HEADLINE TOURS, A UK TOP TEN ALBUM AND MAJOR FESTIVAL PERFORMANCES AROUND THE GLOBE FILLED THE SCHEDULE FOR FRANK CARTER & THE RATTLESNAKES DURING 2017 – AND 2018 LOOKS SET TO BE BUSY TOO. THERE ARE AUSTRALIAN AND EUROPEAN DATES, INCLUDING A HIGH-PROFILE FOO FIGHTERS SUPPORT SLOT.
Carter first rose to prominence in the mid 2000s, as part of hardcore punk outfit Gallows and then dipped a toe in the mainstream with Pure Love, before teaming up with long-term friend Dean Richardson to form Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes in 2015. Throughout, tattoo artist Carter has remained a fascinating frontman, whether it’s performing handstands on the crowd (and continuing the song), to threatening to kill anyone who dare inappropriately touch a girl in songs in which he only allows female crowd surfers, to introducing the crowd to his mum, mid-song from the balcony. He has the ability to hold an audience in the palm of his hand, while creating states of borderline chaos in the venue. While some will look at him and see someone fierce and frightening, covered in tattoos, performing with intimidating intensity, a brief look at Carter’s Instagram feed reveals a loving father whose world revolves around his young daughter, and is some distance from the mosh pits of sweaty music venues. A recent campaign for Lynx tackles cliched perceptions of masculinity and the pressures felt by young men in the UK right now. In this new Q&A with The Mouth Magazine’s Danny Williams, Carter opens up…
IN THE RECENT LYNX CAMPAIGN YOU MENTION THAT ACCEPTING VULNERABILITY IS IMPORTANT. HOW HAS THAT PROCESS BEEN, FOR YOURSELF?
It’s been incredibly difficult. Nobody ever wants to face their fear or be stripped naked in vulnerability. It’s a terrifying process but that is the only way we grow.
DO YOU THINK THE CONCEPT OF MASCULINITY HAS MOVED AWAY FROM ‘HARD MEN’ AND ‘LAD CULTURE’?
I think it’s beginning to change yeah, we are very lucky to have been alive at the same time as such pioneers as a David Bowie who was flying the flag for gender equality and fluidity for decades before it became a thing. With him as a North Star I think so many people have been inspired to challenge the preconceptions of masculinity and try and find out who they really are.
PEOPLE MAY LOOK AT YOU AND STRUGGLE TO SEE PAST THE TATTOOS, AND THEREFORE THE CONNOTATIONS… YET EVEN ONLY A QUICK LOOK AT INSTAGRAM SHOWS A WORLD OF LOVE, SOME REALLY LOVELY VIDEOS OF YOU AND YOUR DAUGHTER. HOW DO YOU MANAGE THE PUBLIC’S POSSIBLE PRECONCEPTIONS OF YOU?
I don’t try and manage anyone’s preconceived ideas of who I am. I know who I am; I’m not responsible for their opinions of me. I just have to worry about trying to be the best father and the best person I can be. And that’s what I’m focused on right now.
YOU’VE BEEN REFRESHINGLY OPEN ABOUT YOUR STRUGGLES WITH DEPRESSION (AND IT’S BRILLIANT TO SEE YOU BACK ON FORM)… DO YOU THINK THE STIGMA AROUND MENTAL HEALTH IS LIFTING?
The stigma is definitely crumbling. I see it as hidden behind a mountain reinforced with steel panels.. the steel is gone and now we just have to dig through miles of solid rock, but one day we will get to the core and everyone will be able to bask in the enlightenment hidden there.
REVIEWERS WERE UNANIMOUS IN SAYING THAT MODERN RUIN (FC&TR’S 2017 ALBUM) WAS FILLED WITH SADNESS…
It was sad because I was sad. I had a couple rough years and that was all I knew to write about.
HAVE WRITING SESSIONS SINCE BROUGHT OUT MORE OPTIMISM IN THE SONGS?
We haven’t started writing properly yet. And to be honest my years got a lot worse before they (only recently) started to get better. So who knows…
IS THERE ANY OVER-ARCHING THEME INFLUENCING YOUR CURRENT SONGWRITING?
No. We haven’t started writing properly yet so just enjoying the freedom that brings!
MODERN RUIN WAS WRITTEN TO YOUR DAUGHTER – WORRYING ABOUT THE WORLD THAT SHE IS GOING TO HAVE TO LIVE IN. HOW DO YOU THINK THINGS ARE GOING, AND WHAT TOOLS WILL YOU TRY AND INSTIL IN HER TO COPE WITH THAT WORLD?
I think the world is being ruined every single day. It’s terrifying seeing such a beautiful place full of such hatred and sorrow. I will try and make her feel loved – and strong and fierce so that she can face her problems with grace and fury. And hopefully she will be a much stronger and more balanced human being than her dad.
YOUR SHOWS ARE NOTORIOUSLY ENERGETIC AND CHAOTIC… HOW DO YOU MANAGE TO TRANSLATE THAT ENERGY INTO YOUR STUDIO WORK?
Studio time is like trying to catch lightning in a bottle. That process is painful and fragile. So as long as you have the right people in your company the energy feels the same as it does live.
LAST SUMMER YOU SPOKE ABOUT HOW PLAYING AT GLASTONBURY WAS A DREAM THAT HAD BEEN A DECADE IN THE MAKING… WHAT’S SO IMPORTANT ABOUT GLASTO?
It’s important because not many heavy bands ever get the opportunity to play it.
SO HOW WAS THE EXPERIENCE OF PLAYING IT?
I felt like we really flew the flag for heavy music that year. I was proud of what we achieved.
FC&TR’S DEBUT ALBUM BLOSSOM WAS INCREDIBLY ANGRY IN PARTS (ie. JUGGERNAUT AND I HATE YOU)… WHILE MODERN RUIN MAINTAINED THE INTENSITY, IT WAS MORE LIKE PURE LOVE THAN GALLOWS… NOT LIGHTER, NECESSARILY, BUT PERHAPS MORE MAINSTREAM? ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THE POP / HARDCORE BALANCE YOU’VE STRUCK?
We constantly just try and enjoy ourselves and write whatever feels real. We rarely try and tick boxes for anyone and we always write for ourselves. We will continue doing that until the end and hopefully that will help us write interesting records and the next twenty years will decide if they are classics or not…
THE RATTLESNAKES IS STILL A RELATIVELY NEW PROJECT, SO HOW IS THE PLAN FOR WORLD DOMINATION COMING ALONG?
World domination is perfectly on schedule.
HAVE YOU FOUND THAT THE MUSIC SCENE, THE INDUSTRY, HAVE CHANGED AROUND YOU NOW THAT THE RATTLESNAKES ARE DOING WELL? HOW ARE THINGS FOR YOU IN TERMS OF TIME AND COMMITMENTS? BUSY IS BEST?
Busy is good, but it’s easy to burn yourselves out. We have been guilty of that a few times.. 2018 is the year we try and find balance. In ourselves and work. The industry has changed drastically in many ways. And it’s also stayed the same in a lot of ways, too. I’m just happy to still be a part of it.
FINALLY… YOU’RE FRANK CARTER, THE FAMOUS FRONTMAN -… AND YOU’RE FRANK CARTER, THE TATTOIST… IN A HYPOTHETICAL SITUATION IN WHICH YOU CAN ONLY CONTINUE ONE OF THOSE THINGS, WHICH DO YOU CHOOSE?
If I lose my voice, I’ll tattoo. If I lose my hands, I’ll sing. If I lose both then… maybe I’ll take up football.