The former guitarist for emo heroes My Chemical Romance, singer-guitarist Frank Iero
says he didn’t initially set out to launch a solo career when he began recording the demos that would become his 2014 debut, Stomachaches
“It was weird because when we stopped My Chem, I wanted to go try other stuff,” he says in a recent phone interview. “I just wanted to do something else, not even music. I wasn’t sure what that was. I worked on Death Spells
with my friend James [Dewees]. In the meantime, I started writing these songs and I put out the record out. I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d start a solo career. Never in a million years did I want that. First off, it’s hard to spell my name and pronounce it. I don’t have the name for a solo career. I never wanted to be a singer. When I was writing Stomachaches
, I didn’t even think I was writing a record. I was just writing the songs in my basement because that’s what I do.”
And yet, the album’s success led to a second solo album, last year’s Parachutes
. Iero, who rechristened his band, calling it Frank Iero and the Patience instead of frnkiero and the cellabration. For Parachutes
, Iero, who performs on April 26 at the Agora Ballroom
, says he altered his approach because he knew the album would receive a proper release and get a big push from his record label.
“This time around, I had a label, and I knew people were going to hear it,” he says. “I knew it was going to see the light of day. That was a different animal. I just thought I was going to record Stomachaches
and show it to my kids in 20 years. This time around, I had to get my shit together. I didn’t do that the first time. It was daunting. I put a lot of effort and work into it. It’s one of those things where all those sleepless nights paid off. When I listen back to the record, I feel really proud of the record. That doesn’t happen all the time. I’m used to putting my heart and soul into something and then hearing it for the first time and hating it. This time around, I felt at peace and proud. That happens once every ten years, so I feel blessed.”
Co-produced by Ross Robinson (Slipknot, Korn, the Cure, Deftones) and Steve Evetts (the Used, Saves the Day, Senses Fail), the album commences with the noisy “World Destroyer,” a song featuring parched vocals and snarling guitars. Iero says Robinson and Evetts helped him hone his punk-inspired sound.
“What a dream come true,” Iero says of working with Robinson and Evetts. “I was so scared going into the studio. I had gotten to work with some heavy hitters and guys I really looked up to. I was afraid of these guys. You hear these stories and don’t know if you’re ready for it. I was scared to make that call. I started writing the songs, and they wanted to push me beyond my comfort level. It was beyond any experience I thought I could have. Hands down, it was the most creative recording experience ever. I don’t think I could record another record without them.”
On the thrashy “Dear Percocet, I Don't Think We Should See Each Other Anymore,” Iero confronts his inner demons and sings about addiction issues as he virtually yelps his way through the tune.
“That song is about feeling that if you were allow yourself to fall over the edge, you totally could,” he says. “It’s about the fear of falling into an abyss and loving it so much. You get to the point where you don’t know if you want to self-destruct anymore and leave your consciousness and surrender to it. Being an addict is a hard thing. You’re not just addicted to one thing. It’s anything. When you have that addictive personality, it’s not just alcohol, but it’s TV. It’s sex, spending money and everything. You take your eye off what is really important, and this song is about that.”
Iero strips away the loud guitars for “Miss Me,” a somber folk-like tune that features acoustic guitar and reverb drenched vocals.
“I think when I played it for Ross and Steve, they wanted to adopt that Johnny Cash vibe,” he says. “I always wanted to try something like that, but I didn’t feel confident enough to do that. They told me they didn’t want me to try it any other way. We tried it, and it’s a palette cleanser. There are moments when it comes on and if you thought you knew what the whole record was about, at that moment you realize you have a lot more to learn.”
After reluctantly launching his solo career, Iero says he’s happy he decided to put his all into touring and recording under his own unpronounceable name and with his own damn band.
“All of a sudden, four years later, here I am, and I’m actually really enjoying it,” he says. “There’s something amazing about being the beginning to end of it all and getting to write all the lyrics. It’s a great outlet for me.”
Frank Iero and the Patience, Dave Hause and the Mermaid, 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 26, Agora Ballroom, 5000 Euclid Ave., 216-881-2221. Tickets: $15 ADV, $18 DOS, agoracleveland.com.