Interview with Frnkiero and Learning To "Stay Nothing"

By Song River

Original thought and title was supposed to be, “Fifteen Minutes With Frank,” which turned into more than 15 minutes, but hey it's how I roll and Frank was down with it. Frnkiero andthe Cellabration have just come off their second leg of touring the states in support of their debut album, Stomachaches.

Frank many times seems contemplative and reflective when in certain conversational pits. He was at ease with expressing his thoughts. This doesn't always come through, but I believe much of that has to do with the environment, and Frank seemed pretty comfortable today opening up. Frank honors his passion for music and his fans, preferring for his own reasons to keep their touring to small club venues. Without question he is a family man, loves his best friend, his wife, Jamia Nestor, and their three children: Lily, Cherry and Miles.

Song River: Hey Frank, how you doing today?
Frank Iero: I am actually doing pretty good Song, how about you?

SR: The weather is at 56 degrees, it's snowing up north and I've no complaints.
FI: Yeah, yeah. Sounds great.

SR: It's time to break out the frozen margaritas and do a little dance. (laughed).
I understand we have about fifteen minutes to chat here as I know you're getting ready for the show tonight, so I thought we would have some fun and do fifteen questions with Frank. I am going to call it “Fifteen Minutes With Frank” and you can't over analyze any of the questions... as we know you are a deep thinker!
FI: Oh, shit! (laughed).

SR: I know by now you have had to be asked just every insane, anal question there is probably to probe and it's time to step out of the normal Q&A.
FI: Wow, weird choice of succession of words, but yeah I am cool with it. (laughed). I'll try my best.

SR: Here we go: What time of day are most creative?
FI: I feel late, late at night. Like somewhere between 10 PM and 4 AM in the morning.

SR: How does that process usually begin? Do you take a walk, lock yourself away in a room?
FI: Any kind of solitude is usually best for me. Kind of a solitary creative space where I can just go off and do what I got to do. If it's art based I like to be somewhere where I can blast music. If it's music based it has to be somewhere where I can't hear anything else except what I am working on.

SR: Okay, I have to squirrel here for a moment. You said something “art based” are you a painter or do you indulge in another medium as well?
FI: When I say art based I mean, I will work with whatever I am given. I don't fee; I am much of anything at all other than a creator. I kind of see all mediums as a challenge. I like to paint, but I am also frustrated by it. Which makes it better. (laughed). I like to draw too, I like to do all those things. I try my best, you know, at muddling through. Really whatever I can get my hands on.
SR: All outlets for the mind that is always busy.
FI: True, yes.

SR: Your favorite cigarette brand to smoke?
FI: Um, I used to like, I went through a menthol phase, but that passed pretty quick. I liked Camel Lights, Marlboro Ultra Light. But you know right now I think those American Spirits are pretty good.

SR: Do you ever roll your own cigs or do you prefer just popping into a convenience shop and buying a pack?
FI: No, if you have to think about it too much, then no, I am not a roller.

SR: Has having children changed or opened more doors to your creativity?
FI: Um, hmm. (paused) I think I am constantly inspired by the things they come up with. It's so pure and the things they come up with... ah man. The other day they were playing around and they said, “Stay Nothing.” And I thought about that for a really long time. I was like wow, that means a lot of different things to me. It just came out during one of their play fantasies. It's just unbelievable. “Stay Nothing.”

SR: “Stay Nothing?”
FI: Yeah, if you think about it we begin as nothing. And we work our hardest to try and be something. And to do many different things, where as if you just stayed as nothing, you know, and kind of let it be.
That was just one of those things I heard the other day that stumped me for a very long time.

SR: Your three kids probably play all the time together, how do they get along?
FI: They play constantly, but they don't get along. They fight 24-7 (laughed).

SR: Well if they aren’t fighting each other, then they'd be ganging up on you!
FI: Yeah, exactly. Nothing big really, they are just being kids.


SR: What is Cherry, Lily and Miles favorite breakfast you make them?
FI: Pancakes.

SR: Now do you do anything kind of special Frank to your pancakes?
FI: I put honey in them. They absolutely love them.

SR: Maybe, a cookbook by Frank needs to be done?
FI: (laughed) I have a couple of things that I make that they enjoy, but they like that a lot for breakfast.

SR: I know your kids are still young, but have any of them expressed an interest in music or the arts?
FI: I think there is this innate feeling that they want to perform. Whether it's just for my wife and me or someone who comes up to the house. I don't know if they have a real concept of what that is, I am not sure they really understand what I do even yet. Little by little they are getting a glimpse of it. I hope to God they find something else to do though! (laughed). But I do see a creativity in them within the performances in what they do. They do these little plays, no storyline that anyone can follow other than them.

SR: Would you say you and your wife are really best friends?
FI: Yes, absolutely 100%.

SR: You all have been together for a long time, and she has to be the backbone of a lot of it.
FI: Absolutely, I wouldn't be able to do anything without her.

SR: Going back to who you are as a person Frank and how you work. Would you say your mind is in a constant state of melodies or lyrics as you observe life?
FI: It's a mixture. I don’t know if it's lyric as much as it is prose. The hard part for me is to link those two together. Sometimes they come out of the blue, and it's me trying to find the match for hours and hours. Trying to match those two separate sparks, it happens sometimes that they come simultaneously, but not often.

