Uplifting & Inspiring: A Chat With Frank Iero (Frank Iero and the Patience)

Frank Iero is one of those artists that will always surprise you with his way of creating such outstanding art out of his own personal experiences. After releasing his first solo album Stomachaches under the name of frnkiero andthe cellabration, now he returns as Frank Iero and the Patience and with another remarkable album, Parachutes. We caught up with Frank to know all about it and so much more.

Last time we talked was back in 2014 when you released your first solo album, Stomachaches. What have you been up to since then?
Good question! [laughs] I’ve been up to a lot, to be honest. Since I released Stomachaches, I’ve been touring on that almost non-stop until January of this year and then when January came around I started to work on a project that I’ve been working on for three and half years, a band called Death Spells with my friend James Dewees (The Get Up Kids, Reggie and the Full Effect). We finished that record and we released it on July, I did some touring with that and now it brings us to the present where I’m now releasing the follow-up to Stomachaches, the record by the name Parachutes.

Like you mentioned, you and James released Death Spells’ debut album Nothing Above, Nothing Below this summer. How has been the feedback so far and how did go the touring?
It’s been amazing! To be honest, it’s kind of crazy. When we first started the project, we released a demo and it was the total opposite of the reaction to when we released the debut album. I think people sort of took it as a back fight and didn’t understand it and it made them really angry, which was crazy. It was such a fun reaction to have, it was combative, but at least people had a reaction, you know? There was an intensity there and that’s how the shows worked too. And now years later, we release this record and it’s crazy the amount of people that connected to it and love the band and love those songs. Now when we play shows, there’s such a connection. It used to be very far and remote, we were kind of separated from the crowd because I felt like I wanted the band to kind of be happening and I wanted the crowd to be just a witness to it, and now it’s all over it. It feels more like a show, more like a connection and that’s an amazing experience to have.

When did you start to dwell on your new album, Parachutes?
There’s a part of me that’s been working on it my entire life, but as far as sitting down to consciously collect my thoughts and reflect all the different melodies are the things that I had in my head. I guess the beginning of this year was really the inception of it. There are songs that made the record like a song like “Remedy” that has been around for many months before that. There are ideas like “The Resurrectionist, or An Existential Crisis in C#” and that song started maybe four years ago, but I feel like when you make art for living, you make songs for living. Everything around you inspires you and every experience that you have finds its way into the artist that you become. For me, I feel these songs sometimes they happen early on your life but you’re not just ready to formulate them. Sometimes your path has to kind of separate and cross again at some point.

Naming the album as Parachutes has a special meaning for you. Can you elaborate more on that?
I started to think about how life is a lot like kind of being pushed out of a plane and we’re all kind of hurtling through space. We don’t necessarily have to be born, but we find ourselves in this free fall. Some people just go through life at high velocity and hit the ground and then it’s over. Some of us if we’re lucky, we find love along the way and find things that bring us joy, and although those things won’t save us from eventually touching down, they do kind of allow us to hover a bit and appreciate the fall. These things could be anything. It could be relationships, passionate projects, just things that you do for a purpose and those things end up being our parachutes. For me, my parachutes have been my family and the art that I create. The last record stand from feeling sick and I had basically 12 songs on that record that I could trace back to a stomachache. Now these 12 songs from Parachutes I can trace back to a live change events that save my life a little bit.

You released Stomachaches under the name frnkiero andthe cellabration and now you’re back with your second album under the name Frank Iero and the Patience. Why the change?
I’ve always felt like when a band goes into a studio to write a record and to record, they have to reinvent themselves and change the sound of the band. You have to kind of rethink the way that you approach music and what music is. The pitfall is when you come out of the studio, you’re an entirely different band and it sounds different. People usually say “They don’t sound the same anymore.” For me, I was like “It’s gonna sound different, we’re gonna be different people coming out of this process, then the band’s name needs to change.” The first time around I named the band after something that I felt like I really needed to bring with me. I was concerned that my comings as a frontman or my misgivings as being a focal point in the band would detract from the audience and I thought “If I bring along a celebration or a party, people probably wouldn’t notice that I feel uncomfortable being here.” [laughs] This time around I don’t feel that way anymore. I feel more confident and more comfortable in my own skin, so I didn’t need a celebration anymore, what I needed this time around was some patience. I needed the ability to take a step back and appreciate the moment. It felt just the perfect name for the band. The name will change with every record, so be prepared to have this conversation again. [laughs]


“I feel more confident and more comfortable in my own skin, so I didn’t need a celebration anymore, what I needed this time around was some patience. I needed the ability to take a step back and appreciate the moment.”

