Interview: Frank Carter [February 2016]

By Lais

We popped down to the Kerrang! tour at Cardiff’s Great Hall, where Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes were on the bill alongside Sum 41, ROAM and The Biters. Two dates in to the tour, we spoke to frontman Frank Carter about why The Rattlesnakes is his favourite band he’s ever played with, how he juggles touring with fatherhood, and what we can expect from their new album (which is coming sooner than you’d expect).

How’s it going?

It’s going great, yeah. Every time I come on tour lately I get ill. I’ve got a bit of a head cold but it’s what happens, you know. I keep myself a bit of a recluse in my house and then you go on tour and you go jumping into a sea of 800 sweaty people, you’re gonna catch something. But no, it’s been great. The shows have been amazing, everyone on the tour’s super nice and relaxed, and it’s been good.

You’re on the second date of the Kerrang! tour now.

Yeah, this is the second Kerrang! show. We’re doing some intimate headline shows alongside it, so we went to Belfast a day early and played a show there. We played Dublin on this tour last night which was great, and then tonight is one of the biggest shows we’ve done in a room. We’ve done festivals, but this is the biggest room. I’ve actually played this venue a couple of times but none of the boys have.

How are you finding the line up? All the bands are very different.

Yeah, it’s fairly eclectic. I mean, that’s what I love. That’s why I got into music, because I love all music, so for me it’s great. It’s nice to see loads of people who are passionate about what they do, they’re playing music they love, and it’s great for people coming to the show. They get to see all these different styles. It’s great for us because we’re the heaviest band on the bill, and that’s always – I mean, you always wanna be that if you’re in that realm, I think.

So far I’ve only seen you play an intimate show in Clwb Ifor Bach, which was great. How is it playing these bigger stages?

I don’t have a preference because both have their pros and cons. With shows like this where there’s less people who know exactly who we are, I love that challenge of walking out on stage and trying to convert all these people. For me, this is what music’s all about. Playing to a room of your fans is great but it’s kind of a false economy. They’re already in, they already love you, so sharing those moments with them is wonderful, but to get more fans, the only way to do that is to play in front of people who either know who you are but haven’t checked you out yet or don’t have a clue.

And you’ve got the headline shows as well.

We had a couple of days off and I don’t like having days off so we thought we’d keep working. If you’re out on the road and everyone’s there with you, why not? So yeah, we’re playing Stoke, we’ve done Belfast, and we’ve got Brighton. They’re gonna be fun shows, because there’s different bands on the bills, so it’s a nice break from this whole thing as well. When you tour with a tour package, you’re seeing the same people every day, and the shows might be different but you get to know everyone’s nuances and it shakes it up when you have a couple of different shows in there.

Exactly! And that’s the thing. Like I said, there’s pros and cons to both, and I’m greedy and just want it all.

Then after this you’ve got a tour in Europe.

Yeah, it’s a headline tour, and that’s very different again, because we’ve got a lot of smaller shows, and we’re just trying to get out there and establish ourselves as a band that wants to tour in Europe a lot, so it’s gonna be fun. That’s the one I’m nervous about, but I’m excited as well. It’s a lot of ground to cover. All in all, the UK’s kind of a small country. Then you go to Germany and you can drive 10 hours and still not be on the other side of it. It’s gonna be fun.

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes is still a fairly new band. How are you finding it compared to your previous bands [Gallows, Pure Love]?

I’m loving it. It’s the band that I feel I should’ve always been in, but I couldn’t be in it until now. I’m taking all the lessons that I learnt, all I’ve done and dealt with in the past, and tried to make a sound that was fairly original in itself but true to me, so it’s been the greatest. For me, it’s been real redemption. And again, like I said, just even having the opportunity to be on this tour and come out and play and try and convert people into liking not only the band but me as well. There’s a fair amount of preconceived notions on who I am and what I am capable of, and I’m here to firmly smash all of that, and say, ‘No, this is who I am and this is what I do’.

Your debut album, ‘Blossom’, was in the Top 20.

