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Interview: Running Wild With Frank Iero

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Over the past three years, Epiphone.com has had a running conversation with Frank Iero, inventor of the Phant-o-matic Wilshire and co-lead guitarist with pop sensation My Chemical Romance. When MCR broke up in early 2013, Frank granted us one of his first interviews and we’ve been along for the ride as he stepped back, re-grouped, and began making music again. Frank popped in to see us during NAMM and offered Epiphone and many of our friends around the world a sneak peak at his new album Stomachaches. And of course, we sat down with Frank before the show to talk shop about guitars and the mysterious ways of the music muse.

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When we last spoke with you, My Chemical Romance had disbanded and you were working on some music at a very casual pace. Now things are picking up in a big way. What’s your life like right now?

You know, it’s crazy. I feel like if we had talked maybe… 4 months ago, I would have said: ‘Ok I have some down time on my hands. I’m enjoying the free time. I’m getting ready to pick things up.’ And now it’s so hectic, I can’t even breath (laughs)! It’s kind of nuts. Which is fun. I like being busy.

Running Wild With Frank IeroDid you miss that feeling? With My Chemical Romance, you kept a very busy pace. Physically, you must have been used to that. Is it good to have that energy back?

It is welcome but it’s a very different kind of busy. Mainly because I don’t have other people to rely on. Nobody else is picking up any kind of slack. And if things fall by the wayside, it’s all on me. If things go well, it’s all on me as well.

That must be pretty energizing, too since that gives you some more opportunities to be creative.

It does. I guess the concern there–or the juggling act–is not to let the craziness of the business-side seep into the creative. Because things will come your way and sound like really great opportunities and I always say ‘yes’ if it’s something I want to do. But I never think: ‘Oh my God! How am I going to pull this off?’

So what happened in those four months? What changed your answer from ‘I’ve got some downtime’ to ‘I’ve got a new record?’

I started out–well, I didn’t think I was writing a record. I was at a point where I was kind of beside myself with the way I felt physically. I just had these horrendous stomach aches–I battle with nausea, basically. But it had gotten where it was really coming to a head. It was sucking the life out of me.

So in order to kind of like–in a defiant way–reclaim my life back, my creative life back–I forced myself to do something to get my mind off of how I was feeling. And once again–like it did when I was young–music saved me. And I just started writing constantly and going down and demo-ing and recording. Slowly but surely, I realized I had this group of songs and I guess I had written a record. It was this weird reveal to myself. The funky thing about it is there are themes I feel run through that record but it’s very diverse musically–almost to a point disjointed–because it wasn’t ever thought to be a record. I like that janky feel to it.

Is there a theme or a thread to the new songs you’re writing now?

There are certain things I’ve always been fascinated with as a writer and as a person. The power in frailty–the beauty in the things that most people find mundane. Or even the things that some people are scared of. There’s a kind of purity that I see in these things, if take the time to look at them a different way. And the other theme that I feel runs through the album is this search for calm or peace of mind. A place where you can feel like you belong. At least in my experience we’re all searching for that. It’s kind of that life journey: what does it all mean? Where is my place in all of this? Where can I feel like I have finally found my point of existence, where I can finally feel safe.

Do you feel like you’re at that point as a writer because you’ve had such a big change in your lifestyle in terms of being at home and not on the road. Do you hear a different writing voice coming through?

You know–absolutely there’s a different writing voice come through. There is something to be said about coming home and having that down time. Because, you tend to have a hard time relating to real life again. When you finally come back down to Earth, it’s difficult to find your speed, so-to-speak. So there is something about that. But I feel like when I started writing songs and they started coming out of me, I had been off the road for awhile. Anything you go through changes the way you are now. And I had a lot of huge life experiences in a short amount of time. I came home off the road and I had three children. If that doesn’t change you then there’s something wrong (laughs)! But there’s definitely something to be said for a different outlook. I can’t imagine what the next stage brings.

Running Wild With Frank IeroTell us more about your new record.

The title of the new record is extremely literal. It’s called Stomachaches and that’s for a reason. Because I kind of felt like the spark for this creativity, the seeds of these songs, started as these horrendous stomach aches. So I could have called it “12 Songs” or “12 Stomach Aches” (laughs). They are near synonymous with each other.

