Personal struggles and angsty alt-rock music are two things that have always gone well together. …
We’re in a quiet, empty café underneath a Brisbane hotel, sitting across from Frank Carter and Dean Richardson—one half of UK rock outfit The Rattlenakes, as they get ready to begin their 2020 headline tour of Australia (their fourth in as little five years).
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Oscillating between states of heavy jetlag and nervous excitement, the duo talk shop about a wild range of subjects, such as life on the road, auto-vehicular accidents as divine intervention, the allure of Coca Cola, internecine band dynamics, warm-up algorithms, and playing some of their biggest shows to date.
HYS: So, last time Hysteria caught up with you guys you were on tour here with Bring Me The Horizon and End of Suffering was about to be released. What’s been happening in the Rattlesnakes camp since then?
Dean Richardson: So, we released End of Suffering in May and have basically been on tour, pretty much solid, until the end of the year at least.
Frank Carter: Best part of the month was in December. And that felt like a really fucking good time [laughs].
HYS: Also, Dean, I saw that you got married in that time? Which is awesome. Congratulations.
Dean Richardson: Yeah, slipped that in amongst the busiest time [laughs]. Basically, we’ve just been on tour, I got married and then we had a knock off in December, which I guess is the first point when you realise—like, suddenly—how mad it was releasing that album. Looking back, it was a real fast blur of just crazy shows.
Frank Carter: And we did all those Foo Fighters shows too.
Dean Richardson: Yeah, they were incredible. And then we did the Reading set, where we third from headline, which was just a massive moment for us, so just a lot huge moments.
Nothing will make you appreciate life quite like your car crashing into you at 60 miles an hour.
[ Frank Carter ]
HYS: And some lows too as well. I saw that you had to cancel some shows in the US, because of your accident Frank. Pretty sad to see, but we’re glad you’re ok.
Frank Carter: Yeah, it’s been a fucking heavy year. But it’s good. Nothing will make you appreciate life quite like your car crashing into you at 60 miles an hour. Gives you a good, like, ‘Okay I’ve just been given another second chance.’
Dean Richardson: Maybe that was some divine intervention saying, ‘Slow down a little bit.’ Because that was kind of right in the middle of it all. We hadn’t stopped for months, and then that happened.
Frank Carter: Yeah, but not only that, but … So, I was going up to see my brother get married the next day. And all the boys were supposed to fly out to New York on Friday. And it [the accident] happened on the Thursday night. So, the next day they were all supposed to fly out and I was supposed to fly on the Sunday, right? But all their flights got cancelled.
Dean Richardson: So, you’d had the accident and we were supposed to fly out within hours of finding out. You rang me at like two in the morning or 11 o’clock or something. The next day our flight was at 2 p.m. So then next morning, it’s a Saturday, there’s all this confusion trying to work out what we’re actually doing. And then the decision was kind of made, look, get on the flight anyway, while we figure out. We didn’t know enough about what was going on, to see if there was anything to be done with these [US] shows anyway. But then, we get the text from [British Airways] being like, ‘Due to some weird weather or something, we’ve cancelled your flight. Please rebook.’ And I remember texting our manager being like, ‘If that’s not a sign, I don’t know what is.’
Frank Carter: The doctors were literally like, ‘Your knee is in the wrong place; you can’t do the shows. You also probably won’t be able to stand very well for six months.’
Dean Richardson: Yeah, I was on the phone to you and you were just like, ‘No, we’re going to do the shows’. I hadn’t even seen you at point.
Frank Carter: [Laughs.] My shock hadn’t even kicked in.
Dean Richardson: Later that week, I think you realised how ridiculous it was in hindsight that you would say we’re going to do it.
HYS: Especially considering the shit you get up to in a typical Rattlesnakes set, Frank. Nobody can do that on a busted knee.
Frank Carter: [Laughs.] Yeah, I went the other way. I was like, ‘We are absolutely doing this.’ And I was ready to do it.
Dean Richardson: You really were, yeah. I think because in our head space, we were actually really up for that tour. Which can be hard, like, depending on how much you tour, that fluctuates as you expect, but in America … It’s just such a big undertaking, that I think we’d spent, without truly realising it, a lot of time preparing for that tour, getting ready for that. Being kind of up for the challenge, ready take it on. So, I think that’s why you were so kind of in denial that, after the accident, you were like, ‘No, I spent a lot of time getting ready for this.’
You make sure you get up early, you have a decent breakfast. Because, it might be the only meal you have.
[ Frank Carter ]
HYS: That segues nicely into our next question. What do you do, both mentally and physically, to maintain life on the road? Obviously it involves a lot of sacrifice, a lot of time away from loved ones and stuff like that. But what do you guys do as performers, to keep up that level of intensity?
Frank Carter: Acceptance, that’s the hardest part.
