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July 2021

Frank Iero: Patience is a virtue

The second solo album from Frank Iero, 'Parachutes' is one of the best of 2016 - the product of a career that's had more high points than most.
Published: 10:51 am, November 11, 2016
Frank Iero: Patience is a virtue
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The second solo album from Frank Iero, 'Parachutes' is one of the best of 2016 - the product of a lengthy career that's already had more high points than most could dream of. It's a special time

Words: Ali Shutler. Photos: Emma Swann.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="5/6" offset="vc_col-lg-offset-1 vc_col-lg-10 vc_col-md-offset-1 vc_col-md-10"][vc_column_text]“I have no monogamy towards genres of music. I need to have variety. I need to have that change,” starts Frank Iero. He’s counting the tattooed marks on his wrist that commemorate every record he’s ever released. He might have no idea about the number of bands he’s been a part of but the eight lines keep track of the bodies of work. He’s two short though. Death Spells’ debut makes nine and his second solo album, ‘Parachutes’ is number ten. He stops for a moment and lets that sink in before his face breaks out in a grin. “Isn’t that crazy,” he asks to no one in particular.

When he was a young boy, Frank’s father told him to avoid music. “Please don’t do this. Do anything else,” he pleaded - but it was too late. Frank’s mind was made up. Growing up in a household with both his father and grandfather playing gigs, he didn’t stand a chance. “They were my gods and seeing them play, it’s what I wanted to do. I didn’t give a shit about sports, about anything else, I just wanted to be in a band. They had these huge date books that they would go through and talk about gigs they’d played, how they drove here and travelled there. It’s this secret society and it’s fucking awesome. It’s a unique thing. You ask anyone, they want to be in music because it’s so cool. People want to be backstage and backstage sucks, there’s nothing there but it’s unknown. The allure of it was too much for me. When I got to do it, when I got to be onstage and play music and see how it affected people, oh fuck. I got bit by that bug so quick, I was done. There’s no stopping it.” He’s been in pursuit ever since. Never standing still, never covering old ground, he’s slowly built a legacy of change across each and every project. It’s with The Patience, the second incarnation of his solo project, that he’s really come into his own though. “I didn’t think a record this important to me would come along right now and so, I want to give it everything I’ve got because it’s important enough and deserves it.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=".vc_custom_1478859832570{padding-top: 25px !important;}"][vc_column width="1/2" css=".vc_custom_1478859590538{padding-bottom: 25px !important;}"][vc_single_image img_size="full" image="34195" img_size="full" alignment="center"][/vc_column][vc_column width="1/2" css=".vc_custom_1478859609165{padding-bottom: 25px !important;}"][vc_single_image img_size="full" image="34196" img_size="full" alignment="center"][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="5/6" offset="vc_col-lg-offset-1 vc_col-lg-10 vc_col-md-offset-1 vc_col-md-10"][vc_column_text]Frank Iero is the sort of musician who describes songs as soul mates, who never throws away an idea and let’s the music rule by self-determination. Every song needs to tell a story and every record needs a beginning, middle and an end. Self-aware and conscience of those around him, he pours himself into everything he does. Not only does he know first hand how music can save, but he can see a photographer’s unspoken want to include a mannequin in a photo shoot [Don’t ask - Ed]. He’ll even go and get it himself. His commitment to a single genre might not exist but his adoration for music is absolute.

“For a very long time I was convinced I had real life me and music and art was just something that I did. It took me a fucking long time to figure out that those things are so interconnected. Music and art is so embedded in my DNA that it’s not just something I do, it is who I am. I tried and I fought so hard against it. I clawed and fought against it because it’s terrible. It’s so gut-wrenching, heartbreakingly terrible and wonderful at the same time.” Frank lives for music and he’s pretty certain that, one day, it’s going to be the death of him.

Two years ago, Frank Iero released his debut solo record with The Cellabration. A shredded, voyeuristic album that was written in a basement, it saw Frank letting go and was never intended to be shared. The next few years saw Frank slowly grow into his new role as the frontman as the ball started rolling. Despite the pace, when he was asked if there was a future to it, he wasn’t sure. It all felt temporary, transient, almost reluctant. For ages it seemed that he might call time on music at any moment. Even as Frank was looking towards an album two backstage at 2015’s Reading Festival, it wasn’t a sure thing. It’s funny how things change. ‘Parachutes’ feels eternal. It sees Frank Iero embrace and accept. If it feels special, it’s because it is.

