By Request: Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes Interviewed



Rabble-rousing frontman in conversation...

*Frank Carter *is a character whose lust for life and love of art have given him a lifetime of unforgettable experiences that most of us would only encounter once or twice. In the short time we speak over the phone the conversation cavorts from the opening of his new tattoo shop to supporting Deftones at a, actual colosseum and his new found love of The Cramps.

The distinctly humble demeanour he exudes over the phone is worlds away from him and his band’s ferocious live shows, which we are all missing so dearly. *Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes* will bring their live experience back to the O2 Academy Brixton in an exclusive virtual gig streamed on MelodyVR. The immersive show, dubbed Brixton By Request, will feature the live debut of tracks from the  ‘Blossom Deluxe’ release.

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The band will be inviting their fans onto the stage with them - virtually - with a chance to invade the stage, pick the setlist and chat to the band via interactive screens at the legendary London venue. It is incredibly refreshing to hear the excitement from Frank about the upcoming shows, a much-needed sense of relief from the realities of lockdown life.

“It’s the longest we’ve been apart since being a band, on top of that it’s been the longest time I’ve ever been in one place probably ever. We went out in February and did a tour and it was incredible, it changed our lives. It changed how we thought about music and how we thought as a band. We were so excited for the summer ahead, we wanted to build on what we’d done. We’ve been writing non-stop - we’ve written about 20 new songs!”

Any musician would be well within their rights to wholeheartedly condemn the turn of events in the past few months, that have left millions with a baron sense of what it is to be an artist. Frank, however reflects on the experience in a more positive way “It’s been hard work, I’m sure my lockdown has been probably similar to everyone else’s with the problems. In the meantime, I’ve done a lot, I’ve opened a tattoo shop and kept really busy with painting. I’ve just tried to throw myself at the things I love.”

Frank certainly has kept busy during lockdown, achieving a long-term goal of launching *Rose Of Mercy, a tattoo shop in Hoxton Street, East London*. “We should have been on tour all summer. When everything was cancelled, I had to find something we could treat with the same intensity as music.”

The store has proven to be the ideal project, which has rather ironically been given the love and time that it deserved as a result of the devastating impact of a pandemic. “They’ve always gone hand in hand, my lyrics have always been influenced by imagery. A lot of the time I take the same iconography that you use in tattooing and I put it into my songs. I’m a child of the eighties and early nineties, where there we’re all of these skateboard graphics, cartoons, spray painting and it was all just neon. That’s what in my tattoos, my songs and my art.”

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A recurring theme in the interview is that no matter how obscure the topic is, the conversation always goes back to Frank’s beaming love of all things music “I’ve been listening to a lot of older stuff, a lot of Iggy pop, David Bowie, The Cramps.” Listening a wide array of music, has simultaneously resulted in writing a lot of it to, Frank says “we’ve been writing non-stop we’ve written about 20 new songs; the boys are in the studio now I’ve just left them. We have a studio right by the tattoo shop, it’s brilliant. We’re trying to make the most of this downtime. Album four is on the way.”

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes already have a special history with the music venue. They released their first ever live album ‘23 Live’ March 2018, recorded at their huge sold out headline show in Brixton Academy the year before, where they played every song from their first two albums. The upcoming live stream show is one fans have been desperately waiting for. When asked about how the idea came about for the show Frank said “We wanted to do something like this for quite some time but couldn’t quite get the tech supported we wanted and then we spoke to melody VR and they asked about doing something with us at Brixton.”

The band are putting in every effort to make sure the show resembles how their iconic live performances “it’s integral for us to have fans at our gigs, even if its livestreamed we have to include them.” The show will see the band play some of their most revered tracks, the set-list however is in the hands of the audience “we’re running polls about what tunes we should use, we’re always wanted to do a by request show”.

A big reason for the show happening is the bands way to show love to their incredibly committed fan base, Frank admits “the fans have saved my life in more way than one this year, I’m so grateful for them. For a band it can be really alienating at a time like this, but I’ve connected with the fans in ways I never have before. I found some really interesting ways to be in touch with them. I started live streaming and painting pictures fans wanted me to, I did one of a fan’s dogs and another of a lemon doing a kickflip. There is loads of weird stuff but it was really fun.”

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Whether it be opening a new tattoo store, creating a live-stream show or painting lemons doing a kick-flip Frank and the band risen to the challenge of a pandemic, when asked about how important it is for artists to adapt, he passionately says: “It’s everything! There are bunch of people in this industry who have very specific roles whose life is touring. Talking to them and hearing about how they’ve adapted has been painful to watch. When people like Rishi Sunak come on and make these massive sweeping statements about rebooting and re-training, it’s like... how dare you!”

I pick up on his serious concern for the millions of people affected recently, particularly musicians and artists. I ask what advice he would give for them to keep going, Frank answers “the only thing you can do is keep going. If you aren’t putting what’s around you into your work then what are you doing? There is an enormous amount of pain and suffering, but there is also an incredible amount of pain and joy and celebration. There are lots of reasons to be hopeful, all of that mixed together is going to make some really interesting art.”

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Brixton By Request takes place on November 13th, 8.00pm GMT, on MelodyVR. Tickets are on sale now.

Words: *Josh Crowe*

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