On Stomachaches, you played every instrument except for the drums, which were handled by Jarrod Alexander (former My Chemical Romance drummer). How was it like this time around?
This time around I didn’t need to do that. I felt like that’s the way Stomachaches had to sound. It was a conscious decision for me to make a record that you felt like you were listening in all as opposed to listening to, you know? I feel like every time I write, I write a piece. It tells me what it needs to sound like and I think that helps if I really pay attention to what the songs need and listen to that. This time around, I needed a lot more. The songs that I was writing needed more of everything and I needed partners in that. It was a very lonely process the first time around. I was in my basement writing songs, playing them into a computer, listening back, replaying things… This time around I was in a room with my friends playing these songs and flashing them out and just writing. I would record that and listen back and it had a life to it. I wanted that for the record. Matt Olsson played drums, my brother Evan Nestor played guitar and sang, and Steve Evettsactually played bass on the record.

Which song off the album was more elaborated and harder to work on?
Definitely the hardest song for me to perform on that record was the last song of the record, “9-6-15”. That song is about my grandfather and I knew it was a very important song of the record. It had to be on there, but it was one of those songs where I tried many nights to write the lyrics for that song and it was harsh for me to come to a finality with it and to not be a total mess and breakdown while performing it or writing it. It’s a miracle I got through it. [laughs] I’m very happy that I did, but I guess now the challenge is if I will ever be able to do it again.

I just love how you name your songs. How do you usually come up with them?
[laughs] I think a lot in titles sometimes and like I said I draw inspiration from everything and anything. I like to pride myself on seeing beauty in the mundane. I always have like a notebook or a cell phone where I can type in some notes or things for myself. Some of the song titles have come immediately and I didn’t know exactly what they were until I ended up writing the song. Sometimes the song title came first and I have a list of different things and ideas here and there. Sometimes they link up perfectly, sometimes they need to be worked on a little bit. I tend to think of the song title as book titles or movie titles or something that kind of draws your attention and tells you just a little bit about what that song is going to be. My feeling on it is that you get one shot on the first impression and, if I can, I drop it on the first impression. I found out early on in being on bands that when you write a song and if you name it with something just dumb, that song will never make it. [laughs] It’s true, I don’t know why that is, but it means a lot to do that.

The album’s bluish painting artwork has these two painted ghosts holding a little baby, which is a cropped photo. What’s the meaning behind this image?
When writing the record, between deciding what it was about and naming it, I named the record first and then I had to think about like “What would I put there visually?” I started to think about life in general. I came across this artist, her name is Angela Dean and she works in Florida. She does a lot of painting on photography. I started to think about parachutes and about our lives and for the first time we have an encounter with safety and love. At least for me – and for a lot of us – the first time we feel that first parachute is when we meet our parents. I knew I needed my parents included on the cover and then I saw Angela’s work. I thought about the sheets and the core idea of life and death, the idea of the ghosts and how the sheets are not sheets but parachutes and maybe our parents don’t save us once. Maybe at the end of it they kind of save us again when inevitably they pass on and release us into the world. I started to think about art as well and how it’s never truly done until we kind of relinquish control and release it into the world. All those things are why I chose to send a picture of me and my parents to Angela and asked her to paint it as you see now on the record.

You worked with Ross Robinson and Steve Evetts and it must have been a unique experience. What can you tell me about that?
It was a dream come true! I heard so many stories that go along with those guys and the records that they make. For a long time I’ve been a fan from afar, but always too scared to inquire about making a record with them because I wasn’t sure if I could handle that. And then I started to write this record and I started to listen to the demos and I needed to take this next step. I needed to push myself to the brink and push myself over the edge. I knew that if I was going to be scared than the songs would never come out the way I needed. Immediately earlier this year I got to work with one of my heroes, Steve Albini, and it was such an amazing experience. It was definitely a bucket list experience and I said to myself “This is the other person on my list that I’ve always wanted to work with but I was too scared to inquire about” and I said “Fuck it! I’m gonna call him up.” [laughs] It was one of the most incredible experiences in my entire life. I feel forever changed by it and I’m so happy that I took that plunge. It was a very hard journey, but I feel better because of it. No story that I’ve ever heard did any justice. [laughs] It was very unique and very fulfilling, yet amazingly depleting at the same time. [laughs] I’m just glad we survived. [laughs]

You will do a UK/European tour with Taking Back Sunday on February 2017, which is just awesome.
Yeah! I love Taking Back Sunday so much and they’re new record is fantastic, it’s so good! Every time we’ve played with them it’s been just a fun time. They’re just great guys and it’s nice to share the road with a band that you love and respect. I’m really looking forward for those dates next year.

Words: Andreia Alves // Photos: Justin Borucki – Parachutes is out now via Vagrant.
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