero is incredibly honest in sharing how the accident became a real life example of what he conveys to listeners in this album. “I didn't think I was ever going to get to do that again, and to have that be kind of like stolen from you, it knocked like the wind out of my lungs, and like the soul out of my chest kind of thing. It was all encompassing and it took me a couple of weeks to kind of sit down and really listen to the record. [It] was so sad that I had been so proud of this thing and maybe not get to ever do it again, especially with the songs I’d worked on so hard but when I listened to it, it felt like I had almost written myself this letter.”
Iero has spent a good portion of his life touring, but has since left those rockstar days behind. Years later, the solo project has Iero back on the road again. With three young children at home, we asked Iero about what it is like being away from his family, “No, it’s hard man, it is. Especially when my kids are young still, they're starting to understand but they're not fully there. They'll ask you questions like, ‘Oh wow, I don't understand like you know my friend [for example] Erica’s dad doesn't leave for weeks and months on end.’ And I'm like ‘Yeah, well first off, Erica’s dad is a dick’, and so it’s like, no I don't say that, but uh it's true, but you know like some [or] most dads get to be there like maybe in the morning for a little bit and then they go to work and then they'll get to see you before you go to bed. And I feel like if you accumulate all those minuscule times and compare it to when I'm off the road, I'm there completely like I probably get more time or at least more quality time you know. By the way, I'm totally kidding about Erica’s dad. Ha! I just made that thing up.”
Teal Magazine: We’re gonna go tell Erica’s dad.
Frank Iero: No, don't tell Erica’s dad. I have to see him at a PTA meeting. But also too, I think it’s really cool that I get to go to different places and bring back like kinder eggs and weird, different things.
Iero’s exploration into a solo career started in 2014 with recording a few songs to reclaim his creativity, which eventually turned into the foundation of a full-fledged album. The difference in both albums stems from who the intended audience was. Stomachaches was not created for others to hear, until a friend of his heard the album, which led to an eventual record deal. “When I set out to do this solo thing, I decided I would name the band after something I needed to bring with me or wanted around me and then I was like alright that’s done and now I gotta go in the studio and kind of like think the process of going to the studio and making a second record, or third record, or fourth record, is you’ve kind of got to go in and reinvent yourself and kind of re-figure out like what it is that you do, how do you do it, you know, what things are supposed to sound like and if you do it correctly, you sound completely different basically from where you were. Cause you've grown as an artist and as a person. The downfall is that you have to call the band the same thing and I was like, well that really stinks and then I thought to myself well if it’s a solo project then there’s no rules. Like I could just do whatever the hell I wanted, so I want to change the name.” Keeping things unorthodox, Iero forsees continuing to change his band’s name. The work behind building a new band's aesthetic and visuals is what excites him. Iero has explored many artistic outlets, everything from painting to photography. A creative mind leaves an artist hungry for their next piece of work. For Iero, he loves the challenge of figuring out how to do something along the way, sort of “stumbling [his] way through it”. DIY is taken quite literally when Iero decided to create a sculpture from a piece of wood and nails, which would be featured on the cover of his Record Store Day release, For Jamia. The passion behind everything Iero does is undeniable and is well appreciated by those who connect with his work.
On the Parachutes track list, a theme of darkness is apparent. With such unique names, it makes sense to be curious about how Iero goes about coming up with these outrageous names. “I think it’s song to song. Sometimes you come up with a name and you're like, ‘Oh that’s so good, I got to write that down and sometimes it becomes a song. Sometimes it just stays in your phone, you know as a weird little uh quip, I guess”.
One of the more interesting titles is Veins! Veins!! Veins!!!!, a song that discusses “Being the offspring of addiction and/or offspring of an addict and knowing that it runs like through you and that you could definitely go that way if you wanted to”. Veins! is one of the many powerful concepts Iero explores on the record. This song was supposed to be the name of the album, but according to Iero, “It didn't work out that way and I'm really glad it didn’t. When I thought it was going to be the name of the record, I only imagined it being like an EP. And um, it didn't encompass everything that I was trying to say, so that’s why I kind of pushed it aside… It just kind of, because I felt like basically in a nutshell I'm going off on a tangent, do you want me to go off on a tangent?” The room bursts into laughter. Other titles like Remedy and Oceans seem simple, but an observant look at the lyrics reveals much more depth than one can imagine.
The music industry can be filled with entitled artists who forget those that helped them along the way to success. Iero’s humble and genuine demeanor is refreshing and greatly appreciated. Speaking with him feels as if you are talking with a friend, a comfort level you do not reach with strangers right off the bat. Iero must be on the top of everyone’s list for the ice breaker question “Who you would have dinner with, dead or alive?”. This man has so much to say, and each and every word is worth hearing. Frank Iero and the Patience is a project filled with a masterful sound and lyrics, and definitely not a band to fall off your radar. Iero’s personality shines on stage, leaving an everlasting connection with each crowd, bringing them back to the next set for more. Not only are these crowds incredibly invested in him as a person and artist, but the diverse age range brings an entirely new element and shows the lasting effect of Iero’s successes.
While one tour has ended, Frank Iero and the Patience will be touring Europe with Dave Hause and the Mermaid and The Homeless Gossip Choir. On September 22nd, an EP titled, Keep The Coffins Coming, will be released, which acts as the missing link between Stomaches and Parachutes.