We recently had the pleasure to chat on the phone with Frank Carter about his new project, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes. Their album "Blossom" drops on August 14th on CD, vinyl, and super limited edition hand-painted-cover vinyl. Frank was previously the frontman of the bands Gallows and Pure Love.
- We’ve been following your career here at RMP and noticed that The Rattlesnakes are definitely a hardcore band, almost in the style of earlier Gallows material, when you were still part of the band – but you still have your own defined sound as The Rattlesnakes. What can you say about the choice to go back to the style of music you played earlier in your career?
I don’t know if it’s a choice to go back to that earlier style. I mean, I think it’s actually a much more mature sound now. Obviously it’s hardcore punk, but I’ve always loved hardcore punk, you know? I took a break to sort of experiment a little bit with my voice in Pure Love and find my seat and wrote a great album there, and now it’s just a case of, you know, starting something new. So I don’t know, there are a lot of surprises on the album. It’s not necessarily just pigeonholed in that one thing. I guess it wasn’t really a conscious decision, it just felt right. We started writing songs, Dean (Richardson, red.) started sending me some riffs and it wrote itself really.
- So that’s just basically what came out, and that’s what felt right?
Pretty much, yeah.
- You also mentioned Pure Love, would you say that Pure Love was basically a cleanse for you, you got that out of your system and then you decided to go on and play the next thing?
No, I mean Pure Love was like really a difficult band to be in because we just were dealt quite a rough hand from the beginning, so it felt like a lot more of a struggle really than it should have been. We had the wrong management and the wrong people around us. I don’t know whether it was a ‘cleanse’ so to speak, because that’ll never really be out of me, you know I still love that band but this is what I’m doing now, this is what I’m focused on. I feel like everything happens for a reason, that band was there to help me like, understand how I could use my voice better, you know, because I was quite limited when I was in Gallows. But now I can sing, and that’s purely because of Pure Love, so yeah, I think everything happens for a reason and I don’t know if a ‘cleanse’ is the right word. I don’t know, I feel like it set me up and put me on the right path.
- I can understand where you’re coming from there, saying you learned to sing with Pure Love, with Gallows you only had one chance really, in “The Vulture”, and that was six or seven years ago now.
- There’s definitely a huge difference that you can hear listening to the vocals on “Rotten” and the vocals on the Gallows albums “Orchestra of Wolves” or “Grey Britain”.
- Which leads me to another question: there was a really cool saturation effect on your vocals throughout almost the entire EP, if not the whole EP. Was that just a production decision, or is that something that you went in and said “I want to do this.”?
No, just, we were looking for the right kind of sound, you know, and I think a little bit of distortion, you kind of get a lot of that when you’re playing live, you know? We wanted this album to sound live and we wanted it to sound like we were just playing a gig, so when we heard it, we had to bring it down a bit because it was just a bit too much. I think it allows my voice to cut through in the right ways, so it just means I’m not squawking over the fucking top of everything, do you know what I mean? I’m settled down a bit in the mix. Yeah, it wasn’t anything we did on purpose. We didn’t set out to do that, it just happened. Everything with this record has been quite organic; it just sort of came together the way it was supposed to.
- I believe I read somewhere that all of the instruments were done live, basically, and then you overdubbed vocals and that was it?
Pretty much, yeah, I mean even some of the vocals were done live. The boys were all in one room and then I was in the vocal booth. That’s how I’ve always wanted to record but I never had the opportunity and I feel like a lot of times you spend a lot of time getting the music to sound so perfect and regimented, and you lose a lot of the soul in it that way. Punk music should be about, like the ebb and the flow, you know, like it should be able to push and pull, it should be able to speed up and slow down. And if you’re trying to quantize everything and play to a click, that’s the first thing you lose. You’ve got to stay on the tracks, and I’ve never really been about that, I’ve always wanted to go off the tracks. So yeah, that’s why we wanted to do it all live, and when it came to recording vocals, any bits that I got that I was already happy with, they could stay, and then it was just a case of finding my foot in with the timing and just moving with the band after that already happened. Does that make sense?
- Yeah, definitely, and there really aren’t many bands that can pull that off these days.
I don’t think so.
- So many bands use a click even when they’re playing live shows and it just saps the emotion right out of it.
Yeah, totally, and it just means you’re so trapped. I never want that, I don’t want that. I’m lucky I’ve surrounded myself with excellent musicians, so I know that I give one look, or they give me a look, and we can hang back or really, really, push it over the edge if we want to pummel people. I think that’s an important ability to have, and if you take that away you’re kind of cheating yourselves out of an atmosphere. That’s what punk music’s all about, it’s about getting in that room with like a hundred sweaty people and just fucking letting loose. If you’re worried about staying in time, you’re playing the wrong music.
- You even have people from the right background, you have Memby Jago on drums who was in The Ghost of a Thousand and also you joined you in Pure Love, and Thomas “Mitch” Mitchener who actually engineered “Rotten”, on bass. I’m assuming he’s also working on “Blossom” with you, is that correct?
Yeah, the album’s finished, we recorded the whole thing with Tom and it’s all done. It sounds amazing, fucking really looking forward to people hearing it.
- I can’t wait, and I should mention that is going to be out on August 14th, so our readers will be looking out for that one, I’m sure.
Yep, August 14th, it’s coming out worldwide.
- Another thing that many bands don’t do these days, you actually had a bonus track on “Rotten” after “Primary Explosive”, and in the digital age, bands have stopped doing that because people can just skip ahead in iTunes. What do you think of that attitude that people always just say “Oh, we want it now, we’re going to skip ahead.”?
They just don’t have any patience.
