Web Exclusive: A conversation with Leathermouth’s Frank Iero

January 29, 2009
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Frank Iero of Leathermouth and My Chemical Romance is, in fact, okay. My Chem (huge comic book fans) were asked to contribute a song to the soundtrack of the soon-to-be-blockbuster comic adaptation of Watchmen and this week, Iero’s hardcore side project, Leathermouth, released their debut album, XO. Even with all that going on, Iero still made time to design a shoe for Macbeth Footwear with a portion of the proceeds to benefit the Syrentha Savio Endowment, a non-profit organization focused on fighting breast cancer. The shoe is available in two versions with different messages embroidered on the heel (one says: “Fuck Cancer” and the other says “Cancer Fighter”). The insoles are also printed with anatomically detailed instructions of how to check yourself for breast or testicular cancer. Iero designed the shoe with hidden hand-drawn graphics underneath the top material. Brian Shultz recently spoke with Iero about the shoes and their charitable cause, as well as Leathermouth’s debut, XO and his upcoming plans with My Chem.

How did you come up with design concept for your shoes?

I based it off the older design that I had–it was called the Wallister. I [designed] another pair–I think it was one of the first they developed. I took some stuff from that, and just added and took away as far as the canvas, low-top shoe. For my [new] design concept I just drew a couple of pictures, and that’s what came out.

Did you consciously try to appeal to people outside of your fanbase so more people would be interested in the design?

It’s for a good cause, and the better it does financially, [the better]. [It doesn’t matter who] wants to buy it–My Chem fans [or] Leathermouth fans or people who just want to help the cause. As far as designing it with anybody in mind, I wanted to do a vegan shoe. I wanted to do something kind of low-key, because that’s what I like. I hope it does really well.

Is the fact that proceeds go directly to SSE what motivated you to help with the charitable cause?

Yeah, absolutely.

Have you had a family member diagnosed with breast cancer?

Yeah. My aunt is a breast cancer survivor, and then she had a relapse, so my family has been dealing with it for a while now. It’s just a terrible disease, and I want to do anything we can do to try to help people with education or prevention or treatment.

Bodysnatchers 4 Ever – Leathermouth

Moving onto Leathermouth. When My Chemical Romance started out, it was clear that punk band Ink & Dagger’s aesthetic had a huge influence on the band. But this seems like some of the first musical proof of your fandom.

Yeah, I’ve been a fan of Ink & Dagger for a long time. To even be mentioned in the same sentence as that band is flattering. But when I was going into write the record, I wasn’t like, "Oh, let’s do this [because it’ll sound like Ink & Dagger]." That just never came out. But I am a huge fan of that band.

What other bands influenced Leathermouth?

No matter what you listen to or experience in your life, it shapes what you do later on. But a lot of the influence comes from everyday life and a lot of B-horror movies more than any [specific] band.

Is it true that Leathermouth originally had another singer but he never wrote any actual lyrics?

Yeah. It was a couple of friends [and] a band they had. A friend of theirs [was gonna be the original singer]. It was one of those sounds-good-on-paper kind of thing, but he’d never been in a band before, so I don’t know if he really took it that seriously.

How long had you been mulling the idea of doing a more hardcore-oriented project?

I didn’t really have [that] in mind. I wasn’t looking for another band or anything like that. It kinda just came to me. Leathermouth wrote a couple of songs and made a three-song instrumental demo. They played it for me and I loved it so much that I asked to join when I found out they didn’t have a singer anymore and were probably just gonna scrap the band. I don’t think I was like, "I want to start a hardcore band!" That didn’t really cross my mind.

Sunsets Are For Muggings – LeATHERMOUTH

You admitted in a previous interview with AP that some of the lyrics on XO, particularly "Catch Me," are pretty harsh on women. How would you respond to critics that characterize lyrics like those as misogynist?

I’m talking about a profession. The song is lyrically taken from the letters written by Jack the Ripper, so it’s dealing with that time period and what was happening at that point and it’s written from the point of view of a serial killer. So yeah, I’m sure he was misogynistic. [Laughs.]

Your label, Skeleton Crew, recently signed the Architects. Are you planning anything else for the rest of the year?

Yeah. There’s a New Tomorrow record coming in February called We’re Counting On The Youth. That record’s amazing. I can’t speak enough great things about that band. They’re a phenomenal band and they wrote an amazing record. The Architects will probably be recording around February, so hopefully that record comes out soon. This year we also have a book coming out by F.T. Willz, so I’m really excited for that as well.

Desolation Row – My Chemical Romance

Have you been writing much with My Chemical Romance lately?

Yeah. Last month, we all went out to California to film a video for our song [a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Desolation Row”] on the Watchmen soundtrack. We had a 10-day shoot for that, but we booked our trip a little bit in advance and we [had] a practice studio for about five days before the shoot just to go in and start playing. We wanted to practice the song we were doing the video for and also just to see what came out. We started to come up with some stuff, and actually started to write a couple songs. So whether those make it to the next record or not, I have no idea. But it was kind of fun to see after all this time. It’s starting to flow really well. I think it’s gonna be a really fun writing process.

Speaking of the Watchmen soundtrack, with Gerard Way having his comic book and all, you guys seem to be pretty serious comic book fans.

Yeah, when we heard that they were gonna make a movie about Watchmen–I know a lot of people have tried to option [the script] but it never came to fruition–when we heard it was actually gonna be released, we were freaking out. Then we heard Zack Snyder was directing it–I definitely thought he was the right choice for that. Then when we got asked [to contribute] and it was incredible. [It was] definitely a dream to be involved in this. I would do anything just to be able to see the movie, let alone be involved in it.

Have you actually gotten to see it?

Not yet. I saw a couple of clips, and I hear there might be a screening soon. I hope I get invited. [Laughs.] –alt

Written by AltPress