Sticky is out now! We caught up with Frank Carter to chat about the record, capturing the energy of their debut, self-producing the album and so much more!
Image: Jenny Brough.
British punk-rockers Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes have blessed us with the release of their fourth studio album, Sticky. We caught up with Frank Carter to unpack the record!
Produced by band member Dean Richardson, the record captures the nostalgic and classic energy of their debut Blossom, bringing it into a contemporary setting that pairs fun and explosive sonics with an undercurrent on serious concepts, topics and themes. Capturing the everyday reality of our world, the record shines a particular focus on mental health, inspired by their own lives and those around them.
The record sees the group team up with a number of collaborators, including Idles Joe Talbot, Lynks, Cassyette and Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie. Talbot lens his talents to the records riotous lead single, My Town, with Lynks sending us straight to the tattoo parlour on Go Get A Tattoo.
After making their return to the stage at Download Pilot Festival this June, Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes will celebrate the release of their new record with a tour across the UK and Europe, kicking off next month. Tickets are on sale now.
Sticky is out now! Read our interview with Frank Carter below.
Congratulations on the new album, Sticky! This is your fourth album, having kicked your career off with your debut in 2015. Obviously there’s been a lot of life in between that, so what new knowledge and experience are you bringing into the sessions working on the new record, that differs from creating your debut album and subsequent albums?
You know, it's funny you brought up our debut because Dean talks about this as being as close to our debut as all of the records that we've made. I agree with him because when we started making records, we weren't thinking, we weren't over thinking. We just wrote a bunch of music and I think when we got to 10, we just put them our and were like 'have this, we don't want it anymore. We don't know what the fuck this is, but see what you think'. This record, we wrote thirty, but with that same intention. The same focus on finding a sound and like really honing in on it and making it like Rattlesnakes. When we got to this and we cut it down to 10, he was like, 'fuck it has the same vibe. It has the same feel of Blossom'. It's like a very strong right hook of punch. It's interesting because like Blossom was a sucker punch, it was out of nowhere, it was like boom you're in a fight, and like 'oh shit, okay. Let's try and survive this', you know? And then Modern Ruin is like your jab, that's your lead in punch where you try and find your footing. End Of Suffering is like, you know, it's a strong cross. We put everything into it, but it was one impactful punch of like, I'm in trouble and I know that there are other people out there who are in trouble and this is what, this is our way of like sharing it together and spreading the weight. And then you get to Sticky and it's like out of nowhere there's another big fucking riot sucker punch. You know what I mean? Just when you've seen a few, just when you're thinking 'Christ I've weathered the storm', boom - upper cut, fuck you. That was what so important. It was so, so important to get that together and really fucking make it like, what do you do after the 1, 2, 3 combo? You fucking headbutt someone and they're still standing [laughs[. So that's what Sticky all about, is the reset. It's like 'this guys still standing'.
I was going to say there is quite a nostalgic and classic feel and energy present when you listen to the record, which like you said, draw similarities to your debut. What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were starting out and making Blossom?
Come on now, everything! [laughs]. You never learn things in your life and think 'ah fuck I'm glad I didn't know that'. Hindsight is a beautiful thing, but it's also that it's the dismantling of a lot of people if they get stuck in the past and the things they would have done differently. I learned plenty of lessons, plenty of life lessons I've learned. I'm like 'fuck I'm never gonna make that mistake again'. And then I get in a problem, I do the same God damn thing, I'm like, 'you fucking idiot. You learnt this lesson fifteen fucking times, what's wrong with you? Fucking write it down'. I need this shit tattooed on me man [laughs[. "Do not do that fucking thing you want to do". For me it's like, the whole point of this was it was supposed to be fun. We've always had like this undercurrent of like humour, which has helped us with what we're going through. There's always been an element of tongue in cheek. Like, you know, it's serious, but in a way where it's like sometimes there's some comic relief. Sticky, it was like, let's make it fun. We can put some important in there, but the important shit will be the undercurrent, this needs to be energetic and it needs to be fun. When you said nostalgic, like that's the whole vibe. It's the album to change our life growing up. Go into a dressing room on your first tour and seeing like fucking fridges covered in stickers of every band that's played in that venue, going into a toilet in your favourite dive bar and seeing the same thing and tonnes of obscene graffiti. This album is obscene graffiti basically, you know what I mean?
That's a great description! Like you said, the record does touch on serious concepts, topics and themes, particularly mental health, and captures the everyday reality of our world. But also pairing it with the more fun sonic exploration. How important was it for you to use this record as a vehicle to share these stories and highlight these themes?
