Interview with Frank Iero | By Natasha Van Duser
Frank Iero is best known as the former guitarist of the now defunct band My Chemical Romance, but after the group’s disbandment, he was not ready to settle or slow down. “I needed it to be as honest as possible,” says Iero of his new endeavor. “It was one of those things that felt like life or death; if I didn’t get it right, I didn’t feel like I was going to survive.”
Iero’s latest project eventually took the form of the quasi-solo project frnkiero andthe Cellabration. Though the result is the upcoming album, Stomachaches, the initial intention was never to make a new record. “When it started, I didn’t really think that I was writing a record,” admits Iero of the handful of songs he created by himself in his basement. “I had no intention of ever doing a solo project or anything like that.”
The record stemmed less from an effort to make new music, and more from a need for relief, an alternative to medication for a physical ailment that recently tormented Iero. “I decided after a while of just feeling defeated physically and drained creatively that I was going to take this defiant stance and try to reclaim myself,” explains Iero, who suffers from chronic stomach pain. “Every time that I felt I needed to just curl up in a ball and not do anything, I forced myself to get up and write music, and that’s where each song originally came from.” Iero was unknowingly writing a record all on his own.
Iero not only played every instrument on the album – except for drums, which were banged out by friend Jarrod Alexander – but he also wanted to accomplish something quite rare nowadays, to keep the record in its purest possible form. “When writing these songs, I made a promise to myself that no matter what this turned out to be, the important thing for me was that I kept the purity of the intent,” says Iero, who is releasing Stomachaches through lesser known label Staple Records (Senses Fail). “I wanted to channel the songs through me, and not edit them and fluff them up in any way.”
When the first single, “Weighted,” was finally released, the public heard a whole new side of Iero, who cites his dad’s old rock and blues albums, along with hardcore bands like Minor Threat and Black Flag as his main inspirations. Not only is this side more raw and exposed, it also finally put Iero in the spotlight. “I’m not that quintessential frontman,” notes Iero. “So I thought, ‘What if I called the band The Cellabration, and then no one would realize that I’m totally anti-social?’ I really won’t have to be the part, I can bring it with me.” And thus, Iero’s backing band was born.
With a brand new record and backing band finally together, Iero is ready to bring his new sound on tour. As a kid from New Jersey, it comes as no surprise that he chose his home state to kick off this endeavor. “The first headlining show that we’re going to do – and also the first show of our tour – is in New Jersey,” explains Iero, whose tour begins this fall. “It’s an actual show where we were able to load the bill with our friends’ bands, so I’m really excited to showcase bands from this area and bands that are super diverse.” Both the filming of the “Weighted” music video and Stomachaches record release took place in New Jersey as well.
With Stomachaches about to be revealed to the public, Iero fans will finally get to enjoy something really true to the guitarist-turned-frontman. “I always felt that the final step of art,” he says, “was after you pour your heart and soul into it, and hold onto it for a little bit, that when you’re done, you want to release it out to the world and hopefully affect someone else.” frnkiero andthe Cellabration is sure to leave its mark on new and old fans alike.