Did you write most of the songs on your Epiphone Phant-o-matic?

A lot of the songs stem from me playing bass. And I don’t know why. I have no good reason.

Now you have to design an Epiphone bass.

Yes, I would like that. I feel like the foundation of the melody and chord changes were written on bass. There are a lot of bass lines driving the songs on the record. Guitar on this record was another voice. And I think that’s something that I’ve always done with guitar lines that I write. Even with my past band, My Chem, I would come in and I would ride that space between vocal and rhythms. I tried to weave in and out of supporting those melodies. That’s something I’ve always loved to do. And on this record, I feel like the guitars are at times very dirty and squashed and it’s almost like a yell coming through.

Jarod Alexander played drums and you played all the other instruments. So when you went into the studio, did you track with bass and drums?

What we did was… well, you know there’s the correct way of doing things? That was not how it went! A lot of the demo-ing was me doing all the instrumentation and programming drums. And then I brought them to him. There’s a song on the record called “Blood Infections” that is basically almost all bass. It drives the entire song. So that one I did track with bass and Jarod. But then there are some songs like “She’s the Prettiest Girl at the Party and She Can Prove It With A Solid Right Hook” where I ended up using a lot of the original demo guitars. The way I recorded them was so integral that I couldn’t recreate it. So I thought, why try to mimic something that happened just in a moment in time. Now it’s done. It’s at the pressing plant. I got the test presses before I came to Nashville.

What kind of touring do you have planned?

So far, we’re booked for the U.S. We start in September. For the most part it’s supporting Taking Back Sunday and The Used. And then I would say we’re hopefully going to the UK in November. We’ll see what happens after the holidays.

Running Wild With Frank Iero

When you’re touring as support, you have a chance to surprise the audience and it’s also a very confined set. Do you like that idea? And you can go out to dinner afterwards instead of waiting until late.

I do like that! For me, I requested a support slot. I wanted to take our time and really become a band. The funny thing about making this record was that I did it by myself. So these songs will live with a band for the first time. The rehearsals for this tour are the first time I’ve had a chance to perform these songs.

Do you want to tell the bass player what parts to play?

Well funny enough, I asked friend Rob to play bass who is usually a guitar player. The bass lines were so important and so weird I thought that to get the parts played incorrectly (laughs) the way I did it, I needed to get a guitar player since I play bass like a guitar player.

This is a very personal record. Do you feel like you can tell the band to let go or do you want to try to recreate the record on stage?

You’re right. I had a very intimate experience with that record. Those were late nights with just me pining over things. These stories that I wanted to tell. As far as the stage show, in no project that I’ve ever been a part of have I wanted to recreate the record live. I feel like the live experience should be a totally different animal. It’s like book to movie. If you want to listen to the record then you have to stay home and listen to the record!

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Frank Iero streams first FRNKIERO and the cellabration track, WEIGHTED

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Frank Iero has streamed his debut single, Weighted.

The ex-My Chemical Romance man, whose new project goes by the name FrnkIero And The Cellabration, will be releasing his debut album, stomachaces, through Hassle Records on August 25. You can pre-order the release now on iTunes, or through Hassle’s online store.

Of FrnkIero And The Cellabration’s debut album, Frank says: “When I first started writing this record I didn’t actually know I was writing a record… I kind of just thought I was dying.”

 

Listen to Weighted below:

 

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Frank Iero – “B.F.F.” video premiere

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The Story

Frank Iero solidifies the “Best Dad EVER” title he claims in his Twitter bio in his latest musical collaboration—with his children. Not only did he enlist his twin daughters Lily and Cherry as primary songwriter and backup vocalists for it, but the proceeds from all sales of “B.F.F.” go toward their, and their brother Miles’, college funds. “So no piracy please,” Iero said in his original announcement of the song. “You will literally be stealing from a baby.” 

The digital-only single is currently available via Iero’s B.CALM Press through the following retailers: 
iTunes | Amazon | Google Play

“[B.F.F.] began when my daughter Lily started singing this song she wrote over and over again at the top of her lungs whenever her and her siblings would get into a fight,” Iero told us. “One day I sat down with her and a guitar and we figured out the melody and finished the song together.”

