The Father And The Frontman: Frank Iero Gets Tattooed For His Kids


Under The Gun Review met with Frank Iero at Greenpoint Tattoo Company in Brooklyn to talk about his life’s new chapter and his undying devotion to being a father, all while watching him get inked.

Frank Iero’s confidence is a put-on. I know that because he told me so.

He loves to play as much as he hates to play. The 45 minutes of ecstasy he experiences on stage is the pendulum swing counteracting the 24 hours of pure hell leading up to it.

“I’ll be fucking holding, clenching my stomach, totally fucking hating my life because I have to get up there and play,” 33-year-old Iero said. But five minutes into his set, he finds himself in a state of glory.

When My Chemical Romance toured the world, Frank Iero played guitar and sang back-up vocals. Now, he’s taken center stage as frontman of his newest project, frnkiero and the cellabration. In August, he released his debut album, Stomachaches. Last week, the band wrapped up its first headlining tour.


Rather than playing at Madison Square Garden, he’s back to playing 300-capacity rooms in cities like Boise, ID. Those are the kind of places in which he feels at home. Well, the closest he gets to home when he’s so far away from it.

Last Wednesday, I caught up with Frank at a tattoo shop in Williamsburg before his show at Saint Vitus. He said the tour was a total success, but he couldn’t stand to spend another night away from his wife and children. The night prior, he’d traveled home from Philly to Jersey just to see them in the morning. He squeezed in a few hours of sleep before he brought his kids to school and swim class. Finally, he made it back to New York in time for the show.


When Frank entered the parlor, he told me that he was opting to go for two small pieces. The first was a set of roman numerals on his neck; dates documenting the births of his 5-year-old twin daughters and his 3-year-old son. The second was a tiny but meaningful piece on his shin.


“I’m getting a noodle because my little girl Cherry told me that she wanted to get tattooed,” Iero said, sporting a Mickey Mouse hoodie. “I said, ‘Well, I think that’s a terrible idea! But, what do you want to get?’ She said, ‘I want to get noodles!’ And I thought, ‘well that’s kind of an awesome tattoo.’”


The process of figuring out the proper way to tattoo a piece of pasta proved to be more difficult than you’d imagine. After contemplating some squiggly strands of spaghetti, Frank decided a single macaroni would do the trick. Plus, his daughters love Mac & Cheese. It was positioned strategically by his Jordan Jumpman logo and his homage to Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All. After all, he says his body is just a flesh-covered suitcase with stickers all over it.

Many of those stickers were slapped on while touring, a part of life that has become more difficult since becoming a father. For Frank, the modern virtual realities that easily connect us make his distance feel more apparent.

I asked him if his kids were noticing the separation, to which he immediately answered “yes.” I then asked if that drove him crazy, to which he replied, “Absolutely.”


For that reason, he cherishes every moment he gets with his kids.

“I tend to interview them a lot,” he said. “I like these moments. The other day we were talking about colors, so I said, ‘Yo, what’s your favorite color?’”

It turns out his son Miles likes green, but when he’s sick he likes red. He also enjoys yellow. His daughter Lily likes pink, but she’s been feeling more purple lately. Cherry, the noodle tattoo enthusiast, said she loves nothing.

Frank laughed and told me he related to ‘nothing’ the most, but even as an adult he can still feel in colors. He’s had some art pieces that have felt really brown. As a kid he loved black, which may explain his unaccountable love for the Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers.

“What I love about this parenthood thing is that, before they’re tainted by the outside world, there is this innate weirdness that’s only in them,” he said. “It’s very pure and it’s very fleeting, and if you’re not paying attention you can miss it, and I don’t want to miss it.”

For most people, small moments like discussing colors may seem insignificant or forgettable. For Frank, it’s different. His children bring out the kid in him, the one that he’s unsure he ever really lost. He sees the honesty and curiosity that disappears after a life of having opinions shoved down your throat and being told how to act and feel.


The conversation shifted gears when I mentioned the “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” a bill signed into law in Indiana that many Americans feel gives out a license for discrimination towards the LGBTQ community.

