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Frank Iero

My Chemical Romance

"The world has everybody else. It doesn't make sense to pretend to be someone else. We have that already. The only thing that we don't have is you and how weird you are inherently. That's the good shit the stuff that makes you a little bit broken or a little bit off-kilter, a little bit strange, a little bit awkward and uncomfortable in your own skin. That's the best part. That's why people are so amazing and so interesting, not because they all look the same. Be a little bit ugly. I find beauty in it."

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Frank Iero: (00:00)
Oh, here's fun one. So touring with My Chem, and ... One second.

Speaker 2: (00:09)
Who are they?

Frank Iero: (00:09)
They're filming for Ernie Ball.

Speaker 3: (00:11)
Daddy's working.

Speaker 2: (00:11)
What's Ernie Ball?

Frank Iero: (00:12)
Ken, what's Ernie Ball?

Speaker 3: (00:13)
Guitar strings.

Speaker 4: (00:15)
Guitar strings.

Speaker 2: (00:16)
Oh. Bye.

Frank Iero: (00:47)
You're never going to tell your kids about the time that you hid how strange you were. Be proud of whoever the fuck you are. My Chem was a lot of different influences that necessarily on paper didn't work together, but somehow in real life did. Why does that band sound the way it does? It's because those four or five guys are in the room at that moment, you know what I mean? Nothing else. We were writing these songs based on what we wanted to hear and the things that we grew up listening to. There's Maiden in there, and there's Misfits in there and there's Bowie and Queen, and that shit wasn't happening in hardcore and punk rock at the time. It just wasn't. People weren't feeling, "Oh, I want to sound like The Damned meets Marcy. Nobody else was doing that, and we did. That's how it started, and that was the jump off point, and then we ended up doing our own thing that was even more grandiose and even more batshit crazy.

Frank Iero: (01:47)
The introduction from music for me was really early on. My dad was a drummer. He played in a blues band. If I was lucky, I would get to go see him. When it came time for me to kind of find out about my own stuff, I think I gravitated towards the DIY punk rock and hardcore on that was happening in Jersey and New York at the time. Blues and stuff like that that my dad really loved was this DIY done in basements kind of thing makeshift recordings, and I found that in punk and hardcore. Kids just scraping together whatever they could, recording on four tracks and stuff like that, putting out seven inches or tapes and putting on shows for their bands. That was huge to me.

Frank Iero: (02:51)
If the big bang is you getting an instrument, kind of figuring out a few chords by yourself and writing horrible songs with those three chords, then evolution is you getting in a room with other people and just seeing what it's like to play with strangers. You learn more playing with other people than light years of your bedrooms or whatever. That was huge for me. I didn't grow up being, I guess, in awe of rock stars. Like, that wasn't cool to me. I didn't want to be a virtuoso or spandex-wearing front man on stage. I wanted to just write songs and play VFW halls. That was my thing.

Frank Iero: (03:45)
What was so intriguing about the band and just the players and all of it was that it was so out of pocket. The way that G and Ray were writing at the time, their influences were very diverse and very far removed from where I was coming from. Ray was bringing in a lot of classical ideas and metal sensibilities, and that really wasn't where I was coming from, and that was really interesting to me in that way, because I was bringing in a little bit more noisy melodies, and I liked playing off of the vocal a lot.

Frank Iero: (04:47)
For me, it was huge because I never wanted to be a front man of a band. That was the thing, but I always got thrown into that role because no one else wanted to sing. It's like, "Fuck, all right. Well, I guess if no one does it, we don't have a band. All right, so I guess I'll be the singer." That was always the way it went with all the other bands, but this was finally, "I get to join a band. I get to just play guitar and I don't have to worry about that. I can actually focus on the playing of it, play everything that I want to play and not worry about, 'Well, I really want to play this part, but I can't sing it and play it."

Frank Iero: (05:16)
That was huge. I loved that so much. It opened my mind up to so many different influences and ways of playing and definitely things that I wouldn't have thought of on my own. But the thing about it was getting in that band and in those early days of shows, it was hard for us because we were so different than every other band that was playing at the time. We weren't really accepted or championed in that way that, say, a straight-up hardcore band would be.

Frank Iero: (06:18)
I've run the gamut of playing different string companies, and it never really was happy. It was just all right, whatever, until I think we met. Now I don't want to go anywhere else. When the relationship started with Ernie Ball, I realized, I was like, "Oh, no, wait. This is way better than what I've been using." Before that, I didn't think it really mattered what I was playing. You know what I mean? I was like, "Ah, whatever. Just put strings on it." I'm not running string breakage. I'm not running into constant tuning problems. There's more life in these strings. They just feel great. They sound great. The mileage on them is pretty exceptional, and it's really been helpful with recording and in a live setting as well.

Frank Iero: (07:50)
This is the first guitar I ever had. It's a Fernandes Lawsuit strap. At some point, this was entirely covered in shitty stickers and whatever you could possibly get from a Warped Tour. Oh, here's a fun one. So touring with My Chem, and we were doing The Black Parade touring. It was crazy, man. It was the first time we were headlining arenas. That was unheard of like crazy for us, and the beginning of that record, it starts with an acoustic guitar, and I didn't have an acoustic electric. I just, at that time, I didn't have much. My dad for Christmas that year, he was like, "I know you need an acoustic electric for these shows that are coming up. Here," and I used this on basically I think all of The Black Parade arena touring and Saturday Night Live, and it's an Esteban. Acoustic electric. Esteban. Think about that, right? Think about it for a second. Close your eyes. Think about it. You pull up. You're headlining Madison Square Garden. It's sold out, and the first note of the entire set gets played on Esteban.

Frank Iero: (09:13)
[inaudible 00:09:13] gave me this. This is his Fender Malibu. He made those with a heartagram. [inaudible 00:09:20] sent us all these. These are great. I mean, they're really like just small parlor guitars, but they play fantastic. Based on the Malibu, and that was the Alkaline. See that hole in there? It's really rad. This is from "Ghost of You." We did this video ... It was funny. It was actually filmed in a VFW hall. So this is the guitar that Epiphone sent to be ... It kind of resembled the time period, like a World War II type video.

Frank Iero: (09:50)
So this actually, this got broken on stage. I remember I spun around to go talk, and I think the strap came undone and the guitar went flying, landed on the drum riser and broke right down here, so it totally split entirely, and then down here as well. Luthier in Jersey fixed it, replaced the whole trust rod. Doesn't look pretty, but she still works. Yeah. This guitar's seen a lot. This played the last My Chem show and the first one back, and I felt like that was a good way to send her off.

Frank Iero: (10:31)
We had done a song for The Watchman soundtrack and filmed a video with Zack Snyder. It was awesome, and this was the guitar for that. As far as the My Chem mythology, this is number one. Ended up playing these Epiphone Elitists, Les Pauls for a long time, and this was always the main. I played it for a really long time. After multiple, multiple fixes and things of that nature, I was just kind of fucking over playing this guitar, and it hurt my hands.

Frank Iero: (11:04)
We were playing a show. It was being taped for an MTV special. I don't know I was having a really, really bad night. You know those nights where everything you try just goes wrong? There was a giant MTV sign on wheels, and it was made of like paper mache and all this weird shit. And at the end of the show, I wheeled it out and went to hit the sign with the guitar. The sign broke, it broke the guitar, and then toppled over and knocked every amp on stage over. It was just like, "Great." So yeah, Pansy did that, and she hasn't been played since, so she hangs on the wall as well.

