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Deep Dive: Frank Iero

Hello everyone, today I have the first of what I’m calling ‘Deep Dives’ into an artist or band as there are so many I love and want to talk about outside of new releases.

Today is Frank Iero of many different bands such as My Chemical Romance, Death Spells and Leathermouth. However, today I’m going to be focusing on the more recent projects Frank Iero & The Cellabration, Frank Iero & The Patience and Frank Iero & The Future Violents. Yes all of these are different.

Frank Iero is someone who I consider to be a pure musician, someone whose emotion comes through fully in everything he does musically. In the way he writes, the sound and his performance. This is something that I think has been very clear throughout his musical career, though more recently we’ve seen more of what’s behind that due to his own music.

This may have something to do with his involvement with music from a young age, his father and grandfather were both drummers and he got to see them perform on weekends. Due to the interest in music from a young age he stated playing in bands from his early teen years and through this became very involved in the music scene in New Jersey, especially through punk and the DIY elements that come with that. The enjoyment and pure love for music has been there from the start and this is something that is still clear today.

After My Chemical Romance came to an end in 2013 Frank Iero started recording some of his own songs himself in his basement, not really thinking that they would become an album that others would listen to. This went on to become Stomachaches.

Stomachaches was written to remember and reflect on a certain time in Frank’s life, recorded in his basement by himself. It was a lonely album to make as it was the first and only album that he has ever created this way. It wasn’t intended to become an album that other people would hear, and it has been described by Frank as mostly a ‘selfish’ album because of this. It was a way of staying creative after the end of My Chemical Romance. That being said, some of my favourite songs by Frank Iero are on this album, Weighted, She’s The Prettiest Girl At The Party And She Can Prove It With A Solid Right Hook, Blood Infections, Joyriding Stage 4 Fear Of Trying and Guilttripping. I think for me this is because of how raw it is emotionally and lyrically. It explores some dark themes at certain points. I feel like this album goes back to the DIY element of the punk scene and though maybe the quality in sound is not what you’d expect from someone who’s from other very successful bands, as it’s a rougher sounding album; however it’s an album I love a lot.

The album title, Stomachaches, comes from each song being about a pain that is felt, similar to a bad stomachaches that Frank has due to health problems he’s had since being a child, and how music became his coping mechanism for this. Writing songs instead of doing nothing because of the pain. Once the album was definitely now an album, Frank Iero decided he wanted a band to perform with him and called it The Cellabration. There are a few reasons behind the name, the main one being that as this was Frank Iero’s first ‘solo’ album he wanted a distraction from himself by bringing a ‘party’ along with him as he was not yet comfortable being a frontman. The members of The Cellabration are Evan Nestor, Rob Hughes (from Leathermouth) and Matt Olsson. This was something that Frank wanted to do on his own terms, he felt he had to learn how to be a frontman himself and still perform how he wanted to. Which I guess definitely takes time when the songs are so personal and you’re used to having Gerard Way as the frontman to your band.

It may take you a few listens to Stomachaches before you completely love it, especially if you are used to My Chemical Romance’s huge anthemic sound, but if you are more familiar with Frank Iero’s other projects then you’ll know that everything he does is different from the last. A reason why each of the ‘solo’ projects have different band names.

After touring Stomachaches and releasing a new Death Spells record and touring that, Frank Iero was back but this time with The Patience. This time this album was created with having an audience in mind, it is more perhaps what you would expect from Frank Iero but it doesn’t lose the personal emotion and vulnerability that Stomachaches had. Parachutes was recorded with his band this time consisting of Evan Nestor, Alex Grippo and Matt Olsson. It was produced with Ross Robinson (At The Drive In, Glassjaw, Slipknot, The Cure) and Steve Evetts (The Dillinger, Escape Plan, The Used, The Cure, Glassjaw) in 15 days including recording and mixing meaning that it was a gruelling process but the outcome is worth it. I feel like there’s more depth in Parachutes due to the band being part of the writing and recording process and the fact that it is sharper than the distortion we got on Stomachaches. Frank Iero’s vocals are also a lot clearer. It’s a record that explodes and it’s not afraid of that which some may argue was lacking on Stomachaches.

There are some other great songs on this album including my all-time favourite Frank Iero song Oceans, and I’m A Mess, Viva Indifference, Miss Me, Veins! Veins!! Veins!!! , World Destroyer, They Wanted Darkenss... it’s another album full of passion and rage and despair.I don't think there are any songs on this album that I dislike and it's definitely an album that needs to be played loud.

This explanation of the title Parachutes shows just how much thought goes into everything and how heart-breaking some of the lyrics re on the album. “Parachutes are life saving devices. We rely on them to bring us back from the brink of death. Whether we fall or jump they are the only things keeping us alive…. the only thing that is undeniably certain is eventually we are all gonna hit the ground. Some of us plummet at an incredible rate and it’s over in a flash, but some of us get saved and are able to enjoy the view for a little while…. This album is one of my parachutes” Frank Iero has also described each song on the album as a parachute much like how every song on Stomachaches is a pain like a stomachache.

