Frank Carter: 'We bring ourselves to the fans, get in amongst them'

Frank Carter: 'We bring ourselves to the fans, get in amongst them'

credit: Daniel Alexander Harris

Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes are ready and chomping at the bit to play alongside Foo Fighters at Glasgow's Summer Sessions this August

Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes are one of the most incendiary live acts you will ever experience, and Carter is one of the most engaging and explosive vocalists in music, grabbing the crowd by the throat and refusing to let go until the final note fades.

He first blasted onto the scene as the front man of UK hardcore act Gallows. He left in 2001 to form the short lived Pure Love (with ex-the Hope Conspiracy and Suicide File guitarist Jim Carroll) before returning to his punk rock roots with the Rattlesnakes. Alongside co-writer and guitarist Dean Richardson, the band have expanded their palette with every record, tapping into deeper more personal issues on third album End of Suffering.

So how do you like to describe your own music?

Frank Carter: I've described it in the past as 'the best band you've never heard of', but that's probably a bit arrogant [laughs]. It's explosive rock'n'roll, I guess, with a heavy dose of pop sensibilities.

How do you keep the energy level so high for every performance?

FC: The music and the lyrics that we've written become our therapy, so it becomes quite easy to find that energy every time delivering those songs. You've got to remember that maybe some people have seen you before, but there will be a lot of people out there who are watching you for the first time and they deserve that first time performance to be mind-blowing. That's why they keep coming back to see us. They know that we deliver.

Dean Richardson: I find it weirder that some bands don't play how we do. It would be harder for us to play calmer.

FC: We've tried. When I've had an injury or something and the boys are like 'can you just come at 80% today? that will give you a rest.' But I walk out, see their [the audience's] faces and I'm up a speaker stack and they're like, 'he's gone 110%!'.

Did you worry about still being able to connect with the audience as you became more successful and the venues got larger?

FC: Absolutely not. We've written music that transcends the barriers of those smaller shows. A lot of bands with our energy, usually the more space you give it the smaller it seems; for us, the more space we're given, the bigger the explosion. We just ramp our energy according to where we're playing. So no matter the size of the venue, it always feels quite intimate. We bring ourselves to the fans, get in amongst them, really feeling what they feel, trying to eliminate that crowd and band divide.

Did you worry about how you could capture that energy on record?

DR: We treat them as different things. Though I guess one of the things we do that emulates the live show is that we don't do it over and over again. We're not a band to labour on multiple takes; it's very instinctive, based on just when we feel excited, so in that sense it has that energy of the live shows because you are just playing the song, then leave.

Can you tell us more about the recording of End of Suffering?

FC: We went away for a few weeks up in Lincolnshire and that was amazing, slept in the studio, it was a really nice space, very remote. So all we had to do was focus on the music. It was great, it changed us, brought us a lot closer. Then we came back to Clapham to finish it off at a little studio owned by Cam Blackwood, the producer. The intimacy of his studio meant you cannot escape. I was delivering my vocal performances in the control room with just an SM7 (microphone) in my hand, so in some ways this record was the most performative we've ever made; when you were talking about trying to catch that energy, it was just there.

Did it feel like a progressions from your second album, Modern Ruin?

DR: I don't think we would accept anything that sounded too similar to what we'd done before. We don't have those conversations because, instinctively, if we wrote a song that sounded like something off Modern Ruin, we'd put that in the bin. We're always searching for that next sound every time we write.

FC: The themes are deep and dark, about a man struggling to find where he fits in life, how the life that he's chosen fits around him, how it feels to become a father in the middle of all that, what it is to experience love and lose, and all of the similar common tragedies that people have been writing about since the Greek times. It definitely wasn't supposed to be as poetic as it was. I was blessed by choosing a writing partner who knew where I was. If you take those lyrics and put it with anything heavier than what Dean ended up writing, it would be a very fucking different record.

Tom Morello guests on 'Tyrant Lizard King' that must have been pretty special.

FC: It was amazing. He's a fucking bad boy. Any time you get an opportunity to collaborate with a living legend, you have to take it. We grew up listening to Rage Against the Machine, I've seen them countless times and I love every project he's been in. When he said 'yes' it just felt like we were really making some waves in the world. I've heard a few musical collaborations in the past where you can't really tell who's playing but when it came back it was so unmistakably Tom Morello.

DR: It's definitely not me playing [laughs].

You are playing Summer Sessions with Foo Fighters, are you fans?

FC: Oh my god, we're fucking avid fans. They might be our favourite band to tour with. They're a legendary band and they have been part of the very fabric of rock music for generations and to be able to warm the crowd up for them is an honour and privilege, and one we take very seriously.

Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes play with Slaves and Foo Fighters at Summer Sessions, Bellahouston Park, Glasgow, Sat 17 Aug.

Glasgow Summer Sessions

Annual series of concerts held every August at Bellahouston Park. The 2019 line up includes the Foo Fighters, The Cure, Mogwai, The Twilight Sad, The Joy Formidable and The 1975.

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