Frank Carter is an unstoppable force, like the Joker and Batman stuck in one very tattooed body. From the ashes of his former bands Pure Love and Gallows, Carter has risen once again – like a mighty ginger phoenix – with new outfit Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes. Frankly, he’s never sounded better.
As an independent band, releasing uncompromising music, backed by their own marketing ideas and an independent label that they own, FC&TR and their album ‘Modern Ruin’ (smashing the top 10 in the UK album charts) are doing pretty damn fine. We caught up with Frank to talk about Gucci suits, the new record and fatherhood.
How the devil are you Frank?
I’m good man, it’s been a crazy busy couple of months but I like it that way. I’m working in Sang Bleu in Dalston today, in my down time I have jobs [laughs].
How did you usher in 2017 on New Years?
I spent it on the sofa at home with my wife, my daughter and my dog. We were eating grapes, the Spanish way and it was perfect.
Complete this sentence: Modern life is…
Jake Chapman of the Chapman Brothers directed your video for ‘Wild Flowers’, which is pretty monumental. How did that collaboration come about? Did you leave the concept in Jake’s hands or was it a collaborative effort?
It was all Jake. He’s one of my favourite artists of all time, and so when the opportunity came up to work with him on a video I said to our label we want to give him the entire budget no questions asked. He ran the concept by us before he started and we loved it, and that was it – the next thing we saw was the finished product. I think the result is a genius take on visualising the lyrics with banal imagery – was really pleased with the video.
Do you think some people are apprehensive about coming to Rattlesnakes’ shows thinking they might be too rowdy? What would you say to those people?
If you ask anyone who has been to a show, I am 100% they will say it was a safe and comfortable place to be. I personally make sure of it. There’s a method to the madness, and ultimately I want everyone – from all walks of life to have the best night of their lives. But if you have just seen the photos and videos online – I can see why it could make you apprehensive [laughs].
What’s been your writing process for songs on the new record?
It’s actually the same as the first record, I write lyrics as extended prose for weeks and weeks on end and at the same time Dean is writing music and riffs. Then we get together in my garage and see what works – piecing together the songs one by one just a guitar and vocals. After that we demo roughly with Dean, or even just on our iPhones with audio notes – then we hit the studio as prepared as a we can and let the songs fill out that way.
It’s been a hectic fucking run, so I’m just trying make to sense of that like everybody else
I noticed you wanted to make a platform game – how’s that coming along?
Not great! I’m grabbing every minute I can on flights and travelling to draw the characters pixel by pixel but it’s insanely time consuming. Once i’m done with the design I just need to find someone to help me put the thing together, so watch this space.
You’ve been wearing a Gucci suit lately, which seems pretty brave considering how hard you go. Is the suit not getting totally trashed?
It is, but clothes are meant to be worn and enjoyed. I enjoy buying fashion and I enjoy playing shows so I thought the best way to commit to it was to wear it on stage. I spent two and half grand on a suit so I figured I better wear it. It’s worked really well but now everyone’s wearing it, Robbie Williams has gone out and bought it, Harry Styles is wearing it. I’ve got the secret weapon though, if there’s ever a who wore it best photo then there’s me standing on top of ten thousand people in the middle of a crowd, so I think I’ve got them all pipped.
If I spent that much money on a suit I would wear it everyday and you’d have to bury me in it. What does playing live mean to you?
For me performing is my life. The same way that all the greats did like Iggy Pop and Bowie and Jagger and all those incredible iconic classic artists, they did it because they had to and it feels the same way.
Where do you think that energy would go if you weren’t channeling it into performing?
That’s the problem it just pours out into everything else. If it gets really pent up it can get to be really toxic. I need to do it.
Do you still feel you have something to prove with your music?
I never really set out to prove anything. I don’t know if that means constantly pushing boundaries with what I feel comfortable with or challenging myself on all fronts, but I’m also the best person to do that for myself. There’s a few questionable things out there that now I’m like ok that was poor judgement, but for me it’s about constantly pushing those boundaries. I feel like I’m in a really good place in the minute with the the new album, everybody has said that it’s the best stuff I’ve made. It’s definitely the tightest record I’ve ever made. We really challenged ourselves a lot, there’s even a one minute guitar and vocal ditty that I wrote and played and recorded myself and I’ve never played an instrument in my life. We’re just constantly trying to push forwards.
Taking it back to those classic artists, I want people to think about Iggy Pop and i want people to think about me. I’m always asking myself why am I doing this? It’s not only to satisfy my needs, I give everything I can to this because I’m crazy but I wanna change people’s lives. I do. Every record that I’ve written has been incredibly personal for a different reason, this new record is the most personal yet and yet it’s also about how we all have the same problems in life. That’s what this is all about, finding strength where you thought you had none.
I read somewhere that you’d said the record was about human relationships. What do you think you’ve learnt about human relationships?
I don’t know any more than the next person. They’re incredibly complicated things, they can be completely life affirming and absolutely destructive, they can make you feel great or they can make you feel small. The record is about human relationships in all ways, relationships with our partners, our friends, our parents, our children and strangers. I’ve had a crazy couple of years and the record is about that, certainly I’m not the first person to have those kinds of experiences and I wont be the last so this record is just all about me coming to terms with a lot of that stuff, my feelings and actions regarding it. It’s been a hectic fucking run, so I’m just trying to make sense out of life like everybody else. The difference with me is that I have a voice and a means to put that voice loudly into the ether and people can disassemble that however they want and either find strength in it or not – I hope people do.
When you become a father, your whole peace of mind is gone forever
One of your new tracks is called ‘Lullaby’, what do you dream about?
I’ve been dreaming about some really fucked up shit lately. I’m going through a tough transition at the minute and I’m not really at liberty to talk about much.
But it’s been effecting your dreams?
Massively. When you become a father, your whole peace of mind is gone forever. Literally my daughter is everything and she’s incredible and she gives me so much joy but the minute she falls over I’m a fucking wreck. I’ve been having dreams and then awful nightmares ta the same time. The human body is a miracle machine and it’s also a torture device.
How do you feel about the state of the nation at the moment, seeing as you took the Brexit result hard?
I think we’re in a mass state of confusion and we’re kind of a like a faceless nation at the minute, we don’t really know. Every is talking about reclaiming Britain like it was lost and in doing so it’s lost it completely. Everyone’s moaning about unelected officials in Europe and now we’ve got an unelected official as Prime Minister so. I don’t know, I don’t want to go on about it too much. It’s bleak. Kids in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Now we’ve just got loads of broken windows. It’s gonna start raining too and then we’re going to be really fucked.
What’s the Frank Carter manifesto be?
Right now I’m just trying to be as honest as I can be to myself and to everybody around me and I’m trying to live just as truthfully as possible. Be honest and I guess I was a scout so be prepared.