Stand Up And Speak Out: Frank Carter And The Rattlesnakes

The incendiary return of one of British music's most potent figures...

Frank Carter is a man who holds many occupations: father, husband, tattooist and is one of the rawest front men alive on the hardcore punk scene.

With the recent release of Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes’ second album ‘Modern Ruin’, Clash caught up with Carter on his journey to a live show in Nottingham for a thoughtful and in-depth chat.

The political unrest is just the tip of the iceberg…

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It’s been two years since The Rattlesnakes debut ‘Blossom’, how does ‘Modern Ruin’ differ?
It differs in every single way. It’s more considered, focused, complex and it’s got much more depth and vibrancy. ‘Blossoms’ is mostly dealing with grief and loss, whilst ‘Modern Ruin’ is actually about the hope in things and perfectly sums up what we are all living in at the minute. The album came out the same day as Trump’s inauguration into Washington, so if that’s not an omen, I don’t know what is.

Although I don’t really want to be a political sound force because everybody is entitled to their opinion; the rise in stupidity and the shift towards these people that are both being elected into office by the public and on our behalf is scary. It’s a terrifying time to be alive right now and we must speak about it. 2016 was just the intro and now we are getting the fucking story.

Which songs are you most proud of on the album?
‘Bluebelle’ as it’s the very first song I’ve ever written on my own, I wrote the guitar and I recorded it, plus ‘Neon Rust’ which is about my daughter. It’s one of those songs where we really tried to push the boundaries of what we are capable of as writers and I think we succeeded.

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It’s a terrifying time to be alive right now…

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Can you describe the creative process for making this album?
We recorded with my long time friend and producer Thomas Mitchener, in Studio Broadfields out in Watford. Gareth brought a lot of his own ideas with the drums on this record, but the main creative force is the guitarist Dean and I. I constantly write these big long stories and then I structure a song out of them. He writes the riffs and brings to me what he considers to be a few parts of a song and I’ll try to find some lyrics that fit well with the tone and the atmosphere. Once we’ve got some fairly finished demos we take them out into the studio and play them out to the boys.

Earlier you said that you don’t want to be a political sound force, but do you think artists have a responsibility to use their platform to highlight political and social issues?
We’ve got to. We have a platform and we have a responsibility to use it to talk about things that are unfair and unjust. One of the things I’ve been speaking out on is the safety for everybody at our gigs. We are a punk rock band and we will be forever, but I’ve also just become a father. My daughter is two years old and I want her to grow up in a world where she is very much safe to stage dive and crowd surf, so we dedicate a part of our show to all of the female fans in the audience.

I’m speaking to the men in crowd, when I say this is only going to be a female only stage dive song and you’re going to treat these ladies with respect because that is what they deserve and it’s vital to have that conversation with men now. More often than not when I’ve crowd surfed, I’ve been fucking groped; I’ve been grabbed and touched inappropriately. It’s bizarre, there’s a weight in that anonymity that makes the perpetrator feel safe. However take that situation and put it anywhere else in the world and you would be arrested or pressing charges. I just want to make it clear that it isn’t acceptable behaviour at our shows or any fucking show.

I didn’t have the perspective until my daughter came along and now I have a deadline. In 10 years time she will probably want to be stage diving. She basically already does at home now on to my dog, so I need to get to work.

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We are a punk rock band and we will be forever…

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The Rattlesnakes is a return to your hardcore punk roots, where do you think the band fits into the musical spectrum today?
We are a heavy band, but can be delicately soft as well. We perfectly fill the gap between indie, punk and rock and roll, there’s no one like us. We’ve carved out a hole just the right size for us, so we can kind of exist without treading on anyone’s toes and just do our own thing, it feels good.

How did punk shape your life and what does it mean to you?
Punk to me is not a fashion, it’s not a genre of music, and it’s not a lifestyle. It’s just a mindset. I grew up with punk rock and roll gigs and just really liked everything about it. I liked the fact that it was so DIY, the whole kind of meaning behind it was to find yourself in a way you felt strong, you were proud to be unique, proud to be different. It’s all about being outsiders really and that’s what I felt like my whole life an outsider, so when I found punk it just felt like I had come home.

Which artists made a significant impact on you, artistically and personally when you were growing up?
David Bowie, Kurt Cobain, Lemmy from Motorhead, Patti Smith and PJ Harvey. They were all unashamedly and unapologetically themselves. They just didn’t give a shit about anything that people thought, they just did them and it’s inspiring. That’s kind of why I am, the way I am today.

After Gallows and Pure Love, The Rattlesnakes is your third official musical project – do you have any more planned for the future?
Well just to make ‘The Rattlesnakes the biggest band in the world. World domination. One stage dive at a time.

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World domination. One stage dive at a time.

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Has your other occupation as a tattoo artist sculpted your music?
No, I wouldn’t say it has. I’ve always loved tattooing and music. But I think I’m much better at music, than I am at tattooing. Music feeds my soul.

How will ‘Modern Ruin’ translate live?
It’ll translate the same way as everything else we’ve done. We just play it incredibly passionately and full of energy. Live is how you should see us. The record is great to listen to, but if you get the opportunity to see us live that’s where we really kind of transcend.

Are you looking forward to the playing the new material on tour?
Fuck yeah I can’t wait; we’ve been waiting to play this for a year. We work harder than any band playing live today I think. I know that’s a bold statement but when people come to a gig and see us, they’ll realise I was telling the truth.

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'Modern Ruin' is out now.

Words: Lois Browne

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