 He continued, “While I was tracking some stuff for my upcoming record in my home studio, the kids kept asking my wife what daddy was up to downstairs. So I thought what better way to show them than by recording Lily’s song together. We tracked everything ourselves at home and when it was done, we sent it to the amazing Ed Rose who mixed the track and then to Alan Douches for mastering.”

Iero remained true to his DIY ethos with the creation of this video—his first ever venture into the world of music video production.

“We cleared out a room, set up a tripod, and over a 3 day period filmed us performing the song. I then edited the footage together myself into the video you’re about to see. So now at the ripe old age of 3.5 Cherry and Lily are releasing their first single, having their first music video premiere on AltPress.com, and preparing for their and their brother’s college education all at the same time, and I’m basically the proudest dad in the history of the world.”

See the video HERE

My Chemical Romance stream their final song, “Fake Your Death” (video)

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My Chemical Romance just debuted “Fake Your Death,” the final song they recorded together, via BBC Radio 1 and are now streaming it on their website.

Fans who pre-ordered the band’s greatest hits CD/DVD May Death Never Stop You through the band’s website will receive a download code for the song, and it will also be available to download on iTunes with the purchase of the full digital album. 

Watch the video for “Fake Your Death” below: 

Yesterday, guitarist Frank Iero said of the song, “It’s one of my favorites we ever did,” and in arecent statement, former MCR frontman Gerard Way called “Fake Your Death” a “eulogy for the band:”

“…I consider “Fake Your Death” to be the “last MCR song”, and to me, it is absolutely the final fully realized collaboration between the members of the band. Oddly, or fittingly, it was written while the Los Angeles Kings beat the New Jersey Devils and won the Stanley Cup, though this did not inform or inspire the song as I was unaware (along with James and Doug) that this was happening and have only a small interest in sports. After the game, the rest of the band had arrived at the studio where we added elements to its existing structure, fleshing it out some more, and it started to form.

What was not so obvious at the time was that the song was, and would serve as, a eulogy for the band, though I should have known it from the lyrics. I think internally I did, as I felt an odd sense of sadness and loss after hearing back the words on top of the music. I also felt a strange sense of pride in how honest it was, and could not remember a band recording a song of this nature, being so self-aware. Ending felt like something honest, and honest always feels like something new.

So it will exist, and it is no cowardly act to release something of this nature, but a service to those who believed in a band that did not compromise, and a wave goodbye to all. And yes, it is fucking heartbreaking.

And while I don’t believe the lyrics of the chorus today- I did at the time, which to me is a core ingredient to the music of MCR. And it is through that belief, and yours, that we were able to achieve many beautiful things.”

The song was originally recorded as a part of My Chemical Romance’s incomplete and unreleased fifth album, which the band said was moving in a very “dark” and “bleak” direction during the recording. The album was set to follow the concept of a support group for parents who had lost their children. 

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My Chemical Romance reveal ‘May Death Never Stop You’ tracklisting, launch pre-orders

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My Chemical Romance‘s greatest hits album, May Death Never Stop You, is set to feature a never-released track titled “Fake Your Death” as well as the attic demos of “Skylines And Turnstiles,” “Cubicles,” and “Knives” (“Our Lady Of Sorrows,” also known as “Bring More Knives.”) 

Official pre-orders begin at the band’s official website at 7 a.m. PST/10 a.m. EST, according to Gerard Way. The website-exclusive package includes a CD, DVD, “Thank You For The Venom” T-shirt (as worn by Gerard at their first show) and a funeral brassard (armband).

Pre-orders are now available on Amazon in CD, CD/DVD and vinyl format and on iTunes. The deluxe version on iTunes features 19 songs and 12 music videos, including an unreleased video for “Blood.”

