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This Friday January 26th marked the release of the new record by Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, Dark Rainbow, preceding the kick-off of their world tour. In the midst of this busy news cycle, RockUrLife had the pleasure to chat with Frank Carter and Dean Richardson about the behind-the-scenes of this very personal record.

Hello to both of you, welcome to France! Today is the release day of your new album Dark Rainbow. What’s your state of mind?

Frank Carter (vocals): My state of mind is one of absolute bliss, unparalleled peace.

Dean Richardson (guitar): Honestly, all the stress related to pre-delivery almost disappears at midnight for me. I don’t know; it’s like: “What’s done is done“. As if my expectations were fulfilled. We made it. We released the record. I still can’t get over the amount of people, hours, effort, and money it represents. There’s so much that goes into releasing an album. It’s a job done. This is now a victory lap celebration. That’s how I feel today.

We really like the direction your songs have taken. In our opinion, it’s not a revolution, more of an evolution, album after album. Would you say this is your most ambitious delivery so far?

Frank: I don’t know if it’s the most ambitious, but it was definitely the truest. In the past, it might have been more challenging to put this in place because I never knew myself as I know myself now. You know, these last few years have been very intense for both of us. In that time, there has been a lot of introspection, a lot of self-awareness. We’ve really both gone deep into ourselves. So, when you spend so much time not only wondering who you are but also who you want to be, you naturally come closer to an understanding of yourself, what you expect from life. That’s what I mean by “true“. With that comes the confidence to release an album with a song like “Queen Of Hearts” next to a song like “Sun Bright Golden Happening”. I definitely believe that on every record before this, there would have been some serious conversations about “do we have the right to have two slow songs?” It’s really nice to have that kind of confidence. It’s very exciting.

Dean: I remember the moment you suggested the tracklisting order, and we agreed in about four seconds. So we definitely weren’t challenging ourselves on that by that point.

Frank: But I think that’s because my first suggestion was that we’d open the record on “Sun Bright Golden Happening” and…

Dean: (laughs, cutting in) I said no, no!

Frank: It was like: “What are you doing?

Dean: I rarely say a flat no. That was one of the closest hard no’s I’ve ever given you on tracklisting (laughs)

© Brian Rankin

This record features many surprises within the songs, with a lot of additional instruments. How did the idea of incorporating a violin or saxophone come about?

Dean: The violin was Frank‘s way of giving me more stress in 24 hours. (laughs). We had basically done well. We like half mixed …

Frank: Yes, technically it had already been. The files had been sent off, and I called Dean. There was one particular song I was struggling with; it was “Happy Days”. I called him and said: “Look, I think something’s missing (Dean bursts out laughing). I think it’s violin. And I reckon that we can do it on Monday”. That’s like the only day that we’ve got. And I was there, talking about it as if we still had studio time left (smile). Dean was on the phone, like…

Dean: We packed up last week!

Frank: (laughs) “We packed up last week, what are you talking about?” And I didn’t see these things as problems. I was just wondering if there was someone who could play it. The reason there are so many instrumentals is that we are surrounded by extraordinary musicians. We’ve toured for a long time; we have an incredible crew. And when you have an incredible crew, that’s usually because there are phenomenal musicians. So Ronan came and played the violin. He did an amazing job. He’s a guitar tech! There’s also Yazz, who played the saxophone on several tracks of Sticky. There’s so much in there; it’s an album of friends and family. You know, Eliott

Dean: (laughs) Eliott walking past what you’re saying.

Frank: He’s our guitarist and keyboard player; he engineered all the guitars. So, it’s been a concerted effort from all of us. And that’s why you get such a richer, deeper, more vast sound.

In the beginning, you came from the hardcore scene. Did you ever think you could create this type of song with a slower tempo?

Frank: Yes, we knew this from the beginning. Because if you take a look at a song like “I Hate You”, that’s a slow tempo. It’s kind of a slow, bluesy, groovy jam. The only violent thing is the lyrics. If you took the music from that song, which is on our first record, it would fit perfectly after a song like “American Spirit”, you see? So, I think we’ve always known it. The hard bit is when you go out and you do something so forcefully; it has an impact. And when something has such an impact, people are moved. And when people are moved, they connect. Because the whole world is so bland. Everything is flat; people want something to hold on to. So, that’s the hard bit is you. You go out, you move. People identify with you, and then it’s harder for them to move with the changes. In the end, we all change, and not everyone likes that. But I believe we’ve always seen it from the beginning.

You mentioned “American Spirit”. Tell me if I’m wrong, but I felt a vibe similar to Queens Of The Stone Age, like Josh Homme. Is he an influence for you?

Frank: Yes, that’s true. Josh has always been an influence on me. Since Kyuss. I’ve always loved everything he does. He’s an amazing musician, a great rock star. But I also think if you talked to him, you’d find influences a bit further back. I think you would find that I’m aligned with all of those as well, like Creedence, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Eagles, you know. The Monkees or The Animals, all those influences. You know, one of my favorite songs to sing while walking around the house is “House Of The Rising Sun”. And I hear all of that in QOTSA, along with David Bowie, The Rolling Stones, and all that… So, yes, he obviously is naturally an influence, but we really try to move away from what is current, from our immediate peers. We always try to question who we are and what we want to be.

