After the split of My Chemical Romance, Frank Iero, rhythm guitar and backing vocalist for the group, thought he was going to step away from pursuing music professionally.
“My intention was to do something completely different, like a total 180,” Iero said.
His plans were to get a “straight job,” or write a book, but to his surprise that didn’t happen.
Iero’s friend heard a few songs he was working on in his basement, and asked if he could play them for a friend, which ended up landing him a record deal.
“It was like, “Oh shit, I have to go on the road now,’” he laughs, comparing his return to “The Godfather.” He knew he would be pulled back in, despite his attempt to escape.
That was three years ago with “Stomachaches,” his debut album as a solo artist under the name “frnkiero andthe cellabration.”
This past fall, with a name change and a plan, he released his second album “Parachutes” on October 28, 2016.
Two weeks before the album’s release, Iero, his band, their publicist and their manager were in Sydney, Australia. The five were about to wrap up a tour when they were involved in a serious accident: a bus hit them while they were unloading their van. The group made the decision to cancel the rest of the tours they had planned for the year, and took that time to recover.
Now on the mend, Frank Iero and the Patience picked up where they left off and are currently on tour across the United States to promote their album. I had the opportunity to catch up with Iero at their show last Thursday at The Outer Space in Hamden, Conn., and ask him what has changed now that he is further along in his solo career.
“It’s a lot different in that the first time I did a solo record I didn’t know I was doing a solo record,” Iero said. “But this time around, I had been touring for two years as a solo artist and I knew that I had an outlet to put a record out.”
In an interview with MTV, Iero said, “The record is called ‘Parachutes’ because I started thinking about life, how we’re put here without asking to be. It’s like being pushed out of a plane; some of us are lucky enough to find people and things that bring us joy along the way that act as a parachute, slowing that ride down, and you’re able to enjoy the fall.”
He recalls having a lot of conversations with the producer who helped with the record, Ross Robinson (Korn, Slipknot, Glassjaw), about human nature.
“I feel like it’s human nature to sometimes think all of these things are ‘happened to me’ or they’re ‘happening to me,’ whereas maybe they’re kind of happening for you and the person you eventually become is [a] direct correlation to the things you have experienced,” Iero said. “Sometimes the worst thing that happens to you is the most positive because you have learned to get up and walk away from it.”
Transitioning from the guy in the back to the front man has had it’s challenges, but Iero said he’s coming to terms with it now.
“I always just wanted to be the guy to the side, I never wanted anybody to look at me,” he said. “Now I found myself being ok with it, it’s not my favorite thing in the world, but I can do it.”
He admits that for the first couple of months he was unsure if he enjoyed it, but having written the songs and lyrics felt like he would be “faking it if I got anyone else to sing it,” so he learned to deal with it while offsetting some of his lifestyle habits.
“Most people, if they stumbled upon a magic lamp and they found a genie, their first wish would be ‘I would wish for a million more wishes.’ My first wish would be ‘I wish I could smoke cigarettes and still be a singer,’” he joked.
Despite the success he has experienced with his solo work, Iero admitted that fans are going to compare it with his time in My Chemical Romance.
“It feels lazy to me so that’s why I think I have a problem with it, but I don’t feel like I need to escape it. I’m very proud of the stuff that I’ve done,” he said.
Iero compares his time with the rock band as going to school or college.
“After how many years you’re going to eventually want to graduate that college and use those skills that you learned to be something. You don’t want to be in college forever,” he said.
While he will be forever grateful and excited about everything My Chem accomplished, not everything can last forever.
Now in his mid-30s and having made music for over two decades, he’s learned many things along the way. One thing that is much more important to him now than when he first started as a teenager is writing.
He learned how to become a good editor, picking and choosing which ideas he believes should make their way into a song. By avoiding a cluttered writing process, he’s found that better lyrics come more easily to him, a skill that he said can only be acquired over time.
After being in the music industry for so long, Iero has many things he wishes he could go back and tell his younger self, but after thinking about it, doesn’t regret his past decisions.
“I think in order to be where I am today, I needed to have all of that,” he said.
Also being a father of three, he said, “I can tell them till I run out of air that they’re going to get hurt doing this or they shouldn’t do that, but they need to fail and find out for themselves. I did at least.”
Getting candid, Iero described to me his fantasy of getting a job as a postal worker.
“What appeals to me about it [is] you have this thing where you work from I don’t know seven to five or whatever, but you have this stack of mail and when the stack of mail is done you’re done and you don’t think about mail again until the next day,” he said.
Iero can barely fathom the idea of not constantly thinking about his job. He said he thinks about creating music 24/7.
“There are times when I can’t sleep because it’s running through my head,” he said.
Iero doesn’t know what the future holds for him, which he said both scares and excites him. He’ll always keep writing, but there is still a list of things he wants to do that he hasn’t done before.
“I think the older I get and the more I do this—the touring—I’ve realized I probably can’t do [it] forever and that’s ok…I think my family is looking forward to that as well,” Iero said.
All three children—twin girls who will turn seven this year, and a son that will be five—are into art and creating. Iero said his girls are currently learning how to play piano and his son wants to play the drums.
“It’s amazing to see that innate weirdness that they haven’t lost yet,” Iero said. “They’re still at this point where they’re not self conscious in any way, and I love that so much. We lose that weirdness [as we get older], it happens in a tidal wave and you don’t know it went.”