“This is one of those records where you put so much into it, it drives you to the brink to actually make it,” explains Frank. “As soon as you’re done, you feel so depleted you’re not sure about what you just did.” Once the seventeen days recording with Ross Robinson were over, “I knew it could either be the greatest thing I’ve ever done or he could have just thrown it away. I didn’t know but at the same time I was fine with either because the process was so important for my growth as a human being.” Now he’s had space from his creation, he knows which side of the fence it falls. “Honestly, this sounds silly but this record might be the thing I’m most proud of that I ever made. Maybe you think that about every new thing you make but this feels different. It feels really special. I remember with My Chem, when we were making ‘Black Parade’, it felt like maybe we were making something really special. I didn’t know why or what it was but it felt like we were doing something really great. I don’t know why, but I have that feeling again.”

There’s not really a set blueprint for what makes a Frank Iero album. He’s never been one to retread or rehash but despite a rich history of change, ‘Parachutes’ manages to make different feel different. And that’s a deliberate stance. “It has to be. There’s no way I could do ‘Stomachaches’ again. I’m not in that place anymore and it’s such an entirely different animal. I was scared that there was a fine line between being different to ‘Stomachaches’ and being drastically, crazily different. I didn’t want it to be too jarring but at the same time, these songs, they needed that energy.” Every single one of the quote-unquote finalised songs from ‘Parachutes’ was at least ten BPMs slower before they were recorded. In the studio though, it just felt right with more intensity. “You have to just go with it. You can’t fight against it.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=".vc_custom_1445370543092{padding-top: 30px !important;padding-bottom: 30px !important;}"][vc_column width="5/6" offset="vc_col-lg-offset-1 vc_col-lg-10 vc_col-md-offset-1 vc_col-md-10"][vc_column_text]
“Music and art is embedded in my DNA; it's not just something I do, it's who I am.”

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Despitethe scale of the record putting Frank Iero and The Patience in the same sonic arenas as Foo Fighters, Biffy Clyro et al, it’s never used to distract or hide. That honesty and the admission that came straight from his basement heart are dialled up just as proudly here. “I’ve never been part of a process where I’ve come out of it knowing I’m a different person now. There was a lot of personal growth and I’m extremely thankful for it. This record is very much about those experiences,” starts Frank. On it, world-altering (or destroying) conversations are happening in real time as outlooks are constantly challenged and re-imagined. Even the sure-thing start of ‘World Destroyer’ changed. “As I was tracking the vocals I had the realisation that basically, the only things that you truly own are the things that you give to other people and how you interact with everyone. The things that happen to you are really happening for you. You’re not a slave to that. You’re better off because of it.”

Alongside those experiences lay questions about “whether your weakness are really your strengths, and what is the definition of love versus manufactured love and is love and hate kinda the same emotion, just flipped on its head?” Those questions are still tapping at the twisting heart of the record. The confrontation and confusion is left ever present, “because it’s about the journey. The end result means nothing without the journey. If you just end up at the end, it’s fleeting. It’s not going to stick. There has to be a reason why you got to this point and what you had to go through to get there. It’s almost as important as where you end up.”

“Here’s the thing, and this goes back to Ross’ process, it’s impossible to be full of shit. He wont let you veil anything. He gets right to the core. If you don’t want to go deeper, he finds a way to open you up even more and in front of everyone. You become so fragile yet strong. It empowers you to be that honest. He calls it mental surgery and it truly is. We were there for 17 days, we did twelve songs in that time and every day was like this heart-wrenching fucking experience of finding out new things about yourself and the things that you’re writing. You’re crying and everyone around you is divulging these things that you never knew. Holy fuck. How can you not have an honest record after going through that? It’s fucking hard man, but if it were easy I guess everybody would do it.”

