night, as Frank Iero tucks his children in, he offers them a choice: a storybook
or a song. Rarely do they choose the book, opting for a sing-along that begins with
“Best Friends Forever (But Not Now).” Created by his daughter Lily as a playful
retort to her nine-year-old twin sister Cherry’s teasing, the song charmed the
singer-songwriter, who grabbed his guitar and, together with the twins and seven-year-old
son Miles, fleshed it out. Not only did they record it in Iero’s home studio,
but they also filmed a family music video. Being children, the trio are never
happy with just one bedtime song, which presented a dilemma. The songs on Iero’s
solo records, Stomachaches (2014, Workhorse Music Group) and Parachutes
(2016, BMG/Vagrant), were not age appropriate. His solution: “A New Day’s
Coming,” the uplifting, hopeful, and spiritual opening track of his newly
released third solo effort, Barriers (UNFD).
Recorded with Iero’s latest band, The Future Violents,the album is not a collection of “aw shucks” happy anthems. Throughout the
album’s 14 tracks, the songwriter not only draws from a palette of emotions,
but he is also inspired by the many musical styles that have informed his
decades-long musical career. Raw, introspective, confessional, and therapeutic,
the album is not a concept record, though each track shares the common theme of
shattering barriers and toppling walls.
Iero has mixed emotions as he reclines backstage at Philadelphia’s
Foundry. Although he is starting a month-long headlining tour and Barriers
is finally being released, he’s leaving his family behind. He saw
his children off to school, but it will be a few days before he sees them again.
Fortunately, the tour has been routed so that after the first five shows, he’ll
be close enough to his New Jersey home to spend an off day with them. The kids
have started to question why he has to leave for periods of time. They may be
too young to be impressed by Iero’s given profession, but they were excited by
the big shiny tour bus that rolled up to their home before school.
laughs. “My son wonders why all the neighborhood dads don’t go to work on tour
busses. I hate being away from my family, but if I had a regular nine-to-five
job—factoring in commuting—I’d have limited time with them each day. Between
tours, I have complete days to spend with my kids.”
Iero’s best-known band, My Chemical Romance, split in 2013, he wasn’t
considering a solo career. He was simply hoping to be a guitarist in another
band. And that happened, for a moment with Leathermouth, the post-hardcore band
he formed with Rob Hughes, but when that group splintered after just one
release, he brought it to an end.
became a solo project, which didn’t interest me,” he explains.
had also been writing and recording songs not meant for public consumption. That
changed when a friend started distributing tapes of the songs to record company
folk. That first collection of songs was recorded and released as Stomachaches and credited to “Frnkiero
andthe Cellabration.” His second album, Parachutes, was attributed
to Frank Iero and The Patience. Barriers was created by Frank Iero and
the Future Violents. In addition to being a sort of an inside joke, the name
changes also refer to the band lineup changes. His current “dream” band features
guitarist Evan Nestor, drummer Tucker
Rule (Thursday), bassist Matt Armstrong, and keyboardist Kayleigh
Goldsworthy. The name The Future Violents was actually inspired by
miscommunication on a flight to Sydney, Australia.
smiles. “It was serendipitous. A flight attendant asked us if we were in a band
and I said ‘yes.’ He asked us what our name was, and I said, ‘Frank Iero and
The Patience.’ He said, ‘The Future Violents? That’s a crazy name.’ How do you
confuse one for the other? But I believe the universe gives you things and you
need to be listening to take notice. I wrote the name down, though I had no
idea what it was meant to be. When I started to think about the accident I
experienced in 2016, it was about a brutal, intense moment that changed
everything for me. It was like tossing a rock into a lake and watching the
ripples that result. My life changed. Things would never be the same again…. The
Future Violents fit.”
was on the afternoon of Thursday, October 13, 2016 that the singer-songwriter
stared death in the face. Iero, guitarist Evan Nestor, drummer Matt Olsson,
manager Paul Clegg, and his publicist arrived in front of the Twitter office in
Sydney. They were unloading their van when a bus abruptly slammed into them.
Iero was dragged nine feet before ending up under the bus’s front bumper.
Nestor screamed, “I can’t feel my legs,” while Clegg’s leg began to bleed
profusely. Fortunately, a police officer who witnessed the accident raced over
and tied a tourniquet around the manager’s leg, saving the limb and his life.
Iero, Nestor, and Clegg were admitted to a hospital in serious condition and
remained there for two weeks before returning home for further treatment. Although
no one died and everyone has fully recovered from their various injuries, Iero
admits he may have a touch of survivor’s remorse.
are three things that occur when experiencing a traumatic event,” he explains. “One,
you’re shocked you survived to tell the story. Two, most people get to meet death
once. I’ve stared death in the face already and I’m waiting to do it again,
which is daunting. Three, I have started to wonder what is real. Did I survive or
is this a manifestation of my subconscious? You must come to this realization
that this is real to you. You must deal best with the hand you’ve been
life has been changed forever. Even with therapy and the therapeutic effect of
his emotionally bleeding and soul-searching music.