I was watching Frank Iero’s performance from London 2017 the other day and it made me fall in love with parachutes all over again, though my love for that album never really went anywhere, watching that performance just cemented it for me again. (I’ll link the performance at the end of this post). The energy at Frank Iero performances always seems so alive and full of spirit that reminds me why I love live music as much as I do, though I’m yet to actually witness this particular band live. To me it seems like the kind of show that transcends generations, it could be a performance from someone’s garage in the 90’s or a show at Omera in London 2017. These types of shows are another reason why I think Frank Iero and his bands incarnations are pure musical emotion. It ignited so much emotion in me and honestly that’s the best feeling to get from a band and music.

The third incarnation of Frank Iero’s ‘solo’ project is Frank Iero and The Future Violents. This version of the band includes Evan Nestor, Matt Armstrong (Murder By Death), Tucker Rule (Thursday) and Kayleigh Goldsworthy (Dave Hause and The Mermaid, The Scarlet Ending, solo material) and together they made Barriers, an album that for Frank Iero was a form of therapy and a way of dealing with a near fatal bus accident he had been involved in while touring Parachutes. This was something that Frank Iero describes as a near death experience and that parts of him have never fully been there since. This album’s process was longer because of this and having to re learn how to play guitar. The lyrical content of this album deals with this in an emotional way especially on songs like Six Feet Down Under.

The sound of this album is different again to the other two albums and took me longer to get into especially with how much I love the other two albums. However, I do like how collaborative this album seems and how each member bring something different to the album. It has more lightness than the other albums and some positive undertones despite the trauma of the bus crash. A song like A New Day Is Coming is probably the most outward looking and optimistic we see Frank Iero lyrically throughout his whole career. An interview I feel explains a lot about the album in depth and about this optimism is Frank’s interview with the Zach Sang Show in July 2019 which I recommend you watch (linked below).

Once you get used to the new sound as it evolves again from Parachutes you can appreciate it more I feel, and so many of these songs will get stuck in your head. The songs I like most from this album are Young and Doomed, Fever Dream, Basement Eyes, Moto Pop, Medicine Square Garden, No Love and Great Party. The added elements of different instruments, main one being piano, is nice to hear from the band and again this album seems very clean production wise, this album being produced by Frank Iero but engineered by Steve Albini (most notable for his work with Nirvana).

The title for the album Barriers as explained by Frank Iero is “Sometimes they’re for protection, and sometimes they’re to keep people out, and sometimes we even set them up so that we fail, and we find solace in that failure. But whenever I find something that scares the shit out of me, that’s when I know I have to do it. These songs are about experiences that were either walls I wanted to break down or walls that I’d built up around myself in order to protect myself. But these songs were also things that I’d never attempted before but had always wanted to try.” Which I think is why the album title makes so much sense in the context of some of the lyrical content.

The Future Violents is spelt that way on purpose, much like The Cellabration on Stomachaches, and it’s about how violent living life is, it’s an act of violence to do what you want with your life and the future violents are the next generation to live life violently (not in terms of violence though, more just living your life the way you want to). I think this is a really interesting way to look at life and the future and though it may not make sense to everyone I can understand it. The name actually came about on the flight to Australia where the bus accident eventually happened “A steward came over, and said, ‘Oh you guys look like you’re in a band, what’s the name?’ and I said ‘Frank Iero and The Patience’. He misheard and said, ‘What’s the Future Violents?' I said...that’s an amazing name! I wrote it down thinking maybe that’s a song title or something down the line, but I started to think about that collection of words and what that meant to me, and when writing this record I started to think about life, and how life was for me... how the accident was this very abrupt and violent act and how life can be a precious thing.”

I think I’ll leave it there for today’s post as it’s getting quite long now. Hopefully I’ve convinced some of you to listen to some of Frank Iero’s music, or wrote an interesting piece for those of you who already know the music. This post has taken me a while to write as I wanted to get it right, much like a lot of the other ‘deep dive’ posts currently in the process of being written, as these bands and musicians mean a lot to me and it’s hard to get everything down in one cohesive post (especially when the band has a discography more than 7 albums deep…) However if you would like me to write a more in depth album review of one of these albums or anything else Frank Iero has been part of then let me know below. Also if there are any other bands you want me to do a ‘deep dive’ post about then let me know too.

Thank you to Darian Reid for letting me use her photos of Frank Iero and The Future Violents performing at Meow Wolf, Santa Fe, New Mexico last year, it’s hugely appreciated and I will link her Instagram below too.

Thank you so much for reading, if you got this far, we have some more exciting posts on the way over the next few weeks so keep an eye out for them.

Listen to Frank Iero on Spotify here.

Go to Frank Iero’s website here.

Watch Frank Iero and The Patience performing in London 2017 here.

Watch Frank Iero’s interview with the Zach Sang Show here.

Follow Darian Reid on Instagram here.

Follow me on Spotify here.

Follow After Midnight on Instagram here.

Follow After Midnight on Facebook here.

Follow me on Instagram here.

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