"My father and grandfather are both drummers, so music was a big part of my childhood," says My Chemical Romance guitarist Frank Iero. "On the weekends, I used to go to clubs to see my grandfather play Dixieland and standards, and then I'd go somewhere else to watch my dad play the blues. A lot of times these were after-hours places where I shouldn't even be. The owners kind of looked the other way."
According to Iero, these experiences were his introductions to the punk-rock ethos. "It was about doing things the way you want, for sheer love of the music," he says. "The blues was my dad's punk rock – guys writing their own music, recording it in their basement and totally playing from the heart. People looked down at the blues at one point, but it really hit a nerve with him. When I discovered my own punk rock, I'm sure I felt the same way that he did."
While in high school, a friend played Iero a mix tape of of local, New Jersey-based punk bands, which the guitarist recalls as a defining musical moment. "Here were people my age putting on shows, making their own music, doing it DIY-style. It blew my mind! You didn’t need to be a virtuoso to start a band – all you needed was passion. I took that idea and ran with it."
Following family tradition, Iero became a musician. “I fell in love with the entire thing," he says, "Starting a band, putting up flyers, playing shows wherever I could – I loved the whole experience. It might have come from my dad and my grandfather, bit it also came from punk. The music was vital, but so was the mindset.
In Iero's view, punk still lives today. "It doesn’t matter what year you were born or what shows you went to," he says. "You can be a teenager in your bedroom, making music on your laptop. It’s about self-expression, going against the grain. As long as you’re doing it for the right reasons, you’re punk rock.”
On the following pages, Frank Iero lists what he calls the 10 greatest punk records of all time - in chronological order. "To me, that's the only way to do it," he says. "Saying one record is the best, as in THE BEST...I just couldn't go there."