you come back from something like that, you can’t say, ‘Okay, I’m going to
write songs about it’,” he continues. “It doesn’t work that way. You must
figure out a new way. I’m lucky that I am still able to create. The
process is not better or worse, it’s just different. I think about things
differently. Everything tastes different. And I love that I still get time to
spend with my family. I still get to do this thing that has been such an
important part of my life for so long. But there is also a feeling of being cheated
out of my predetermined fate.”
a solo artist, Iero has essentially started over. The weeks leading up to Barriers’
release and the start of the tour were whirlwind. The media appearances, interviews,
photoshoots, and other assorted promotion seemed endless. It is the result of
being the focal point; being in the spotlight.
my face is on the cover of this record, which is something I’ve never done
before,” he says. “It scares the shit out of me. Since this record is about
tearing down walls, that is what it had to be. I had the conversation with my
manager. He asked me what the cover was going to be and [I expressed my ideas].
He said, ‘You know it has to be your face.’ I said, ‘Oh, fuck.’ But he was
right. It is a selfie that I took on my cell phone. It was the scariest thing I
could do, but I love the way it came out.”
Iero’s second album to be recorded and mixed by the eccentric Steve Albini, who
has previously worked with Nirvana and The Pixies among others.
is so amazing about his lack of production is that he forces you to become the producer,” explains
Iero. “Both the burden and the eventual confidence falls upon you. It’s the
idea that no one knows your music better than you. There is the inevitable
question in the studio, and you look over to another person, who looks to
another person, who looks to Steve. And he will give you nothing. He will say,
“I don’t know. What do you think?”
is akin to a psychiatrist or a college professor who never directly answers a
can be frustrating, but it is what you need,” the sing-songwriter continues. “With
Barriers, I knew that I would make it on my terms and be the producer of
it. In order to do that, I needed someone at the helm who was a genius and was
able to capture whatever I threw out there.
hear music in colors, and I know what these songs sound like in my head. So, if
I throw out a reference, and I need to chase a tone, I need someone who is
album has already spawned a hit single and music video, “Young and Doomed,”
which includes references to the accident and his previous band.
an artist is writing a record there are at least two songs that show where the
artist is going and two that show where the artist has been,” he explains. “Young
and Doomed’ is a bridge song. It ties
into what I’ve done. It is not an abrupt change, but it is touching upon
something different happening.”
Iero’s first release on UNFD, an emerging independent label that focuses on a broad
spectrum of heavy music. In addition to Iero, the label is home to Northlane,
Tonight Alive, Hands Like Houses, and In Hearts Wake.
don’t want to jinx it,” beams Iero. “I have had great experiences with labels,
and I have had very tumultuous experiences with labels. But this has been by far the best experience and the
record is not even out yet.”
a few minutes left before sound check for the night’s performance, the singer
talks about the songs being considered as singles, “Basement Eyes” and “The
Eyes’ was one of those songs that came together quickly,” he says. “Everything
came out at once. Songs are like love affairs. Some you must work hard at and
they hurt you as much as they help you and others just come in complete
packages. When I brought ‘Basement Eyes’ to the band, everyone said, ‘oh, I
know what to do here.’
Host’ started with a riff that my brother-in-law Evan brought to the band. He
said, ‘I got this thing and it’s real cool. I have no idea what this song is,
though.’ It didn’t fall into place until we brought it to the studio. It has
since become one of my favorite songs on the record.”
As Iero gets ready to join his bandmates and
contemplates all of the obstacles he has overcome, he realizes the songwriting
and performing is in his blood.
the only reason to do this,” he says. “This is an industry where you put all
your love, time, and money… your blood, sweat, and tears into it, but it
rarely loves you back. For me, it is like breathing.”
Although Barriers was completed in November,
it has taken until the end of spring for it to be released.
“You write and record a record and then
there is this weird purgatory you are in where you are waiting for the album to
come out and for people to hear it,” explains Iero. “Now there is excitement
because the tour is starting, and the record is coming out. After all the work
you put into the music, you finally get to share it. You believe in it, but you
also want to know if you were crazy.”
treat for hardcore fans, Frank Iero and The Violents are offering “The Neverender
Experience.” The package also includes an exclusive t-shirt, a Neverender
laminate, a signed Future Violents’ set list, early entry to the respective
venue, early access to the merchandise stands, photos with the band, and a mini-set
with the band of songs that will not be performed during the show.
have three albums of material from which to choose from and I put together a
wish list of what I wanted to play,” he says. “It is way longer than what any
venue would have allotted us to play. We learned them all. It would be cool if
we could do a stripped-down set before the show starts or experiment and
present some music in different ways. I am excited to try it out.”
Frank Iero and The Future Violents begin their soundcheck, more than two dozen
fans have already lined up outside The Foundry. Although it is more than four
hours before the venue’s doors open, the ticket holders are excited to be
there. There is a special, indescribable vibe in the air, and they want to
experience it as close to the front of the stage as they can get.
sure to catch Frank Iero and The Future Violents live on The Liberty Bell RiverBoat
Cruise in NYC on June 22, at Asbury Lanes in Asbury Park on June 28, and the
Vans warped tour in Atlantic City on June 30.