Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes have shown great promise in such a short period of time, having only formed within the last two years the band’s first album “Blossom” was released to a very positive reaction from crowds and critics a like, even making it into the top 20 of the charts which for a punk rock band in this day and age was a phenomenal achievement. Now with that album in the rear view mirror the band are looking forward with their second release “Modern Ruin” looking to go bigger and better, Carter spoke exclusively to GIGsoup to give us the low down on what to expect from the album and the band going forward.
Here we are with the first night of your latest UK tour, a sold out show no less to kick things off, how does it feel to be back on the road?
It feels incredibly exciting we’ve been looking forward to this for a long time, you know, we haven’t played a headline tour yet this year, we went out on the road with the Kerrang! Tour and it was amazing, it was exciting to see our songs connecting and this will be first opportunity to kind of see how much the album has done because we put the album out in August and we haven’t really toured that much so I’m really looking forward to it.
I can see you’re also taking things all the way across the globe to, Australia, how does it feel to have such a far reaching audience?
It feels good, I’m just excited about the future, I’ve played a lot of these places before so for me now, it’s just about seeing those steps again and taking it nice and steady because before I’ve run a bit too quick and stacked it a couple of times so now I’m trying to be a bit more careful.
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It’s well documented what kind of live shows you’re famous for putting on, even been described as an “unpredictable” type of front man, is that something you’re proud of?
I guess so, I just do what I do and vibe it out and find myself on top of something I shouldn’t be on.(laughs) The bands that I grew up with and inspired me were like Dillinger (escape plan), Glass-jaw and Deftones, I remember seeing At the Drive In in the year 2000 play in a tent in Reading and I remember just watching it in awe as they just destroyed everything and it sounded incredible and I just remember thinking that is how I want to play, I just want to explode and I want my music to be sent into the world as an eccentric explosive, I don’t wanna stand there and just deliver the song perfectly, I wanna deliver the song perfectly and to me it’s all about blood, sweat and toil and get it out and whatever is left is what it’ll be that night.
I feel your live performances come from who you are as a person and isn’t for show, you have been given the label as one of rock n roll’s dying breed of personality
I am probably the antithesis of rock n roll to be honest, I just came in here and made everyone a salad, I only started drinking four years ago, I’m not rock n roll. I am on stage but off stage I’m just like everybody else, I’ve got no real problems with addiction and I don’t even like alcohol that much.
Maybe a tattoo addiction?
Yeah I’ve got a lot of tattoos but that’s only because I was a tattoo artist before I was ever in a band but I’m definitely not rock n roll, for me it’s just all about the music, people will talk a lot about the character, the person they see but for me it’s about the music and I’m hoping that this year and next year there’s a shift and people start really focusing on the music as that’s not something that’s ever happened yet there’s just been talk of me as a person but we’ll get there.
Speaking of the music, we’re sat here as you’re about to release your second album but it comes less than a year after Blossom was released so it seems like a short period of time in between, was there any reason for the quick turnaround?
We wrote Blossom in February of 2015 and we recorded it in the March and April then we released it in August and then we started writing Modern Ruin in October and we had it written in November then recorded it all in January of this year then finished mixing in March so we’ve been sitting on it patiently because it felt like there was a lot of progression in those two albums but what we wanted to do was really give people two parts of the spectrum, I don’t really wanna give them either end I just want to give the two points on the spectrum of reference and then when we give them the third album that will cover everything and give people a true understanding of what this band is capable of. For now, it’s just what happened you know, we write quickly and when we get involved in something we give it everything and Dean (Richardson, guitarist) and I really love albums, we grew up loving albums we’re not about singles or EP’s we want a whole album that is a story that you can really get into.
For the recording of the last album, it was all described as very “DIY” as it was recorded and produced in a garage, was it the same sort of process this time around?
Yeah it was, our friend has a studio built in his garage so we took everything back there because it worked so well on the first record so we figured why not the second? We also wanted to push ourselves, we wanted to challenge the sound and we were able to get much more tighter, heavier and solid sounding record just from adding a few layers in the set up and the same equipment so for me it was important to do it there to show people, you can do raw, you can tighten it up and get a heavier sound and you can do whatever the fuck you want as long as you’ve got vision, it’s not about the studio, the studio should be versatile that’s why I love Mitch (Thomas Mitchener) and why I want to work with him forever because he just understands us and we go in saying “this time around we wanna keep it tighter, we wanna be super fucking loose, we want it to sound raw or we wanna put more layers on it” and make the songs have a bit more depth to them and he’ll do it for us.
In regards to the lyrical content of the new album, I heard that it’s based around human relationships. What is it about this subject in particular that interests you enough to write about it?
I only write songs about what I know and what I knew this past year was a breakdown in relationships for me and for family members and loved ones and also, for humanity in general. What I was seeing in the world was incessant bombing of innocent civilians all over the world and then when they came for help, the same people that bombed them turned them away and I felt like I was doing that to a lot of my friends and family, I felt like I was bombing them and then they were coming to me and I was turning them away there was just a real juxtaposition at that point with the idea of relationships as a battlefield or a war zone and as soon as I had that realisation, the record just wrote itself really. That’s what Modern Ruin is to me it’s like a relationship, it’s not perfect and they take a lot of work and take a lot out of you but they can also give you everything. A ruin is something that is fucking old, it’s ancient that’s why I like the name because it’s the perfect juxtaposition of present day and ancient ruins and it’s what we’re all living in.