SR: At the birth of your first children; twins Cherry and Lily, was there song of inspiration that came from that moment by chance?
FI: You know that's funny, I mean, no. I think I was a blank slate when that happened, nothing came out of me. I think for me it was kind of like, when you see a movie and the person in the movie is standing still and the whole world seems to be passing by. It felt like that.

SR: Maybe, going into the analyzing thinking deeper here...
FI: That's alright.

SR: Thinking about what your kids said, “Stay Nothing.” Maybe that is what happens in those moment of beyond awe.
FI: Yeah, possibly. You want to be that satellite that picks up on what is going on around you. Sometimes you just want to be the conductor, instead of the storm creating it. I like being malleable.

SR: In your life where does the 'past' belong? You don't seem to be someone who dwells on their past.
FI: The past? Hmmm... I think it's all inclusive. I think we are always trying to reference the past to come forward. I don't dwell on them, but I reflect on them for inspiration. It plays a big part of who we are today. Keeping the past too far in the past is not necessarily a good thing.

SR: I thought I had read somewhere that you were bullied when you were in High School, is that true? And if so, what did you carry from it over into your adult life?
FI: I think in grammar school and high school, I don't think it's so much bullying, but wanting to be non-existent. I wasn’t a popular kid, did my own thing. As a very young person if bullying would happen I think you would try to reflect it on someone else. I think that did happen to me at one point of time and it felt fucking vile to me at that time. You felt like a coward, I never want to be like that again. Throughout high school I think it was more like keep your head down and hope no one notices.

SR: Yet, your music started back then. How can a musician keep their head down and not be noticed?
FI: (laughed) Well, you can try. I've tired.

PUBLIC AND PRIVATE AND IT IS pronounced: Eye-ear-oh

SR: I suppose you have your public life, and then your private life you keep you head down.
FI: People can't even spell my name right, I suppose it's better just to keep your head in a hole. (laughed).

SR: What music is currently on your top play list to listen to?
FI: Oh, my. I'd have to say currently I am shutting out a lot, because I'm writing. But recently I was working on something, with my wife actually, she had this project where she had to write a children's book and I had worked on the illustrations for it. During that I had Roger Harvey's record on, and um I listened to Sunhouse, Muddywaters and there was a bit of Ella Fitzgerald in there. It was a wide range of sounds, but as soon as I was done with that project I stopped listening to music.

SR: When you go into that workspace in your head to write, that is totally understandable.
FI: It's hard, because you can't control what comes in. You don't want to be too highly affected.

SR: That “Stay Nothing” once again applies.
FI: Yes, exactly.

SR: I've a lot of friends who live in New Jersey and I am always hearing their New Jersey pride. What is it about you people of New Jersey that you are so dang happy about?

FI: (laughed) Oh, man it ain't the winters! (laughed) I don't think we are all real happy, but I know we love where we are. It feels like home and I absolutely love that anything you want is in your grasp. I think the sense of pride might come from the 'underdog' mentality.

SR: Recommendations for a couple of good places to eat in New Jersey.

FI: There's a place called the Revere in south Jersey that makes fantastic Italian food that’s down where my family is really from, in south Jersey. Then there's another place called Banana King, I found out about them through our drummer, Matt Olsen. They make exquisite empanadas and a juice bar that starts out with a shovel full of sugar. The mango smoothie without the milk is just fantastic.

SR: Is music do you feel meant to be aggressive or passive?
FI: I think there's a place for all of it. I think there's an interpretation of those words. Sometimes aggressive music doesn’t have to be fast heavy metal, it can be obtrusive. When I think of the word passive it could be very quiet in the background. There is also interactive music. Music is open for interpretation to make you sonically feel something.

SR: You mentioned that your wife was working on a book for her project. Have you thought of doing something yourself?
FI: For me personally I don't know if it would be children based or not, but I have been thinking about it.

SR: When I observe you I see the elements of Gorey, Gaiman and Burton coming together.
FI: That is a trifecta right there. I am in awe of all three of those authors. It's always in mind.

SR: Last question. If Stomachaches (your last album) has healed, where are you going next, as you have alluded to that you are writing new material.
FI: That's the big question, right? I do not know and I am okay with that right now. I have lots of things turning around in my head, as October was a very creative month. A part of me was reluctant to pack all of that back up and go back out on tour, but I also knew it would be an opportunity as well. Who knows what I will find down the line. I think there is a good basis, but whether it will all get thrown out the window, who knows. I don't want to change too much as the group has some good things in it now. My mind is always moving.

SR: “Stay Nothing” is hard.
FI: Yes, it is. Sometimes you just go back to the start and that is where it should have begun.

SR: Enjoy your family Frank and don't close your eyes for too long. It happens over night they are out the door and going to college or worse yet, joining a band.
FI: (laughed) Oh, so true. I am in my thirties and certain things are SO cliché, it's so 100% true I found out.  


Website: Frnkiero

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B.F.F. Frank w/ Lily and Cherry

Joy Riding Frnkiero and the Cellabration