Ernie Ball String Theory is a web series that explores the sonic origins of some of music’s most innovative guitar players. In this episode, we speak with Frank Iero about his history with My Chemical Romance, touring the world, discovering who he was as a musician, his inspirations, and more. Find out the top six things we learned below…
1. My Chemical Romance is inspired by a hodgepodge of influences. (00:47)
FI: You’re never going to tell your kids about the time that you hid how strange you were. Be proud of whoever the fuck you are. My Chem was a lot of different influences that necessarily on paper didn’t work together, but somehow in real life did… We were writing these songs based on what we wanted to hear and the things that we grew up listening to. There’s Maiden in there, and there’s Misfits in there and there’s Bowie and Queen, and that shit wasn’t happening in hardcore and punk rock at the time. It just wasn’t.
2. Frank grew up around Blues but gravitated towards the DIY punk and hardcore scene. (1:47)
FI: The introduction from music for me was really early on. My dad was a drummer. He played in a blues band. If I was lucky, I would get to go see him. When it came time for me to kind of find out about my own stuff, I think I gravitated towards the DIY punk rock and hardcore on that was happening in Jersey and New York at the time.
3. Frank Iero never wanted to be mainstream. (3:12).
FI: I didn’t grow up being, I guess, in awe of rock stars. Like, that wasn’t cool to me. I didn’t want to be a virtuoso or spandex-wearing front man on stage. I wanted to just write songs and play VFW halls. That was my thing.
4. How Frank feels about Ernie Ball strings. (6:18)
FI: Before [Ernie Ball], I didn’t think it really mattered what I was playing… I’m not running into string breakage. I’m not running into constant tuning problems. There’s more life in these strings. They just feel great. They sound great. The mileage on them is pretty exceptional, and it’s really been helpful with recording and in a live setting as well.
5. Being confident will shine through in your music. (12:27)
FI: I think that the songs that we were writing, the ways that we were feeling, we were feeling really confident about that. That was the thing that we learned the most about being in this competitive environment, about touring with bands that we normally didn’t fit in with. We were still gaining a crowd, and we felt confident about what we had, this little insulated group, and it just felt like the right time to do something crazy and to do something big.
6. It’s better to be yourself. (19:03)
FI: The world has everybody else. It doesn’t make sense to pretend to be someone else. We have that already. The only thing that we don’t have is you and how weird you are inherently. That’s the good shit the stuff that makes you a little bit broken or a little bit off-kilter, a little bit strange, a little bit awkward and uncomfortable in your own skin. That’s the best part. That’s why people are so amazing and so interesting, not because they all look the same. Be a little bit ugly. I find beauty in it.
Frank Iero gets his signature sound using Ernie Ball Burly Slinkys. Our Burly set is a hybrid gauge combination that is ideal for players who prefer a heavier set of strings for thicker sounding chords, beefier low end but also require a little more tension when playing solos. They combine our Power Slinky and Skinny Top Heavy Bottom sets.
Check out similar String Theory films from Ernie Ball featuring artists such as Tom Delonge, Dustin Kensrue of Thrice, Jim Adkins of Jimmy Eat World, and Ilan Rubin.