It's always integral. I was just talking previously about how important it is, that you have a responsibility as an artist to cultivate a safe space and within that cultivate safe experiences and make sure that like, if your fanbase come in toxic, you weed your fucking garden and you make sure that those people don't exist. In doing that, we have a responsibility to talk about the things that really matter to us. Punk and politics go hand in hand, and while I appreciate that, it's always felt a little bit performative to me, like the idea of building my business around like disdain for politics, it has always felt a bit self serving and like no one was actually winning. Like, yeah, I can be the fucking rally cry for a fucking March or whatever, and I can go and speak in my bubble really loudly to people and have people cheer. But I'm not leading a revolution. You know what I mean? I think if I was gonna really want to put politics in punk, I would actually go and start a fucking revolution. I thought about it a few times [laughs], but with this stuff, I want to talk about the things that matter to me, and I know that in doing that I can. I'm experienced, I have, you know like we said, lessons have been learned and I can maybe explain that to people in a way that makes sense to them. Writing it in a song is poetic, put it with a really hard-edged guitar or a fucking drop, or like get Dean to just cull the music and he hit me with a beat that like accentuate the power of what I'm trying to say. So when you're at home, you're listening to it like that, you get goosebumps. Your hair stands up from your neck and the words go into your fucking soul. And you're like, 'that is how I feel. That's what I've been trying to stay and I haven't had the words, but this five foot, seven fucking guy has figured out it for me', you know? That's why I'm here for that. That's my job. That's my duty while I'm here is just to do as much of this as possible and what a gift I've been given, because I don't have to go and explore and try and solve other people's problems. I literally just have to live. I just have to live, and when my problems are presented, I have to fucking write about them because I'm good at it. And I have to explain, like, this happened to me and this is the bits where I fucked up and maybe try not doing what I did, but like, but if you do, don't fucking feel too bad about it, because guess what? I'm a fucking living legend and I did it. If I can get it fucking wrong, you can too, don't feel too bad about yourself. We're all just trying to get by. Cut ourselves, some slack.
Yeah it's universal. So how did the record evolve throughout the crediting process? You mentioned had written thirty songs, how do you curate that down to ten? Do you think any of those songs that didn't make the cut could have a life in the future? Or are they just kind of tucked in a drawer, never to be heard again?
Every album we've ever made, right. Wild Flowers, which was on Modern Ruin, we wrote that and that was the eleventh when we wrote Blossom. We were just like, it's just not quite there. Same thing happened when we wrote, Modern Ruin. There was songs there that we were just like, they're not quite right, and we just held them. They didn't make it onto End of Suffering because when we got into End of Suffering we were like, you know what, we're going to make a hard decision to not move that forward. End of Suffering, we exhausted every opportunity and the songs that didn't make the cut went firmly in the bin, because they were about a specific period of time. With this, I would happily release Sticky and then release the album too, that we have in the back. Like immediately, that's what I wanted to do and I'm trying to be on these fucking discussions with suits every day.
Do it, get it done!
We cut down thirty to ten and then we had eight that were strong, but it was a different sound. The only reason they're not on Sticky is because they were more focused in a different direction. That's why it's so important that you get in the studio, you write what you write and for five days you might be feeling moody. So you gotta write some really moody fucking bangers. Then once you've got that out of your system, you're like right lets have fucking fun again. And then you're like, oh, we've got more songs for this album, and then all of a sudden you've got Sticky. There were two songs that didn't make it on the album, actually three, and I'm like gutted about it, proper still angry about it. There's a song called Self Love, which I'm like, bro, we fucked up by not putting it on the album.
Get a deluxe edition going in a few months!
This is what I'm saying, the deluxe edition will have like sixteen extra tracks on it [laughs].
It's like you know how Taylor Swift's is re-recording her older albums and releasing them? The original versions had 10-14 songs and I've just written an article about the next one coming, Red (Taylor's Version), and it has 30 songs on it. Like every song she wrote that she wanted on the record that her label wouldn't let her include, they're all going to be out there. So maybe in ten years you can re-record them as an anniversary edition!
Can you imagine? I'll be 47. I'll be on stage saying 'these songs were written 15 years ago' and they'll be like 'shut up old man, fucking shit down'. Someone wheel out Frank again.
This was the first record that was entirely produced by Dave. What do you think like the advantages of having that kind of complete control was?
It's only advantages. I'm yet to see a disadvantage from this whole situation. I've been asking for it for three albums by the way. The only thing was that he just didn't have the confidence in himself to go and fucking do it and get it done. So for me, I'm like, I've been frantically trying yo make this happen. Then we went away to a cabin and we came back with four or five songs and they were demos, but they were good, they sounded good. I just put them to the table in the boardrooms and I was like 'listen to these, get your head around these' and they've gone this is great. And I was like, look Dean's gotta do it and they were like, "what do you mean", I was "Dean's gonna pull the album" and Dean's like "what?". I was like, he's the only person that can do this because we're going to be in it. We were locked down. I was like, find a studio in London that we can go to as long as we need, Dean's going to do it, he's fucking got it, just back me on this. Bruv, he delivered like the best album we've made. For me, it's Blossom but it's just with seven extra years of Rattlesnakes. So it's fun, but it's focused. It's just pure energy and like, lyrically, I love it. Sonically, there's fucking saxophones in it. We just took all of our inspiration and just smashed it into this record. And he had a load of fucking fun making it, that's really all you can ask.