It was. It’s like, you take a record that’s as uncompromising as ‘Blossom’ – we made it in a short space of time and it’s exactly how we wanted it to sound. To put that in the top 20 was a real statement and it made a lot of people stand up and say, ‘Ok, rock music is very much alive’. And I mean, those things don’t really matter, to me anyway. I’m not fussed about that, but it was definitely important to people in the industry, and unfortunately that does matter. All round it was a good thing. A lot of people are excited about the band and I was excited to give it to them.

You’ve recently released a video for ‘Devil Inside Me’. How did you do it? Did you actually make it yourself on Paint?

Yeah, Microsoft Paint. Fucking nightmare, I won’t be doing it again anytime soon. We kind of ran out of money and they were saying we need a video, we wanna service this song, blah blah blah, and I just said ‘Look I’ll do it, fuck it’. I’d wanted to do an animated video for a long time. I’m not an animator, I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing, which is why it looks so bad, but there’s a charm to it. It is what it is, it’s kind of like me, a bit rough around the edges, but it does what it needs to. I’m really proud of it actually. It’s one of the ugliest things I’ve ever done, but it’s also really beautiful and I’m really happy with it.

How long did it take you?

It took me a little part of December and all of January. It’s also the only music video that has ever been delivered on time to my band so that’s keeping the gold standard now. If you want something done properly, do it yourself. Even if you have to learn to animate.

Someone told me to ask you who ‘I Hate You’ is about. Can I ask?

No, you can’t. I will never tell. There’s a handful of people in the world who know, my wife is one of them. And that’s the way it’s staying. Good try, though. It might be about myself, who knows?

Obviously people know you as a super angry frontman, but in person you’re actually pretty laidback. People would probably expect you to be like that all the time.

You can’t live like that though. I don’t go and get my shopping and kick off. “You’ve run out of apples, you fucking cunts!” You’d get arrested, so that’s what it’s for, being onstage. Let out the animal and at the end of the show put it back on the lead and back in the cage and let me out for the next show.

It must be quite stress relieving.

Very much so. Exactly. That’s probably why I’m at peace all the time. People think I’m this angry bastard, but I’m really quite relaxed. It’s a nice way to live. People should do it more often. It’s the same as people who are addicted to the gym. I go on tour and for an hour of the day I get to just rage, and it’s exhausting. I give as much as I can onstage so I can feel like I’ve done the job I need to do, and it’s the same with a workout or a job that you love, any hobby you’ve got, that’s what it’s for, to get something out.

Rock music is a great outlet for a lot of people. When you go to a rock club, you rarely see a fight, but in mainstream clubs, you see it all the time.

Exactly. There’s also an understanding. There’s an etiquette in a moshpit where you go into it understanding that you might get hurt, but it’s not intentional. The whole point is we’re all here to have fun. And if you get knocked over someone will be there to pick you up and dust you off, and then they’ll probably knock you over again, but that’s the fun of it. You get that adrenaline of being in a moshpit and having fun, but you take that scenario – such an insane thing, pushing a bunch of strangers over – take that scenario anywhere else and you’re fucked. You’d get stabbed for that in London. It’s a weird one but it perfectly has its place in rock ‘n’ roll.

I saw somebody comment on your Facebook asking if there was a new album on the way, and you replied ‘Yep’.

Hahaha. Yep. I actually can’t really give you much more information than that, but I can give you a ‘yep’. It’s definitely coming. We’ve written a lot of songs for it. Last year, including ‘Blossom’, we must’ve written 40 songs. Last year was a good year, a personal best for us. We don’t have a concrete release date, or a concrete name, or concrete song titles, but I can tell you that this is the first record that has a song on it that I wrote myself, recorded myself and played on. So I’m really proud of it, and I don’t even know if you can class it as a song because it’s only a minute long, but I really love it and it means a lot to me. You know when people are first learning to play guitar, they don’t often have a band or access to a release or an album a song should go on, so normally those first songs are just hidden or forgotten and they never see the light of day, and I never know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing because there are some absolute moments of genius when you’re first starting a project. Not only is it the first time I’ve ever played guitar on an album and sung and written the song, but it’s also the first song I’ve ever written all by myself, and it’s all about my dog, so for me it’s a really nice thing. But yeah, the album is coming together, and hopefully we’ll have some proper news on it soon but it’ll be out this year for sure. Or at least I want it to be out this year. I’m pressing for it.

