Scans and transcription of Frank’s interview in the September 2013 issue of Kerrang!
For those who may find the text hard to read with the site design, here is a link to the transcription in google documents.
Apologies in advance for any typos and misspellings in the transcription. Also apologies that the article is so long, but the “read more” option isn’t available when posting photos/photo sets.
If there’s one thing Frank Iero doesn’t have on his hands right now, it’s time.
"It was my twin girls birthday yesterday," says the dad of three, picking up the phone from his home in New Jersey. "The girls just turned three, so they’re getting to that age where they actually know the party is for them, and they take advantage of running around and eating their body weight in cake. It’s like an animal house here."
Nearly six months have passed since the shock announcement that Frnak, fellow guitarist Ray Toro, plus Gerard and Mikey Way were to call time on what had been their other family for 12 years. Not that Frank has had much time to sit and dwell on his past life as one of My Chemical Romance’s founding fathers.
Frank has been the most publicly active of MCR since the announcement in March. Within three weeks he was onstage with his new band - the anarchic, chaotic electro-project Death Spells, with longtime friend, Reggie and the Full Effect frontman and former MCR touring keyboardist James Dewees. A month from that, he was performing with LeATHERMOUTH, his hardcore side-project he formed in 2007.
And now, as Kerrang! calls by his home in early August… Well, now he’s tackling something even more difficult.
"I don’t know how it happened but somehow my girls turned into really girly girls," he laughs. "They’re super-into Disney princesses and puppies and purses and shit. I managed to find them these purses that look like taxidermied dogs with straps on. And they’ve got these Cinderella scooters that they’re psyched on, too. I have this home studio that I work in, and when I’m in need of a break I just run upstairs to get screamed at by these three little monsters. It’s great!"
Life outside of My Chemical Romance, you see, is very different for Frank. Just don’t think it got any quieter…
——How did Death Spells start out, Frank?
"I guess it was just born out of boredom. James [Dewees] and I were sharing an apartment out in North Hollywood around September or October of last year. We were away from our families so, instead of sitting around vegging out and watching movies, we ended up, y’know, making noise. And it turned from something that we did just to make our neighbours crazy into something that we were really enjoying. It’s rad because it wasn’t ever supposed to be a band. It was just something that we were doing late at night for ourselves. And then in ended up being too fun to keep to ourselves (laughs)."
——The music you’re making with Death Spells is quite the departure from anything we’ve previously heard from you so…
"I think that was sort of out of necessity. It was just the two of us, in a tiny apartment, so we never had the chance to set up a drum kit or amps or whatever. We wanted it to be aggressive and gritty and dirty, and it was just easier to do everything electronically on a computer. We bounced all sorts of different influences off each other and came up with what Death Spells sounds like.
——Having worked in such an established band under certain expectations, was it refreshing to start out like that again?
"Absolutely, man. Sometime that original chase is the funnest part. I’ve always been a fan of creating bands - that excitement of listening to those demos over and over again, thinking, "what’s this going to be?" and then you have to name it. It’s like having a child; it’s your baby. I think I’ve always been that kind of person. I never was fond of getting to the next point where people have to pigeonhole what the project is. When I get to that point, I start to lose interest. Start from scratch, burn it all down to do something brand-new."
——Is there not a comfort in familiarity?
"I guess… At times I’m a masochist in that respect. It would be great to know what’s coming next and have that comfort, that safety net, but I dunno if I really thrive in safety. Maybe I do my best stuff when at any moment I could fall of the rails."
——Why do you think that is?
"I don’t know… I think that’s part of my personality - though I wouldn’t say charm (laughs). I really hate it, but I guess I need turmoil to create. It’s one of those curses were the sky needs to be falling for me to be happy with what I’m doing. I’ll constantly go through these phases where one week, I’m way into what I’m doing - I love it, I think it might be the best thing I’ve ever done - and then the next week it becomes familiar, and I think that everything I do is fucking horrible. So I destroy it all. If I don’t release it that week, I destroy it and it becomes something new."
——Is that a process you go through on a week-by-week basis?
"Oh my God, yeah, it’s fucking horrible, man! I spend maybe six days patting myself on the back, and then for the next seven days I’m flogging myself for being the worst ever!"
——How is James in terms of counteracting that with you? Does he join in by kicking the shit out of you, too?
"(Laughs) He’s the Yin to my Yang, man. He’s the most positive dude I know and I think that’s why it works, because I’m so negative."
Frank hasn’t spoken much about My Chemical Romance since the curtain came down on the band on March 22. Here bandmate Gerard expressed his thoughts and feelings about the break-up in a lengthy 2,000-word-plus eulogy, Frank -“not much for eulogies,” her revealed - said his piece in a comparatively brief 340.
Words, though, are the only way Frank emotes what MCR meant to him. “I lived, breathed, and bled the band,” he said in his personal blog post eight days after the band’s announcement. Yet when conversation turns to the subject, it’s not simply what Frank says about the band, it’s how he says it. His voice slows and softens. The boundless enthusiasm with which he speaks of Death Spells and his family is replaced by pensive caution. His infectious laughter ceases. There are moments when he sounds like he is about to choke up. Clearly, as Frank said at the time, “I loved my band with all I had.”
