Way before My Chemical Romance quietly adjourned in late March, guitarist Frank iero and keyboardist James Dewees were already concocting abrasive electronic music under the name Death Spells. Free from obligation, Iero now finds himself in the driver’s seat with equal parts excitement, confidence, and abject terror.
Last spring, during demo sessions for what was intended to be the follow-up album to Danger Days:The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, My Chemical Romance guitarist Frank Iero flew his family from New Jersey to Los Angeles to be with him. When his kids became restless with California, the doting dad acquiesced and let everyone go back to their Jersey homestead. Iero moved out of the living space and into auxiliary keyboardist James Dewees’ dodgy apartment in North Hollywood. The complex they were living in was a non-stop bacchanal of shawties-in-waiting hoping to get a chance to do some work twerking in some rapper’s video- and the music constantly blaring reflected that.
“When the days in the studio were getting shorter, we started hanging out back at the apartment with all this weird dance music being played around us,” says Iero.”James and I would go for long walks and talk about what kind of music we’d like to make for fun, and it pretty much started from there.”
So Iero and Dewees filled up their new pad with plenty of synthesizers, hard drives, software, and effects borrowed from MCR’s studio and proceeded to create their take on electronic music- a dark, over-modulated, cathartic pulse with Iero out in front, shrieking his throat raw or intoning like the creepy villain from The Silence Of The Lambs. As Death Spells, the duo have created a different beast altogether, avoiding trendy dubstep wobbling, tired electronic-flecked metalcore and faux feel-good rave fodder for some seriously ugly and mechanized post-punk you could listen to while dancing, moshing, or vandalizing a police station. They liked the noises they were making, so Iero and Dewees signed on as an opening act for a week of shows supporting Mindless Self Indulgence in early April. But shortly before Death Spells’ live debut, My Chemical Romance announced they were going their separate ways, leaving behind a bunch of songs Iero describes as “almost another Conventional Weapons situation except there wasn’t anything finished, just things in demo form.” Coincidence?
Not really. Iero is adamant the pursuit of Death Spells had nothing to do with MCR deciding to adjourn. He rolls his eyes at some of the most ridiculous rumors circulating about the band’s break, especially the one positing the members are regrouping under a different name to get off of Warner Bros. ( a fallacy popular with fans and self-aggrandizing British music-mag editors who don’t understand the term “first right of refusal”). Having just arrived back from a redeye flight from Los Angeles, Iero is jet-lagged but excited to talk about his future, reflect upon MCR’s legacy, and address all the uncertainty anyone would feel when hitting the reset button on his or her career. “Be it immaturity, throwing caution to the wind or just being punk rock, we didn’t give a fuck about what anyone else thought”, he says about his former band’s decision to retire. “Unless we were happy with it, we weren’t going to do what we didn’t want to do. We played it by our own rules, for better or for worse. That’s how we started it, that’s how we ran it and that’s how we ended it.”
Being responsible for some of the more unlikely aspects of certain My Chemical romance songs , the fractured hardcore of Leathermouth and now Death Spells’ raw-nerve scree, do you think fans and critics expect a certain thing from you?
FRANK IERO: I feel comfortable in awkwardness. [Laughs.] I think for some reason, people need to define, expect and pigeonhole things. This past week, I was talking to a few people about doing things for different outlets like movies and TV. A lot of them were like, “So you do this kind of thing? “ And I said, “Well, let me play you some stuff. “ And then the response was like, “Wow, Really? You do this, too?” I like catching people off-guard. I think people expect a certain thing from me and it’s not necessarily what I’m like at all. But I like that, as well; I like that people expect a certain thing from me, but very rarely get it. [Laughs.]
Currently, there are a ton of subgenres in electronic music. What was the overarching concept with Death Spells that you agreed upon?
I think [James and I] were rebelling against what we were creating in the studio- the day job- and the night shift were these two dudes who still wanted to be making music 24/7. What came out was the seediness of the area we were living in, the ability to get really loud and dirty but not get kicked out of the apartment and to get as grimy as humanly possible. There was no expectation as to what it was going to turn into. James would ask, “Hey, this is pretty grimy. Does this move you?” And I’d listen to it and go, “Yeah, I can totally curse over this for three minutes.” [Laughs.]