CD Tracklisting:
Fake Your Death (unreleased song)
Honey, This Mirror Isn’t Big Enough 
For The Two Of Us
Vampires Will Never Hurt You
Helena
You Know What They Do To Guys Like 
Us In Prison
I’m Not OK (I Promise)
The Ghost Of You
Welcome To The Black Parade
Cancer
Mama
Teenagers
Famous Last Words
Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)
SING
Planetary (GO!)
The Kids From Yesterday
Skylines And Turnstiles (Demo)
Knives/Sorrow (Demo)
Cubicles (Demo)

DVD Tracklisting:
“I’m Not OK (I Promise)” Version 1
“I’m Not OK (I Promise)” Version 2
“Helena”
“The Ghost of You”
“Welcome To The Black Parade”
“Famous Last Words”
“I Don’t Love You”
“Teenagers”
“Blood” (*Previously Unreleased)
“Na Na Na” & “Art is A Weapon” 
(*Includes Previously Unreleased “Na Na Na” intro)
“SING”
“Planetary (GO!)”

Frank Iero announces “B.F.F.” single collaboration with his children

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Frank Iero, who is currently featured in our Most Anticipated Music Of 2014 issue, has announced that he will be releasing a collaborative single titled “B.F.F.” with none other than his own twin daughters Cherry and Lily.

All proceeds from the single, which will be available through his own B.CALM Press and digital retailers on February 25, 2014, is set to go toward the college funds of his three children.

Read his full announcement post below:

 
“hola mis amigos y amigas,
     i am incredibly happy to announce that my newest musical endeavor will be a collaboration between myself and two of my favorite artists of all time…. my 3 year old twin daughters, Lily and Cherry Iero. our single, B.F.F., will be released worldwide by B.CALM press available through all online digital music retailers on february 25, 2014. 
all proceeds from the sales of this recording will go directly into Lily, Cherry, and Miles Iero’s respective college funds (so no piracy please…you will literally be stealing from a baby). 
   B.F.F. was written by Lily and i, and features vocals by myself, Lily, and Cherry. i recorded and performed all of the instruments on the track at B.CALM Underground studios, it was then mixed by Ed Rose and mastered by Alan Douches at west west side music.
    i look forward to sharing more details on this single as the release date approaches but for now….that is all. 
thank you to everyone for stopping by,
                                                     xofrnk,lly,&chrry (2014)”

As pointed out in the comments, it’s very probable that “B.F.F.” could be a new song Iero played at the Fadeaway Records showcase in New Jersey recently. Check out live footage:

 

 

Via

Frank Iero: ‘DIY is where the revolution begins’

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Frank Iero has done a little bit of everything in the music industry. Perhaps best known as the rhythm guitarist for My Chemical Romance, he’s also fronted bands like LeATHERMOUTH and Death Spells, and worked on original material for soundtracks. Before all of that, he was a member of Pencey Prep, perhaps one of the paradigm examples of contemporary garage punk.

In December, Iero set up shop with B.CALM PRESS, releasing an EP of covers called for jamia… Earlier this month, Iero took some time via e-mail to share the B.CALM origin story and his thoughts on DIY with Velociriot.

Velociriot: I know you’ve talked about this before, but what is B.CALM? Where did the inspiration for it come from? Where did the name come from?

Frank Iero: B.CALM is an entity under which I can release the different things that I make. Instead of finding a label and a publisher and a merch company and a fine art distributor, etc, etc, for all of my different outlets, I just decided to start my own thing, from which I can independently release certain projects under one umbrella. So far we have done music and merchandise and I would like to expand that into the other mediums I feel creative in, but it’s an extremely small operation and a lot of work.

The name B.CALM stems from the nature of the company I wanted to make. It’s intimate and pure, very hands on and personal to me. A place where I can release the things that I hold dear, a sanctuary for my art. It’s an acronym of sorts…possibly more of a letter jumble. I wanted the name to really mean something so used my children’s initials, LB CB MA, and formed a statement I needed to hear.

V: B.CALM seems like it has been a pretty personal project for you – do you see it continuing to be a place for personal pieces, like for jamia…?

FI: Yes absolutely. I’m not saying I will never release things that I make anywhere else, but I wanted a place to have absolute control to do the things I’ve always wanted to do, the way I wanted to do them. I think of B.CALM as a home base of sorts. There are no ulterior motives or big schemes, just a love of the craft and a place to be as crazy as I want to be.

V: How are your experiences working with B.CALM different than your experiences working with major or independent labels? Is it different from just releasing your stuff on SoundCloud?