——You said you didn’t see the announcement coming a couple of months before, so, where did it come from?
"Um… (Long pause) I think… It was a long time coming. But I didn’t foresee it happening at that moment. The announcement and what happened… It was done for the right reasons. Maybe I just wish the timing was a bit different."
——What ultimately informed the decision to announce at that moment?
"(Very long pause) I think it was just… It came to a point where we were ready to… say it. I don’t know. There wasn’t a specific incident or anything. It was just… time."
——How did you feel in the immediate moments after the announcement?
"It was sad. But at the same time, I felt like I could breathe a little bit. It was a very strange feeling. I don’t think I’ve been a part of anything for 12 years. To see a large chapter of your life close is… it’s a strange experience. I don’t think we ever had the chance to take a step back and appreciate everything we were doing as we were doing it, though. There was never the time to step back and say, "Wow, look what we did." And now we’ve all had the time to do that. And that’s been really cool. But, like I said… things come to an end. Like a marriage, you try to keep it together for the kids. But if it does end up ending, it’s sometimes for the best for everyone."
——Do you have any regrets about the way that it ended? It was quite a shock to a lot of people.
——Do you wish you’d done anything differently about the announcement?
"I think the announcement was very direct and to the point. And I feel like we allowed everyone else to talk about it, and all of us at least got to make our own personal statements about the band. I think it was the right thing to do. I thought [the way we handled it] was pretty classy."
——Given how busy you’ve all been since, have you seen much of each other?
"We have, like, countries separating us. Geography was never on our side. But we still talk and stuff."
——Six months on, do you feel it was for the better you did it.
"Yeah, it was definitely for the best."
There is, though, one topic that Frank has spoken about even less than MCR. One that has, until now, been kept a secret, hidden away in the home studio basement of his New Jersey home, not even mentioned to friends in his local record shop. Because Death Spells and LeATHERMOUTH are only two parts of the story of Frank’s past six months.
"Most of the Death Spells record is done now," Frank reveals. "I want an October release. We’ll see if I can actually make that happen, because [James Dewees and I] both have other projects that we’re working on at the moment…"
——This “other project,” then, Frank. Care to unveil it?
"Well… I guess you could say I’m 80 percent done on a solo record right now. And I have no idea what it is."
——That’s a long way to be down the line without knowing…
"I know, right (laughs). We were doing Death Spells, and James had an obligation to do a Reggie [And the Full Effect] record, so there was a break we had to take. I ended up writing all these songs, so I went into a studio and though, ‘Alright, maybe I should do everything.’ I ended up wearing a lot of hats. I played everything, recorded everything and put it together. I’m actually in the vocal stage right now. It’s one of those things where I had these songs and, if I didn’t get them recorded, it felt like they were going to kill me. It’s been a love/hate project for me."
——We can imagine, if you don’t have anyone to balance that negativity…
"I can’t tell you how many times I’ve scrapped everything. To be 80 percent done is mind-boggling to me!"
——So this is an exercise in catharsis, or do you hope to put it out?
"I think I’ll put it out. It’s taken too much blood and sweat to keep it hidden. But we’ll see. It’s been fun, and it’s been horrible, but I feel like the good times have outweighed the bad a little bit. This week I’m happy…"
——We caught you on a good day…
"You did! What that means, I don’t know. I do my best stuff when I’m sad…"
——Can you see yourself touring it, or is it just a studio pursuit to - like you say - get these songs out of your head?
"I think I wanna take it out. I’m actually talking about that right now; the business side, where it goes from here. There you go: it’s the chase, the inception of something new. And it’s scary, and fun, and frightening and horrible, all at the same time."
——Do you have a compulsive need to keep yourself so busy?
"I guess so. I feel like I need to have at least 100 things up in the air. I have this thing inside me that when people say, ‘Hey, do you wanna do this?’ I’m like, ‘Fuck yeah!’ And then I wonder how on Earth I’m going to do it!"
——Or how you’ll even get it past the family…
"I know! I think they’re gonna get sick of me reeeeal quick!"
——How does that balance with work?
"Well, right now, it’s been okay, because there hasn’t been a lot of touring. I have the home studio, so I can work downstairs, and then run up and hang out with the kids. Then I can go downstairs and be like, ‘I’ve fucking got it now!’ It’s been great. But, as far as when things change, I don’t know. I really don’t know…"
Life for Frank Iero, then, might never be the same again. Only time will tell if My Chemical Romance will one day return, and, even then, recapturing the past might be a step further than anyone can or is prepared to go. For now, though, Frank’s not exactly short of things to juggle.
"It’s exciting and scary," Frank says, of living outside the bubble in which he resided for over a decade. "To have been part of something that’s all you’ve really known for years, and then all of a sudden you’re out there on your own. All these things you’d always said, ‘If I had the time to do this, or do that…’ Now you have the opportunity to put your money where your mouth is."
No excuses. No pigeonholes. No safety net.
"Exactly," he smiles. "We’ll see what happens…"
We’re excited already.