“When I was younger,” starts Frank, before reassuring “this is related, trust me” - “When I was younger and in bands, I couldn’t be fucked to do vocal warm ups. That’s stupid. Later on, I found out that I had to do vocal warm ups, it’s just imperative. Hey, you want to get better? Do that, then. But you would feel embarrassed and you would hide. Now, I can do them in front of anyone and I don’t give a shit. This is what I do, this is my craft, fuck you if you think it’s weird. I’ll do it cabs, I’ll do them anywhere. It’s the same thing with opening up lyrically, at first you believe it’s stupid to care that much and then you start to really care. You want it to be honest and true and good. When you’re younger a line sounds cool but who cares what it means. Then you really want it to mean something, Then it gets to the point where you don’t want it to mean too much, you don’t want people to know too much about you - but eventually you get to the point where you realise, if I can’t be honest, how can I expect anyone else to be honest. You just try to do that without being cringe-worthy.”

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Frank Iero has always been in bands but each and every record that’s left its mark on his skin has seen him as sum of the part. ‘Parachutes’ sees him front, centre and driving. There’s still a gang mentality drawing you into their secret society but you know who’s leading things forward. “This record feels more cohesive and more of a band than ‘Stomachaches’ did. There’s a life to it.” And that comes from guitarist Evan Nestor, drummer Matt Olsson and Frank spending the past few years glued together with The Cellabration. “I can hear those hours and hours and hours in the practice studio hashing those songs out on the record. You get that sense of camaraderie from people playing these songs and believing in what you’re doing.”

It’s easier to invest in something when you know the story behind it, and that’s where Ross’ process helped once more. “Him cutting our brains open and making us share everything in front of each other was huge. When you do that, you have the other people in the band playing these songs with the notion of what it actually means and what it means to them. I’ve never done that before. In other bands, with other producers I’d play my part and then the vocalist would get in, go through what the song’s about and then sing it. I never knew what it was about beforehand. This just feels like, why wouldn’t you do that? Why wouldn’t you involve everyone in that process? It’s crazy but it didn’t click until we actually did it.”

Knowing what he could do, and trusting the other members of the band to do the same, meant that Frank Iero could really drive ‘Parachutes’ into a totally different space. Working like a “fucking manic, I knew these songs were so important that I couldn’t relinquish it and be like, ‘That’s good enough’. I needed it to be perfect. When it clicks, when it finally feels right, you just know. It’s like when you meet someone, that feeling you meet your soul-mate, it’s the same thing with songs. You know when something’s wrong and you can’t force it, it’s like putting a square peg in a circle.

“So, in the studio, I drove myself nuts.” The greatest thing about that was he wasn’t alone. “I felt like at any point, these other guys are going to tell me to go fuck myself.” But they didn’t. Every day the songs would change but The Patience remained true. “It was so helpful to have them in the studio every day and really hash everything out. It allowed me to chase greatness. I’m forever indebted for that.”

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‘Parachutes’ is littered with small epiphanies. Words and phrases that emerge from the expanse and guide you somewhere new are laying in wait around every twist. It’s ‘Dear Percocet, I Don’t Think We Should See Each Other Anymore’’s extended “This life is yours, if you want it” that really sums up the vision at play though. Once you know, you know.

“That song’s about searching for a clarity in things and wanting to be conscious that you could slip into a pattern of self-medication and numbing yourself, whether that be through drugs or other means. It’s about hoping that you can be brave enough and have the strength to be truly present, care about the now and leave a scar on everything you love, basically. I mean that in a good way. Truly, make a mark. And not just sit there and wish you did. We do that so much, we sit behind a computer and we self-medicate. ‘I wish I could be remembered,’ we plead. ‘I wish I could do something worthwhile’.” Frank hasn’t got time for wishes. “I want to live for the moments and take advantage of the time that we’re here otherwise, what the fuck am I doing? It’s just all masturbation without it.”