“With all the heartache and things we go through on a daily basis,” Frank said, shaking his head, “denying other people happiness, is it just like- an innate human characteristic?”

We postulate that hate is trained, but that selfishness is natural. You know, the whole Darwinism thing. But regardless of whatever characteristics we’re born with, guidance has to be the key factor.

“When it comes to seeking compassion- it’s a bit hard to just be born with empathy. I think that’s learned,” he said. “And I don’t think that’s a terrible thing. It’s great that it can be learned, and it needs to be, and it needs to be instilled.”


I’d only spent an hour or two with Frank, but I could tell that he experiences emotions strongly, even in the mildest of interactions. He’s humble and exudes a charm that makes you want to be his friend.

I’m not convinced his confidence is fake, I think it’s just on a never-ending learning curve.

Before Iero dropped Stomachaches, he was convinced he was done with touring. He was ready to write a novel, take pictures, and maybe go to school.

But he got pulled back in. Now, he’s playing shows where he can once again look at fans in the eyes. For him, it’s both heart-warming and earth-shattering. He still hasn’t fully come to grips with the press attention.

“I guess it ties into being a frontman. I never wanted that. It was never something I saw myself wanting to do. I liked being a guitar player, hidden in the wings and getting to play the shows and not being the one that had to talk to anybody,” he said.


When it comes to facing the camera, he finds it just as daunting and superficial.

“Nobody wants you to be yourself,” he said, speaking about magazine photoshoots. “It’s like, ‘Oh, I want you to ride this llama and then fucking break a window, and you know, scream at this baby!’ Like, why would I ever do any of that?”

Aside from fatherhood and fronting a band, we discussed some of the weight of being such a heavily adored and emotionally praised musician. For fans of his music, whether it be the tunes of MCR or the cellabration, it serves as much more than background noise. It speaks to them on a personal level.

I brought up a recent article called I Found Hope At A Frank Iero Show. It was penned by Cassie Whitt at AltPress, someone who I’ve had the privilege of working with a few times now. I asked Frank how it feels to read a piece like this, and if there is any pressure or responsibility associated with making music that people use to help them through their struggles. I don’t know how I’d handle it.


“I felt very flattered that I was even included in that. It ties into a lot of kids that have come to shows and given me or my bands a little too much credit for their own strength,” he said. “I feel like that was all on her, you just need a welcoming environment. I think she wrote an amazing article, and she’s a very talented girl, and I think she should give herself a bit more credit.”

For Iero, there are two factions of interactions he has with his listeners. There are the kids who want a simple photo or an autograph, then there are others he’s impacted in a very serious way.

“They’ll say things like, ‘You saved my life,’ and my response is that we may have inspired you, and maybe empowered you, but I’m saying, kinda meet me halfway on it – yeah you did take control of your own life, we were just the soundtrack.”

Generally speaking, he doesn’t want to preach too hard at his shows. But he does want two simple things to be taken away from his listeners: A) they should always give a fuck and B) they should always unapologetically be themselves.

“Whatever it is that you feel inside, be proud of it, and fucking do it to the best of your ability and don’t ever apologize for being you,” he said. “Just be the best you can be. And if you can do that, fuck, man, I think we’ll be all right.”


Written and photographed by Derek Scancarelli
Guest contribution by Joseph Altobelli
Special thanks to Greenpoint Tattoo Company

Derek Scancarelli

Derek Scancarelli is a feature writer, interviewer, videographer, photographer, radio-er and more. In 2015, he received his MA in Journalism in New York City. In addition to Under The Gun Review, Derek has worked with Noisey (VICE), Alternative Press, New Noise Magazine and many more. He also pushes some buttons at SiriusXM.

Comedian Jim Norton once called him a serial killer on national radio. Enjoy the internet with him on Twitter.
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  • cpswimmer

    awesome interview and article…you really captured the spirit of Frank and his shows!

  • wafflesandfrankiero

    This was an amazing article! Frank is literally the nicest person (from what i have heard) and truly makes amazing stuff.. I hope i can see him live one day.. :D

  • Rebekah

    im not crying…his passion and humility amaze me