At the Rescue Rooms, Nottingham date of their ongoing tour of the UK, we caught up with rock icon Frank Iero to talk about everything from food and touring to mental health.
What’s the rationale behind the tour supports? It’s a very diverse lineup…
For me, I’ve been doing this a long time. If I can’t tour around with bands I like then I don’t want to do it. I get to hand-pick who comes out with me and throughout the years I’ve got to meet some really cool people. I wanted to do a tour that would be my last one for a little while and these are my friends that are free and up for touring now.
What would you say is the best aspect of touring?
It’s definitely not the travel; the travel is what gets really hard. Getting to play these songs for different audiences is great – you get such a different reaction every night. Especially going overseas to Europe or the UK in that the cities aren’t far away from each other but the reaction is so different. Realising that and being able to duck and weave with that kind of thing to be like “this really works here, this doesn’t work here” helps you look really professional and get good at performing every night.
Would you say the worst aspect of touring is the travel?
Definitely, it’s hard! The fifth week of tour is where things get really hard, especially when you’re overseas. That’s when people start to crack get really homesick and get angry like “I can’t believe there’s no chips left!” People just explode. The fifth week is especially hard when there’s a sixth week happening though because by week five everyone goes crazy but if you have another week after this one it seems like it’s endless. We’re all really twitchy by the end of the fifth week. I’ve been doing this a long time and it’s always the way [laughs]. By the way, this is the fifth week…
Why do such an extensive UK run as opposed to playing the cities like everyone else?
I know I’m going to take a break after this year and I just wanted to do as much as I could. Nobody else does that, I don’t think. People have been coming up to us saying “why are you here? Nobody comes here,” and we just reply “because nobody comes here.” It’s fun! I just want to go out on a bang.
What’s the difference tour-wise between Frank Iero and the Patience, My Chemical Romance and Leathermouth?
Everything. It’s like asking what’s the difference between being a fireman, making doughnuts and being a shark… Literally the only thing the same is that there are shows involved.
What do you eat on tour?
[laughs] we’ve been using chopsticks a lot. Nando’s and peanut butter jelly… That’s been the staple stuff. Pizza Express just came out with vegan pizza too which is dope. Quavers is the other food group too.
Who’s the favourite band you’ve ever shared a tour bill with?
[sighs] all the bands I’m with right now…? Honestly that’s like picking your favourite kid, I’ve got a lot of friends. I’ve done tours in the past where I thought “oh this person sucks” and I just didn’t tour with them again. I think you can tell from my track record the people I like though.
Is there anyone you want to tour with in the near future?
[long pause, friend Cara Shaw suggests The Breeders] The Breeders, oh man… They would be amazing. How did I not think of them?
You’ve spoken a lot about working with Steve Albini on the new EP but can you sum it up in five words?
Unlike any other experience ever.
How did the cover art with [Radio 1 DJ] Daniel P Carter come about?
Dan and I have known each other a long time and he ended up doing the cover art for the split seven inch we did with Lonely the Brave a couple of years ago then we discussed working on the cover art for Parachutes but when the full scope of what that record was about it made sense for both of us to go in a different direction. I’d seen the first painting [the vampire that was to become the cover] and loved it enough to say “we should definitely do this one”.
You’ve spoken before about issues with anxiety – could you give us any advice for how to manage it at shows or on tour, from your experience?
I have to say – it’s rough. Sometimes you just go through a period where you don’t know what will set it off but your brain is so powerful it throws everything off kilter. I have a prescription I take for moments like that, when I don’t know when it’ll happen. The most important thing is to recognise you’re having an episode and the world isn’t falling apart around you. You need to settle down, breathe deep and compose yourself a bit. It’s almost like you’re having a nightmare and you have to remind yourself that you’re dreaming. It still sucks, but you’ll get through it. Surrounding yourself with people you love and feel comfortable with also helps.
What’s been your career highlight?
I have an answer for this because I was asked this the other day. It has to be getting to write a song with my kids [Best Friends Forever, from the new Frank Iero and the Patience EP] and record it with a childhood hero [producer Steve Albini]. That was a very full-circle moment. It’s almost like I planned it out… I didn’t but anyway [laughs].
Have you got any advice for young musicians?
It’s not a miracle thing that just happens. You’ve got to want it, and you’ve got to work really fucking hard. Ultimately it’s down to the saying ‘nobody cares, work harder’ [laughs]. Do it because you have to, not because you think you’ll get something out of it. You’ll be miserable for a long, long time. If you do it for the right reasons you’ll spend years and years trying.
Is taking time off what’s next for you?
Yes, totally. We end literally the 30th December and nothing else is booked. Back to the US after this to do three shows with The Descendents, one with Every Time I Die then three with Thursday and PUP then we’re done for a while.
Huge thanks to Frank for taking the time out to talk to us, it was a hugely surreal experience and he’s a hugely inspiring character!
Hear the new version of BFF below, or the original featuring his daughters in 2014 here: