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Frank Iero is back for the first time since his near death experience in Sydney, a little over two years ago.
Under the name Frank Iero And The Future Violents, Iero makes his return with friends Evan Nestor, Matt Armstrong (ex-Murder by Death), Tucker Rule (Thursday) and Kayleigh Goldsworthy (Golds, Dave Hause, The Mermaid) to release his third ‘Solo’ project Barriers.
Ahead of it’s May 31 release, Hysteria caught up with Frank Iero to discuss Barriers, creative projects and being a fanboy of The Cure. We caught Frank having just finished up a tour with Taking Back Sunday and in preparation for his own headline tour in support of Barriers. When asked if he has an exclusive contract with Taking Back Sunday, having toured with them on every single of his “Frank Iero and the …” projects, Frank laughs down the line “Isn’t that crazy!? That’s just the universe! Honestly, you would think that I actively seek these things out, but really, I do very little! I’m just an observer and conduit for what happens around me. I think I’m just really good at taking cues and riding the wave! You would think that I would be more of a hippie, but I’m not. Shit happens and I pay attention.” Stars aligning seemed to be a theme that kept cropping up throughout our chat. “We just started rehearsals today. It was a year ago around now that I flew Matt Armstrong out to New Jersey. He, Tucker Rule, Evan Nester and I started the first writing sessions ever for this album. So it’s almost like, ‘Wow, we’re finally doing this on our year anniversary of starting to write this!’.”
I don’t know if I was purposely trying to stir shit? It was more that I liked the idea of breaking down this fourth wall. To me, it was very much like reading a comic and you find out that two super heroes are in the same universe even though they don’t necessarily interact.
[ Frank Iero ]
Barriers is the first record that Frank has written since the accident he and his band, The Patience, were involved in over two years ago in Sydney. Frank explains it was this experience that influenced much of the content featured on Barriers. “I knew it was something I needed to address because it was such a life changing event. I was having a really hard time though. The things I was writing, I didn’t feel encompassed every emotion that I had about it and it was this huge, giant elephant in the room and I felt like the things that were coming out of me just didn’t do it justice. I ended up getting calls from some amazing musicians, Tucker Rule, Matt Armstrong, Kayleigh Goldsworthy and Evan Nestor. Everybody said ‘Hey we’re free and we want to do this record’. I have known some of these people for like 20 years! And I’ve wanted to start a band with them for so long! That the fact that these stars were aligning just really kinda blew my mind! I knew that I didn’t want to pass up on this opportunity just because I couldn’t get over this hurdle of writing about this experience. So, I just tackled it head on and started chipping away at it and didn’t shy away from the things that really scared me. I think that in accomplishing that, it gave me a lot of confidence and, all of a sudden, all of these other things that maybe I’d shied away from in my writing throughout the years didn’t seem so scary. So, that became the battle cry, I think, for the record ‘Attack the things that scare you.’ If you find something that you are uncomfortable with, go for it! That’s the path! Get yourself out of your comfort zone at all times! That became the theme of the record, ‘Break down every wall’.” Frank is very pleased with the end result. “I really feel that this record is a record that, out of everything that I’ve ever had a hand in, is the most proud that I’ve ever been! It’s kind of insane! I do feel very fortunate to have been able to say that almost every time I make a new record! You know? That’s hard to do! I feel very blessed and very fortunate.”
Fans of My Chemical Romance will instantly recognise Frank’s reference to the band featured in Barriers’ lead single Young & Doomed. “I promise that I’m not okay … oh wait, that’s the other guy.” Frank quips. “I don’t know if I was purposely trying to stir shit? It was more that I liked the idea of breaking down this fourth wall. To me, it was very much like reading a comic and you find out that two super heroes are in the same universe even though they don’t necessarily interact. I like the fact that it called back to previous works. I feel a song like Young & Doomed is very tied to a song like I’m Not Okay and it’s also really tied to a song like I’m a Mess. So that line, it just fits so perfectly. Yeah, I knew that it was going to cause some disruption for others [laughs], but what I was hoping for was that attention would be brought to what I was actually trying to say within the song.”