That's so lovely. You also teamed up with a bunch of collaborators on the record, Joe Talbot, Lynks, Cassyette and Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie. How do you think each artist helped elevate the record to the amazing body of work we hear today?
It was important because for me at time, it felt like it was just like nonstop, especially when you get into a record. I was concerned a little bit that it was going to be just like too much of me barking at people. While it was important to not drop the pace of that, you know, like you still need it. You still need someone up there like fucking ramping it. It's like your mates in the back that are saying 'fuck you' [laughs]. I feel like I've got the ultimate gang. We chose people that not only inspired us, but we love, you know, we really like. Cassyette I've known for years and I've watched her rise. I don't really know what happened but I was just like I want to do a song with you and I feel a bit like in a year I won't be able to cause you're just going to be like this superstar. I've seen it. And then Lynks, I just love his music. I just think he's a fucking brilliant genius. We gave him one song, the lyrics he sent back were better than my own by a long way, and I was fucking gutted [laughs]. So I was like, do you want to do another one and he was like shut up? and I was like, really do you want to do another one? He was like, yes and he did it. It was just again, genius. So good. I love that little demented human being. Joe is like, come on, I'm a fucking huge Idles. We've wanted to do something together forever and for us it was just like getting him on that record, it made the whole thing aggressive in a way that was just like, he and I we're like fucking rottweilers off the lead. The pair of us doing whatever the we want. That was supposed to be the vibe in that song, the aggression that felt really dangerous to me, but it didn't feel dangerous for everyone. A rottweiler off the lead is dangerous to everyone in the room except his owner. You can be a six year old girl, and if you know that dog, that dog is going to protect you. That's that's the whole vibe, me and Joe off the lead, coming for blood of everyone that's ever wronged any one of us or our friends or family. And then you've got fucking Bobby Gillespie who's like a a fucking icon, rock and roll legend. He came into the studio, he just like floated in and just like, 'I don't really know if I feel it'. I was like sweating like, please feel anything. And then he just fucking got in there and he's like I need some paper. So I brought in this paper and I'm like 'here Bobby', and he just wrote half the fucking song. He starts singing this line to me about 'Jesus in my head, like a stinger. He moves from tree to tree in the back of my mind'. He's like, 'what do you think that?' And I was like, 'it's fucking great'. And he wrote the whole thing and he came and listened and he's like, 'yeah I like it, what do you think? I was like 'we love it' and he said 'cool' see you later and just fucking fucked off. I just went in there and scooped up all these lyrics and I'm like shouting up the stairs behind him like 'I'm keeping these' and he's like, 'yeah, yeah cool. No worries'. I got home that night, with these handwritten Bobby Gillespie and I fucking turn the paper over and it's someone else's record deal [laughs]. I've just scooped up someone's record contract and he's scribbled all over the back of it.
That's brilliant, that's so good. Now, which three songs from Sticky would you play to someone who had never heard your music before, to make them an instant diehard fan?
I was about to say My Town and I was about to say Original Sin, but I think actually I'll play Rat Race, which is my favourite song. I'd play Cupid's Arrow because that is still high intensity and pace and energy, but it does a little bit more of who we have been and can be. And then I'd probably play Sticky because that song sums up the record, it's the right energy. Once you hear those three songs, I could sit and I could pick songs from my whole back catalog and I can pick three songs from this album that shows you the diversity and the depth of it. Or I could just pick three banners right there. Cause if you listened to them and you don't like them you can fuck off anyway [laughs]. I think I'm at this point now where it's like, it's too many people get stuck in this thing of like they find a formula, they send it and it works and stay sort of firmly within the confinement of themselves and it's boring as fuck man. Get out of the way man, there's other people trying to eat here. For us it's like, we had a good formula with this record and it was really fun, but we explored, you know, we really fucking went out there. So for me, I think like the important thing is to always be pushing yourself. Like how you said, you've come in here and you're like, "this is a nostalgic record, it's got elements of Blossom". How nice is that, to have a record that is entirely fucking modern, that is about this moment in time that feels and that has the same energy as your debut. Not many bands can do that. They don't get a chance to. That's why I'm so excited about this record because I'm like, 'hey you guys remember that record, we made that you fucking loved? Well, wait until you get a load of this shit.
Love it! Is there a line or lyric from the the album you find at times could be stuck in your head? Or a line that you come back to?