I’d assume the music sounds the way it does because you’re in a crap neighborhood, there’s all this bad music and annoying people at top volume in the building and you miss your family. But knowing Dewees, he’s like the post-emo Tony Robbins, where, “Dude! Everything is good!”
Absolutely. He is the silver lining embodied. He’d be baking stuff-cakes, soft pretzels-and bring it to the studio and make everybody happy. His demeanor is always jovial, but it’s in his musical sensibilities where he gets dark. I’m kind of the yin to his yang: He wanted Death Spells not to be his usual project. He was making music that was speaking to my dark side, and it started to work in a way we hadn’t expected to. With Reggie and the Full Effect, he wrote those parts and I just played guitar. When he was playing in Leathermouth, that stuff was written and recorded before he came in. When it came to My Chem, it was different. So Death Spells is the first time we gave birth to something.
What are plans for Spell-binding recordings? Because your name is obviously on MCR’s Warner Bros. contract, I’d assume the label gets first dibs on Death Spells material.
Yeah. I’m in legal limbo with a couple of things, right now. I’m curious to see what’s going to happen. We had plans on releasing some things, but I was told that is not the best idea right now. A few months ago, I put up [online] that Christmas song and that Ronettes cover (“Be My Baby” ), just to put them up and see what happens. And then I got the phone call. [Laughs.] We’ll see what happens after this article comes out and whether or not Death Spells have a home or are free agents. But I’m ready to get more stuff out there, more than just one muddled-and-muted- song on SoundCloud.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but I always saw you as the biggest cheerleader in My Chem. You’re kind of like a shark: Sharks don’t sleep; they have to keep moving. It seems like you’re always doing something musical or working on other unnamed projects.
You’re right. I’m a huge fan of music in general. I buy new music constantly; I seek out and listen to new music; I create it- whether it’s good or not- and need for it to be out there. I like to have things that I make not just heard by myself, whether I’m 100- percent proud of it or not. I need it to live and breathe out there. And sometimes it’s my own downfall. I was very much a proponent of keeping things going [in MCR]. Sometimes you bend over until your back breaks to keep things moving because you believe in it so much. In order for me to survive, I need to live outside the My Chem walls for a little while. I think that goes for everybody in the band: You reach a point in your life when you realize, “Shit, we’re not getting younger, even if we don’t act that way.” And there are things on the bucket list you don’t want to forget about. We’re all living our lives right now. Just going off and crossing off your list is healthy for everybody.
Was it a situation of ‘Kill the band,save the friendships?
Yeah. Listen, those guys will always have a piece of my heart.I love those guys to death.I grew up with them at my side. They are all my big brothers,and sometimes-to a fault-I will go out of my way to try to impress them or go out of my way to seek their approval on things. I have such a love for them. Second to my children,the band is the thing I am most proud of in my life. It will always hold a dear place in my heart. But I see where things needed to end in order for us to be the people we needed to be. A this point in our lives, it wasn’t in the cards. It’s hard to let go,but I know we ended it for the right reasons. Not only am I excited for my future, I can’t wait to see what those guys are going to do next.
Being a psychic cheerleader can be exhausting.
You give everything because you think it’s the right thing to do, and sometimes you’re forcing it for yourself. But I’ve always been a big proponent of “If you love doing it, well then fucking do it.” So that’s what I do. I love [playing and making music], so I’m going to do it.
What’s interesting to me is that you’re a full-on doting father and loving husband, but then you have the capability to make some crazy antisocial music. And since you’re kind of hitting reset on your career, how do you make this kind of decidedly non- commercial music and still provide for your family? How do you reconcile that?
I am a totally miserable fuck when I am not creating. I know deep down that in order for me to be the best father I want to be- the dude that my kids want to be around- I need to be creating. I can’t help it. If I’m not creatively fulfilled, I just crumble as a person. My wife understands that- she knew that from the beginning. But there are so many things that are new to me that I want to try. Things that make me think, “ I’d like to try my hand at that,” or “Man, I could totally fuck that shit up!”. Right now, I have nothing but dreams to fulfill- and that’s a scary and exciting and confusing and amazing time right now.
So then, Pencey Prep reunion this fall?
Ha![Laughs.] Move forward, man!
