My 2015: Frank Carter
A Frank discussion about Star Wars, The Bronx and his whirlwind year
It’s been a pretty exceptional year for former Gallows frontman Frank Carter. By his own admission, he lost his way a little after leaving the Watford punk outfit back in 2011. But 2015 saw Carter return to his hardcore roots in glorious fashion, with an added level of maturity and intensity that stems from all his personal experiences over the last few years.
No longer the young punk, he’s now married with a baby daughter, but he’s still brimming with rage. His new band The Rattlesnakes' debut album Blossom was released to critical acclaim this summer, and Frank and his bandmates have been tearing it up at club shows and festivals for the last few months...
So how has 2015 been for you, Frank?
“It’s been a whirlwind. It’s been really full on. But totally amazing, and it’s nice to feel like I’m back on the right path again. It got a bit shaky for a while there, but I feel like I’m back now. So it’s been a great year. It exceeded all over our expectations, to be honest: we’d have been happy if a couple of people had come to a few shows, but it’s been so much more than that, and it’s happened so much faster than that. So now we just feel a little bit like we’re trying to keep up, you know. It’s a great way to end the year though. We feel like this could really do something next year.”
Did you always intend the Rattlesnakes to be a long-term band? Or was it an experiment that turned into something more?
"I think every band is kind of like an experiment in a way, at least when you start out. With this one I just had a lot of stuff that I wanted to say, and I wanted to get it out. But it very quickly became clear to me that it had a life beyond just that drop in the Petridis, so to speak. I knew there was definitely a future in it, and now it’s just about keeping our heads, going out there, and making the best music and giving the best performances that we can. I’m really lucky that I have quite a dedicated fan base that just want to see me do that, and a lot of people take that for granted I think. I’ve been guilty of that in the past. But I’m certainly not taking it for granted anymore. I appreciate the fact that people come out to the shows, and they put themselves out there in the way that they do. I see people just losing their inhibitions and getting so fully involved that it looks like the music is taking them to the same place that it takes me, and you can’t ask for anything more than that as a performer and an artist: if your work speaks to someone on a level beyond words, then you’re doing something right. So I feel really lucky right now. It’s been a good year.”
Do you think 2015 has been a good year for music generally?
“I think the biggest musical inspirations for me this year have come from watching two bands play live. One has been The Bronx on this tour we’ve been on with them. That’s had quite a profound effect on me, seeing a very talented group of musicians go out every night and do what they do. Some of them are playing three sets a night, and Joby’s [Ford, Bronx guitarist] been doing that with a broken hand. It’s insane. I don’t know how he’s done it. They’re all incredible musicians though, and they’re really dedicated to their music: they can’t live without it, the same way as me. So this tour with The Bronx and Mariachi El Bronx was really something to witness. And the other one was the show I did last month with this band called God Damn. I’d heard some songs by them, and I was really excited to see them play live, so I asked them if they’d play our show at The Underworld and they graciously accepted. It was a truly mesmerising, profound and inspiring moment for me watching them play. And that show sold out in an hour, so it wasn’t like they were playing to their crowd. But they walked out there, and they played like someone had just fucking set them on fire. It was amazing to watch, and their songs are really there too. And talking to them afterwards, they’re just really humble guys who are like me: they’ve got a calling, and they have to write music and perform it in the way that they do. So they’d be my stand out band of the year I think, and hopefully we can do a little bit more with them next year. I’d like to take them on tour at some point. Or maybe they’ll take us on tour, who knows.”
Do you have a favourite movie of 2015?
“I haven’t seen it yet. But it’s got to be Star Wars, hasn’t it? I feel like J.J. Abrams did such an amazing job with Star Trek. I was never a Star Trek fan growing up, but I saw those films and they were incredible. He’s a real talent. He’s got a long road ahead of him, and everyone’s praying he doesn’t fuck it up, but I’m sure it’ll be good.”
Do you have a favourite book of the year?
“I just started one called The Artist’s Way [by Julia Cameron]. It’s all about reclaiming your creativity, which is not really something I’ve ever had a problem with but Joby from The Bronx mentioned it, and he told me I should give it a read. We know each other quite well, and he knows I’m not exactly lacking in that department, but he said when he read it that it made him look at things completely differently. So I’ve just started that and it’s quite interesting. I’m still right in the infancy of the book and I’ve still got a long way to go, but there’s a lot of stuff in there that’s already made me think, ‘Fuck, why aren’t I doing it like that?.’ Other than that, I haven’t really read much this year. Whenever I go into writing mode for a new record I find myself trying really hard to deprive myself of any outside ideas, so I go completely insular and look for them within myself. That involves shutting out a lot of things, so I haven’t really seen, heard or read much of anything this year.”
So what’s on Frank Carter’s Christmas list this year?
“A Moog Sub 37 synthesiser is what I’d really like. I’ve never played synth before, but I’ve just got an itching to have one on the next album. Why not, hey? Apart from that I just want to enjoy some family time. My daughter is walking now, and it’s crazy the difference in her from just two weeks ago when I left to go on tour. She was walking but she wasn’t quite there yet, and now she’s racing round the house. So that’s very exciting, and I’m looking forward to some well deserved time off with the family. I can get a bit locked into work and I find it quite difficult sometimes to step out of that and think about other people, so it’s nice to have that forced on you. The boys are all going away over Christmas too, so I really can’t think about work this year. We’re going to America for a week to get some sun, and that’s going to be really nice to take a minute to decompress and think about the year. I want to celebrate it and drink it in. Then it’s back home for Christmas, and in January the work all starts up again.”
And how do you see 2016 panning out for Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes?
“It’s gonna be a big year. We’ve got a lot more touring already planned, and we’re certainly going to try and get another record out. But we’ll just have to see how it goes. I’m excited about the year, but I’m also nervous about it. Whenever you start a new project like this it has the power to take over your whole life very quickly, so I’m trying to keep it in check but also not let the reigns off it just yet. We’re exploring a lot of stuff and I’m really trying to push myself as a writer and a performer, so ultimately you’re going to hear a lot more of my voice. As far as how the album will sound, it’s not really ready to talk about yet. It’s close. It’s really close. But I don’t want to upset the balance or piss off the muse: it’s a tender thing and you’ve gotta work it delicately.”
For more information on Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, visit their official site.