Dean Richardson: The physical ones are easier. It’s really basic stuff.
Frank Carter: You eat well. You make sure you get up early, you have a decent breakfast. Because, it might be the only meal you have.
Dean Richardson: Yeah, you try to make some sensible decisions on tour, because it’s so easy to slip into bad habits. It’s much harder to figure out I think. And I think that’s what you [Carter] often remind me is like, ‘Just accept that it is what it is.’ That it’s just a lot of down time, and that’s when your brain often starts to flirt with other things.
HYS: You’ve both played in other bands prior to The Rattlesnakes, but do you think that the dynamic in the band now is one of your strengths in that regard? Feeding off each other, supporting one another and helping each other to stay centred on the road?
Dean Richardson: Yeah, my old band [Heights] made each other go mad [laughs].
Frank Carter: And I left my old band [Gallows], because we didn’t get on.
Dean Richardson: It’s a lot like any other relationship, where it’s also about knowing when to give that person space and when the opposite’s needed. So, yeah, nothing about our team of people now with The Rattlesnakes has ever been a problem on the road. I think because we’ve cared a lot about that, and always made sure that everyone that tours with us is what we need. It’s just that, being away so much, it’s a weird thing for anyone.
It’s very difficult. There are lots of other jobs in the world, like ours, that are also nothing like ours. And they have the same issues, you know, whether you’re in the army or working on an oil rig; any of those things.
[ Frank Carter ]
Frank Carter: It’s very difficult. There are lots of other jobs in the world, like ours, that are also nothing like ours. And they have the same issues, you know, whether you’re in the army or working on an oil rig; any of those things. Like, you’re away for extended periods of time and that in of itself is an endurance test. And the thing about endurance is that it’s always mental before physical. The human body can do and endure a lot, take a lot of suffering. But if your mind can’t, then you’re fucked. It doesn’t matter how big or strong you are. If you don’t believe you can do it, then you can’t do it. That’s why I say acceptance is the most important thing for getting through being a band, because your situation changes every single day and you have to be willing to accept those changes. And that’s ultimately survival. Like, it’s not the strongest or even the smartest who survive. It’s those who are most adaptable to change.
HYS: The shows have been getting bigger and bigger for The Rattlesnakes, as you guys continue to go from strength to strength. So, with that in mind, what does the typical rider look like now for a Rattlesnakes show?
Dean Richardson: I mean that’s barely changed over the last five years. It’s just gotten healthier. Coca Cola comes on and then it gets immediately taken off, because we’re sad that we drank too much of it [laughs].
Frank Carter: Well, I haven’t …
Dean Richardson: Yeah, you haven’t drank it in ages now?
Frank Carter: In over seven months.
Dean Richardson: Really? I hadn’t drank it for ages, then I tried to stop drinking alcohol, and I was like, ‘Okay, I’m going to have coca cola instead.’ But I don’t know … We basically try to make salads. There’s often so much unhealthy food that you don’t get a choice if you have it or not. That’s all we do, other than play shows, is trying to work out three meals a day [laughs]. And like, it’s because we’re just always determined to eat together, so it’s quite a big thing. Like, last night was three restaurants because we have a mix of vegans and vegetarians. It’s mad, isn’t it, how much effort we put in just eating?
There’s often so much unhealthy food that you don’t get a choice if you have it or not. That’s all we do, other than play shows, is trying to work out three meals a day [laughs].
[ Dean Richardson ]
HYS: All right, run us through what you guys do pre-show. Any little rituals, or things that you do to get in the right head space before a set?
Frank Carter: It really depends on where we are, but usually the majority of that time is spent listening to music, stretching, doing yoga, etc. We’re all pretty good now with stretching and at least getting warm. Like not fully limber, but at least warmed up. We’ll sing along to stuff quite loosely too, just to get some attitude in the room, some energy.
HYS: Interesting. What sort of stuff?
Frank Carter: Everything [laughs]. From Drake and Travis Scott, to Black Sabbath and Motorhead.
Dean Richardson: Yeah, and at the last minute it ramps up a bit. We’ve called it the ‘Hour of Power’ for a long time, and it only sometimes dawns on me that I’m about to go do that. And I mean, I can hardly refuse to play shows. Because we used to have a really different energy before that. Before that Hour of Power, it’s quite a significant change. Like, we can all just be doing our own thing, someone might be on their laptop or someone might be playing video games or whatever.
HYS: Did the Hour of Power come about as a deliberate decision within the band? Or is that something that’s just evolved over time?
Dean Richardson: I don’t know when we started doing it. But in the really early days of the band, we started doing it, and it’s quite disciplined now. People will get reminded that it’s the Hour of Power, and they have to change their energy.
Frank Carter: Or their clothes [laughs].
Dean Richardson: Yeah.
Frank Carter: And now we even have a pre-hour of power hour too. Do you know what I mean? Because I need like, at least two hours.