This week, former My Chemical Romance guitarist Frank Iero and MCR auxiliary keyboardist James Dewees hit the road as Death Spells, opening several shows for Mindless Self Indulgence. Given MSI’s penchant for challenging their audiences’ expectations (they did call an album Alienating Our Audience, after all), Death Spells’ band of electronic miasma and unbridled ugliness should make potential attendees as uncomfortable as possible. The way Iero explains it, that very intention was seemingly built into the band’s name.
“My wife’s grandmother was having these moments where she would stop breathing for a second,” he begins, referring to the late relative. “I’d think, ‘Oh, my God, she’s passed away,’ but then she’d wake up. It was like one of these weird little spells—these weird little death spells where she would wake up and say, ‘No, I’m just really tired.’ To me, [the name invokes] these little introductions to another world and coming back from it—kind of leaving this world but not for too long, then snapping back to reality.”
Death Spells came to fruition after hours last year when Iero and Dewees were done in the studio working on MCR music. Iero moved into Dewees North Hollywood apartment, located in a complex overrun with would-be rap-video starlets listening to bad hip-hop and dance music. As a response, the duo decided to create their version of dance music, an ugly, blackened synergy of mechanized dance-beats, overmodulated noise and samples, as well as various goth-rock, post-punk and no-wave signifiers.
“Shortly after we started making a lot of noise, people started to move out of that section of the building. [Laughs.] At one point, James went shopping for large plants and put them all in front of the windows, so if you were to look in, it would be this huge jungle setting!”
Listen HERE xmas sux by Frank Iero.
The affable Iero has always been a little perverse regarding his personal music projects. This past December, as a joke, he created a short drum-machine-and-distorted guitar rave-up, “Xmas Sux” (listen above) and slapped it up on SoundCloud. “That was a joke I did on Twitter that got a lot of weird venom shot back at me. [imitates snotty kid.] ‘Hey, fuck you, Christmas is awesummm!’ [Laughs.] I was like, ‘Wow! If only I would’ve done a complete song!’ I wish I could’ve recorded my kids crying in the background and actually made it better.” The first Death Spells song Iero and Dewees completed was “Choke On One Another,” a track with a marching-band cadence and a whole lot of gruesome noise thrown over the top, that had more to do with the various gear they borrowed from MCR’s studio, than trying to emulate dubstep, EDM or tired industrial rock. “We were geeking out over different keyboards and other gear we’d find in the studio and sneak home so we could fuck with things in a really small apartment,” he says, laughing. “I think it came from trying to blow up each other’s speakers!” The duo’s tracks run both a sonic and atmospheric gamut, from the aural epilepsy of “Where Are My Fucking Pills?” to the piano-based dark ambience of “End Of Life.” The diversity is another key to evolution of the duo’s working relationship. “Eventually down the road, I’d like to bring in a drummer and possibly a guitar player,” he opines. “But for right now, I think we need to figure out what Death Spells is. Right now it’s going to be Dewees controlling the brain, and me on a mike with some effects going through it. I have an order in for a three-foot neon cross. I hope it makes it in time for the first show.”
Both Iero and Dewees are going to be pretty busy in the ensuing weeks. After this brief run of dates, the duo will be pursuing other projects: Dewees will be teaming up with fellow Get Up Kids colleague Matt Pryor for a series of duo shows in May, as well as writing for the next Reggie And The Full Effect record, which is being funded via Kickstarter. If you go over to the website for the return of the Skate And Surf Festival, you’ll not only see Death Spells on the lineup, but a reconvened version of Leathermouth, the angular hardcore band Iero started in 2007. The one thing he won’t be doing is mourning the demise of My Chemical Romance. Not because he’s a jerk; he’s just too damn busy.
“It got to a certain point where it seemed like it wasn’t working anymore,”he says about the band’s decision to break up in late March. “I am Holden Caulfield-esque and don’t like to let go of things and prefer things to stay the same. And I was such a fan of the band—I never wanted it to end, even though maybe it should’ve. I would do whatever it took so it could continue to go for the greater good. Sometimes it breaks your back, but you do it for the right reasons.”
In the My Chem cover story in AP 221, Iero was unconcerned about any notion of self-sabotage of his previous band’s career. “I don’t give a shit,” he told this writer. “If I had to work at McDonald’s for the rest of my life to play shows and ride in a shitty van on tour? I’ve done it. I’ll do it again.” Now more than ever, that comment seems remarkably prescient. Having left a commercially successful band to play decidedly thorny music isn’t the kind of thing that puts food on the table. So don’t go looking for Death Spells to pull up to the front of a venue in a super-luxurious tour bus.
