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My Chemical Romance guitarist Frank Iero recalls a near-death experience that changed his life and personality.
My Chemical Romance guitarist Frank Iero recalls a near-death experience that changed his life and personality.
Mitchell Wokcik

My Chemical Romance’s Frank Iero Almost Stopped Making Music After a Near-Death Experience

Frank Iero is a man of many names. Band names, that is. The former My Chemical Romance guitarist has always dabbled in side projects, even in the band's heyday. But since the emo icons went their separate ways in 2013, Iero has been going at it alone.

“I never set out to be a solo artist,” he says during a phone interview. “It’s just one of those things I just kinda fell into. I wrote these songs, but there was no one else around.”

Plot twist, though: Each time Iero is ready to write a new record, he wipes the slate clean and forms an entirely new band with new musicians, a new sound and a new name. First was Frank Iero and the Cellabration, then came Frank Iero and the Patience (which was actually the same lineup, just a new name and new aesthetic). Now, it’s Frank Iero and the Future Violents.

“I realized that what I really love about starting bands, and maybe the reason I tend to start new projects, is because I love the honeymoon period of being in a band,” Iero says. “Naming it, who’s in it, what’s it gonna sound like, what’s the art behind it. Everything feels so brand new, and the possibilities are endless.”

Iero says this process keeps him on his toes and allows his music to feel fresh. “I get to reinvent myself every time,” he says. “To stay creative on the road as well as in the studio is all I’ve ever wanted, and I’ve found a way to be able to do it.”

Iero also enjoys keeping fans on their toes too. Last fall, he teased his followers on social media with a post, cryptically captioned “first band photo. (no filter) #FIATFV.”

“I like people getting involved,” he says of his social media interactions. “It was fun for me to see if anyone might guess it.”

Most fans assumed he would continue the “Frank Iero and the…” trend, and took to the comments with guesses like “Frank Iero and the Funky Virgins,” “Frank Iero and the Freaky Vampires” and our personal favorite, “Frank’s Interesting Animated Televised Flying Velociraptors.”

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Everything changed for Iero in 2016 while on tour in Sydney with The Patience. The band members were involved in a horrifying accident that sent them all to the hospital. A bus collided with them while they were unloading their tour van. Even after he was physically healed, Iero says the emotional wounds persisted.

“It was very difficult, and for a while, I didn’t think that I was going to be able to do this,” he recalls. “It’s the biggest, most life-changing experience I’ve ever had. It’s changed everything about my personality and the way I think. I’m not the same person.”

Iero knew he had to move beyond the incident, but when he sat down to write new music, things just weren’t working.

“Everything that was coming out of me didn’t feel like it fully encompassed the feelings that I had,” he says. “How do you gain power over this event? So I shied away from it and thought maybe I don’t know how to do this anymore, maybe this is just something that I did in a past life.”

But he kept going, especially once he heard from two other musicians and friends of his who wanted to collaborate — Matt Armstrong (formerly of Murder by Death) and Tucker Rule (of Thursday).

“These are people I’d wanted to start a band with for literally 20 years,” Iero says of the pair. “Everybody was around to do this record, and I thought to myself, ‘How terrible to have to pass up on this dream team record because I can’t get over this thing that happened to me. How much am I gonna let this accident take from me?’”

Vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Kayleigh Goldsworthy was the final piece of the puzzle. “I just sat down and started to chip away at it, and before I knew it, I had a handful of songs to play,” Iero says. “So I called everybody and had them fly out, and we started working on the record.”

The result was Barrier, released in May 2019. The album's 14 songs represent “breaking down the barriers and taking control,” according to the artist. “Realizing that sometimes we set these obstacles up to protect ourselves, but what we’re doing is actually keeping ourselves out of living life.”

The first single from the record, titled “Young and Doomed” has a cheeky nod to My Chemical Romance that fans can’t get enough of. The second verse goes: “But it's far from ideal, but I'll deal/I wish that I had all the things that they have/So I could feed this void in my chest/'Cause kids are so unkind/To kids of different kinds/And I promise that I'm not OK/(Oh, wait, that's the other guy).”

Iero says this is “almost like breaking down the fourth wall. It’s like when you see a superhero exist in the same universe as another one. I’m paying homage and also saying this ties in a bit to where we were.”

Frank Iero and the Future Violents are hitting the road and bringing their groundbreaking new music to Dallas on Thursday, Aug. 1, at Gas Monkey Bar N' Grill. But we couldn’t end the interview without addressing the recent rumors of a My Chemical Romance reunion, fueled by an off-hand comment from Joe Jonas in a recent, unrelated interview.

“It’s silly to me,” Iero says. “The thing that I don’t like is (Jonas) doing an interview for like a half-hour and then have someone haphazardly ask a question at the end of the interview relating to the band, so that they could put it in a headline to get a click. That really angers me.”

Iero assures us that if MCR were to actually get back together, there would be no mystery or rumors surrounding the reunion. “If that were a reality and we were going to do something, we would let you know. There would be no question, 'cause we would tell you.” 

We share in Jonas' wishful thinking. Here's to hoping.

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