On February 15th, 2020, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes took to the stage at Alexandra Palace to give their third album, End Of Suffering, one final victory lap. Shortly after, a global pandemic took hold of the world, and during that period of flux, the band ploughed their time into making another record, Sticky— their most visceral effort yet.
Carter has been a musical mainstay since finding fame with Gallows in 2006, but it’s only in the last few years with The Rattlesnakes that he’s landed his richest vein of form. After becoming disenfranchised with hardcore music, the singer quit his groundbreaking group, Gallows in 2011 and formed Pure Love.
After one album, they’d call it a day too and in 2015, Carter would return to punk-rock with his new outfit, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes. They started at the bottom, performing at toilet venues across Britain but, through dogged determination and thunderous live shows, The Rattlesnakes have garnered a reputation for being a band like no other.
They returned to the stage after an agonising wait last month and headlined Download Pilot. The show was a moment that Carter had been dreaming of for his entire career. Despite everything else he’d achieved, the musician had never headlined a festival, and now he’s got a taste of it; Carter wants more.
The show was a triumph, and they even were assisted on stage by IDLES frontman Joe Talbot, who also featured on their recent blood-thirsty single, ‘My Town’. Upcoming record, Sticky, sees The Rattlesnakes elevate their craft and prove they belong at the top table.
“Two songs in, and it just felt like a fever dream to me,” The Rattlesnakes’ guitarist Dean Richardson, who also produced Sticky, explains to me over Zoom. “It was like overly intense, but I think this was just amplified by that forced time off.”
“Fucking hell, the other day was our first proper late one, and it just hits different when the sun goes down,” Carter warmly explains with a grin. “It’s nice because when you start, it’s light still, and there’s that tail-end energy. Then five, six songs in, and it’s pitch black, then everyone realises this, the energy then just goes fucking crazy,” the singer vividly adds.
Five songs into their set, The Rattlesnakes delivered a raucous version of ‘Wild Flowers’, and it changed the mood of the whole show. Before the song began, Carter instructed the audience that only women or non-binary individuals could enter the mosh-pit or crowd surf for the track. Rather than simply offering soundbites about making rock more inclusive, the band are setting a precedent for other bands to follow.
“It’s the most important part of rock ‘n’ roll,” Carter earnestly says. “Rock ‘n’ roll should never have been exclusive. It’s for the people. Going out of our way to make our shows inclusive is our responsibility, and literally, it’s the least we can do. No one is going to do it for us. We can’t expect other people to make that space while there’s all that testosterone and energy flying around. It’s not going to work.
“If you want to see it happen, you have to carve it out, and you have to do it again, and again, and again, and again, until it’s muscle memory in the masses. That’s what we’re doing and what I hope is that other bands take it, and they run with it. It shouldn’t be a torch that one band is carrying on their own,” Carter pleads.
“Also, selfishly, you do that, and it’s a better gig,” he continues, showing the craftsmanship behind the band’s furious live show. “Everyone has a fucking great time. You include half of the audience who have felt excluded for their entire lives,” the frontman adds. Richardson shares that same vision as Carter and intervenes: “It’s so fun from the moment that finishes, the whole atmosphere has changed.”
“Sometimes it’s just the validation of acknowledging that those people exist and they like rock music,” Carter says from the heart. “We’ve got such an amazing platform. We’re privileged to get up on stage. Why aren’t all bands saying to the world, ‘I’m here, you’re here. We exist; let’s do this together?’ I hope other people follow suit soon, or otherwise, we are going to have to start taking names.”
Of course, it goes without saying that Sexism is a cancer that’s rife throughout the music industry, and not just a stain on the rock scene specifically. However, the genre does have unavoidable connotations with championing chauvinistic behaviour. Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes break down stereotypes and lead by example by showing how a genuine punk band should act in 2021.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve taken shots, but why does a band like Steel Panther still exist?” Carter furiously laments. “I just don’t get it, I watch it, and it’s misogynistic. There was a time and place for that which existed in a society that we can look back on now, and we can’t justify it, but they didn’t know better, we do now, and it’s 2021.”
Richardson adds with a matched passion: “I think the same sort of things is happening across genres. People are either progressing and developing by creating something new and relevant or stuck in the old tropes of trying to be their heroes who also happen to be misogynistic, sexist rock stars. I think it’s the artists that are looking forward, who are leaving that stuff behind.”