“I’m really interested to see what two dudes touring in a car will look like,” Iero says. “I think it’s going to be strange, scary and fun at the same time. I’ve always been a big proponent of a band setting; I’ve always liked the idea of ‘the gang.’ Now that the group has been whittled down, it’s kinda interesting to see what’s going to happen onstage.” Alt
Death Spells begin touring with Mindless Self Indulgence in Baltimore, Maryland, on April 11. New tracks and video clips can be experienced at deathspellsmusic.comVia: AltPress
Following the news that My Chemical Romance guitarist Frank Iero has formed a new experimental band with James Dewees (The Get Up Kids), the pair have announced that they will be releasing a 1 minute demo clip each day for a week starting tomorrow. You can read the statement in full and listen to the Death Spell’s debut track below.
“Greetings and Salutations. Starting this Tuesday, April 2 2013, death spells will be posting a 1 minute clip of a new demo every day for a week. The 1 minute demo clips will be posted to our soundcloud page and will also be conveniently located in the sounds section of our website…but you must be diligent, because each demo will be posted for one day only. For example; demo clip #1 will be posted this Tuesday, but on Wednesday demo #1 will be taken down to make room for demo #2 and so on. The week long reveal will culminate in the release of a special surprise to get everyone prepared for our tour dates with Mindless Self Indulgence starting April 11th in Baltimore MD. kill.”
Listen here Where are my fucking pills?
We are officially half way there everybody! 9 days in, I am so grateful for everyone backing the new record! I’ve had lots of emails and comments that have all been so great and informative. I hope one of you engaged people decides to go with the wedding. And some of you people considering private shows and personal songs, I know they are a little bit more money, but I guarantee they will be one of the best things you buy this year! Anyways wanted to let you guys know, I have been reaching out to a lot of my musical friends and I can say that I have enlisted some serious talent to help me on the record. Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance( one of my favorite vocalists) has agreed to sing on a song. Anthony Green of Circa Survive(another one of my favorite vocalists) has also agreed to sing on a song. I am super stoked to sing with them. Some sweet guitars by Ray Toro, some sweet screams by Frank Iero. ( Frank and Gerard were both actually Hungary Bear on tour way back when).
These are just some of the amazing talent that will be making guest appearences. I made another video for you. Listen to the song in the background, it is another new one. But I took out the main verses and substituted “do’s”. Ha ha, I actually kind of like it with the “do’s” and then the chorus.
I am so ready to share the fluxuation song with you, I can hardly wait til we get to 30. I hope you guys enjoy the video! Its from me to you! Sorry about Talullah. She never stops! And the photo at the end wasn’t on halloween, it was just how I rolled when I was a break dancer…I think I was 9 in it.
chicken remix is waiting for you all!!!!
Thanks so much backers you are the best!
To help fund the new album from James Reggie and the full effect, visit kickstarter.com.
It’s been just over 36 hours since Kerrang.com delivered you the famous last words of My Chemical Romance and all that we have to console us is a brief black blog post on the band’s official website and a short tweet from Gerard Way.
Meanwhile, in the time that has passed since the story broke, Twitter has been buzzing with rumours. One rumour in particular however seems to be snowballing; the idea that MCR have ‘split’ in order to leave their record label, making them free to reform under a different name and continue with the same members and a fresh start.
Whilst there’s no concrete evidence or proof for this, and no further official statements have been made to confirm or deny the rumour, we couldn’t help but try and put some of the pieces together.
Are we all just in denial? Is this just the wishful thinking of die hard fans or is there really more than meets the eye? Call us K! conspiracy nuts, but let’s look at what we know so far…
The black blog post:
Let’s face it, a paragraph doesn’t seem like a fitting way to call time on a twelve year journey and for one of the biggest bands on the planet to say goodbye. For all we know there may be a bigger statement to follow, but the existing black blog post just seems too abrupt and seems to leave too many things unsaid – it’s a gesture bordering on cold and an undeniably abrupt end to something that means so much to so many people.
Houdini and the final tweet:
Gerard Way’s final tweet, below, contains a picture of Harry Houdini, the famous escapologist, undertaking a dramatic escape as a publicity stunt. Is this all an elaborate publicity stunt? Could this be a hint that the members of MCR are trying to escape their label?
