Words: Miljan Milekić
Frank Iero already has a huge year behind him, and we’re not even talking about the My Chemical Romance reunion show in Los Angeles. He released his brand new album ‘Barriers,’ in my humble opinion, the best work of his solo career, and extensively toured it all over the US and Europe. On the new material, he showed that he grew as an artist and songwriter, offering some most refined songs of his career, without sacrificing the raw emotion. The only reasonable thing was reaching out for an interview, and that was just what we did.
First of all, congratulations on the new album! It’s great to hear new music from you after almost three years. So, how was it to be back in the studio again?
Frank: Hello mate! Mmm… It was a particular moment of my life, with many doubts about everything but at the same time with the desire to start another chapter of my artistic life. Just to be clear, I’m not an anxious person, but the only thing you can do is put yourself out there regardless of success or failure. And I’m not talking monetarily. I’m talking about the grand scheme of things, whether you successfully got your vision across. If you did everything in your power and accept that it just wasn’t in the cards, at least you can go down in a blaze of glory like that. But knowing for certain that things are going to work – that just doesn’t happen. So I worry constantly. That helps me think and overthink things. And that gets me to the point where I can fully form ideas and visions that I have. I think if I didn’t have the sleepless nights that I have, I wouldn’t be able to do the things that I do.
How did the writing process look like? How different was it from recording your earlier stuff?
Frank: The first one, I wasn’t thinking I was writing a record, I wasn’t planning on doing a solo project. I was on hiatus from a band with my friend James Dewees, but he had to go back home to do other stuff with his other band Reggie and The Full Effect, and I found myself with nothing to do besides being inspired and writing songs. I started to write and record in my free time, and before I knew it, I had 14 or 15 songs. I flew my friend Jared Alexander to play drums on it, and I thought I would have this recording that I might play just for my kids down the line. But a friend of mine who used to book My Chem liked the record when I played it for him, and he said he wanted to play it for some other people. I let him, and when he did, I found myself with an offer to do a record.
I really think that what you hear is someone who is unknowingly writing a record. So, the biggest difference is that on the second one, that’s a person who knows he’s writing a record, who knows that there’s an outlet for it. There’s a couple of people that I was playing with at the time, I had them in a room, and I was able to write with them. We had fifteen or sixteen songs and recorded twelve. That’s what you hear, a record that was written to be recorded, while the first one definitely wasn’t. The new album is simply myself with a mature point of view concerning everything.
This is your third solo album, and you introduced us to the third instance of your backing band, The Future Violents. Apart from Evan Nestor, who was with you on all releases, you once again have a completely different lineup. Did the change in the lineup influenced the change in your sound, or you first came up with the sound and then assembled the band that can execute it in the way you wanted? Also, how much does Evan’s continuous presence help you?
Frank: I think each incarnation has had great people, and this just happens to be a group of musicians I’ve wanted to be in a band with for a really long time. The consistent member is Evan Nestor, he’s my brother-in-law, I’ve known him since he was 15, and I’ve watched him grow into a really talented and amazing man. I knew that I would take him on a tour as soon as he was of age I could take him away from his parents. He’s a positive person to be around and a musical genius without even knowing it. He’s someone I want to be in a band with for as long as I live.
Tucker Rule plays drums in Thursday, I met him probably around 1999 or 2000, through the Eyeball House. He’s an amazing player, I got to play with him early on, maybe the early 2000s when I was in My Chem. Something happened with our drummer Bob, and he needed to fill in for a tour, I believe in Australia. I remember thinking to myself it would be great to write music with him, so it’s something I’ve been wanting to try for years. And finally, I’ve gotten to do it. The next person is Matt Armstrong. I met him a little after Tucker, he played in a band called Little Joe Gould which eventually became Murder By Death, he toured with them for a very long time, and he’s always been one of my favorite bass players. The way he sculpts tones and thinks about tones is unique. The last member is Kayleigh Goldsworthy, and I met her not that long ago, maybe two years ago. She was touring with a friend of mine, Dave Hause, she’s a multi-instrumentalist and also has a wonderful voice. I thought it would be great to have a female voice in the band and be able to utilize that in choruses, and we finally have a member who has the voice I’ve been wanting to sing with for a long time.
Back in 2016, you had a bad van accident in Sydney. Do you think that experience changed you as a person, the way you see the world, and consequently, your songwriting? I remember that after his plane crash, Travis Barker stopped flying. After what happened to you, did you have a hard time getting back in the van start touring again?
Frank: I think this type of things changes you, it is a natural consequence. As mentioned before, in my case, I’m lucky to be here. And nope, I think the situation of Travis was different. Personally, not necessary, I haven’t had problems being in a van. Life goes on!
With your solo work, you’re bringing music that is way different from what you did with My Chemical Romance. How hard was it to rebuild your name as a musician all over again, at a time when most people knew you for one thing?
Frank: Not too much, I think My Chemical Romance and my project are totally different, in terms of approach, style, art. Personally, I added my influences inside my artistic background, without stress about MCR and something similar. Part of my fanbase is taken from MCR, it’s obvious. But another part is taken from the rock scene, with teenagers and adults interested to have an idea about my style and what I think about music.