The call and response between loved ones at the close of ‘Viva Indifference’ is less steely eyed but there’s still self-acceptance a plenty as “I love myself and it’s all your fault, I love my life and it’s all your fault,” is spat with frustrated clarity, once again capturing studio conversations and heavy hearted realisations. “It started off with the feeling that wouldn’t it be easy if we just didn’t care about anything? Things would be so much easier. We wouldn’t experience loss, we wouldn’t experience pain and as the songs goes on, you have this couple realising that without caring, you’re missing out on the good stuff as well. The pain and the suffering is just as good as the love, the happiness and the bliss. Together, experiencing life, you realise I finally accept myself and who I am, my faults, and my positives and you showed me that and that’s all your goddamn fault. Thanks so much, you fucking ruined it. I didn’t care about anything and now I care so much and I’m going to experience all the pain and everything. Thank you for that because now I actually get to experience life instead of being like the walking dead.”

‘Parachutes’ deals in finding the light from the darkness and for good reason. Frank Iero wasn’t sure there was going to be a second solo record until his grandfather got sick and passed away last September. “That’s when I knew I was going to do something else. That was a catalyst. It put me into a horrible hole of depression but it also, I don’t know, it made things more clear.” It’s a date that’s immortalised as the record’s closing track, a poignant, powerful and pointed ode. “That was just a song I needed to write. I didn’t ever think I was ever going to get through it, to be honest. That song, above all else, is a tribute to one of the best things I’ve ever experienced and also one of the worst things I’ve ever experienced.”

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“This record might be the thing I'm most proud of that I ever made.”

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After all the confusion, the rage, the fear and the struggle of ‘Parachutes’, ‘9-6-15’ is awash with peaceful serenity and counter-balance. “There’s a simplicity to the track that I really love and I think it needed that. To over complicate that would make it muddled. There’s a little section that gets leaked in ‘I Will Let You Down’ that actually happens in ‘September’ which was the realisation that tied a lot of things together. That song is one of those things, I needed to write it and I knew it was one of the most important songs on the record, if not the most important song on the record, but I don’t know how I’ll ever do it again. It’s really hard. There was never a time where I didn’t think I could put it out, it was more like I don’t know if I could do this. I didn’t know if I could finish it because I knew I wanted it so badly to be on the record, for him. I don’t know if I’ll be able to recreate that live. We’ve practiced it and it’s still so hard. I can’t get through it. I can’t read the lyrics in the booklet and not break down. It’s just one of the things.”

There’s a battle raging between past and present on ‘Parachutes’ but it’s a fight Frank’s getting better at winning. That slowly-improving victory is tied into the new band name. “With The Cellabration, back then I felt like I needed to bring along something that took away the attention from how bad I was at being the frontman. I needed to have this celebratory thing with me. This time around I need the virtue of patience, I need the ability to step back and enjoy the moment and really live for the now.” Highlighted and reinforced “once my kids were born, starting to come into their own and have their own little personalities - this month they want to be veterinarians - I realised being away, that’s just what I do. There’s no getting around that but when I am home, I want to be there. Fully aware and fully conscience of what’s happening. I don’t want to miss out on that stuff. It’s human nature to be preoccupied or to think about work or the grown up shit that everyone has to deal with and yeah, that shit has to get done but at the same time, to be present, to be conscience is priceless. Before you know it, all that cliché stuff? It’s cliché for a reason because it’s fucking true. It’s fleeting, these moments. If you don’t pay attention and you don’t latch onto them, it’s gone forever. Before you know it, there’s a million moments that you missed and that’s really all life is, this collection of moments. You want to live for that, not paying bills and bullshit like that.”

That reach out and grab it attitude beams throughout ‘Parachutes’. It’s a deliberate light that’ll never go out but it might never shine as fiercely again. “I’m consumed with light versus dark, life versus death, good versus evil. For every negative, there has to be a positive. You can’t have life without it. We’re always on this teetering brink. I’m not just all doom and gloom, I think it’s a very positive record. The hope outweighs the negatives, probably more so than anything I’ve ever done. I never thought I could write happy songs but I think I got as positive as I could.”

That’s not to say Frank doesn’t dwell on the future. The idea of legacy, of being remembered, comes out of the shadows on ‘Parachutes’. ‘Miss Me Now’ sees “the sin of pride come in on things. You want what’s best for your kids and you want them to be happy but there’s a selfishness that comes in. I want to know. It’s like that weird fantasy you have, I wish I could be at my own funeral just to see. I don’t want my kids to ever experience any kind of pain but I hope I was good enough that I left a lasting impression. That’d be nice.”

