2020 held monumental plans for Frank Iero alongside My Chemical Romance on their return tour, but he spent the year much like the rest of us—discovering new music and reconnecting with some former loves.
After more than a year spent at home, there’s only so much Netflix or Hulu to binge on, recipes to mimic from Pinterest or redecorating you can do around the house. But despite the setbacks we’ve all faced this year—and there have been plenty—there’s no shortage of record releases or new music to discover. Even if we can’t enjoy a new album live in a small New Jersey club pinned between sweaty strangers, finding new artists to obsess over has never been easier or more accessible.
Iero shared exclusively with Alternative Press for Issue 389, the Oral History of Frank Iero, his top 10 essential records and artists you should be listening to. From the Homeless Gospel Choir to Youth Code, prepare your playlists for a major facelift.
Read more: 40 new artists you need to hear in April
IDLES – Ultra Mono
I was trying to think of bands that most people didn’t know. Or newer bands that were up-and-coming. I made the list basically on that, and this is in no particular order. But IDLES are a band that I think are doing incredible things, and people should be paying attention to and listening to the newest record. Ultra Mono is really great. But I think they are a fantastic band that don’t get enough love.
Surfbort – Friendship Music
Let’s see, No. 2, I would say Surfbort. Again, another band that I think are doing incredible things. I think their new record should be coming out soon, but Friendship Music came out [in 2018]. Dani [Miller] and the rest of the guys in the band are incredible musicians and just a great band. I’ve seen them live a couple of times, and they’ve always put on a fantastic show. I think it’s a band that people shouldn’t sleep on.
Nothing – The Great Dismal
The new [Nothing] record is great. This is their fourth record that they’ve done. I think it’s a band that are continuously putting out quality records, and they’re fucking great live visually. They care about what they’re doing. They’re pushing the envelope. They’re just a phenomenal band. There’s a very heavy My Bloody Valentine-type element that’s happening, especially on the newest record. There is a washed-out reverb to it, a calming effect, a slower pace on things, which I love. That is reminiscent of other bands, but I think the power behind the band is new in that vein. There’s a heaviness to it, and you find these Radiohead-esque hooks to their music that keep drawing you in. They’re not afraid to experiment, too, which is great. I feel like the band are still evolving and changing but still somehow retaining this quality that is uniquely them.
Touché Amoré – Lament
Touché Amoré are a band that I always had respect for and felt were a really great band. But I think this year, with the release of Lament, has solidified the band for me and the progression that they’ve taken. Lament might be my favorite record of . The sky’s the limit with Touché Amoré. I think they have incredible songwriting there. It speaks on so many levels. You’d be doing yourself a disservice if you haven’t listened to that new record. That one’s a big one. It hits home. I don’t think I’ve heard anything like that record lately. I think it’s blending so many different influences and so many different styles that there really is something for everyone. It’s the first record that I put on.
I feel like there was that movement happening where even a band like Title Fight were moving and changing. And bands like Turnstile, too, were heading this open-mindedness in music and not keeping things pigeonholed. And that, to me, was a great movement. I think it’s hard to just call it all hardcore now. I think right now it’s definitely progressive to just say rock ’n’ roll. And I think that’s fucking phenomenal.
I’m not a big fan of the subgenre. I don’t like these mini labels and boxes for boxes on boxes. I think rock ’n’ roll, when you describe it as that, can be anything. And rock ’n’ roll bleeds into just so many different forms, and that’s a great thing. So I love bands with wings that they can spread [and ones who aren’t] held back by that title of just hardcore, punk rock or metal.
The Homeless Gospel Choir – This Land Is Your Landfill
All right, so No. 5 is Homeless Gospel Choir. I think Derek [Zanetti] is one of my favorite songwriters of all time and just so happens to be one of my best friends. I fucking love Derek. I think that his voice is so fitting to what he’s saying. It’s so personal, and it’s so well thought out, and it’s so smart. The shit that he does is so fucking smart, and I love his records. Hopefully, I’m preaching to the choir that people should be listening to the Homeless Gospel Choir. [Laughs.] But if not, if this is something that you don’t know about, you should definitely check it out. His last record is This Land Is Your Landfill. Again, great record. I Used To Be So Young is a phenomenal record. He puts out fantastic work.
