Frank Iero Talks About the Final Act of “Parachutes” & Getting Back on the Road: “No Matter What, You End Up Being Okay.”
Interview by Shannon Shumaker
The last six months have been nothing short of a journey for Frank Iero and the Patience. Two weeks before the release of their emotional sophomore album, Parachutes, the band was involved in a life-threatening traffic accident that would leave them shaken, yet still alive. For Iero, this gave him a new perspective on those twelve songs that would prove, over the coming weeks and months, to be more important than he could have ever imagined.
The album itself is a bit of a play on words - life is like being pushed out of a plane, and as you fall, you’ll come across people or things that will bring you joy and act as a parachute on the way down. In a way, life began to imitate art as Iero and his bandmates were faced with this terrifying near death experience, but thankfully, they also had an emotionally vulnerable record to get them through it - one that fans were eager to hear live as soon as their health allowed.
Flash forward less than a year, and the band is already back on the road. Following their recent run of shows in Russia, Frank Iero and The Patience will be setting off on their highly anticipated US tour, and Iero is eager to relive the songs once more. Although admittedly daunting, getting back on stage to perform Parachutes has been cathartic for Iero, and he hopes that these upcoming shows will be worth the wait for fans and himself.
The Prelude Press: You guys released Parachutes last year, and it’s kind of crazy because the themes on the album really do tie in with everything that has been happening lately - your accident, the election and having to reschedule tour dates - how do you think the things you discuss on the relate to your life now that you’ve been through all of this and it has been a couple of months?
Frank Iero: Man, it’s kind of crazy. It almost feels like I created all of this, basically. I wrote the record and lived in it for a very long time, and then we worked on it and finished it and I listened back to it and got to relive it that way, and then after everything happened, I listened to it again with these different ears and these different eyes and yeah, it’s insane. It couldn’t have happened on a more perfect record, you know? As truly fucked up as the situations have been. It definitely feels like I may have cursed us, and then also the world, unfortunately [laughs]. But hey, maybe I was just ahead of the curve somehow. I kind of read our own fortunes, to be honest.
It’s the law of attraction.
Yeah! What’s really truly scary - and I kind of discussed this with some people - is that you live through an experience like the accident and at first, there’s a moment where you’re kind of unsure whether you truly did survive or not. No one can really tell you what’s real and what’s not, you experience it and it’s like, is this an alternate consciousness? Basically, everyone has a timeline, so is this just a branch off of that timeline? And then when the election happened, it was like, “Oh my god, what alternate reality am I living in?” That made it a lot harder, to be honest [laughs.] But it is the reality I’m in now, so I have to make the best of it.
I know how you feel, actually! Last summer, my boyfriend and I were driving up in the mountains and it was just this freak thing, there was something in the road and I swerved to go around it, and there was this guard rail that we hit, and had there not been, we would have easily gone over a cliff. It’s that same thing, your life literally does flash before your eyes. It's the weirdest experience.
Isn't it? It’s crazy. People say that, but it’s so cliche that you don’t really truly understand the gravity of it. But it lasts forever. It lasts for as long as you need it to last, and all of these experiences and things do flash before your eyes. Did you have a peaceful outcome of that?
It’s weird. No matter what, you end up being okay. It’s kind of crazy.
It is. Everything totally slows down.
Man, well I’m glad you’re still here.
Likewise! We’re in this weird alternate universe now!
It’s fucked up, isn’t it? [laughs]
You mentioned that it’s almost like you predicted these experiences - do you feel that the album has almost taken on a different meaning or more so driven the message home after everything that has happened?
Absolutely. I almost feel like, I don’t think I would have been as okay with things as I maybe am right now if I hadn’t had that record to kind of bring me through. I listened back to it, and the experiences that we went through to make the record... Basically, working with Ross [Robinson], you go through this thing - and he calls it mental surgery - where you discuss a lot about life experiences and what brought you to write these songs and what the songs are about and what you’re trying to say and why you feel the way you feel, and it’s very much like a psychological journey with him. And then to have that accident happen, a lot of those themes and a lot of those experiences definitely came flooding back. I’m very thankful, because it’s almost like we did that record to prepare us for this experience.
Well it’s kind of interesting too, because then when you’re on tour, you get on stage every night and almost get to revisit that same stuff.
That was scary to me. Getting back up on stage after that happened, the first show was terrifying. I didn’t know how intertwined playing and the accident were until that first day. So that was rough. I’m glad we did what we did, we played an unannounced show and we did our own headlining show at home before going out on the road in the UK. It has almost become a tradition, because right before Stomachaches, we did the same thing, and I’m so happy that we had that experience at home with friends because I had never experienced those feelings. Everything I went through, I had all of these feelings all at once and it was a bit overwhelming, to be honest.
Is it cathartic to be able to play those songs and go back to them?
