After releasing third solo album ‘Barriers’ last month under the new band moniker of Frank Iero & The Future Violents, it’s all go at the moment for the guitarist and songwriter, who recently announced a UK and Europe tour with Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers, as well as upcoming appearances at various festivals including 2000Trees. We caught up with Frank while he was driving through New York City with brother-in-law (and Future Violents lead guitarist) Evan Nestor, heading to Long Island for an acoustic performance and signing at a record store, his GPS occasionally interrupting the conversation. “Have you ever driven in Long Island?” he asked as the mechanical voice of the GPS told them to take a turn. “It’s the worst…there’s so many potholes it’s like driving on the moon. ” The discussion of traffic was an amusing distraction to an all round fun chat, with Frank on great form and clearly in a good mood as we talked about some of the cool stuff he’s got going on.
“I’m excited, man,” he said of the forthcoming LJG double headline tour, although they haven’t figured out the finer details of how it will work yet. “I think we’re gonna try and flop around [who headlines], I don’t really know. We’re just excited to have it announced.” Frank toured with Against Me! a couple years ago so the two of them are already good friends, even doing a duet together a while back – a cover of a John Lennon song ‘Instant Karma’. “That was really fun,” he said. “She’s got such an amazing voice.” Asked whether he’d be up for doing something like that again, or even just jumping up on stage together during the tour and sharing some songs, Frank was pretty excited at the thought. “I would love to play and do something together, that would be really cool. If we can find the time to get together and do stuff like that it’d be fun.”
“there was definitely a no fear type theme. Once you dig so deep, the stuff that seemed scary before doesn’t seem that bad…”
Before that though, he has 2000Trees to look forward to, a festival he’s never played before but has “heard really great things about” and is particularly keen to hang out with his friends in Culture Abuse who are “on the same day as us. We were excited to see that we have some friends on the bill. There’s nothing worse than showing up to a festival and it being awkward and lonely…it’s like your first day at high school.” Fondly referring to the UK as “a home away from home” he said, “it’s one of my favourite places to play” then told us guitarist Evan was apparently most looking forward to sampling Nando’s again. “Gotta get that Peri Peri, man,” added Frank with a chuckle.
Fans can expect to hear plenty of songs off new album ‘Barriers’ on the tour, which is undoubtedly a triumph of Frank’s career so far. A beautiful collection of highly personal, honest and reflective songs, Frank dug deep into his past for the lyrical content that made up the record, which is sometimes a scary thing to do. “I think that delving into some of the stuff…there was definitely a no fear type theme. Once you dig so deep, the stuff that seemed scary before doesn’t seem that bad,” he reflected. “Once I got the song about the accident [a near fatal bus crash in Australia in Oct 2016] out of the way (‘Six Feet Down Under’)…everything else just seemed like it wasn’t that big a deal so I was able to go back and deal with other issues that I’d maybe shied away from in the past…Things that happened to me or happened for me or things that I went through when I was young affect me now…I think the accident really brought a lot of that to the surface again. Why do I react this way, why do I feel this way, why do I seek out destruction and find solace in that?…That does go back to my childhood so everything’s interconnected in that way.”
Frank was quick to deny that the album was a sad one, however, despite the heavy themes mentioned above and the lyrical content of lines such as: “I never thought that I could be happy I just know I can’t admit I’m not” (‘Moto Pop’), “just when you thought it can’t get worse always it does” (‘Great Party’) and “one more night in solitude removed from everyone, even though I wanted to I never had much fun” (‘24k Lush’). “I always thought that I wrote really happy songs and everybody’s like ‘nah’,” he said with a giggle. Musically there’s certainly an uplifting and upbeat quality to Frank’s music, but dig a little deeper and the lyrics seem to bare his very soul and don’t exactly scream ‘happy’. “I think it’s definitely a heavy subject matter,” he agreed. “I just don’t think it’s depressing, you know?” before going on to say that his songs “might just be about stuff that normal people don’t write about or consider happy,” which made a lot more sense, especially given his penchant for traditionally ‘sad’ bands such as The Smiths.
“I work in the realm of finding the light in the dark, or the prettiness in the ugly. I tend to find the silver lining in things.”
Is there a masochistic or cathartic pleasure in sad songs or soaking in one’s own misery? Frank was uncertain. “Yes and no,” he pondered. “Maybe that’s why we like sad songs. I mean, I fucking love The Smiths. And some of those Morrissey songs are depressing as shit. I guess maybe there’s a catharticism to that but I don’t think I’m writing really sad songs.” He then explained that even if the songs deal with a sad or serious subject matter, he always tries to “work in the realm of finding the light in the dark, or the prettiness in the ugly. I tend to find the silver lining in things, I think.” His music is all about celebrating flaws. “No one is perfect, so why should we try to pretend that we are? The things that people say are wrong with us are the things that are really important and set us apart, the things that are unique about us. We shouldn’t be self conscious of them, we should be excited to celebrate them, bring them to the forefront.”
Mentally, Frank certainly seems to be in a good place at the moment, celebrating his own flaws in the way he does best – through his music. Speaking passionately about the making of ‘Barriers’ he told us how important and crucial the tracklisting was. “This is the first time I’ve ever released a double record,” he said. “And I thought consciously about the way that the songs are split up per side. So if you were to start the record on C-side (at ‘Moto Pop’), you’d get a different feeling and a different story out of the album.” [Note: Try it, it works!]. He described the recording process as “five musicians playing live in a room, together, parts that they wrote…going directly to two inch tape…that’s a feel that you can’t manufacture,” and was keen to point out that his band is “one of the most fun I’ve ever had. I love the musicians in this band. I love playing with these guys, it’s just amazing. I feel very inspired, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds.”
Frank will be playing 2000Trees on Sat 13th July and touring the UK/Europe with Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers from 26th August to 8th September.
Tickets available: http://frank-iero.com/
WORDS: BECTON SIMPSON