No. 6, again, I have got to go with a friend of mine who I love. I’ve known her for, oh God, since we were young teenage kids. But her name’s Sara Taylor, and she, along with Ryan George, do a band called Youth Code. Youth Code are breaking a lot of molds in that industrial scene. The new mixes are for a split that’s coming out soon, hopefully. I don’t want to drop too much info on it, and it’s not mine to drop. But the new songs that Youth Code will be putting out are so, so good, probably the best stuff they’ve done to date. I think they’re a fantastic band that people should be listening to.
There’s elements of old-school Ministry—not the first record Ministry, which is my favorite. It’s not that ’80s goth-pop, but it’s more like mid-Ministry industrial. There’s a Nine Inch Nails type vibe in there. I think there’s more melody to what Sara’s doing with her voice. There’s an element of that that I really, really dig. I think older Youth Code, it was almost like if you had a hardcore band playing industrial music like Skinny Puppy. If you could have a marriage between Judge and Skinny Puppy.
Sara is a fucking hurricane up onstage, and Ryan holds it down with the beats and everything like that. And it’s a really great fucking band. They’re doing some really interesting stuff. Last time I saw them live, they were opening for Refused and, in my opinion, really stole the show. It was a fantastic set, and they’re a great band. They’re really doing something different. I think if you’re looking for something on the heavier side and you like electronic music, but you also like heavier rock or aggressive rock, I think you would enjoy Youth Code.
Ian MacKaye, Dan Higgs and Dischord Records
No. 7 is the Coriky record by Ian MacKaye. His new project feels very Fugazi. Here’s the thing: I think No. 7 is going to be a little bit of a mix, right? Anything Ian MacKaye does, I think you should take a listen to, whether that be Teen Idles or Fugazi, of course. Coriky are great, the Evens are great, but this Coriky record is fantastic. And I think if you’re taking the wormhole on Dischord and things Ian MacKaye has done, then my other suggestion [is] you really need to listen to anything Dan Higgs does, especially with Lungfish. All of those records are fantastic and will open your mind in so many different ways. The wonderful thing about Dan Higgs is that he is an incredible artist. And if you’re looking for tattoo flash that will really reinvent the art form, Dan Higgs’ is up there. So No. 7 is a combination of Ian MacKaye, anything Dischord and Dan Higgs.
Spectral Voice – Eroded Corridors Of Unbeing
No. 8, I’m going to do another combo of bands. I’ve been listening to a couple of different bands from the Colorado region. Spectral Voice and their newest full-length, Eroded Corridors Of Unbeing, I’m loving this record right now. That along with the Blood Incantation Hidden History Of The Human Race record, I think are two really incredible records that I like to listen to late at night and zone out to. These are bands that I think have toured together a bunch than they did a split seven-inch earlier on. It’s out of print, but I’ve been trying to find it.
I’m just a fan of music. I like how it can be stretched and molded in so many different ways. Makes you feel different emotions, makes you feel different things, opens your mind to think about things in a different way. There are certain bands that I love for their lyrical content. There are certain ones I love for the guitar playing or the drumming. Some bands I like to listen to when I’m ready to go to sleep. And there are certain bands I like to listen to in the morning. Different tasks call for a different type of music. And I feel the same thing about instruments when you’re creating music. A certain guitar or a certain instrument will make you think a certain way. And if you hit a wall, it’s as easy as putting down one guitar and picking up another one. How awful our world would be with just one type of music or one type of artist. It would be like one flavor of ice cream or one type of T-shirt to wear.
Roger Harvey, Tim Barry and Kayleigh Goldsworthy
For No. 9, they’re more like singer-songwriter friends that I’ve toured with in the past couple of years. So No. 9 I think would go to Roger Harvey, Tim Barry and Kayleigh Goldsworthy are putting out fantastic EPs here and there.
Roger and his girlfriend, Anika [Pyle], are down. If you’ve gone to see any of the things that they’ve done online with performances. I think when the pandemic hit, they were out West and had to make their way back, and they were doing these live broadcasts on Instagram where they were doing duets and things like that on their way home. It was so fantastic. But both of those people are [amazing] songwriters and musicians.
My last one is Wesley Eisold. Anything Wes does, I think, is worth listening to. Of course, he began working with American Nightmare as their singer. And then from there did xo skeletons, Some Girls and eventually went on to form Cold Cave. [He’s] doing Heartworm Press, which is a fantastic publisher of different books, magazines and stuff like that. I think the vision that Wes has for the things that he creates is something that people need to be aware of and need to keep tabs on because I find it to be pretty inspirational and pretty fantastic.