© Brian Rankin

Dark Rainbow is not only the title of the album but also the closing song of the album, which is our favorite. Can you tell us about its meaning?

Frank: It’s about lyrics, about… (he pauses) You know what, can you answer this Dean, as what it was for you? Because I know what it is for me. But I remember just was profound it was when you played this to me in the studio. Do you remember? Often, I would go to the studio in the morning, and we would work on the songs he had written the night before. He would stay in the studio and just put some loose ideas down. And I came in one day and it just had this. And I was just like: “What?

Dean: You know what? I don’t think it’s very easy to know what music means, where it comes from. But on this album, I was a bit more interested in connecting with the process of listening to the lyrics. Generally, I write some 2 or 3 ideas, having no idea if Frank will like them, if they’ll work, if they’ll fit. I don’t think too much about it. But for this particular song… it was like I was 100% sure. “Frank will love this, and it will be on the record!” There was something different about this one. And when I played it for you, I had no doubt it would be turned into a song and be on the album. So, it’s really not a normal feeling. When I write something for the first time, I’m not quite sure where it’s going. Whereas “A Dark Rainbow”, yes, I remember playing it to you with an unusual confidence. So, I think something was happening. I believe somewhere I knew it was a kind of music that some of your lyrics needed.

Frank: It’s funny because he will play songs for me, and I will look through. I have loads of lyrics all the time. So, I sit down, look at my lyrics, and find the one that fits. For “A Dark Rainbow,” I instantly thought of a specific set of lyrics. I don’t think I deviated from that once. I thought: “These are the lyrics for this song!” And actually, it got to a point at the end when I was like it’s missing something, and I knew what it was, but I couldn’t find it because it was from, I believe, four years ago… maybe five years ago before I’d written it. I only knew one line. So, one evening, I typed it into my software, and it appeared. A little memo popped up, which I had saved somewhere… and everything was there. And I thought: “Damn yes, that’s exactly it“. And it’s very interesting because I wrote these lyrics in my car while parking for a writing session years ago. We were going to this cabin in the woods. I parked and sang in the car. I wrote all these lyrics, and they never, ever found their place. I knew at that moment that it was the end of this album, and it’s a beautiful moment for me to have real confidence to say that everything I write every day has a place in the world. I just don’t know yet. And it gives me a real purpose to continue writing, you know?

We went to your show several times, and we’ve noticed how energetic they are. Was it easy to integrate these new songs?

Frank: Yes, and it wasn’t just easy, but also very enjoyable. It was really enjoyable to see how our old songs fit alongside them. They all work, which is really wild for me. Like to be able to segue away from a beautiful moment like “Queen Of Hearts” to something really, really soft and subtle but with a bit more power, and then just be like three songs later, somehow playing “heavy” “Juggernaut” stuff. It’s just wild for me, but it’s a testament to our who we are, and the sort of understanding of emotion that we have, that we’ve been working on for such a long time. So, yes, it’s really exciting. I can’t wait to see that on stage. Are you coming to the show at the Bataclan?

We hope so! It’s sold out, so we’ll see. But we’re keeping our fingers crossed. Maybe at the Hellfest?

Frank: Yes, we love that festival.

When are you coming back to France after that?

Frank: We’re gonna be there on February 24, and then after that, we’ll be there … I don’t know, are they announced these festivals?

Dean: I know there are quite a few festivals, but I have no idea which ones are announced.

Frank: Yes. I don’t know if we’ll get in trouble if we announce them, but we’re going to be in France a lot this summer. It’s going to be fun. But let’s stick to that, just in case…

Dean: We can also say we’ll be in France after the summer, but we’ll leave that there. Anyway, we love France. We’ve never felt as much love in France as on this album. Honestly, it’s kind of blowing our mind. So, we’ll be coming to France as much as possible just to slap all that up and just enjoy that connection. But yes, as many times as we possibly can.

Great, see you in the pit then! We have a question about your tattoo shop, Frank. We remember reading that you launched it before your last album. How’s that adventure going?

Frank: Not the best. It was a difficult timing. I opened the shop in March 2020. So naturally, two weeks later, we were closed. I think any new business is going to struggle in its first three years. And the first three years of our business were entirely a global pandemic, which made it much more complicated. I am proud to say that we made a beautiful shop, created loads of permanent memories for people and, everybody that came in there really, really loved the space. And I got to teach loads of amazing young artists how to tattoo. And so I’m really proud of everything that we made in there. But, I won’t be doing it again any time soon. I just want to be on a stage singing my guts out, so.

We’re reaching the end of this interview. Our media is called RockUrLife. So, what rocks your life?

Frank: Sobriety rocks my life. My daughter rocks my life. And waking up and doing what we do for our work. Our life is rock n’roll. I think we’ve found a good balance in that. Now, we walk a pretty good line now. More and more rock n’roll, yeah.

Dean: I mean, making music is the answer from me. It’s still the thing I don’t really understand despite how much of it I do. But I love it. And it feels more exciting than most things. Obvious answer, but it’s obviously why I’m here.

© Brian Rankin


Thanks to the band for their accessibility, and to Elodie Sawicz for the organization (Agence Singularités).

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