Is the image a reference to the opening line of the video to I’m Not Okay (I Promise), [“You like D&D, Audrey Hepburn, Fangoria, Harry Houdini, and croquet. You can’t swim, can’t dance, and you don’t know karate. Face it, you’re never gonna make it.“] – If so what does this mean?
We know for sure that the image appears on the sleeve of the band’s first record. Could this be a hint at a rebirth for the band? Whatever the case, like the black blog post, it almost feels too short to be sincere.
Want to know something spooky? Today is Houdini’s birthday.
The fifth studio album:
Until the sudden split My Chemical Romance were hard at work on their fifth studio record. How can a band go from sculpting their future to dissolving everything that they have overnight? To us, this just doesn’t add up.
The people closest to MCR’s reactions:
Lyn-z Way, Gerard’s wife published an extended tweet that stated, amongst other things, “I understand the need for change and the desire to begin again” and “The future starts right now. A new adventure is about to take place and I for one will be on that ride!
Who’s coming with me?” – if you read this in light of the rumour that MCR are trying to reboot in order to leave their label then this post has some extremely interesting implications.
Then there’s the intriguing case of Mat Devine from Kill Hannah’s tweet, below. He’s a close personal friend of Gerard, is this a sign that there’s more to come from MCR? Or even a collaboration between Gerard and Mat?
The previous use of alter egos:
My Chem are no newcomers to using alter-egos and pseudonyms. When we saw them in 2006 they announce on the PA that My Chemical Romance would not be performing, and then played under the pseudonym of The Black Parade. Plus on the last record they referred to themselves as The Fabulous Killjoys. Could the abrupt split be little more than a name change? What would happen to the recordings that have been completed for album number five in that were the case?
Frank Iero’s new band?:
Finally there’s a blog post circulating that states that Frank Iero and James Dewees of The Get Up Kids are starting a new electronic hardcore band. What impact will this have on MCR?
All we have right now is speculation and questions, but make sure to keep your eyes on Kerrang.com for more updates and all the latest facts as we get them.
Be sure to add your take on these clues and rumours below. Is there more to come from the members of My Chemical Romance?Via
PropertyOfZack confirmed in a new interview yesterday with James Dewees (The Get Up Kids,Reggie And The Full Effect) that he and Frank Iero (ex-My Chemical Romance) have started a new electronic-hardcore band called Death Spells.
My Chemical Romance Have Broken Up
James: I have this other thing going with Frank from MCR called Death Spells. We’re opening up for Mindless Self Indulgence in two or three weeks. It’s more like an electronic-hardcore project. We’ve been working with a visual graphics artist and he’s been making these insane videos for us. The music is all little more intense than what MCR was or Reggie. It’s more in the vein of Ministry and stuff like that.
POZ: There’s nothing out for that yet, is there?
James: No, we just posted a song for fun online to get a demo out there. We have a full-length written. There’s red tape to go through before we can announce it.
On Friday, a lot of fans began wondering if Reggie came back because MCR is no longer a thing.
We’ve been off from MCR for a while. For me, I’m friends with everybody, but when I came back from Los Angeles, I wanted to get busy again. I hadn’t been paying attention to it. I got a bunch of emails last night when the announcement came out. When you’re ready for something to be over, it should be over. You shouldn’t force yourself to do anything you don’t want to do anymore. I’m not 100% sure, but Gerard wants to do other stuff. Frank wants to do other stuff. They all want to. That’s fine. It doesn’t mean it’ll never happen again, but it means that everyone wants a real break from it. They don’t want to say it’s a hiatus because then it still lingers over your head. If you say you’re breaking up, cool, then you can stop. You don’t have to answer emails anymore until you want to. I think everybody is going to do a lot of great stuff solo. Everybody is so talented. It’s going to be really, really cool to see what happens in the next year or two.
Death Spells is a new side project of Frank Iero (voice) and James Dewees (sound). Will be touring with Mindless Self Indulgence for the east coast leg of the April tour.
4/11/13 Ram’s Head Live Baltimore, MD
4/12/13 The Palladium Worcester, MA
4/14/13 Electric Factory Philadelphia, PA
4/16/13 Irving Plaza New York, NY
4/17/13 Corona Theatre Montreal, QC
4/19/13 The Phoenix Concert Theatre Toronto, ON