Frank Iero was out on tour with Taking Back Sunday & The Used for the first time as a solo artist, bringing along The Cellabration to fill out the live performances. We got the opportunity to chat with Frank during the hectic evening of their St Paul show last month to talk about family, music, and friendship.
Tell me about Zuke Smith and what it’s like working with a vocal coach!
Frank: Oh wow, yeah! I met her through a mutual friend who runs a music store, and they would trade off giving each other guitar lessons or vocal lessons. I told him that I had been thinking about taking some lessons and he told me that I had to talk to Zuke. I finally met up with her and she was just so rad and so down to Earth. She was way more concerned with the instrument and the outcome, then charging for over time or anything like that.
The voice is like being handed an instrument you’ve never played before, and then playing it blindfolded. That’s how it was for me at least, because you’re playing by ‘feel.’ There’s nothing worse than going up on stage and faking it, so I wanted to make sure I knew how to play my instrument properly. Does that make sense?
Of course. How did your family feel about Daddy going on tour again?
Frank: Well my wife and I have been together for 13 years so she knows the drill, but with my kids this is actually the first time that they have understood that Daddy is going to be gone. They tell me that they miss me and that’s hard, they are also starting to understand what I do for work as well. Sometimes they think it’s cool, other times they couldn’t give a shit, and sometimes they’re upset about it. I think if I had a 9 to 5 though or some kind of desk job, I’d be at work all of the time. So yeah I go on tour and I’m away, but when I am home I am there 24/7 for my family, which I think is way better for everyone!
Speaking of family, do you think you are living your life in a way that would make your Grandfather proud? Staying involved with your family while playing music you love?
Frank: Man I hope so! For me growing up seeing the kind of man he was and putting his family first, he’s my hero man. I don’t know if you can ever live up to the same standards as you put your hero, but it’s definitely something I strive for. I feel really fortunate to have had that kind of role model in my life though for sure.
Who are The Cellabration and where did they come from?
Frank: To me ‘The Cellabration’ is the instrumentation and the musicians behind it. I wanted to put that together because I wanted people to know it wasn’t just me and an acoustic guitar ya know? I didn’t want to hide behind a name anymore since we had done that so many times.
I wanted to be something like ‘Tom Petty and the Heart Breakers’ or ‘Joan Jet and the Black Hearts,’ I wanted that comradery that gang. When it came down to filling out that sound for the live shows there was a really, REALLY short list of people I wanted to play with.
One of them was my brother in-law Evan, who plays guitar, one was Rob Hughs who plays bass also played guitar in a band that I was in (Leather Mouth), and then Matt Olson I actually met just this year. Jersey is a very incestuous music scene, everybody has played with everybody at some point, but oddly enough Matt and I had never played together before! We hit it off after meeting through a mutual friend. We jammed together and it was like we had been playing together for years.
How many bands/ projects have you been in?
Frank: Well, I was with a band called Fancy Prep and we released a record on Eyeball, then that band morphed into I Am A Graveyard, once that band broke up I joined My Chemical Romance, and from there I played in Regie and the Full Effect, Leather Mouth, The Architect, then Death Spells and there were a couple of random bands here and there that I recorded with.
Now being that you have played/ recorded with so many different bands and projects, do you see this particular project going a bit farther? Will we see a 2nd album?
Frank: Oh definitely there will be a 2nd album, and I will never stop writing. It’s been extremely fun to make an album, to record something on my own, and to work with The Cellabration. I don’t think it will always be this acoustic process, I think what we have going right now will be the band version and what I want the next album to sound like. I had no idea that it would all be this much fun! I’ve already got things rattling around in my head, but only time will tell what transpires.
What MCR question are you just tired, of being asked?
Frank: Haha, I don’t know! Probably the thing that bothers me most is not a question, but the constant comparison between whatever project I am involved with and what MCR was doing at the time. There have been people who want to compare and contrast projects, and that’s not really fair to do. I understand why it happens I guess, but to me each project should be viewed as something different, almost like different species. I’ve had people basically ask though “Why doesn’t this sound like My Chemical Romance?” And I have to tell them “Well, because it’s not!”
How was Riot Fest this year?
Frank: It was amazing! I always love playing that festival, but I will say that it was a little tougher to move around this year. I got lost, a lot haha. I don’t know if it was smaller last year or what, but it was definitely easier to find your way around.
I don’t remember what advertising was like last year, but I know it was hyped to Hell and back this year.
Frank: Well yeah and that’s the other thing is this festival is STACKED. So maybe that’s why there were way more barriers within the grounds to separate things and make it a little more difficult . All in all it was amazing, but I did end up missing The Afghan Whigs because I was so fucking lost haha.
Now this tour with TBS & The Used, the old beef between Gerard and Bert…
Frank: See now haha, I know a little bit more than most about that and I don’t know if I would call it “beef,” so much as some management bullshit that got blown out of proportion. Then it got fueled by people who had no fucking clue as to what was going on.
So there were no “So, how’s Gerard doing?” Type questions from Bert?
Frank: Haha no man, not at all. No this tour was so amazing and everyone was been so supportive of one another. We’d all hang out after the show, it was just amazing.
I’ve been on tours where bands will be all competitive, almost like a sports team. “Well our fans don’t like your band, and your fans don’t like our band, so fuck you guys!” I’ve seen that so much over the years and it honestly makes no goddamn sense. You know like a bands cabinet would go down and another band would be like “Yes! They can’t play tonight!” That kind of middle school bullshit just didn’t happen on the tour with TBS & The Used. We helped each other out, loaned each other equipment if something went wrong, we just looked out for one another.
It’s unfortunately rare, but fortunately amazing for us to see these old friends tour together again and look out for each other.
Perfect. Thank you so much Frank and we are so damn excited to see more from you!
Frank: Thank you man, it’s been a pleasure and thanks for sticking around!
Be sure to get Frank’s new album here and be sure to enter below for your chance to win an autographed photo!