interviews

Frank Iero Show Review and Interview

On June 25, Frank Iero and the Patience, at Pensacola’s Vinyl Music Hall. Frank Iero played guitar in the well known emo/alternative rock band, My Chemical Romance before their breakup in 2013. After the breakup, Frank played in other bands such as LeATHERMØUTH, and Death Spells. In 2014, Frank began his solo project, frnkiero and the cellabration (later renamed Frank Iero and the Patience), and recorded his fist solo album Stomachaches himself in his basement. He and the Patience are now touring on his most recent album, Parachutes.


The show opened with Silent Rival, a female fronted alternative rock band from Hollywood, California. Sara Coda, the front person and lead singer, was entertaining and captivating. She successfully involved the audience during the Silent Rival’s song, “Die a Little”, despite us never hearing the song before. In addition to her Charisma, Coda has a powerful voice that definitely impressed the crowd. After their performance, Silent Rival stuck around and hung out with the other concert-goers. Check them out if you like Paramore!

Many members of the audience appeared to be young fans of My Chemical Romance who followed the Iero’s music career after the band’s break up. Many people donned Iero’s merchandise, and they seemed to be very dedicated; some fans were already queuing when I arrived for my interview at three (the doors did not open until seven).

A cloud of anticipation hovered over the crowd as we waited for Frank Iero and the Patience to take the stage. Fans started cheering during the soundcheck, before the band even took the stage. When the performance started, of course, the crowd was audibly excited when the band came out in matching matching shirts and started playing “World Destroyer”, a song off Parachutes.

The music is a bit hard to classify: it ranges from emo to pop punk touching on hardcore punk. I do, however, think that the band does have a pop appeal. I thought they played a good blend of music from both albums: focusing more on Parachutes, but still playing singles and fan favorites from Stomachaches. They also stuck to their faster and harder songs. While I love their slower songs as well, it is understandable to want to keep up the high energy level of the crowd. I saw the band under their previous moniker, frnkiero and the cellabration last year in Gainesville, and in general, Parachutes is more energetic than Stomachaches, and I think it made for a more interesting show.  

Iero is also an engaging performer. He channels a bit of a  “rock star” persona and seems very confident on stage, despite his initial insecurities when he started the band (see interview excerpts below. There is a bit of theatricality to his performance, but in a more naturalistic way than that of his former band, My Chemical Romance.

Some bands go through a “sophomore slump”, but not Frank Iero and the Patience. The show was fun and engaging, and Parachutes is a great record.  Many of the fans at the show are young, but should not let that deter you. I would definitely recommend seeing the Frank Iero and the Patience.

 

I had the opportunity to talk with Iero about Parachutes, and his previous projects, as well as his family, horror movies, and more. You can read snippets of the interview at the end of this post, or listen to the full interview under our “Shows On Demand” tab.
 

RFP: Why’d you change the name of the band?

FI: I think it’s going to happen every time [with every record]. You start a band and you develop your sound. They say you have your entire life to write your first record, but like maybe 3 or 4 months to write your second, your follow up. And i feel like When you go into a studio, and you try to reinvent the way that you make music and the sound that you're going to have you don't want to repeat yourself, so everything needs to chance…. And when you do that, if you do it right, it comes out sounding different than the last record. And everybody is like “it doesn't sound like the same band”, and it’s like, “yeah, I know.” So i was like “aw man, it always sucks that you have to call it the same thing.” and i realized if it's going to be my name in front of it anyway, i can call it whatever I want. So the first time around, I decided to call it something that i felt like i needed to bring with me. Maybe something that would detract from my deficiency as a front man. So I wanted something loud and bombastic, and celebratory. And this time around, I kind of felt like I didn't need that to hide behind anymore, but what I needed was the ability to take a step back and enjoy the now, and so I named it the Patience.

 

RFP: How do you try to be a role model to your kids, especially when you’re not there all the time?

FI.  I think the main thing is through unconditional love. The thing that they are starting to understand but maybe still are too young to understand is that, I feel very fortunate, when I’m home, I’m home 100% 24/7. And that's the thing that's weird. If I had a normal 9/5 job: you know, dad travels into the city everyday, wears a tie and works at a bank or something like that. Maybe I’d get to see them a little bit in the morning, maybe if I’m lucky I get to tuck them into bed, but that’s really about it. And that quality of time, it kind of gets caught in the shuffle. But yeah, I’m away a lot. They enjoy when I bring back Kinder eggs and stuff like that. They're way into that. But when I’m home, they get me 24/7, and I think the quality of that time is very important, and I don’t miss very much when I’m home.

