Lounging casually on a too-short sofa in the backrooms of London’s Electric Ballroom, My Chemical Romance’s Frank Iero and Thursday’s Tucker Rule couldn’t stop smiling while talking about their pandemic project band LS Dunes – who did a brief circuit of British venues this month. The last time the guitarist was in the UK he played for 30,000 people at Milton Keynes’ Stadium MK (three times!). But, Frank tells me, regardless of how many people he’s in front of on any given night, it’s his love for the music that spurs him to keep writing music.
“You don’t know what the future holds,” Frank mused. And it’s easy to see why he thinks so glass-half-full. After exchanging texts and emails with his friends in Thursday, Circa Survive and Coheed and Cambria in 2021, the five music industry stalwarts got together and built LS Dunes. But, even now, a year after forming and months after the release of their first album – Past Lives – they are adamant that they don’t want to find success because of their legacy bands.
“We’re all very lucky to have these past careers that we had and do have,” Tucker politicised. “And we didn’t want the term ‘supergroup’ to be a thing, or to rely on our other bands to make this big. So we definitely thought about not telling people we were in the band – just letting the record be the record. But it is hard.”
Before the identities of the band members were public knowledge, LS Dunes briefly toyed with the idea of remaining anonymous; a gimmick that isn’t unheard of. Of course, Slipknot were once just masks and jumpsuits, and today, Ghost and Sleep Token continue this legacy with relatively hidden identities.
Frank even reminisced about how jealous he was of Avenged Sevenfold when they first hit the scene with their fake stage names. “I love the anonymity of that,” he admitted. “That is something that I secretly envy … that way, when you order a coffee and someone doesn’t like your band [they won’t] spit in it!” (Surely, I ask, that hasn’t happened to Frank in the past? “I don’t know,” he cackled. “That’s why I give a fake name when I order coffee!”)
Tucker added that, while it would have been far easier for LS Dunes to be introduced as a completely anonymous band, they wanted to back themselves as earnestly as they could. “We had something we really believed in,” he grinned. “And we weren’t afraid to put our faces on it.”
Eventually, LS Dunes decided against being a secret band – but they are keeping one part of their identity locked away for themselves: Their name. In past interviews, they have purposely avoided questions surrounding the “meaning” behind the moniker. While Tucker noted the band admired how it sounded like an author’s name (TS Eliot, CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, et al) he was insistent that it was to remain personal to them – for now. “I just think,” he said. “The internet now, and the Instagram and the TikTok… there’s no f****ng mystery there anymore. People see everything now.” After a beat, he added: “There’s no mystery, no excitement. So, if we could just have the name, you know what I mean? And, it may not mean anything to anyone, but it may mean everything to us.”
Despite how important LS Dunes’ name is to the band, Frank and Tucker were crystal clear that their work ethic was at the top of their priority list. Again, it might be easy to assume that LS Dunes would be successful because of their other bands, but – in a way – they want to succeed in spite of the My Chemical Romance, Thursday, Coheed and Cambria and Circa Survive. “No one gives a s**t what other band you’re in if your music sucks,” Tucker pointed. “If the record f****ng sucked it would be s**t for our careers. That’s what we wanted to avoid … we are very down to work hard. This is a new band, and we know that – to make a new band work – you have to work hard. And we’re down to do it.”
The elephant in the room was that Thursday and My Chemical Romance are still very much alive. Hell, MCR still has more than 12.7 million monthly listeners on Spotify. And, after their triumphant comeback to playing live last year, their return to the road and recording are imminent. At the time of writing, My Chemical Romance are weeks away from going on tour across the world once again. But Frank persisted that doesn’t inherently mean the end of LS Dunes.
Frank peered across the room to imagine his schedule: “We go home and, I think, we have two weeks off. And then I go for rehearsals with My Chem, and then go out with them to Australia and Japan. During that, I can do press stuff for Dunes, or write riffs and write remotely. [LS Dunes] doesn’t have to be put in the cupboard and stopped, it’s just something that can exist in our private conversations.”
On the other hand, could LS Dunes just be something the band members needed to start and get out of their systems? They’ve previously spoken candidly about how LS Dunes was a way of getting out their heads and into the airwaves during the stressful and isolated pandemic years; a “Lost Weekend” in a new, shiny band away from prying eyes. Surely this fling could disappear as quickly as it materialised?
Tucker laughed: “Both of our bands have already stopped playing [in the past] and come back! And the reason why they came back is because we needed to do this. Because we needed to do them. When MCR stopped playing Frank started a solo band because he needed to play.”
And once they started playing together, LS Dunes fell in love with the camaraderie of their bandmates as well as the music they were creating together. By the sounds of it, Past Lives came together quicker than they expected, and they’re struggling to stop writing new music.
Frank revealed: “We definitely want to start recording as soon as possible. I think a Spring recording session would be great, Fall would be awesome as well. I don’t know if we’ll do it all at once, an EP, an LP… but it really just depends on what [record label] Fantasy wants to do and how we want to pump it out.”
Tucker added: “We’ve got a lot in the pipe, we’ve got a lot of stuff written. We’ve got a lot of stuff that we’re working on.” Flashing a grin, he added: “It’s funny,” Tucker said. “We wrote a song the other day when we were supposed to be rehearsing!” Shortly after writing that song, Tucker noticed his “magic number” pop up in his emails – a sequence of digits that he often sees pop up in his life to assure him that things are going to go well.
“The number came up in an email,” he smiled. “And as soon as the number came up … I was like: we’re doing the right f****ng thing. You’ve got to follow it.”
LS Dunes’ album Past Lives is out now.