Frank Carter is a man of many talents, and many bands. His latest album with The Rattlesnakes aims to keep fans on their toes.
When bands finish their debut album, they likely take a moment to bask in the achievement, tour it around a little, see how it goes and then start to think of a follow-up. Not Frank Carter. Fresh from laying down ‘Blossom' he and the Rattlesnakes jumped straight back in. The result? ‘Modern Ruin'.
"We've been sat on this record now for almost a year," says Frank. "At this point, I'm just desperate for it to get out!"
The difference in the two albums is stark; the first feels more a capturing of a frantic moment in time, the latter a more explorative project. "Most bands they go in and they spend a long time labouring over this debut album like it's the important thing," he explains. "In a sense, it is. It's supposed to give your fans an idea of your band, the full scope of your band, but then what always happens is that you enter album two or album three and the band is trying to explore and challenge themselves and people get upset.
"So what we wanted to do was write two albums very closely together and explore as many avenues as we can early on so that people know that we are a band who are going to continually challenge ourselves, that we'll never feel truly satisfied. We always want to be finding new things, new excitement, and we want to be trying to constantly better ourselves as musicians, as players, as performers and make the best music we can make."
Over the course of writing, they amassed over 40 songs, as the legend goes. Along the way, they found themselves being surprised at where they found themselves, and the last song on the album ‘Neon Rust' is one such detour that made the final cut. "That came to us very late in the game. It was not anything that any of us expected that we would write, but when we had written it, it just felt perfect. It felt very much us. It made a lot of sense. I think that was the last song we wrote and when we finished recording it in the studio we had a better understanding of ourselves as a band and the future that we could have, the potential that we had going forwards and it was really exciting."
Looking for that potential going forward is key to Frank. He doesn't have time for looking back or threading a line between Gallows or Pure Love, and the music he makes today. "People will always reference my past, but for me, Rattlesnakes is just a different thing," he says. "I don't think there's anything particularly reminiscent of Pure Love or Gallows in ‘Modern Ruin', but I think it really is the definitive album of my career. It's the one album that you can give to anybody, and you could say, ‘This is a really good example of Frank Carter.' He's singing, he's screaming, but beyond those two very basic approaches to performing, there's some really incredible songwriting, there's some great musicianship, and there's an album that has a lot of depth and complexity.
"I think for me, it's never really been about the past; it's always been about the future. Obviously, the past plays a very integral role in how you move forward. I've done hardcore, and I've made the poppier side of rock with Pure Love - even though that record is not a pop rock record at all, but that's what everyone believed it was, so that's where it kind of sits - but with Rattlesnakes it's always been about having no boundaries, not allowing ourselves to feel trapped and just trying to write as expansively as we can so that no one can ever pin us down, you know? Just when our fans think they're understanding our band, we want to throw them a few curveballs to keep them on their toes."
Those curveballs come in many forms, and in their sophomore album shows Frank starting to understand the capabilities of his voice. He's since had time to live with the album and get to know it before anyone else can too, which gives him more confidence in where he can take it. "Whenever I'm playing and writing a record, I'm always trying to challenge myself because I think that naturally, I get the best stuff when I'm at my most uncomfortable. That's when I'm really reaching and trying to find a new place.
"The good thing about this record is that we wrote it and we've had a few months to be practicing the songs so I've got a really good grip on them. Performing them live is really fun and quite enjoyable whereas before it was kind of hard work because we wrote ‘Blossom' and we were touring it before we released the album. So yeah, I've definitely found my voice. I'm understanding its limits a lot better than I ever have in the past. My problem is that I always want to keep challenging that, just as I get into my place with it I try some new ways to shake myself up."
Many things may have been shaken up in the world of the Rattlesnakes, but one thing that won't change is their affinity for the road. The album drops in January and then they're on tour with Biffy Clyro, sure to be testing the pit capacity of rather large venues. Then it's their headline tour, which has had a number of dates sell out months in advance. Years into his career and the feeling still leaves him both stunned and fairly chuffed.
"It's crazy," he beams. "Even when the tour is months away and it's fucking selling out already, that's mad."
They may have some breathing room after this album comes out in terms of creating, but in all other aspects it's full steam ahead for Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes, and you'd be wise to join him for the ride.
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