Outside The Governor Hindmarsh Hotel in Adelaide, there is already a line of teenagers and fans in their 20’s building for Frank Iero. While there are still a few hours until doors open, some of these fans have been camped outside the venue since the early hours of the morning.
Inside the front bar, some have cottoned on that a glimpse inside the as-yet unprepared band room is possible via the restaurant. While small groups of fans begin tag-teaming in and out to try and steal peeks in at the soundcheck getting underway inside, Iero himself sits down with me at a booth inside The Gov’s restaurant, relatively unbeknownst to the My Chemical Romance clothed fans mere metres away. A girl with long brunette hair doubles back briefly on her way out the door, managing a quivering smile before ducking out of the room.
“I feel like there’s more of a sense of value there,” Iero smiles, referring to the enthusiasm he’s experienced from fans so far on this Australian tour. “They hang on every word. Even at the shows, they’re waiting to hear songs and they really listen to what you have to say. It’s really awesome.”
Prior to Adelaide, frnkiero andthe Patience played to crowds in Perth and Brisbane (they hit Melbourne for two shows before finishing in Sydney this weekend), the first full band gigs they’ve been able to do with their 2014 Stomachaches. Originally meant to play Soundwave before the festival’s demise, Iero was able to bring the album out in acoustic mode, though he admits the opportunity to bring the record, fully fleshed out and prepared for the full band treatment, has been a trip in itself.
“I had this idea in my head that I’d wanted to come here for a while to play these songs,” he remembers. “It felt like there was this connection with this country. I just wanted to bring this record here and when that acoustic tour opportunity arose, it was like any way to do it to bring these songs over, I’d take. Now finally, we get to actually bring it in a way that I had originally intended. It feels like a long time in the making.”
While many Australian fans are being introduced to the Stomachaches show crowds around the world have been indulging in since its release, the impending release of Iero’s new album Parachutes is also edging closer. Due out on October 28th, the record marks another step forward for Iero as a solo artist and a snapshot of how his music has, once again, continued to evolve out from the shadow of his MCR days.
“I’m at this weird transition [point],” he admits. “The record’s going to be out in a little over two or three weeks but at the same time, we live in this day and age where the second you start playing new songs, it gets released in a way…the sound quality is never going to be what you want it to be. You want that first impression to be the one you’ve worked so hard on. I have all these songs and I feel like I have the secret that I want to tell everybody, but I can’t just yet! We’re doing two new songs but for the most part, we’re holding on to all the new stuff.”
“It’s crazy, I feel like the band and the project has evolved and grown so much since Stomachaches came out; it’s so completely different. I think that’s really apparent on the new record; two years ago Stomachaches came out and it feels like a different lifetime. I remember writing those songs and for the first time too, performing those songs, and not really knowing how to do it. Trying to make sense of the live versions of that record. Now, having done it for two years and lived in it for two years, the songs have grown so much from that record that now, the project is just completely different.”
For the songwriter and musician, occupying a space under the spotlight where he’s front and centre was one he never intended to approach. Sitting across from me, Iero is softly spoken as he opens up about his journey to this point; while he would go on stage in a few hours time and switch into a more high voltage mode, right now, he’s incredibly candid.
“Honestly, the whole thing has been a huge surprise.” he admits. “I never set out to have this undertaking of a ‘solo career’ or to be a frontman of a band. When I wrote these songs and made this record, that was never an intention of mine. It was just to make a record. Life got in the way and people asked if I’d play it to them and then before I knew it, I had a record deal and I was like, “Alright – I’ve got to figure this out”.”
“The biggest surprise for me was that I could take on that role and be a frontman and not have to play into the characters that I thought I had to play into. That’s not me; I don’t want to be this quintessential frontman, it’s not going to work. For a while, I just didn’t think I wanted to do it. The biggest surprise and the biggest realisation was learning how to have fun and how to do it on your own terms. To be able to be yourself while doing this. That opened up so many doors.”
Conversation briefly turns to Iero’s tour buddy, Walter Schreifels – an icon of the New York hardcore scene himself, who we both admit to having to subdue the teenage fan itching to come on through in his presence. It’s an interesting time for fans of the 2000’s punk/emo genre currently, with many of these beloved bands either embarking on anniversary tours or revisiting ‘classic’ albums via reissues. We look at the likes of Taking Back Sunday (who Iero will be on tour with in Europe next year) and The Used, who will be in Australia with their huge anniversary tour next month, and of course, the 10th anniversary of My Chemical Romance’s beloved album The Black Parade.
“It just so happens that we’re getting old, that’s what it is!” Iero laughs. “All that stuff is so cyclical. It happens every ten years, every twenty years. What’s super surreal is to be an artist who has been in bands since I was 11 years old and now I’m at this point where I’m still creating. Now it’s like, I’m on a cover of a magazine because I have a new record coming out but at the same time, a record that I made ten years ago has a re-issue coming out. I’m at this point where I’m a current, yet ‘classic’ artist? It’s really weird. It’s strange because there are times where you don’t feel that old, but there are times where you’re like, “Oh man, I have to take a Zantac every night; that means I’m fucking old,” you know?”
Iero admits that separating real life with life inside the studio and on tour is an impossible feat and for him, are two things that simply can’t exist without one another.
“It took me a long time to figure this out,” he says. “I always thought that the creative side and my real life side were separate. I could keep what I do separate to who I really am. For a long time, I thought I was really good at pushing them away from each other and having them never intertwine. I started to realise that they were so much more interconnected than I thought they ever were. It’s not just something that I do, it’s who I am.”
“If I can’t create, if I can’t write, if I can’t just participate in something creatively whether that be music or words or photography or painting – if I can’t do that, then I can’t be the husband, the father, the man I want to be. For me, that was it. All I ever wanted to do as a kid was be in a band. That was my dream. What kept me doing it? It’s like, what keeps your blood running through your veins? It’s who you are.”
As far as the rest of the year goes, focus is clearly on Parachutes and this new phase of performing and artistry for Iero. Clearly enthusiastic for what is still to come, Iero remains a realist about how fickle success can be and how he’s managed to succeed in making music and art that satisfies him, while resonating with a fan base, so far.
“I can’t fake it,” Iero asserts. “I’ll never be able to do that thing where you play this part and you get swept up in this machine again. It just doesn’t work for me, especially when it’s going to be my solo thing. The only thing I can do is to create and to reveal it from the heart and if it doesn’t feel right, then I’m just not going to do it.”
“Until the last breath leaves my lungs, I’ll be doing what I’m doing. Whether people give a shit or not remains to be seen, but I’ll just keep doing it. ”
Photos by Lauren Connelly.
FRNKIERO ANDTHE PATIENCE AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES
October 11th | Corner Hotel, RICHMOND
October 12th | Arrow on Swanston, CARLTON
October 13th | Metro Theatre, SYDNEY