It’s difficult to imagine that a musician as successful as Frank Iero could still be as humble as a local artist doing their first interview, but it’s the truth. When Iero comes to us from the road on tour, it’s like he doesn’t know who he is. He’s overly apologetic for the terrible reception and extensively thankful for the chance to do the call. “The biggest question we’ll get to ask each other is ‘hello, can you hear me?’”, he laughs the first time it drops out. “We’re actually driving to meet a few people in Pittsburgh, we’re gonna have a little practice session at our friend’s studio, and from there we’re going onto Indianapolis. We’re playing there tonight with Death Spells and Matt Olson”.
No matter what you’re talking about withIero, he always sounds excited about playing music. Having said that, when you’re on the receiving end of the reactions that Iero’s fans front up to his shows and display, it’s unsurprising that he wouldn’t be. When Iero graced our shores back in January for a string of acoustic sets in support of his debut frnkiero andthe cellabration record “Stomachaches“, fans flew interstate, lined up from 6 am and overflowed surrounding streets to catch a glimpse. There were tears, tales and tattoos dedicated to the effort, so when he’s asked whether meeting them influenced the new LP Parachutes, the answer is absolute.
“When I was writing the record I wasn’t speaking to anyone except for myself or the person that found these recordings 20 years from now. I had no intention of starting a solo career”, he noted. “And then all of a sudden a friend of mine asked me what I had been up to, I played the songs for him, and before I knew it I was handing these recordings over, and people were going to hear them. And that was scary, you know? I wasn’t sure if I could do that. But I knew I had to try. And the more I played the songs and the more I played the songs to people; it opened my eyes, you know? It started to change shape. I started to realise that there was a message”.
Armed with the knowledge that no matter what, whoever listened to the effort was going to take something away, the process changed. “This time around it was like writing a diary with the intention that people are going to kind of find it and read it.”.
The way that Parachutes was written for an audience and not himself wasn’t the only thing that Iero decided to shake up this time around. Where Stomachaches was released under the name frnkiero andthe cellabration, LP2 is authored by frnkiero andthe patience. The fact is that the party is over, and there’s no need to celebrate anymore: now is about waiting. The transformation signifies a new stage of the act, where you have to “reinvent yourself and burn down the past in order to take the next step”. “If the band has to change in order to survive, and I need to change as an artist in order to survive, the band should be called something different. And so every record the band is going to change”.
With the new title and the new album, Iero is once again, though this time consciously, distributing a message to the world. Stomachaches struck fans as a result of Iero’s catharsis. “I did that record for myself, I didn’t have anyone else in mind, I just needed to get these songs out in order to feel physically better. I felt sick all the time, and the only thing that made me feel better was writing music and creating new songs. This time around I wrote a record knowing that people were going to hear it and wanting to speak to the people that I knew was going to hear it”.
Where the stomach aches referred to were literal the parachutes are symbolic of what we rely on to save us from falling, to pull us up before we hit the ground. They can be anything, and Iero knows all too well what it’s like to find salvation in one.
“Each song is kind of a memory, and at first I thought of those memories as detrimental, and maybe as bad things that happened in my life that shaped the person I am. But then I started thinking about how those things sort of happen for us, as opposed to happening to us, and sometimes the worst things that can happen to you end up being the best things because they bring you to the place you are today. And if that’s the case, then the worst thing that can ever happen to us is a parachute, right?”
That way of looking at the world has propelled Iero to emotional stability as he nears turning thirty-five years old this Halloween, but it’s arguable that what he’s worked on in the past has also equated to a parachute for the kids that have listened to it. In celebration of the ten-year anniversary of the seminal My Chemical Romance record The Black Parade, Kerrang Magazine got some of the biggest artists in the scene, including Twenty One Pilots, to contribute covers to a compilation. Even that doesn’t feel real to Iero at this point.
“You sort of think to yourself, wow, am I that old? Or the bands that are classic and old do they think they’re not that old until somebody covers their music? I was like ‘oh shit, this is that moment!’ But it’s flattering. It’s flattering to be at that point in your life where bands that you know, and have toured with or whatever, are covering your songs”.
Iero will bring his patience project to our shores next month for a headlining tour, a couple of weeks before Parachutes officially hits our speakers. Is he nervous? “You have no control over how people respond or what it makes them feel”, he admits. “You hope that there’s a positive reaction, but you can’t control it”. A negative response doesn’t seem to be an issue for Iero. No matter what he’s doing or writing about, whether it’s with My Chemical Romance (R.I.P.), Death Spells or his current project, he’s always fighting the good fight that he set out to pioneer in the beginning. If one person resonates with that, the war is won.
WITH SPECIAL GUEST WALTER SCHREIFELS
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