I went down to Leefest (you know that festival from that Android advert?) the other week, not really knowing many of the bands playing, but still hyped as it had pretty complimentary reviews from previous years.
Then, days before heading down I saw Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes were announced as a surprise last minute headliner for one of the stages, one of my favorite performers (see my review of Roskilde). I got some time to interview Frank which you can read below, before watching him perform a few hours later and Jesus fucking Christ; friendly sat down on a picnic bench backstage Frank is very different to manic on stage, crowd surfing crazy eyed Frank…
Have you seen the size of the stage you’re playing at Leefest? It’s absolutely tiny, should be amazing…
You’re like the fifth person that’s told me that. People keep coming up to me like ‘have you SEEN the stage’ It’s the smallest one I’ve had in a while. I’m just not going to look at it…
I heard the put you on there last because they expect you to destroy it…
I’m a changed man now, I don’t do that shit anymore… but the fans might.
Talking about your fans, what’s the best thing a fan has ever given to you?
A kid came to a show that we played in Germany and I was at the merch stand afterwards saying hello to everyone and he waited until the very end and he came up and was like “hey I really love you, I really want to get tattooed by you” so I said yeah cool, whenever you’re in London let’s do it and he replied “no, no I really want to get tattooed by you right now”. So I said, I can’t do that I’m sorry and he said “no, you can.” and he opened this box and he had this fucking tattoo machine and, power pack, ink cap, bottle of ink and it was all set up, so I was like ok! Let’s do it.
What did you tattoo?
I just wrote ‘Rattlesnakes’ on his arm and he loved it. He’s kind of nuts, he’s got a portrait of me which says ‘Rothaarige Brudder’ which means redhead brother, he’s a redhead too. So yeah that was kind of crazy and he gave me the box and said you should keep this and I’ve still got it at home.
Another question about fans, I saw you play at Roskilde earlier this year and you made a point of highlighting a German guy at the front of the crowd who always shows up to your shows really drunk and he broke his nose or something. Have you got many other fans like that you always recognise?
There’s a few people that are just really dedicated to our band, there’s a girl called Adele who travels round to see us in Germany, she’s got our name tattooed across her ribs, which is flattering but… it’s mental to me. It’s cool and you’ve got to be respectful of that as well, I don’t want to be the guy that’s like ‘that sucks, you suck’ because I don’t think that. I think it’s amazing that we’ve had such an impact on their life and resonated in such a big way that they feel justified to go and do that, it’s the biggest commitment you can make to a band, get their fucking name tattooed on you for life.
We’ve got a lot of great fans all over the place, you see the right people keep just cropping up at shows and you shake their hand a couple of times and you remember their face, seem them sing along to all your songs. All over Europe now we’ve got a few people that I know by face and it’s cool, really nice.
As you’ve now got devoted fans all over, which city is your favourite to play in?
I don’t know if I’ve got a favourite city. Favourite club though is The Underworld (Camden, London) I just love it. I’ve had amazing shows there in every band I’ve played in, I grew up going to gigs there, I’ve seen some of my favourite shows of all time there and as far as punk rock goes, it’s the perfect club.
You can fit a lot of people in there, so you can have a good time, the stage height is just perfect. It’s a bizarre set up, there’s a good place for my mum to stand so she’s protected; very important and there’s a little pit.
You’ve been on a tour of festivals this summer, what’s been THE festival so far?
I can’t give you one… but I can give you a top 3. Download was a big turning point for us, a lot of people in the UK came to see us. We weren’t expecting that kind of response, it was our first big UK festival, it was earlier in the summer, our album had only been out 8 months or so and it was a big moment for us, it changed a lot of thing; how we felt about what we were doing, we managed to take the music to a bigger stage and it really resonated with people.
Then we played Roskilde, which was a legendary festival. At that time that was my favourite show I’ve ever played. I walked out into the crowd and they started fucking moshing and I was riding this crazy wave of people.
Finally there’s Resurrection Festival in Viveiro, Spain down on the coast and everything about it was good, the sun was shining, we swam in the sea, there was just a really good vibe to it and it was our first show in Spain and it was rammed, there’s got to have been 5,000 people there loving it and singing along.
