My Chemical Romance’s Frank Iero
The guitarist on Steve Weil And The Disco Kings, Nirvana, and the My Chem’s 10-year anniversary
More Gotta Start Somewhere
No matter how successful entertainers become, they’ll inevitably always remember the first gig—whether it was disastrous, wonderful, or absurdly strange. Gotta Start Somewhere embraces these nostalgic moments by asking established entertainers to recall the first time they ever graced a stage. In this edition, The A.V. Club talks to My Chemical Romance’s Frank Iero about his first go-round on stage in advance of the band’s show Wednesday at The Rave.
Frank Iero: My first show was when I was a high school freshman, but it was at the junior class dance. My older friend and bandmate booked it. They had a DJ for the dance, but they also had an opening spot. We muscled our way into playing. It was 1995, and I’m pretty sure I have the show on video somewhere.
The band was called Steve Weil And The Disco Kings. No one in the band was named Steve Weil, and we didn’t play disco. We were doing this kind of indie rock, pop-punk kind of thing. We covered a Nirvana song, too. I think it was “Aneurysm.”
It’s weird that we’re talking about this right now, because it’s My Chem’s 10-year anniversary, and this weekend I’m going through all these boxes of stuff and old fliers in my house, trying to dig stuff up so the guys can see it. I’m reminiscing. I’m the pack rat of the band, so I just have boxes and boxes and boxes of junk.
Anyway, I remember not liking my first band’s name very much. I played guitar, and I got into the band… well, it was one of those things where my friend from high school played guitar and he was dating this girl, and she was friends of this girl I was dating, so he found out I played guitar. So, we thought we should start a band. He came over, and we wrote a song. He found other people to fill out the band, and we started jamming at my house or his house, whatever. A month later, he booked that show.
Because I was a freshman, I would never have been like, “let’s play a show.” I wanted to be in bands, but it was nerve-wracking to ask older kids. I only just picked up the guitar a year before, when I was going into eighth grade.
Actually, the first time I ever played in front of people was at my grammar school graduation. I was bragging I got a guitar for my birthday to my friends, and my music teacher said, “Okay for graduation, I’m going to play the piano, and everyone’s going to sing, but we need someone to play guitar. Does anyone play guitar?” My friend raised his hand and said I could do it. So I had to learn three chords.
The A.V. Club: What was the first song you learned on your guitar? Was it “Come As You Are”? That’s a popular one.
FI: You had to know that riff. Then, when you learned movable bar chords, everyone would learn “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” I think since I got an acoustic guitar first, though, I learned “Polly.” I would have to play that.
AVC: What happened to Steve Weil And The Disco Kings?
FI: Well, we weren’t very good by any means. I think at that first show we might have played seven songs.
I think we were together for about a year and a half, and we’d pressure people into letting us play their birthday parties and stuff. At some point, we’d written 20 or 30 songs, and when we’d play, we’d think we had to play all those songs every single show. So we’re in our first band, playing a two-hour set at some girl’s birthday party who didn’t even want us there.
AVC: Do you remember any of the songs?
FI: One was called “Jenise Russo.” It was a song my friend wrote about a girl named Jenise Russo.
AVC: And how was the reaction at the dance? Do you remember?
FI: People were really cool about it. Once we played the Nirvana song, I think that’s when we blew the roof off the joint. A couple of our friends got up on the stage and danced.
AVC: Did you have to leave afterwards because you weren’t a junior?
FI: I think I did. It wasn’t my dance.
AVC: And did you have to dress up to rock?
FI: I’m pretty sure we had to wear suits, or at least a shirt and tie. I think I wore a sweater vest.
I also remember the second band I was in ever. We were called Hybrid. We got a show at this local street fair, and we were playing on the back of a flatbed truck. There was an ad in the paper, and it said that “Hybird” is playing. I was so mad. Like, this is our big break! How are they going to know we ever played!