While society has made positive inroads over the last decade, having empathy, talking freely about mental health and fighting for a fairer world will still result in some people scorning you for being ‘woke’ as if it’s an insult. Carter frequently discusses his mental health troubles in his work, and the group even had a track titled ‘Anxiety’ on 2019’s End Of Suffering.
“I guess there’s always a choice, but I feel like I don’t have one,” Carter says. “I feel like in order for this to be real and to sleep at night; I need to be attacking these things. When we talk about mental health, I don’t even like the term because there’s so much stigma attached to mental health. You can either go deep, or you can go shallow, and a lot of people choose to go shallow because they’re scared of going deep. Once you realise the water’s not that cold, you face your fears and become stronger.”
Carter’s refreshingly authentic attitude is an indictment of his punk upbringing. Together with his Rattlesnakes, they are helping make rock relevant in an ever-changing world — one that is a forward-thinking, progressive, and here to fight for a brighter future.
Richardson and Carter see the world through a shared lens. The guitarist is a founding member of The Rattlesnakes, he led the production on Sticky, and the group work democratically. “That kind of came about organically,” Richardson says about producing the album. “I mean, a little bit organically and a little bit by being forced by Frank. We turned the forced break into time for writing. We spent more time working on the music and the songs and wrote more songs than we’d ever written. We just kept going on, and we would just sort of take ourselves off to a little cabin retreat, bubble up and just write.”
“It’s about 30 BPM faster than anything we’ve ever done because we were just let loose and had no restrictions, no rules, and a lot of time,” Richardson beamed about Sticky.
Their partnership has been a prolific one, and Sticky is their fourth album in six years. The LP is an all-action listen, and about as far away from a pandemic record as humanly possible. Sticky is debauched, unhinged and claustrophobic — but it’s always thrilling.
The aforementioned show at Alexandra Palace in 2020 allowed the group to count their blessings and make an optimistic record in spite of a global health crisis. They are aware of how lucky they were to host the perfect send-off party for End Of Suffering and move onto the next chapter with no regrets. “I talk about it a lot about how that show probably saved us, I mean,” Carter muses. “If you want to talk about health across the board, having that gig as a reminder, and having that to look at…it feels like yesterday. It’s so clear in my mind still.”
The last two concerts that the band played have been the biggest shows of their career, and Sticky is hand-crafted for the grandest of stages. Carter defies the stereotypical rock star clichés, and it’s energising to see a band of such stature use their platform to fight for equality. It’d be a more leisurely ride for Carter to keep his mouth shut on societal issues, but silence is not in his lexicon.
Carter is leading from the front when it comes to changing attitudes and modernising rock. They are undoubtedly Reading & Leeds headliners in waiting, but most impressively, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes are more than just a band — they are a community.
Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes tour:
- 9th – Glasgow Green (special guests to Biffy Clyro)
- 16th – Cardiff Bay (special guests to Biffy Clyro)
- 16th – Live At Leeds (HEADLINERS)
- 11th – Dublin, Academy
- 12th – Nottingham, Rock City
- 13th – Cardiff, Great Hall
- 14th – Norwich, UEA
- 16th – Southampton, Guildhall
- 17th – Bristol, O2 Academy
- 18th – Lincoln, Engine Shed
- 20th – Birmingham, O2 Academy
- 21st – Newcastle, O2 Academy
- 23rd – Glasgow, Barrowland
- 24th – Edinburgh, Corn Exchange
- 25th – Liverpool, O2 Academy
- 26th – Manchester, Academy
- 21st – London, O2 Academy Brixton
- 22nd – London, O2 Academy Brixton
- 25th – Netherlands, Utrecht, Tivoli Vredenburg
- 26th – Germany, Cologne, Live Music Hall
- 28th – Sweden, Stockholm, Slaktkyrkan
- 29th – Norway, Oslo, Rockefeller Music Hall
- 30th – Denmark, Copenhagen, Store Vega
- 1st – Germany, Berlin, Astra
- 2nd – Czech Republic, Prague, Meet Factory
- 3rd – Poland, Warsaw, Niebo
- 5th – Switzerland, Zurich, Dynamo Saal
- 6th – Italy, Milan, Magazzini Generali
- 8th – Spain, Barcelona, Razzmatazz 2
- 10th – Portugal, Lisbon, Lav – Lisboa Ao Vivo
- 11th – Spain, Santiago de Compostela, Sala Capitol
- 12th – Spain, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Jimmy Jazz
- 14th – France, Paris, La Cigale
- 15th – Belgium, Brussels, La Madeleine
- 17th – Germany, Hamburg, Markthalle
- 18th – Germany, Munich, Backstage Werk