FI: Well every label is different, but it’s a very different thing doing it all yourself. It’s fun, terrifying, difficult and exciting all at the same time. It provides a great satisfaction when things work out the way you wanted them to… but on the flip side there is also a horrible feeling of loneliness and fear when you need help and you turn around and realize you’re the only one there. But I am lucky to have an amazing wife and friends that help out wherever and whenever they can and ultimately I just have to realize it’s all for fun and the love of creating, otherwise what’s the point?

V: Your career has always highlighted your work ethic, and you’ve done a lot of do-it-yourself projects. What’s the draw in DIY for you?

FI: I don’t know, I’m a masochist probably. Haha. I guess I like getting my hands dirty. I have always been a fan of the do it yourself thing, ever since I was young. You start a band, you raid the copy shop, and you make do with the materials at your disposal. It’s inspiring, it teaches you problem solving skills and a good work ethic and ultimately, it means more. For me I enjoy the process…every step is important. The things I create are a part of me, and I like to be there every step of the way…falling all over myself. Fucking things up as I go along. My favorite parts end up being the mistakes.

V: Do you think DIY is important to the punk scene? Have you seen it grow in the community?

FI: I do, I think if it weren’t for the DIY ethics nothing would ever change. What you have to understand is, as disheartening as the thought may be, our world is run by business and all businesses have to make money. that means labels, distributors, publishers, hospitals, schools, government; you name it, it’s all about the bottom line. Yes, making ‘great art’ is wonderful and when ‘great art’ makes a profit everyone benefits and the world can change…(yes I believe great art can change the world). But if that ‘great art’ doesn’t sell, someone at the company is going to tell you and everyone else that your ‘art’ isn’t that ‘great’ and 99% of the time they will move on. It’s the nature of the beast, it’s not fair…but art and life seldom are.

Our creative world these days, especially the music industry, is set up to fail. We have a business that is losing money rapidly and the bossman is scared. ‘Don’t take any risks, play it safe, because we cannot afford to lose any more than we already are in this economy.’ So the same things are green lit over and over, more polished, more sexually explicit, dumb it down even more than last year, different packages of the same shit. Big money won’t take a chance on something new until it proves itself, because no one wants to be the guy or girl who lost their ass on some out of left field artist. But you see there is the problem..the only thing that can truly change the industry, or the world for that matter, is something truly new and inspiring. A hail Mary. Something so undeniably risky it ignites the world’s imagination. So, here we lie, dying in a vicious cycle. And this happens every 15-20 years or so.

DIY is where the revolution begins. Because greatness starts with being so goddamned crazy no one else in their right mind will help you, so you have to do it all by yourself. It’s how punk rock began, tattooing, street art, the fucking internet, you name it. Anything the mainstream has adopted, monetized, and bled dry over the years at one point in time started in someone’s basement. And that last statement sounds bleak as fuhk, I know, but it’s not all bad. Some amazing things have happened because of that. DIY has changed the psyche of the mainstream, of course it also means you have a billion or so dickbags wearing bedazzled tattoo flash on their jeans…but well you can’t win ‘em all I suppose.

V: DIY can mean a lot of things to different people – with B.CALM, you’ve released vinyls, whereas a lot of bands have taken to recording their music on their own and releasing it on sites like Bandcamp. What does DIY mean for you, as an artist?

FI: DIY to me just means doing it yourself on your own terms. I love the recording process. I enjoy it as much as I enjoy writing the songs and performing them… maybe even a bit more. And in today’s technological world it is a lot easier to have a home studio or a laptop and a microphone and be able to record a whole record in your bedroom. I for one feel blessed to be creating in a time where that is attainable. But that doesn’t mean you can’t record in an actual studio and still do it yourself, it’s all about the mindset and having your hands in the project at all times. The procedure of recording everything yourself allows you to make mistakes and learn from them. This will change you as an artist and as a player, and I wholeheartedly recommend it to all musicians at one point or another. I independently funded ‘for jamia…’ I created the art, I performed everything on it, recorded it and mixed it. I only turned the songs over to have them mastered and pressed. And when the records were returned to me I hand packaged, numbered and mailed all 400 to those who purchased them.

