“There was a really subconscious feeling on that first album that I had to hide behind something,” Iero explains, calling from between tour stops. “I was creating obstacles in order to be less visible. Two years after that, I feel a bit more comfortable now – I don’t have to set up as many barriers anymore. I feel more at ease, and I feel like I know my place. I know how to approach this project now – and, as a result, I’m having a lot more fun with it now. There’s no reason to hide anymore – I’ve gotten this real boost in confidence, and I think that shows in where I’m at with this project.”
Parachutes is a considerable step forward for Iero in his musical career after My Chemical Romance. He’s become a far more assured singer, he’s working with a solid foundation in the form of his backing band and he’s even stepped up the production side of things. While Stomachaches was loudly and proudly a lo-fi experiment, all radiating guitars and distorted vocals, legendary producer Ross Robinson took the helm of Parachutes and (pardon the pun) helped it land safely.
“What you have to take into consideration is that the last album was literally recorded in my basement,” says Iero. “That’s exactly how I felt these songs should sound like. I wanted you to feel like you were listening in on this person in a room making these songs, as opposed to listening to a regular record. Everything was different this time around – these were songs that required a lot more attention, and I knew I needed a partner to bring them to life as well as a proper studio to record them in. Ross seemed like the perfect choice – I knew he would push me to the brink. It was him being there that allowed these songs to get to that next level.”
Parachutes was recorded in bursts through 2015 and 2016, with Iero cutting the majority of the tracks live in the studio. For Iero, Parachutes was about setting a mood and striking a tone. He found he was best able to do that through a unique gear set-up for his guitar playing, which runs parallel to his live rig.
“In the past year, my friend James [Bowman], who plays guitar in Against Me!, introduced me to these Fender Tonemasters,” says Iero. “They’re these heads that they stopped making in the ‘90s, and the sound you can get out of them blows my mind. I’ve been using those ever since. As far as pedals go, I’m very keen on the Boss BD-2 Blues Driver with the Keeley mod. If you know Keeley, you’ll know they’ll take your existing stuff above and beyond. Those pedals in combination with the Tonemaster gave my guitars on this record a really beefy, distorted tone. I like to add a bit of chorus as well, and I also implement an EXH Holy Grail pedal for my reverb.”
Iero goes on to note the role of Robinson as a hands-on producer in achieving the exact right balance of sound across each track. “Ross introduced me to using a Boss Line Selector,” he says. “You can have two or three lines of effects and then mix them all in together in order to create your own unique tone. It’s a really cool trick, and it allows for your guitar sound to be really versatile. Ross was very involved as far as that side of thing was concerned – he’d literally be on the floor, turning knobs as you’re playing in the studio. It’s almost as if the two of us were playing together in the moment – it made for some very interesting concoctions as far as the sound of the record goes.”
Iero and co. are set to visit Australia in early October on what will be Iero’s first-ever headlining tour as a solo artist. It also features legendary punk guitarist, producer and songwriter Walter Schreifels – a name you may know from his time in bands such as Gorilla Biscuits and Rival Schools.
“The first time we met, we had lunch together and just talked about songwriting and producing for what felt like forever,” says Iero. “It was so nice to be able to connect with someone on that immediate, personal level. When we were putting this tour together, I immediately reached out to him to see if he was available and if he was keen to do it – if for no other reason than the fact I just wanted to watch him play every night. I’ve always wanted to cultivate a show that I would want to see – so that’s what we’ve done.”
Frank Iero and the Patience will be touring around the country this month. For tour dates, head to frank-iero.com.