If the name Frank Iero sounds familiar it’s probably due to the fact that he lent his guitar prowess to emo-punk outfit My Chemical Romance for the better part of 12 years.
A major force in the mainstreaming of emo – a band that grew to be synonymous with side fringes, eyeliner and everything black – MCR decided to call it quits in March last year. Frank Iero, however, unable to tame the creative beast within, is now flying solo under the moniker FrnkIero And the Cellabration, with his debut album Stomachaches due out Friday August 29 via Cooking Vinyl Australia.
Speaking with him over the phone, it’s clear that international success has done nothing to inflate Iero’s ego. He remains humble and sincere as he describes the process behind Stomachaches, which quite literally began as a way to deal with the stomach pains he suffered as a result of a life-long digestive disorder.
“It was kind of zapping all of my being, and I didn’t even feel like myself anymore. I just felt like I almost just wanted to curl up and die,” says the 32-year-old. “So I just started saying, ‘Enough is enough. I need to reclaim my life again -especially my creative life.’ And so, every time I would feel a pain come on I would force myself to get up and go down to my studio and write a song, or a short story, or a poem, or paint a picture. Just to create something.”
Using his songwriting as a means of forgetting his physical pain, Iero explains that the pain he was feeling became synonymous with creating, as well as with the songs themselves. “I could have called it ‘12 songs,’ or I could have called it ‘Stomachaches,’ it’s kind of the same thing.”
A creative jack of all trades, having dabbled in poetry and prose, Iero isn’t afraid to delve into the dark side with his songwriting. Often exploring the beauty in things most people find mundane, or even things they are afraid of, he doesn’t skip on the poetics.
“I’ve been obsessed with that light and dark for a very long time,” says the wordsmith. “You know, sometimes the most powerful thing you can say is in a whisper, and I find that to be very true.”
“There is a power and beauty in everything. We just need to take the time to look at things in a different way, and I think that’s something that’s easier said than done, but it’s something that would benefit all of us: Finding that beauty and strength in ourselves. To kind of look inside and see that we are very beautiful, powerful beings, and life is very frail, but gorgeous, if you take the time to enjoy it.”
FrnkIero And the Cellabration made his first single, ‘Weighted’ available for fans to stream last month. With lyrics like, “So let’s laugh, let’s laugh, let’s learn to laugh at ourselves again/And let’s love, let’s hate what our love makes us do,” Iero says he felt a weight had been lifted (pun intended) following the garage-esque track’s unveiling, which was never intended for mass consumption in the first place.
“When I did finally decide, ‘I’m going to release this. I’m going to put this out into the world,’ I started to be like, ‘Oh s**t. I didn’t make this for anyone else, I made this for myself, maybe I shouldn’t have done that’.”
The music video for ‘Weighted’ was unleashed onto YouTube earlier this month, and has already clocked over 120,000 views. Featuring Iero as a vengeful zombie-corpse who skips rope with the intestines of kids who stole his corpse, the video has a dark-comedy vibe (think The Goonies, but with a Rob Zombie twist).
“It was hilarious,” says Iero when asked about the filming experience. “It was so fun and ridiculous, and it was a very, long, long day of shooting. I got to make it with some great friends of mine that have ridiculously, sick, demented senses of humour.”
“I think that a lot of people find it funny, and you should, because it’s meant to be, but I think people are questioning what kind of person am I, and that’s amazing to me. I love that,” Iero says with a childlike chuckle.
Flexing his multi-instrumental muscles, Iero played every instrument on the album, except for drums, which were performed by friend Jarrod Alexander. Iero explains that Alexander is a “phenomenal drummer,” not only in skill, but also in the fact that he was able to translate his “weird” methods of instruction into percussion for the record.
“I talk really weird. I talk in colours, and feels, and stuff like that. Maybe not the easiest to understand for a drummer, to be like, ‘Oh, you mean triplets?’ and I’m like, ‘Nah, I want it to be like black.’ But for some reason, we just connect on that level, and it was amazing for him to come in and play those parts.”
As a father of three, Iero knows all too well about the impossibility of choosing favourites when it comes to one’s children. The same holds true to the songs on Stomachaches – each track holds a special place in his heart, and he considers each a part of him.
“As a whole I think it’s almost like life; every experience that you go through, big or small, affects and moulds the person that you become,” he explains. “I feel like the same holds true in art, I feel like everything that you create, whether it works out or it doesn’t, moulds and affects the artist that you become and affects the creations that you make later on as well.”
With plans to tour the US next month, Iero hints that he will announce a tour in the coming weeks, which is not based in the states. “Unfortunately it’s not Australia yet, which I really hope it is soon.”
However, Iero does assure Aussie fans that although there are “no definite plans at this stage” he would “love” to bring FrnkIero And the Cellabration Down Under in the near future.
“I really want to bring this record to Australia. I don’t know why, maybe it’s because I’ve always enjoyed my trips there, and enjoyed the shows that I played there,” says Iero, “but for some reason this record needs to be played there and I would really, really like to see that happen in the not-so-distant future.”