 

RFP. What is some music you listened to growing up that influenced you?

FI. My dad was the big influence growing up. He was always a proponent of old blues, and guys like Buddy Guy, BB King, Albert King ……….. He took me to see George Benson, a couple of times as a kid. And then he introduced me to Richie Havens which really kind of blew my mind. I think as a songwriter and a rhythmic player, he was the end-all be-all. And I got to see him play a couple of times and the stories hero would tell about playing the coffee shop circuit, meeting Bob Dylan, teaching Jimi Hendrix to play “Along the Watchtower”. It’s like “Oh my God, you basically shaped history.” That was amazing, and then to see him walk from stage after the show right to the back of the room to shake hands with everyone in the venue was like, “Wow”. That stuck with me forever. After that, Beatles records. All of my dad’s old Beatles records. I got into The Animals, The Stones, and stuff like that. I remember on weekends, before he would play shows, he would have his day job, so I would go to my great uncle's house where my dad had all his equipment, and my job was to clean all his cymbals and stuff because back then, they used to still smoke in the venues, so the cymbals would get really dirty, so he would have this copper cleaner called “Twinkle” and I would have to wash all his cymbals in the sink downstairs. But the cool thing about it was I got to play any record that I wanted. I would go through his collection and put on all these old albums, and that really shaped my youth, I think, getting to learn about all those amazing bands.

Mike Doughty Speaks: From the Handlebar, October 26 2014

Mike Doughty's come a long way since his days masterminding 90s art-jazz-beat-alt-rock outfit Soul Coughing. His catalogue has expanded nearly every year since Soul Coughing dissolved, he wrote a well-received memoir (The Book of Drugs), and he's jumped into the crowd-sourcing pool and upped the ante for rewarding early-funders of his current works.

He also lived in Pensacola for a time during the Soul Coughing days, and has played Pensacola several times, including the most recent DeLuna Festival in 2012 and a special date (arranged at his request) last month at the Handlebar. (Also in attendance, his parents, coming in from Gulf Shores.)

Mr. Doughty was kind enough to sit down for a brief conversation with me before that show, and I'm happy to share it with you now. We talk about fond memories, the pros and cons of his PledgeMusic campaigns, and what's next for him, musically.

Tim Bishop: So you're back in Pensacola...

Mike Doughty: Back in Pensacola. The homecoming! Pretty close to where I used to live on East Belmont, used to live with Nick (Flynn, co-owner of Sluggo's at the time).

I don't know if a lot of our listeners that are listening to this know that you actually lived here [in Pensacola, not the Handlebar] for about six months.

About 9 months, something like that.

And you told me earlier [via e-mail] that you just “wanted to play Pensacola”. What brought you back? Did you miss us?

Yeah, I just wanted to come back, take a look at it. I had a really good time here, [living] over on Belmont, rode my bike down to Sluggo's every night.

I remember. You were quite the local.

I was a total local!

So where do you live now?

I live in Brooklyn. Maybe not for long.

I mean it's getting to the point where it's, like, “...the fuck am I doing here?” People have been complaining about [Brooklyn] changing for as long as I've lived here, since 1989, and I've always been like, “what's the big deal? It's not that bad.”

I just feel like... I don't have a place there anymore. I mean, I have a million friends and all, and deep emotional connections to the place, but it's like “why the fuck don't I live in Nashville or someplace?” Y'know, someplace where I can have a house, where life is mellow. I've never had a problem with New York being not mellow, but it's become increasingly... I mean, [for example] my insurance just went up ridiculously because the insurance company went under. I was like, how much worse can you do this?

If you want to cut ties, and you can do your job literally anywhere...

Exactly.

You've been way, way prolific lately.

5 records in 4 years, including the electronic record [Dubious Luxury].

And I've noticed you've crowdfunded the last two [Circles Super Bon Bon and the Very Best of Soul Coughing and the latest, Stellar Motel] with PledgeMusic. You're an early adopter. I'm sure there's a lot of positives to it and there's a level of engagement [with your audience] that a lot of artists haven't tried yet. Have you gotten any unexpected bonuses from it?

We're sort of beyond the stage of just “help me make my record”; they get stuff. I hand-typed lyric sheets on this old IBM Selectric, there's private shows. I'll record songs on micro-cassettes [for pledges].

Like on answering machine tapes?

Yeah, on one of those little micro-recorders. You know, “Miss Jones, take a note” style. (laughs) That's becoming my specialty, that kind of art-prank stuff.

