Speaking to NME, Carter discussed the importance of showing support for smaller spaces in the live music industry and the band’s upcoming residency at London’s 500-capacity The Underworld venue.
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“Anyone that says supporting grassroots venues isn’t important is a fucking arsehole, basically,” Carter said of rallying around small venues. “Without those venues, you’d be nothing. It’s where you learn how to be a musician, a performer, and how to problem solve. It’s where you learn to navigate crowds. Those small venues define artists.”
The Rattlesnakes are currently touring Europe and will return to the UK for a trio of sold-out shows at The Underworld between December 6-8. The intimate gigs will follow the band’s massive headline show at Alexandra Palace. “After playing Alexandra Palace, the only logical place to go is back to where it began for me as a musician, a rockstar, and a young punk rocker,” said Carter, who once popped his entire arm out of its socket when he, as a punter, flipped off the front of the Underworld’s stage and no one caught him.
He added that while he “can’t rely on those Underworld shows to show me where we go next”, the gigs will mark “the end of an era” for The Rattlesnakes. “I am going to rain down on Camden with the fury of a thousand dogs from hell,” he continued, promising “a different me than you’ve ever seen before – I’m hungrier and more focused than I’ve ever been.”
Ahead of the residency and their month-long European tour, the band released the new standalone single ‘Parasite’ last week, which was written during the pandemic when Carter and bandmate Dean Richardson were going through a “difficult time” and were “angry at the world”.
Describing the past few years as “bleak”, the frontman said: “I don’t want to overshare, but I don’t want to sugarcoat it either. During the pandemic, I compromised myself a lot. I found myself nurturing the wrong things and getting lost in the wrong coping mechanisms. I learned a lot about myself, though.” Now, Carter is the “best version” of himself and, playing shows again, can feel “a lot of hope in the air”.
“The words just fell out of me,” Carter said about ‘Parasite’. “I had been having a lot of conversations with friends and had been doing a lot of listening. That song was my time to talk and I fucking shouted.
“I was angry at the world. I was angry at what I was hearing and how people were behaving. I was angry at some of my own behaviour and I was angry at the lack of respect I’d had for my own privilege. I was angry and hurt at the same time, but it’s healthy to get that out.”
He went on to explain that “we’re not the only people to have experienced hurt, pain or suffering, but we’re able to write about it in a way where everyone can relate”. “‘Parasite’ is just faceless enough that people know the guy that we’re singing about. That’s the healing,” Carter, who performed the track for the first time the evening before speaking to NME, continued.
“There was a lot of rage in the pit and people were singing the lyrics to someone. We provide a safe space for people to let it all out. Zach [de la Rocha, Rage Against The Machine] said it best – anger is a gift. You just need to know how to use it.”
‘Parasite’ follows on from the Jamie T-featuring ‘The Drugs’, which was released last month. Written about some friends that had been “struggling with addiction”, Carter said it’s “important that people understand the actual message, which is that drugs have ruined the lives or killed a lot of people that I know”.
“The Drugs’ and ‘Parasite’ were two very important songs to me that I needed to write. We needed to get them out,” he said. “They were both mental health moments for me, as I tried to get some clarity on a lot of situations I was trying to understand.” The musician added that, while he doesn’t know if they’ll “be attached to a record, but they’re fucking fun to play live” and described them as “a very cathartic combo”.
Those two tracks aren’t all the band have been sitting on, though. “We wanted to get those two songs out fast, but now we’re going to take a little bit more time…we’re actually sat on two albums,” Carter admitted. “But we want to make sure we release the right one.” Carter described those unreleased Rattlesnakes albums as “incredibly different” and let slip that he and Richardson also have a third album ready for “another project entirely” that they want to give “absolutely nothing” away about.
As the band return to the road, their now-traditional invitation for women and non-binary people to start a moshpit will be ignited once again – as it was at this year’s Reading & Leeds Festivals. It’s something the band have been doing for years now, and Carter still believes it’s “the most important part of our set”. “Every single band should be doing it,” he said. “I don’t know why they’re not.”
Making rock music more accessible to people who’ve historically been excluded from the scene is, according to Carter, of the utmost importance. “[It’s] a conversation that needs to be heard and overheard because it doesn’t always sink in the first time people hear about it,” he said. “Everyone needs to play their part in it.”
Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes’ ‘Parasite’ is out now. Find out more about the Music Venue Trust on their official website.