I have a few lyrics that I love from this record, and most of them were Bobby's [laughs]. And then when I'm not thinking about Bobby's lyrics, I'm thinking about Lynks who's just like, "it's 2:00 AM, fuck it. I'm getting a tattoo". And I'm just like, God damn it, you fucking summed it up like, I couldn't. And I've been a tattooer for 17 years and a lyricist for 15 and you come along and you've written a better line about getting a tattoo and you don't fucking have any. I was fuming [laughs], I was so angry. I was like why is this kid here? For me it's like in the middle Sticky, there's a line about like it being 3:00 AM. This is one of my favourite lyrics from the record. I find myself not like singing it, it's more like a mantra. It's like really bad when I read it out [laughs]. But it's like it's who I was and it's honest. So it goes like, "what the fuck is wrong with me, kicking around at half past three in the morning horny. Got nowhere to sleep, but at least I'm never boring". When I wrote that, I was saying it to Dean and he just burst out laughing.
You guys are hopefully hitting the road next month!
We're constantly trying to fucking make this shit happen. Like as far as I'm aware, like all plans are on. November is like, that's the moment where it's going to get hectic.
What can audiences expect from like this particular run of shows and your return to live music?
Like nothing they've ever seen before. I'll probably be naked in the pit slippery. Just like give me your sweat [laughs]. It's been two fucking years resting, so that's what we're going to be doing. Just getting involved as much as possible.
Obviously the last 18 months, whole world's obviously mean effected by the pandemic and the whole of the music industry, but quite specifically the touring sector, but for you as an artist making that in-person connection with your audience members who resonate with your music. How important do you think that like music is not only for yourself, but for your audience members?
I mean live music is intergral to everything, it's like literally the life blood of liflikee my whole life. Yeah, it's everything man. And it's not just important for me because it's my job, but this is integral for us on so many levels because it's like, it's love. It's our experiences, every single thing. Music is the one off that transcends all boundaries. Do you know what I mean? Anyone can just go see a painting and decide whether they like it or not. A lot of art, a lot of film is very like specific to each culture, you know? And then ABBA comes along and everyone fucking loves ABBA. I used to love ABBA. When that happens, you sort of realise the power of music and then like Integrity happens. It happens in America and it's like this fucking little scene. And then all of a sudden it's being used in wars and you just sort of think, and then you're also reminded of the power of music. So it's like live music. We need that immediately, as soon as fucking possible, and there should have been more done from the government to support like every element of it.
Hopefully we'll see you back down in Australia!
We'll try and come! Trust me, we want to do something special. I'm gonna have some conversations with some good friends.
Biggest musical influences?
Elton John and Deaftones probably.
Elton John and Deaftones [laughs].
An album that has had the most impact on you?
Probably White Pony by Deaftones. That record I still listen to that now.
If you could create the soundtrack for any film, which one would it be?
You know what, I want someone to make the film of the book, Blood Meridian (Cormac McCarthy), and I want to soundtrack. It's my favourite book. I know it's kind of a cursed film, like a lot of people have tried and failed. I want if that film is ever made, I want to be involved. It's my favorite book, so at least if I could write some songs for it. And to be honest, even a punk band given the opportunity to soundtrack that film would be very important.
Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus?
Miley, come on. She's the greatest. I saw her at Primavera at like four in the morning, off my tits. It was amazing.
Best concert you have been to?
Probably that [laughs]. If it wasn't that it was, I saw Sleep play at Masonic Temple in Brooklyn when I was living out there. I still talk about that show, having an insane effect on me. Changed my world, it was crazy.
Would you rather be a Spice Girl or a Backstreet Boy?
Spice Girl, come on.
What would your spice nickname be?
Ginger Spice bro. Who else is gonna be that other than me if it's not Geri Halliwell?
Most memorable show you’ve ever performed?
Alexandra Palace was major. Like we sold out and that's 10,000 people. It's like, when you get to that point, that's a different level than I have ever experienced. That was very important. And then we just played Download Pilot Festival to come back and that was, I don't even remember [laughs]. I got on stage lost, like everything. It just all went out the window. I loved it.
An artist you think has had the most influence on the music industry?
Prince maybe? You look at it across the board, like Prince has inspired everyone. I'd Say Prince.
What advice would your current self, give your future self, for a year from now?
Oh, man. Buy Bitcoin! It's still creeping. No, I don't know. I think it would just be to like slow down. I've been up and going a bit fast, slow down a little.
The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?
I can't remember the moment I knew that I wanted to be a musician because I was in band quite early. I remember the moment that I wanted to focus on it and that was seeing System Of A Down at The London Astoria, in the year 1999. I stood in the front row right in front of Shavo (Odadjian), and I just remember it being a very, very important moment. I remember leaving that gig and being like, 'I'm going to be a bass player'. I was close, next best thing.
Sticky is out now!