Frank Iero: (12:00)
You get to a point where there is a lot of attention around your band, and although you started out in these basements and that's where you know, you're getting offers for bigger shows. You're seeing these different things, and these are amazing things. You have that opportunity to do that. Is being on a major label, is that right for us? Do we have a shot at doing something huge? Should we take this shot? Will this opportunity to be here forever? I think that the songs that we were writing, the ways that we were feeling, we were feeling really confident about that. That was the thing that we learned the most about being in this competitive environment, about touring with bands that we normally didn't fit in with. We were still gaining a crowd, and we felt confident about what we had, this little insulated group, and it just felt like the right time to do something crazy and to do something big.

Frank Iero: (13:07)
The first bus we ever got into, we pulled up to and our van was on fire. It was very much like, "All right, this is the trajectory." You know what I mean? When do you get into a bus? Well, when your van catches on fire, you can't ride that van anymore. So we left it there, and we got into the bus. I remember that. The first studio we went into was we worked with Mark Trombino because we heard Bleed American, and I remember going to the studio with him being like, "You're not ready for this," and us being like, "What the fuck? Oh, great. This sucks. Did we make the wrong choice?" But you keep at it and you believe in what you're doing. We wrote more songs and ended up going in with Howard Benson, and that was our first major label record.

Frank Iero: (14:16)
The moment we decided we wanted to try our hand at this giant world of major labels and touring and doing all of that was we were offered a show. It was at the Allentown Fair. Jimmy Eat World headlined, and [inaudible 00:14:31] was supposed to play, but they had to cancel, and we got offered their spot. We show up, and this point it was the biggest show we had ever played. And I remember going up, playing a couple songs, and I think the second song was a song that we did called "Headfirst for Halos." I remember my eyes were closed playing because I was so fucking nervous, and then I opened my eyes and the entire crowd was bouncing in time to our song.

Frank Iero: (14:54)
It was like, that's it. This is what we need to do. Like, yes. Whatever we've got to do to have this happen all the time, yes. Also, you felt like we did that. We could have got up here and nobody could give a fuck like all the other shows that we were playing. We could have gone up there and there had been a thousand middle fingers, but the fact that we made them bounce, that was it. It was like, "No, we have something here."

Frank Iero: (15:59)
When My Chem ended, it was a feeling of closure on that, but also at the same time this panic sets in because you've done something for so long. That's what I did for 12 years. It almost defined you, and there's comfort in that, but there's also this feeling of, "Oh my God, well, now what do you do. Who are you now?" If that's not you, if that didn't actually define you, what do you do now? It's a scary, scary time, but thank God. You know what I mean? Because I feel like the things that scare me are the things that I gravitate towards. I love doing that shit. If it scares the shit out of me, then I have to do it, and I ended up learning so much more about my myself and what I can accomplish by doing those things as opposed to the stuff that's like, "Oh yeah, that's easy. That's not a challenge." I like doing the stuff that scares me

Frank Iero: (17:19)
In probably 2012, around there at that point I was doing Death Spells. I'd been just writing these songs kind of in my basement, writing on a computer and playing everything. Didn't know what I was making, I just had to write songs. I wrote these songs, I recorded them myself and I flew my friend Jared out to play live drums on some of the stuff. There was no band, so I'd have to fill it out with a band and reinvent it for the road. I didn't know if I was off to the task, but it was actually my wife that convinced me to do it. She's like, "If you don't do this, you're always going to wonder," and she's basically always right, so I listen to her, and that's what happened, man.

Frank Iero: (18:00)
It was like 2014, put out Stomachaches. That's the first solo record, and I started touring on that and loved it. It was just so much different than anything else I had been doing at the time. I had full reign over all these songs. It wasn't like any other band. It was just, again, no rules. I called all the shots for better or worse, and that was really fun for me.

Frank Iero: (19:03)
The world has everybody else. It doesn't make sense to pretend to be someone else. We have that already. The only thing that we don't have is you and how weird you are inherently. That's the good shit the stuff that makes you a little bit broken or a little bit off kilter, a little bit strange, a little bit awkward and uncomfortable in your own skin. That's the best part. That's why people are so amazing and so interesting, not because they all look the same. Be a little bit ugly. I find beauty in it.