by Keith Valcourt
If all Frank Iero had done in life was to be the guitarist in the multi-platinum selling My Chemical Romance, then his place in music history would be secured. But Iero is not one to sit back on his past accomplishments. The music that runs in this third generation player’s DNA keeps Iero restless to discover new musical paths. His latest album Barriers features him settling in nicely as the front man of a sonically superior band, The Future Violents.
A few weeks back, Frank and I discussed “disco fries,” evolving as an artist and why the best chance of a My Chemical Romance reunion will be at a BBQ. This was of course before MCR’s big Halloween announcement of a reunion show in L.A.
Q: What drew you to music?
A: My dad was a drummer. My grandfather was a drummer. And they wanted me to play drums. The first instrument I touched at three years old was the drums. It became apparent to me quickly that I was not good at drums, or at least not as good as them at drums. Plus, I really just wanted to write songs. I tried everything. I took piano lessons. I tried saxophone because it was shiny (laughs). Nothing really stuck until I got a guitar. It was like when Harry Potter got his wand. My hair blew back, and I thought, “Oh My God! This is it!” My first band I started at eleven. When I found somebody else that played something at little league practice, I said, “Fuck baseball, let’s start a band.”
Q: Do you remember your first show?
A: It was the junior ring dance. I was eleven and not old enough so I was allowed to play the show but had to leave immediately after. My mom picked me up. But that was it. I thought, “I’m a professional musician and I’m going to be doing this for the rest of my life.”
Q: Has there ever been a point in your life where you considered doing anything but music?
A: My dad and grandfather were musicians. My parents split up very early on, so I would go see my dad on the weekends. Go with him to his show with his blues band in a bar. Or I would go with my grandfather, who would play this old speakeasy. That was my secret world. During the week, I was a mild mannered student. On the weekends, I was a roadie. And if I stayed up late enough, I would get to go to the diner with the band.
Q: Being from Jersey that meant “disco fries?”
A: Yeah! I thought, “Who gets eggs with fries and gravy? That’s crazy!” I wanted to be around that. I wanted to be in a band.
Q: When MCR ended, did you know you were going to go solo?
A: No, I didn’t, to be honest. Even when MCR was together, I was always doing side projects. I did a record with a couple friends under the moniker of Leathermouth. I also did a project called Death Spells. I just always wrote songs. My intention was to never do another band like My Chem again. I wanted to try something new. I had all these songs and started to write and record them, then I thought, “Alright, guess I am making a record.” At the time, I had a discussion with my wife and said, “I don’t know if I want to do this. Be the singer and front man of a band.” She said, “Alright then maybe don’t. But you are never going to know unless you try.” She encouraged me. Here we are three records in.
Q: How have you evolved?
A: I think I’ve gotten better. The first one (Stomachaches) was a very lonely process. Just me making sounds in my basement, making sounds into a computer. I don’t know if I could have continued making music if it were all done in that lonely setting, because I do like that relationship with other players. Bringing my brother-in-law Evan (Nestor) in was huge for me. Because now I feel like I have a partner in crime.
Q: Was the new album Barriers just you and Evan or a band project?
A: This one felt the most like a band. When I put together the Future Violents, I ended up getting to make a record with Tucker Rule who played drums, who I’ve known since 2000. Matt Armstrong, who played in Murder By Death. I met Tucker and Matt around the same time. I remember seeing both of their bands and thinking they were both unbelievable. I couldn’t even imagine being in a band that good. Now it happened.
Q: Why is the album called Barriers?
Sometimes we set up walls around ourselves to protect ourselves from being hurt. Sometimes those things don’t just keep others out. The album is about the things we weren’t able to break through, or things we needed to break down in order to get by and actually live our lives.
Q: Will The New Violents continue as a band?
A: I have no idea. I used to think, “Every record. New band. New name. New people.” But there are no rules.
Q: Your old bandmates, Gerard (Way) and Ray (Toro), have collaborated on music for The Umbrella Academy. Would you ever consider collaborating with any former MCR bandmates?
A: Again, there are no rules. The best thing about that band ending was that the friendships were able to continue and have now evolved into this weird family/dad thing. We get together once or twice a year and have barbeques. Our kids play together. That’s the best part.
Frank Iero & The Future Violents new CD, Barriers, is out now.
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