I think that’s just a product of the world at the minute, but you can counter that by doing what we did – which is just fucking do it anyway. Then even if they do skip ahead, that’s their prerogative. We’ve put it there; we’ve laid it out for them how we believe it should sound. For the people that don’t, the people that forget about it, on the train, or walking or driving, those noises they put you in a place and then all of a sudden you start hearing these chords ringing in, and that’s when you’re really get a feel for it. That’s when it surprises you. Some people, they might just listen to it just in case they missed something, you know, and that’s important as well, so it’s nice to be there. I mean, I could sit here and mouth off about how wrong I think people are, that want everything now, but this is an instant gratification world we’re living in, do you know what I mean? Everything is now, everything is fast, fast, fast, and I think I’ve got to understand that as well, I’ve got to appreciate that. I can’t just fuckingjust go against that too much because we’re going to be the ones that really suffer. I just want to go back really quickly because you missed a member, Dean Richardson, he used to play in a band called Heights, and he’s the guy… Really the band is me and him, we’ve been writing these songs for a long time, and we’ve been writing together for a long time. When I decided I wanted to do the band, he’s the first person I spoke to. He wrote all of the music with me and helped me structure the songs, so he’s kind of the kingpin of all this really, so I just wanted to make sure you didn’t miss him, sorry.
- No worries, so you’d say he’s the co-conspirator, basically?
Pretty much, yeah, partner in crime-type thing.
- I think, everything is expected to be so instant, people won’t go down to the record store that’s five minutes away anymore.
No, they won’t.
- They just go to iTunes, and they won’t look at the art or anything even, which is, I think incredibly sad, because that’s part of it, that’s part of the package that comes with the music and that’s what you, as the artist, especially since you’re a painter, want people to experience.
Yeah, definitely, that’s what’s been so important to me, that’s why we’ve kind of structured the physical aspects of this record the way we have, we’ve put out a worldwide vinyl and on top of that we decided to make one that was purely for collectors, because for as many people out there that want it now, and they want it to just drop into their phone without realizing, there’s also a good amount of people that still care about the artistry behind it. One thing I’ve noticed is, I have a lot of people congratulate me on the artwork, they’ve all said that they really like it and it speaks to them. So we decided to make this really special edition version of the vinyl, which is just limited to a hundred. It’s really expensive, it’s 200 Pounds. But what you get with that, is you get a variant cover of the artwork, which is completely hand-painted by me, so every single one is different, you’ll just get a random one when you buy it, but also you’ll get a version of vinyl that’s limited to 100 and won’t ever be repressed. That’s our way of sort of saying to people, people might look at that and balk at the price and say “What the fuck, who are these guys that can charge that?” but we can do whatever the fuck we want, do you know what I mean? I don’t have to answer to anybody because we set this up totally DIY, all ourselves, we just reached out to a label services company to help us fulfil it. I think that people might come back and check that again, they might see it and laugh at it the first time, then in a week they might come back and say “Oh man”, it just makes people look twice at the physical aspect of it, which to me is really important. I’m a record collector, so I’ve always wanted to get that number, to get that one of a hundred which is never going exist anywhere of the world outside of that, it’s exciting.
- I think that’s one of the things that has your fans coming back from one band, to the next, to the next, is the attitude that you just honestly do what you want. You make the music you want to make, and you put out the records that you want to make, and if they don’t like it you don’t care about that. You say “This is what I want to do, so this is what I’m going to do.”
Yeah, of course. Obviously, I want the band to be a success, I would like people to like it, but likewise I’m not going to lose sleep if they don’t, because that would be counterproductive. If I wanted to do that, I would just fucking tweet to 20,000 people and say “What do you want to hear?” and then I would write songs accordingly. All of them would be involved in the song writing process, and that would be a fucking nightmare, do you know what I mean? So the quickest way to do it is just for me to write what I love and be honest to myself, and I think that’s what people have always respected about me and that’s what brings people back. One thing I’ve rarely been called is sell-out, you know? I mean I was called it a little bit in Gallows, and that’s understandable, we did sell out, we sold to a major label for a load of money. That was fucking… I would do it again. I’ve always been true to myself and I’ve done what I wanted to do, because if I’m happy and I feel like I’ve got something to say, then I’m going to deliver it the way I think it should be delivered, which is with 100% passion. Raw emotion. It means that I’m able to really get behind the songs, and that’s how I feel at the minute. I really feel like I’m at a defining moment in my career where I’ve got this brilliant album, playing with great musicians, I think the lyrics are my best work ever, by quite a long way, and that feels really, really exciting. It feels like I’m in a good place.
- I totally agree with that, and it’s funny you mention “Grey Britain” because Reprise ended up dropping you afterwards because, you know, you did your thing.
Because we did what we wanted.
- Yeah, and they expected Green Day or something.
- Unfortunately I believe you have more interviews lined up, but I just want to mention you’re are touring right now and you’re also going to hit up Reading and Leeds.
Yeah, we’ve got Reading and Leeds, I can’t fucking wait man.
- I think I saw you said it’s your sixth or seventh time out there?
Yeah, I think this year’s going to be my seventh year playing Reading and Leeds and this is the one I’m most excited about because we’ve been on tour now for three or four days, and we’ve only got three songs out really, but the reaction has been incredible. These songs are really connecting to people, on a level which is beyond what I thought it was, so to get back to that festival which is like my home festival, that’s what I grew up going to, and play the majority of an album which will be out by then, which is music that I really fucking care about, I feel like it’s really saved my life, that’s a fucking exciting proposition, so I’m really looking forward to it.
- Well Frank, thank you so much for your time, and good luck on the road.
Thank you for the interview.
– James Cross