You seem to do a lot more of the pulling back of the curtain and showing the process.


Oh, yeah.

Any unexpected negatives? Where you go, “I don't know that this a cool part of this process”?

No. It is a lot of work when you have 100 lyrics [sheets] to type and you look up and wow... that's a shit-ton of work. But it's not THAT hard.

There's that stray, random complaint: “WHERE'S MY HAND TYPED LYRICS?”

I'm really stupid at getting the vinyl done on time, and this is the second time I've done it, where people have gotten the vinyl late.

Do they think you're sitting there in an apron, stirring a vat of chemicals and hand pouring it into an acetate or something? [Note-I have no idea how vinyl records are actually made.]

Yes, I am. (laughs) Artisanal vinyl.

Well, you do live in Brooklyn.

(laughs) Exactly. Pickles and vinyl. But yeah, I've fucked the vinyl up a couple of times. Other than than that, it's been really good.

The thing I was afraid of doing the private shows, was that I was gonna meet some super-freaky guy, but they've all been mellow. Doing a private show for somebody is more emotionally draining, more so than a regular show, but they've all been really satisfying.

How many of these have you done?

About 30, all together.

(surprised) Holy shit.

Yeah, but that's over a couple of years. Sometimes I go to them or [mostly] they come to my rehearsal studio.

There was this guy who surprised his wife for their 20th anniversary. Flew to New York for their anniversary weekend and drives her to some weird building (laughs), she's like “What the hell is going on?” She knocked on the door, and I opened it; she was totally freaked out that it was me.

I know your job requires a lot of travel and a lot of work, like you said before. Do you have time to seek out outside art and artists? Do you keep track or have time to do that?

Nah, but I haven't been the guy, ever, who thought, “I have to know everything that's new.” [But] stuff filters through to me, and I'm definitely listening because I have to. To write music you have to listen to music; you can't just live in a bubble.

It's like writing. To write, you have to read. Anything cutting through the haze of traveling?

Not really, mostly a lot of podcasts lately. But also, my shit is pop songs so [I hear] stuff like Ariana Grande, Rihanna. Or it's super avant-garde, like John Cage's prepared piano pieces, or some John Coltrane in the late sixties...

So your favorite record for 2014 winds up being something recorded in 1964 or whatever.

(laughs) Exactly.

You've been doing these shows with Andrew [Andrew “Scrap” Livingston, his longtime accompanist/accomplice] for quite a while now. Do you ever envision a time when you'll do a larger band [tour]?

I did one last year, for the Soul Coughing songs tour. I liked doing that, but it's expensive though, so I can only afford to do that every few years. I'm open to anything, and whenever I make a plan, artistically, it inevitably changes. I think I'm gonna do this record and this tour, and it changes.

So this isn't the evolutionary end-point of the Mike Doughty Live Experience, then.

Maybe not. And I'm writing... I hesitate to say this, but I'm writing a rock opera.

Don't hesitate!

Yeah, I've been trying to think of something else to call it, but yeah, it's a fuckin' rock opera.

Anything you'd try to call it other than “rock opera” would be way longer and come off more pretentious that just saying “rock opera”.

Right, what are you gonna do about it? It's a fuckin' rock opera. I'm writing it for a band and a chorus, and I going to try and put at least one production of it in New York in January, just do one or two shows.

So, it's near completion?

Yeah, as a whole, it's [nearly] ready. I'm doing the very specific harmonies, very specific piano parts.

You have musicians to play it?

Yeah. Scrap, he's going to be the musical director; he's going to play cello and bass. I think I know who the drummer's going to be and I have a couple of ideas for keyboard players.

The singers, though... the thing about it is it's gotta be written out and Scrap's transcribing it. You've got to be able to put a score in front of them and they just sing it. I know a million singers, but it's a question of finding someone who can sight-read [sheet music] but also isn't an opera singer.

So even in New York, hard to find. Maybe in Nashville...

Yeah! Maybe Nashville. There's definitely people. Scrap's looking and I know one or two. The production's going to be 2 actors and 2 singers. I'm going to be one of the actors. So an actor/singer and 2 singers, three-part harmonies... there will be a separate part for the female actor and the [female] singer, because finding a singer who doesn't sound like an opera singer, can sight-read, and can act? That's a lot.

Wow, this is very exciting, Mike Doughty!

It could be good! I need to get it done and make it good before it's exciting. It sounds exciting.

Thank you so much for doing this; I really appreciate it.

Thanks for having me. It's great to be back in Pensacola.

 

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