Halfway through they do this thing called ResuKids, where they allow a bunch of kids into the festival for free, young kids like 4 to.. I dunno, ACTUAL kids, like ‘you are not tall enough to ride the ride’ kids and they allow them to watch the show for free but they also allow them to watch some of the gigs from the stage, so I turned around and there’s 40 kids on the stage and I was just like fuck… they’re all bobbing along with their earphones on, so I told them to come out and we had all these kids on stage.
I’ve been teaching my daughter Spanish, so I told them, on 3 we’re all going to jump, it was in the middle of a song so we did it and I turned around and the whole crowd was jumping around too. Everyone was really vibing, I know how to say hi-five in Spanish, so I was hi-fiving all the kids, it was cool, a definite moment for us.
I’ve seen you bring your own daughter on stage quite a lot, with her enormous ear defenders. As a father what would you prefer her to get into, tattooing or music?
I don’t know… there’s pros and cons to both but ultimately I just want her to do whatever she wants, whatever makes her happy. If music made her happy, do music, if tattooing makes her happy, do tattooing. I’m going to teach her that she can do whatever the fuck she wants because that’s what I was taught and it worked out well for me.
Has she got an artistic flair yet?
Yeah, she’s a dancer. She’s only 2 but she’s got great rhythm, she loves music, she loves singing, she’s a very sweet, kind, intelligent little girl. So I’m looking forward to seeing what she does with her life.
What is one thing you wish more people knew about you?
Fuck… erm… why’ve you got to that to me on a Saturday. I came here expecting like ‘what is your favourite colour…’ Right, I’m really good at training dogs. I’ve got a Staffy, we’ve got her from a puppy but she’s super well behaved. Her and my daughter are best mates, I did a lot of work with her when she was young and she’s so so good now, a bit over-excitable, she’s still a puppy.
We didn’t send her to a trainer, fuck no, we did it all ourselves and she’s amazing because of it, she really listens which is important if you’re going to have a dog like that and you look like me, she needs to be well behaved haha. I don’t want to perpetuate those stereotypes, it’s not what I’m about… So yeah.. dog whisperer!
Gun to your head, do you prefer tattooing or being a musician?
[Literally no pause or thinking time] Being a musician. When I was young being a tattooer was all I ever wanted and being a musician was something that I dreamed about, I didn’t really feel like I deserved it, I felt like a bit of a fraud the whole time I was in Gallows, I was always waiting for someone to pull the rug out from under me, like ‘you need to give this back now’.
But now I feel very differently, I love tattooing, it’s an amazing skill to have and it’s a great industry, but it just doesn’t satisfy me in the same way getting on stage does, being on stage is my whole life now, it’s my reason for living and I feel like I’m only able to answer this question with the fervour that I am within only the last two weeks, our lives have changed a lot in the past couple of weeks of playing, for the first time in my life I feel like I’m really good at what I’m doing and it’s amazing, I’m trying to embrace it as firmly as I can.
I’ve changed a lot as a performer, I’m owning it more and I’m a bit more responsible for my actions than I was and it just feels… really fucking wonderful, I feel like my true self. For the first time in my life I feel like this is the real me. People look for that their whole life and sometimes they find it, I honestly never thought I’d feel that. I had this void, like living and working, trying to fill my time with everything that I could but I still had this void and I didn’t know what the fuck it was, turns out I just didn’t understand how to be a performer yet, now I do and I’m really embracing it, I’m good at it and it’s showing. It’s exciting
I’ve got a load more questions but the PR guy’s been giving me the one more minute signal for a while now, so this will be the last… I Hate You is one of my favourite songs off Blossom, is it about someone specific or type of ‘useless fucking cunts’?
It’s about someone specific, I wrote it about someone specific, but it’s transformed from that now into kind of a mantra for the masses. I think everyone has that someone they envision, but when I talk about it on stage I’ve always said look, this song is about that kind of person who’s a fucking idiot, but I’m always clear to reiterate to people that it’s great to sing this song from the top of your lungs, it’s very cathartic… but you’ve just got to remember that there’s a good possibility that YOU are that person to someone else. Once you recognise that, it makes singing that song even better.
Words & Photos by Marcel Le Bachelet