By Meghan Player
Speaking from his home in the US, Frank Iero – the former My Chemical Romance guitarist that inspired (and saved) a legion of fans through music – is in high spirits; despite being only mere days away from the release of his debut solo album. “It’s crazy. It feels like a day ago, it was a million miles away, and now all of a sudden, it’s right here,” he laughs. “It’s super exciting and really nerve-wracking at the same time.”
Entitled, Stomachaches – released under the collaborative flag, FrnkIero AndThe Cellabration – the album has already earned a wave of positive reviews and reactions thanks to singles Weighted and Joyriding – something that Iero is still trying to get his head around.
“I don’t know why, but I tend to be the type of person that only ever hears the bad stuff, you know? Like, you’ll get reviews and stuff and I’ll skim through all the good ones and only read the bad ones,” laughs Iero. “But, I’m trying to turn over a new leaf, as it were – where I’m trying to be a more positive person and I have to say, all the people who have told me what they think about the record and stuff like that has been super positive and it’s really nice.”
“It’s a nice feeling to have people excited about something that you’ve created, especially when you didn’t really make it for anybody but yourself,” he explains. “There’s a lot of anxiety when giving this record to other people.”
“I didn’t make it so anybody else could like it, I just made it for myself. When I thought about that I was like, ‘Oh no, maybe that wasn’t the best idea,” the musician laughs.
In a stark parallel – for an album that has received such positive reviews and support from fans – it wasn’t an ‘easy’ album for Iero to make. Born out of a string of health issues the guitarist suffered, Stomachaches paints an honest portrait of the physical and emotional pain Iero experienced – providing the musician with, what he describes as a kind of “therapy”.
“That’s really all it was – a way for me to forget about the way that I felt, physically. To just reclaim my life,” he reflects. “After I finished it – I thought, ‘Oh maybe I should release this and share it with people’ – as opposed to just keeping it to myself. Really, the point of doing this was to just to make them. There was no end game.”
“The only expectations that I had were that I wanted to make it as pure as possible. I really wanted to make it, to capture these moments in time. And as the songs came to me, I just wanted to channel them through me, as opposed to over-thinking them or molding them in any way.”
While Iero is quick to dismiss any expectations were riding on the outcome of the album, the finished piece undoubtedly centralizes on one underlying theme – “trying to turn something positive out of something negative”
“There is an absolute parallel. That was to me, a theme of the record. Of finding beauty in the ugly or the mundane,” he explains. “Somebody once told me, “the most powerful thing you can say is a whisper” – you don’t need to scream or yell or shove it down somebody’s throat. There’s something to be said about that, a delicateness having the most impact. That was the thing, just trying to make something beautiful out of pain and out of a bad situation.”
“It’s strange to me. People will say to me, ‘Oh wow, the thing that you write or the thing that you make is just super, super dark’. And I find that strange, because I don’t see it that way. I know I’m not the positive person in the world, but I also know I’m not the darkest. I feel like I find the light in the things that are darkest.”
Which undoubtedly begs the question: what does Iero hope listeners take away from Stomachaches.
“I don’t look back on the things that I make or the songs that I’ve written and go ‘Oh wow, that’s fucking bleak’,” he laughs. “I always feel like there’s a positive tinge to it. I hope people find that in it. And if they don’t, that’s okay too. I suppose.”
“I guess my least favourite thing is to over explain the things that I make,” he explains. “I feel like, in doing that, you take away from a listener or a readers interpretation. And I never want to do that. For me, as a fan of music and writing, my favourite thing is what I interpret the art to be. And it means more that way.”
Massive thank yous to Frank for taking the time to chat to us, as well as Emily at Deathproof. ‘Stomachaches’ is released in Aus/NZ on August 29th via Cooking Vinyl.