An interesting fact about Frank is that he experiences synesthesia, a perceptual phenomenon where sounds are associated with colours. “I know that this record is very yellow. I know that Parachutes was very blue and Stomachaches was pink. It’s very hard to explain because I don’t know why I feel that way or why I see it that way. I just know what it feels like when I write it.” He goes on to explain that this affects artistic decisions. “It’s helps me though, because when I listened to this record I knew where the artwork needed to be and where the colour scheme for the record needed to be. That’s why when you see the packaging for say like Parachutes or for Stomachaches, those follow suit with the colour scheme that I’m seeing when I hear the record.”
Sonically, there is a lot to sink your teeth into on Barriers. Elements and styles gained from all stages of his diverse career can be heard. From the theatrical emo of My Chemical Romance to the brutal hardcore of Leathermouth to straight up punk rock of some of his earlier solo releases. Even elements of The Cure can be heard, probably picked up from his time with the cover band Love Cats. “It was called Love Cats, after the song. It was super fun! It was Myself, Pete Steinkop from the Bouncing Souls, we had DJ from Let it Burn and Matt from Seaside Caves. It was a really fun project! We did a couple of shows on the East Coast together. It was one of those things where … geez, I’m trying to think of the years, maybe 2008? 2009? I think the Souls where off for a little while and My Chem was off for a couple of months at that time. I got a call and they were like ‘So, do you wanna do this Cure cover band?’ and I was like ‘Hell yeah! I get to hang out and play Cure songs? Like, definitely!’” Frank continues discussing his love for The Cure and recalls a memory of being on the same festival lineup as them one year. “Robert is one of the greatest vocalists of all time, I think one of the most beautiful instruments I’ve ever heard is Robert Smith’s vocals. I remember we played Riot Fest a couple of years ago and The Cure headlined. We showed up super early, maybe 9-10 in the morning? We’d taken a really long drive the night before. We get out of the van and all of a sudden, floating all over the clouds is this unbelievable sound! It was Robert Smith singing Pictures Of You A Capella as a sound check over the PA. It was unreal! I could not believe my ears!”
You can be very content to passively participate, kinda sit back and live vicariously through other people or other things, like watching the fish swim underneath or watching the wind take the current and just observe. That could be fine for some. The other way would be to pick up a rock or pebble on the shore and toss it in to disrupt things, to leave your mark and watch the ripple carry on and on.
[ Frank Iero ]
In the past, Frank has discussed that each new Frank Iero project is like a blank slate; That it is different and new each time and thus the band is differently on each occasion. So far we have had The Celebration and The Patience. Why The Future Violents? “Well, it’s kind of a strange story. I was travelling and we were on a flight, the steward came over and said “Are you guy’s a band? You guys look like you’re in a band” I said, “Yeah we’re from Frank Iero and The Patience” and he was like “Huh? The Future Violence? That’s a crazy name!” and I was like “Oh my gosh! That’s pretty amazing, I’ve got to write that down!” So, I had that in my notebook for a good year and a half, two years. I didn’t really know what it was, if it was just something that sounded cool? Maybe a song title or something like that? But, I held on to it. I feel like, a lot of the times, the universe just shows you a path or gives you little gifts along the way. Sometimes you just have to be in tune or just be a witness and take those cues. When I started to write this record, I started thinking about those words because … it’s funny, the flight that it happened on is the flight that took us to Sydney… I started to think about those words and what they meant. I started thinking about how living life is a lot like looking at it like a pristine lake. You can be very content to passively participate, kinda sit back and live vicariously through other people or other things, like watching the fish swim underneath or watching the wind take the current and just observe. That could be fine for some. The other way would be to pick up a rock or pebble on the shore and toss it in to disrupt things, to leave your mark and watch the ripple carry on and on. I started thinking about that action and how it is a very violent action, but not necessarily in a negative connotation. It’s a violent, abrupt, brutal act. I started to think about that and how what happened in Sydney was a very violent, abrupt, brutal act and how this thing that happened to me might have just happened for me instead of just happening to me. I thought about how I wanted the band to be activists; Ones that go out and actively participate in life and leave a mark. Hopefully, that ripple carries on and the people that are listening are also the future activists, the future violents, the ones that go out and smash that pristine lake and make their mark.”
On whether Australia can expect to see Frank Iero and The Future Violents anytime soon, Frank says “I really do hope so. I would love to be out there again by the end of the year. I’m very hopeful.”