Yes. What’s really wonderful about doing what we do is that you have these moments, sometimes - it happened to me in Novosibirsk. We were on tour in Russia and playing the song, “I’ll Let You Down,” and I’m singing it, and all of the sudden, I came to this realization about one of the lines in the chorus and how it meant something different to me at that point. And it kind of blew my mind. It almost threw me off of the song, but in a really great way.
It’s funny, I wrote that song months and months ago, actually I wrote it on an acoustic guitar on tour in the UK and I never thought that that song was going to make the record. For me, it was just very much an acoustic song. And what happened was, the band that was in with Ross before us just needed a couple more days and ended up pushing our session back a week and it just so happened that we were able to do that. So we were home for about a week before we went in with Ross, and I was like, “Well I don’t want to just sit around for a week, I have this other song.” And we threw together a live, full band arrangement for it and we tried it and it ended up becoming one of my favorite songs and made the record. So that was like this song that was never supposed to be, it ended up becoming my favorite on the record and then I play it months and months after recording it, on tour in the middle of Russia and all of the sudden, I thought I had everything kind of figured out and bang, it just hits me and it means something different. And it was just like, wow, music is such a wonderful, amazing, living, breathing thing. It just keeps growing and changing and evolving, and that’s why we do it.
That’s sort of on the same level as writing and playing a song and meeting a kid after the show who finds a totally different meaning in the song than you did initially.
Exactly. I think as a young songwriter, that kind of throws you a little bit and you want to over explain it and be like, “No, no, it’s about this.” But I think as you get older, that’s one of the greatest things to hear, is that it means something different. I just had this conversation actually the other day in another interview, where you realize that the final act of creation, the final act of any art project is relinquishing control and kind of letting it go and giving it to someone else. Whatever they interpret it as, that’s the final delivery of art and it’s such a beautiful, beautiful thing. It’s scary as an artist to relinquish that control, but it’s also scary as a parent, and it’s one of the things we do now with our kids. You do as much as you possibly can, but eventually you have to relinquish that control and let your children go out and be their own person, and it’s the same thing with creating songs or painting pictures or any of that stuff. It’s open for interpretation and that’s what makes it so wonderful.
"...music is such a wonderful, amazing, living, breathing thing. It just keeps growing and changing and evolving, and that’s why we do it." - Frank Iero
Speaking of which, I know on social media, you’re always posting pictures of art that people bring to shows, and I think it’s kind of interesting because ten or fifteen years ago, there wasn’t that direct band to fan communication. You couldn’t just tweet at your favorite band - do you think that’s affected the way that you present yourself or the songs that you write?
Well I think that every experience we have affects us in some way. I think when writing Parachutes, I was aware that I was going to be putting out another record that people were going to hear and that there was an audience for it. Making Stomachaches, I was just kind of writing songs in my basement for myself, and I had no intention of ever putting them out. I didn’t have any intention of a solo career or anything like that - I was just writing songs because I had to write those songs. So, knowing I was going to write a follow-up or a record that people were going to hear, that was a huge thing for me. I’d had all of these interactions with fans and stuff, and I knew that I was talking to specific, real people, and I wanted to be as clear as humanly possible with what I wanted to say. It was also very daunting and very scary, going into Parachutes, because I didn’t know if I could write a record because I’d never tried before. It just kind of happened the first time around. So I guess in that respect, yeah, it makes it tangible. You speak to these people, you know that you are affecting them and they are listening, and that can be really empowering and it can also be really scary.
Rather than just shouting out into the void.
Yeah, and never knowing if that echo will ever come back.
So you’re starting tour this month - is there anything you’re really excited for fans to see or hear on these upcoming shows?
Yeah, this is the first officially the first US tour for Parachutes. Like I said, we played a very small headlining show in Jersey and then we did an unannounced show that nobody even knew we were jumping on, so these are going to be the first tour dates for Parachutes and we’ll get to play all of the new stuff. I’m so excited to see the reaction behind some of the songs. You have a little bit of an idea or an expectation of what you would like people to latch onto when you’re writing, but you never know until you start playing it live and the songs start to evolve and change and everything that we’ve just been talking about. So I’m really looking forward to bringing these songs to life and getting to play the shows that I thought about ever since I wrote these songs. I didn’t think I was ever going to get to play because of everything that happened.
Right after this one, you’re doing Rise Against and Deftones, too.
When we got that call, I knew that tour was happening and everybody and their mother wanted to be on that tour, so when we got the call that they wanted us on it, it was like, wow. That was a dream come true. Especially because there are going to be so many friends of ours that I’ve toured with over the years - the touring community is very very tiny. It’s really funny. So there are a lot of crew and different people behind the scenes that I’ve known for years and years and to get to see and tour with them again is really amazing.
Thank you so much for everything! Is there anything else you’d like to add before I let you go on your way?
Thank you so much for being so accommodating. Looking forward to seeing you in Denver!
Frank Iero and the Patience will be playing at The Marquis Theater in Denver, Colorado on May 4th. Purchase tickets now HERE. Full tour dates are listed below!