Would you say it’s quite a self-reflective album then?
100%, it’s written about me. The way I wrote this was based around a character that was pretty much autobiographical but I wrote it with a fair amount of fantasy and fiction so that I could push this character to extremes that I didn’t want to go to myself, to see where that would take him while I try to figure out my own life so yeah, poor bastard in the album gets hammered but so did I at the same time, that’s what was going on in my life and in the end it came a lot closer to reality than I wanted it to but that’s life.
With the release of the album, fans have the chance to purchase extras including a book which contains lyrics, behind the scenes photos and paintings as well as multi coloured vinyl’s available to buy, what was the idea behind making all this available rather than just the album on its own?
We did it on the last one, my reasoning was that at the time I found it hard to sell music to people they just weren’t really interested in buying music but they were keen to buy paintings from me so I just painted one hundred versions of the album art work and sold them for £200 which is what I sell my paintings for anyway but you got a vinyl, a pin badge and as much stuff as we could fit in it and with this one we wanted to make it more about the process of making the record and we made it all on our computers pretty much with voice memos and notes to write my lyrics as well as conversing through text messages so the book includes this stuff and I’ve always written my lyrics the same way, always with fucked up stories and in there will be a few lines that rhyme and fall in a poetic way and then I’ll take these weird stories and when Dean has new music, I’ll find the hook and then that’s the song, then I’ll use the extended lyrics from the story as a point of reference for the new lyrics for the song so the story becomes the reference point for the song so in my life, I used to burn all the notes with the extended stories and lyrics that wouldn’t make it into a song so when we’re getting into making a new album I have nothing to go back to and it’s all brand new. This time around, I thought to myself “Why do I do this? Why the fuck am I burning everything?” because I knew there were some really good lines in them that I know I’m not going to use but I wanted people to see so we decided to put it all out, all the poetry and all of the stories into this book as well as photos and then put the sheet music in there so people can learn the tabs to the song as well as a USB stick with all of the stems for the records so they can remix, destroy or ruin it but maybe make something beautiful for themselves and on top of that there’s limited vinyl and I’ll be doing a painting for each package bought as well which is gonna be brutal because now I’ll have to do two hundred paintings but we’ll make it happen and I’ll get started on the paintings today.
That seems like a big commitment to make, I’m sure the fans appreciate the extra mile you go for them to own something special.
Yeah, well it’s a lot of money two hundred pounds but I figured if people are a fan of our band and people really want something special, this is about as special as it can get. This is everything man, everything that we’ve put into this record and more, every painting that I do is unique to that person, I mean they could copy it and sell it to their friends but it wouldn’t be the same. It also brings a lot of money in for the band, it helps fund us so there’s only gonna be 250 of these available and 250 isn’t gonna count for much towards our chart position but as far as money goes, if we sell them all we make a decent amount of profit and we use that to go on tour to Australia or America or just tour more like everywhere because that is what we’re best at, touring!
Speaking of chart position, Blossom made it into the top 20 which is some achievement for the kind of music your band creates. Does it set a benchmark for you this time around? Or maybe a point of pride to go one better?
Yeah I didn’t believe we’d get in the charts, I was convinced it wouldn’t until the week before when my label said “you might have a chart position” which I thought sick, that’s cool and then they said it might even be top 30 and to me it was mental like Purelove didn’t even crack the top 30 and Gallows only got to 20 and this one came in at 18, it’s the highest chart position I’ve ever had in my life, I’ve been in 3 bands and released 3 albums so my fourth album to come out of nowhere and get me my highest chart position and be the most uncompromising listen there is, it felt really fucking good but it has set the bar, I want Modern Ruin to better than 18 but we’re releasing it at a tougher time of the year in January, a fucking month after Christmas is the worst time to release a record but I thought “fuck it, let’s do it anyway!” I have faith in our fans, I don’t really give a shit about the charts I just care that people are listening to our record.
You just released a new music video for a song off the new album, “Lullaby” which was co-directed and produced by yourself and in the past you’ve been heavily involved in creating the band’s music videos such as using Microsoft Paint to create the “Devil Inside of Me” video, do you enjoy being so heavily involved with that side of things?
The creative part of it is what I love, everything about this band is mine and for me, it’s very important that we have complete control over that the “Lullaby” video was no different, we wanted to challenge people and challenge me, I tell you it ain’t fucking easy to sing hanging upside down and there was something really unsettling about it but a few people got it and freaked a few others out, it wasn’t quite right the way we shot it but it looks so natural that we pulled it off. Same with the “Snake Eyes” video, it was my co direction and my friend helped direct and produce it but the vision was exactly mine so going forward I’m going to try and do all our videos by myself because I just love to learn this stuff like I learnt how to animate just by doing the “Devil Inside of Me” video, I won’t ever do that again but it was fun to know.