Dean Richardson: Yeah, there’s been quite a lot of lobbying to make it two Hours of Power.
Frank Carter: I’m still desperate for the two Hours of Power.
Dean Richardson: I feel like show days, you think about the show from the moment you wake up until it’s done.
Frank Carter: And that’s a lot of time to overthink and stress yourself out. Like, if you’re an anxious person, that’s hours and hours and hours of fear. So, it’s better to just slowly work up to it.
Dean Richardson: But the Hour of Power is a calming; that’s why we do it. That’s the deal: when you start worrying, you’re just like, ‘Right, it’s showtime.’ That’s the Hour of Power, that’s the start of the show.
HYS: And to contrast, what about post-show after your set. Is there anything you do to unwind? Or does it depend on the show?
Frank Carter: Well, usually it’s a celebration.
Dean Richardson: Yeah, it’s always a pretty good celebratory feel. It can vary a lot though. Sometimes we’re like, straight in the van and need to drive somewhere or to go to a flight. Other times, our curfew is 2 a.m. and everyone’s like, ‘Great, let’s party!’ The post-show’s definitely not as consistent as the pre-show [laughs]. Usually, with Australia, it’s quite a lot of partying though.
HYS: Recapping last year, what was your favourite gig for either one of you?
Frank Carter: Reading and Leeds.
Dean Richardson: Yeah, definitely.
Frank Carter: The combo of those two gigs, is something I’ve always wanted to play. I’ve been playing that festival for over 15 years. I grew up going to that festival.
Dean Richardson: I keep telling them that we’re not doing this year . And my wife, she’s like, ‘You say that every time.’ And I’m like, ‘No, no, we’re actually not doing it this year.’ And she’s like, ‘Dean, you always say that. You and Frank will just go play acoustic in the countryside.’ And I’m like, ‘… Yeah we could do that.’ [Laughs.]
Frank Carter: That would be a great idea. We should do that.
Dean Richardson: Just so we can say we still played it [laughs].
Frank Carter: We also played some amazing shows with the Foos [Foo Fighters] over the summer. That’s right up there. Just really good people.
Dean Richardson: They just change their set so much, it doesn’t get boring. It’s crazy. They EVEN played it backwards once [laughs].
Frank Carter: Yeah, you just fall back in love with rock music every time. If you ever kind of worry about the state of rock, they only rock out and there’s people there that weren’t even born when their first album came out, who are just loving it. It’s fun. That’s the thing. They’re probably my favourite band to play with.
HYS: That’s great. What about young up-and-comers that you’ve seen on the road, where you’re like, ‘Holy shit, they’re going to be huge’?
Frank Carter: A band that we took out on our recent European tour, Kid Kapichi, they’ve just got fucking great songs. It’s like the best parts of Brit-pop. They’ve just got great songs. They’re all good characters. Great guys.
Dean Richardson: They’re fun to tour with.
Frank Carter: Yeah, they’re fucking fun to be around.
Dean Richardson: On our next tour in the UK, we’ve got the bands Ho99o9 [pronounced ‘Horror’] and Cleopatrick coming out. And we’re super excited to like, see them live properly and stuff. It’s going to be rad.
HYS: Sweet. Now, lastly, what’s in store for The Rattlesnakes this year? Album #4?
Dean Richardson: Yeah, we’re definitely going to start writing.
Frank Carter: For sure. I mean, we already have.
Dean Richardson: Yeah.
Frank Carter: I think we kind of promised ourselves that we would start early and just let it kind of materialise. The reality within, is that it’s highly likely that we’ll get to sort of October-November, and if we haven’t already released it, we’re going to have to start again.
Dean Richardson: The thing with us as well, is there’s always this moment in time when both of us realise, ‘Ahh, okay, we’re making an album now.’ That hasn’t happened yet, even though we’ve already started writing music. And we don’t plan that moment. It’s something … just a tipping point. Maybe it’s a certain song or whatever. But we’ve gotten better at realising it. I remember the second [for End of Suffering], where before we weren’t writing an album but then, suddenly, we were writing an album [laughs].
HYS: That makes sense. I also saw that, with those upcoming UK shows after this tour, you guys are playing Alexandra Palace, which must be a huge kind of milestone for The Rattlesnakes, right?
Frank Carter: It’s fucking mental. It’s a ten thousand cap venue.
HYS: Wow, that’s crazy.
Frank Carter: It’s mental, man.
Dean Richardson: Yeah, and I think we’ve got a couple more stops after that, before we do shows with Green Day. So, it doesn’t really get any less mental.
Frank Carter: Pretty casual year, you know? We’re downsizing [laughs].
Catch Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes at the remaining shows.
ADELAIDE // Friday 24th January // The Gov w/Young Offenders
PERTH // Saturday 25th January // The Rosemount w/Ratking