As for being forever known as the ex-guitarist from that one band, “I don’t think it matters if I care or not. It’s one of those things where it is what it is. All I can do is just keep doing what I do. We’ll see, you know what I mean? I think we’re getting to the point where the catalogue is now so vast, ‘Oh it’s that guy from all those bands’. We’re at that point now where the Wikipedia is just too fucking long.”

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row column_padding="false" css=".vc_custom_1448964838386{padding-top: 30px !important;}"][vc_column][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner css=".vc_custom_1448964800400{padding-bottom: 30px !important;}"][vc_single_image img_size="full" image="33892" img_size="full" alignment="center"][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width="5/6" offset="vc_col-lg-offset-1 vc_col-lg-10 vc_col-md-offset-1 vc_col-md-10"][vc_column_text]Frank doesn’t know if he’ll ever run out of things to say with his music. Aware that some people are probably begging him to please stop, he’s not letting either side of the coin phase him. “Who knows?” he asks. For today, he’s focusing on today. “Maybe me doing this is my form of therapy and at the end of it I’ll realise I’m fine now, I’m done. That’s it. Who knows?” he repeats. “The world could end tomorrow but as of right now, I’ve still got some stuff to say. That’s what the cool thing about a solo career is, you’re never going to not be you. So, really no matter what I do, it’s a follow-up. It’s the follow-up to something. This is something that can continue and can take on different shapes,” he continues before musing on poetry and photography. “Maybe it doesn’t always have to be in the traditional band setting and the traditional record setting, maybe it can be anything else and that possibility is really inspiring.”

Naming the record after a life-saving device, Frank announced it by explaining: “The act of living can be random and strange, beautiful and ugly at the same time and 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,” and maybe it can help other people from falling. “That was the thing right. Music started off for me in that way, it was other people’s music and other bands that saved me and kept me afloat. I lived for it. And then I realised, I want to do this. I lived for that, for making music. If, geez, if I could write songs that would help people, or uplift people or give them something that they truly cared about and cherished, that’s the ultimate. To be there for someone else, like those bands were for me, is amazing.”

Frank Iero has a ten-deck career that’s seen him never push back or chase forward. Instead, he’s built a legacy of variation that’s never felt forced and that’s rare. Instead of running out of room, he’s opening more doors at every turn. There’s a list of things he still wants to achieve. “I don’t know what they are yet but I’m down for the challenge. I feel like, until I’ve got nothing left to say or I feel like I’m done or uninspired, I want to keep going. Very rarely do I hit a brick wall with things, and maybe that’s why I jump around so much with different bands and different genres. When I hit a writers block or a brick wall, I get so depressed I need to do something else entirely different, ultimately that opens the door to something else so I jump and I do that. By doing that it opens up the door that was closed before. I cant stand being stagnant, so I have to jump around.”

“I’m just a fan of music of all genres. I’m not going to do the same record over and over because there’s no point, so if I’m going to do different stuff, it might as well be drastically different. I want to experience everything. If you enjoy those risks, you’ll enjoy the things I do. The one thing I will say, if you follow me on those journeys of risk, I will never be full of shit about it. I think people can appreciate that. Whether you love it or you hate what I make, it comes from the heart and you can’t deny that. You may think my heart sucks but it’s definitely from my heart.” [icon type="fa-stop" size="icon-smallsize" ][/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=".vc_custom_1445370422462{padding-bottom: 25px !important;}"][vc_column width="5/6" offset="vc_col-lg-offset-1 vc_col-lg-10 vc_col-md-offset-1 vc_col-md-10"][vc_column_text css=".vc_custom_1478860774590{margin-top: 15px !important;border-top-width: 10px !important;padding-top: 15px !important;border-top-color: #0a0a0a !important;border-top-style: solid !important;}"]Taken from the November issue of Upset. Order a print copy here - we deliver worldwide. Frank Iero and The Patience’ album ‘Parachutes’ is out now.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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