It probably wouldn’t have occurred to me to ask you about new music because the last one only came out last year.

Yeah, five months it’s been out. But I think that when you’re in a band the currency you’re dealing with is music. That’s what people get into you for. I’ve always loved bands that have a lot of songs, even if they’re a new band. I wanna hear what your new thing is, I want you to speak to me, and if I like what I’m hearing, keep talking to me. So that’s what I’m trying to do, keep talking. And if we’ve got it there, why would I shut up? If I’ve got something to write about, I wanna get it all out. I just hope I don’t freeze up anytime soon.

I’m really lucky with Dean [Richardson]. We’re quite prolific in the way we work. He was joking about like ‘We’ve got some time off in April, why don’t we write a new album?’ and I was like, ‘Dude, we’ve just written one and it’s not even out yet. We don’t know when it’s coming out, what are you talking about?’ But then I went home and wrote three or four songs and he did as well, and it’s like, when does this end? Is this really happening? But I think I’m gonna put the brakes on that, like let’s get this album out first before we write another one. But my favourite bands when I was younger had quick turnarounds because they cared about music and nowadays everyone thinks you should have this big 18 month cycle to get the most out of a record but actually, a record is forever. Why drain it and why force yourself to only play those songs for a certain amount of time? I know you want everyone to hear them but if you’ve got new stuff to add in it’s exciting for everybody. That’s the plan for us. I’d love to make an album a year. And regardless of what happens, we made a promise when we started this band – I’ve never been in a a band that’s released more than two albums, and I’ve released four albums in my career, so we’ll get this next album out and that’ll be the my fifth album, and then we’re definitely doing a third album, even if we hate each other. Even if we fall out, they’ve promised me that even if we’re at each other’s throats and we can’t be in a room together, you send me the songs, I’ll write the lyrics, we’ll record it that way and just put it out, so I’ve broken this curse.

I guess you’ve been doing short but sweet, and just not dragging it out.

I’ve always tried to quit while I was ahead. I didn’t wanna ever get to a point where stuff felt forced or difficult. Rattlesnakes doesn’t feel difficult, it feels like the easiest band I’ve ever been in, so I’m just enjoying it while it lasts, so I’m trying to write as much as I can.

And then you’re doing Download and some other festivals this summer.

Tons of festivals! None of them are announced yet, but they’ll be announced soon. We’re playing so many over the summer. I think there’s more than 25 in the UK and Europe. It’s really exciting. For me, this very much feels like redemption. Back in a band that people care about and just being able to go on the road and tour. Obviously I’ve got a lot going on at home, I’ve got a kid and I’m married now, and it’s wonderful but it can be quite tough. When I do go on tour, I like to condense it all into one period of time, because if I was going away every week and coming back for weekends, that kind of messes with your head. If you’re on tour you need to get into that mindset and sort of stay there so that when you get off tour you can be a normal human being. It can be quite a comedown for me. Those first few days after getting home I get to 9pm and I’m like fucking pumped up and my wife is like, “You’re not onstage tonight babe, calm it down. We’re gonna watch Fargo now”, so it’s a bit of a weird one. The comedown is quite brutal, but it’s like everything you love, like when you get the holiday blues.

There’s a big difference between those two worlds.

Very much so. But I’m a very relaxed man, I’m not a drugs and rock ‘n’ roll kind of guy. I just like what I like, and this is really nerdy, but I fucking love card games, and we’ve invented one on this tour. We’ve been playing this card game, and now we’re designing it, and we’re gonna get a prototype, and so you’ll see it in the future. Just for fun. I don’t consider myself a singular musician. I’m an artist and if I’ve got an idea about something I wanna do it. That’s why we made the Rattlesnakes video game. I tattoo and I paint, and I just wanna be allowed to do whatever I want whenever I want. That’s the dream, right?


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