It’s been almost 20 years since Pencey Prep released their debut album Heartbreak In Stereo. However, nearly two decades later, Pencey Prep’s music is still prevalent with fans of Frank Iero, John McGuire, Shaun Simon, Tim Hagevik and Neil Sabatino.
Now, Sabatino is opening up about his time in Pencey Prep. In a new interview, the guitarist reveals that the album’s original artwork was completely different. As well, a few unreleased Pencey Prep songs ended up appearing on Fairmont‘s first album.
For Frank Iero fans, Pencey Prep is one of many projects he has been apart of throughout the years. In fact, last month, we learned that Iero has even more projects in the works. However, before he started Frank Iero and The Future Violents or joined My Chemical Romance, he was the vocalist and guitarist in Pencey Prep.
Although the band have not released new music in two decades and have since gone onto other projects, the band is still very popular amongst fans. Back in October, Tim Hagevik sent Pencey Prep listeners into a frenzy when he posted unseen footage from the band’s early days. As it turns out, the video was so rare that not even Iero had seen it.
Now, Sabatino is revisiting his time in Pencey Prep in a new interview with My Chemical Fancast. Throughout the conversation, Sabatino details the writing process behind the band’s classic songs. As well, he reveals that the original artwork for Heartbreak In Stereo was completely different.
“We actually had this really great painting of a robot that was supposed to be the cover,” he says. “It was a piece I made that was hanging in my kitchen but the owner of Eyeball [Records] thought it looked too close to The Get Up Kids album [Something To Write Home About] that had come out a year earlier and told us to come up with something different. I think I brought like 4 or 5 drawings to Frank and he picked the one he liked best. I definitely did it rather quickly and didn’t give much thought to it. We basically only had a few days to figure the situation out.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Sabatino shares the artists Pencey Prep were heavily influenced by in the early days. For the band, there were ten albums in particular that they listened to on repeat to gain inspiration for Heartbreak In Stereo. Saves The Day‘s Stay What You Are, System Of A Down‘s Toxicity, Dashboard Confessional‘s Swiss Army Romance and Weezer‘s Pinkerton are just a few of the albums on the list.
Although Pencey Prep never released a second album, they did have some new songs ready to record. However, Sabatino ended up taking a few of those songs and released them under his project Fairmont.
“I was in the band from summer 2000 through summer 2001,” Sabatino says. “By that time we had written all of Heartbreak In Stereo, we had also started work on the second Pencey Prep album, which would have had the songs ‘Home,’ ‘Heroin Slow,’ ‘Rebuilding Home‘ and ‘Lock On The Second Floor Door.’ The second two I just ended up making different versions of and putting them on Fairmont’s first album.”
Sabatino also reveals just how he felt when Iero began to take off with My Chemical Romance in the early 2000s. For him, there is one song he remembers being extremely envious of when he heard it for the first time. Despite this, Sabatino was still incredibly happy for his former bandmate.
“When I first heard ‘Vampires Will Never Hurt You‘ I was so damn mad that it wasn’t something I had come up with,” he says. “At the time when those guys had first started I had been kicked out of Pencey Prep and hated the owner of Eyeball Records with every fiber of my being. But I think by 2003, Hambone [John McGuire] called me to wish me happy birthday and I had also run into Frank at a show soon after that and we all put any hate behind us (not for Eyeball though, I still hate that fucking creep). I was really happy for Frank, I had known him since he was 17. I knew Mikey [Way] because he hung around with Pencey when I was in the band and the other guys were super nice.
Neil Sabatino’s full interview with My Chemical Fancast is available to read here.
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