As far as releasing your material I believe that is up to the artist. No one should be able to tell you what to do with your art. If you want to put it up for free on a site like SoundCloud, as I’ve done in the past, or if you wanna put it on 8track and sell it through mail-order for a thousand bucks a song, that is your prerogative as the creator, and whatever you deem appropriate for you art is correct in my mind. DIY doesn’t have to mean give it away for cheap or free, that doesn’t change the do it yourself operation in my opinion, nor does the location of recording or sale.

I chose to press vinyl for my recent release because I have always wanted to release my own 45 and also because of the statement I feel vinyl has. For me I am a fan of the ritual. It takes more effort to put the vinyl on, and therefore demands more of you attention. I didn’t want ‘for jamia…’ to just be in the background, I wanted it to be an intimate conversation. I wanted the listener to be a part of it. You take the record out, lay it down, drop the needle and listen. Converse. Switch sides, hear a response, it should be an experience. Vinyl has more gravity than digital for me. However I am not oblivious to the world in which we live. I knew in order to have it reach more ears digital had to be widely available. But for me it was always about giving my wife the vinyl.

V: What effect does DIY have on the scene, given the recent trends of releasing music digitally?

FII think consumption of music digitally has really opened the doors and the reach for DIY artists. Before it was all about limited hand made releases, but now you have websites facilitating the worldwide distribution of independent artists, and I think that’s a great thing. Even though I have always been and will always be a fan of the artwork and packaging, I’m glad more independent artists will be able to see their work reach a wider audience. It’s much easier to fund your own batshit crazy projects these days, especially without the overhead of a physical release, and I think we’re going to see more and more artists doing what they want on their own.

V: It seems like DIY has become increasingly trendy – do you feel that it’s been commodified in any way? Do you think it will continue to grow as it has?

FI: I think DIY may be the new buzz word, but the trend of going back to basics in my opinion, is because of value. Doing it yourself brings the intimacy and care back to your art. Plus no one can tell you what to do, you’re your own boss, and that’s a special place to be as an artist. I’d like to think it’s also starting to make people realize there is a person and a soul behind the art and not just a product. But commodified? I don’t know. That seems to have a negative connotation, but I don’t think there is anything wrong with selling the things you create. Inventors and artists deserve to make a living and be paid well for what they do, I don’t see anything wrong with that.

People for some reason feel like if you’re able to download music easily or steal an artists whole discography in seconds that somehow you should, that it’s justified. That’s bullshit. The time taken to create and invent should be valued, respected, and revered…especially from independent artists.

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My Chemical Romance to release “Attic Demos,” more unheard material with greatest hits compilation

 

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My Chemical Romance have detailed their upcoming greatest hits album, May Death Never Stop You, which is now set for official release March 25.

The collection will include not only their greatest hits, but also the rare, fan-famous “Attic Demos” (pre-I Brought You My Bullets… recordings) as well as unheard material including one of the last songs the band worked on together from what would have been their fifth album.

Hello all,

On March 25, we will be releasing a greatest hits album entitled “May Death

Never Stop You.”  The title is fitting, because as sad as it was to say

goodbye to the band, we look at this collection as a celebration of our best

songs, and hope the memory of them continues to bring joy to you all as they

have for us.

The album also includes some previously unreleased material, including the

infamous “Attic Demos,” and one of the last songs we worked on in the studio

together.

On January 21, we will be opening pre-orders for the album right here on our

site. We hope you take the journey with us into MCR’s past, and enjoy the

small taste of what might have been.

Thanks,
Ray, Gerard, Frank, Mike”

You can preorder May Death Never Stop You January 21 via My Chem’s official webstore.

Gerard Way reveals My Chemical Romance ‘Greatest Hits’ artwork

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When Gerard Way confirmed Warner Brothers will be releasing a My Chemical Romance Greatest Hitscompilation next year, he also noted that he would be designing the packaging.

Check out Way’s most recent tweet below with what appears to be the artwork for MCR’s Greatest Hits, subtitled May Death Never Stop You:

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Recently, the former MCR frontman also teased that he was “working on something special” with the following photo, which you will recognize as a piece from the full image:

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Frank Iero announces two-song solo release, ‘for jamia…’

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With the promise of more details to come this weekend, former My Chemical Romance guitarist Frank Iero has announced a two-song solo release titled for jamia…, which is set for release December 10 digitally and on limited edition vinyl.

Check out artwork and Iero’s announcement tweets below:

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