Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes talk new album 'Dark Rainbow'

Interview Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes: Betting On Themselves

After the frenzied blitz of 2021’s ‘Sticky’, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes are emerging with a reflective, grand statement on fifth album ‘Dark Rainbow’.

Those familiar with Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes will know that their frontman cuts a distinctive figure. Throughout their live shows over the past eight years - and even with his earlier projects Gallows and Pure Love - Frank’s presence has been a commanding one, throwing shapes in a floral Gucci suit and barrelling headfirst into the crowd, fired up with passion.

A version of The Rattlesnakes that’s perhaps less familiar, though, was the one displayed on their most recent tour. A low-key, intimate affair - with tickets only offered to their fan mailing list - their short run last month saw the band strip things back for a handful of shows in churches and cafes, offering up a set that felt a world away from the white-of-your-eyes frenzy more regularly on offer.

“They were beautiful,” begins Frank, just a few days on from their final show at The Monarch in Berlin. “It was just the three of us playing an hour of acoustic versions of some of our older songs, and some new ones. It felt like a whole new way of performing, and the setlist was pretty special; early songs like ‘Neon Rust’ and ‘Anxiety’ came back into the fold, with new, slower, much more gentle renditions. It was really really intimate, and it was nice to play a gig and just hear silence between the songs. It was quite powerful.”

After the frenetic energy that pumped through the veins of previous album ‘Sticky’, the idea of ushering in their new era with a set of acoustic shows may come as somewhat of a surprise. “When we were making ‘Sticky’ it felt like everything that was missing, we were just trying to put it down into sound,” explains Frank of their 2021 release, which was primarily written as a response to the continuing pandemic and the loss of live music. “It was like a memorial to live music or something; like us saying, ‘This is how it feels, don’t forget this!’ It felt like it was a love letter to punk rock, in our way,” he nods. “We obviously ain’t a punk band, but we have punk rock blood, and it felt like, I dunno, a clinging.” He cracks a grin. “‘I’ll never let go Jack!’ Except we’re the iceberg - know what I mean?”

And so, The Rattlesnakes have switched things up again. While the band are never adverse to throwing out curveballs (“I don’t know what [fans] expect anymore,” Frank remarks. “I think they expect the unexpected, and that’s probably as good as you get from us”), their fifth album ‘Dark Rainbow’ seemingly comes from a different place altogether. Gone is ‘Sticky’’s zealous celebration of extroversion, with their latest instead inspired by the feelings of isolation and loneliness that sank in fully in the ensuing years.

“Going into this felt complicated for me,” Frank admits. “It felt like we were languishing a bit after the COVID lockdown, and when we came out of it, it felt like the celebration was a bit too soon. [I] didn’t really ever seem to properly recover; even now, I go to gigs and I can feel…” he trails off. “Nothing’s back to normal, certainly not back to the way it was, and that’s sad. It’s interesting because when we were in that lockdown bit, in those early moments, I didn’t feel alone. The loneliness came after the fact - when you’d been isolated for such a long time and then you’re not - and it’s hard to move from that headspace. It’s had a lingering feeling.”

“The glamour and the romance of living on the edge - I’ve always struggled with it.” - Frank Carter

For the frontman, the making of ‘Dark Rainbow’ would provide a very real sense of therapy. While his writing came from a “very introspective headspace”, the album’s lyrics see him reflect on his place on stage, in the wider world, and the coping mechanisms he’s found himself developing in the wake of his current life. “A lot of the record is about coping mechanisms, and how overwhelming they can be; how they can sneak up on you, how they’re always around and it’s about the time and the energy that you give to those things and what happens when that happens,” Frank offers up, nodding to the fact that he’s now sober.

“For me, I lost a lot of friends in the last three years - some of them are still alive, some of them aren’t, and it just felt important to recognise that. I’ve always struggled with the…” he pauses. “The glamour, and the romance of living on the edge. I’ve always struggled with it because it’s a really complicated game you’re playing and you don’t often get to choose where or when you get to cash out. 9.9 times out of 10, the house always wins on that one. I feel like I’m the 0.1 and I was really lucky to get out when I did. I certainly didn’t leave with chips; I definitely came out with less than I went in with. But in reality, I’m still alive, I’m healthy, and I’ve learned that I don’t ever wanna play that game again. I certainly won’t ever be going back to that casino.”

Through the creation of their latest record, the band became “a support network for each other”, with Frank and bandmate Dean Richardson working at an easier pace than in the past. “We were a little bit slower and more considered,” Dean confirms. “I don’t know why that is, but it definitely felt a lot calmer in that consideration and not a sprint to the finish line like some of the others might’ve felt.”

This change of pace can be tangibly felt within the album itself. Where ‘Sticky’ felt turbocharged and frantic - a visceral reaction to the tumultuous period in which it was born - ‘Dark Rainbow’ feels more luscious, more brooding. From the Queens of the Stone Age-esque swagger of opener ‘Honey’ to the grandeur of the record’s lead single ‘Man of the Hour’ via the ethereal piano-led ‘Sun Bright Golden Happening’, the space the band afforded themselves has been woven into the record’s very core.

“There was no real pressure and there was no deadline to make the record,” Frank nods. “We had more room than ever before - to make, to create, to think, to criticise, to analyse. There’ll be some stuff that feels familiar, but then there’s other things that are like, ‘OK, that’s where they’ve taken this now’.” Frank Carter and The Rattlesnakes, ultimately, are keeping us on our toes once more. “We’ve just always loved the ability to do that,” the frontman says. “Just know that there’s gonna be some curveballs.”

‘Dark Rainbow’ is out 26th January via International Death Cult / AWAL.

Tags: Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes, From The Magazine, Features, Interviews

As featured in the November 2023 issue of DIY, out now.

Read More

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Stay Updated!

Get the best of DIY to your inbox each week.

Latest Issue

March 2024

Featuring Green Day, English Teacher, Everything Everything, Caity Baser and more!

Read Now Buy Now Subscribe to DIY