GALLOWS////FRANK CARTER////JANUARY 2007
Last year saw Watford based Gallows explode from the underground onto the mainstream circuit. Having already been predicted by Kerrang! as being the ‘future of punk rock’, the band are causing a massive stir globally. With the reputation of having one of the most explosive live shows around, which salutes the traditions of punk with a contemporary hardcore edge, Outline caught up with outspoken front man Frank Carter to find out a little bit more about the band…
I believe you are currently on tour in America. Where are you at the moment and what are you up to?
At the minute I’m sitting in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I’m with my friend Keith, who is a tattooist, and we’re at his parent’s house. Just hangin’ out. The view I have is a blue sky with not a cloud in sight, so I’m not doing too bad today.
You seemed to have played everywhere over the past twelve months, where have you been most surprised by the audience reaction to Gallows?
Tokyo, Japan. It was ridiculous; really crazy because I’d never even been to Japan, so to go there with our band, and to walk out on stage, and for them to know who we were, to know every song and all the words was crazy. They just lost their minds for half an hour and it was amazing; a really good feeling. In fact this tour’s been great as well. I mean we’re not selling out any clubs; we’re playing to around 80 – 100 people each night, so it’s a real small tour. It’s just fantastic, it’s really humbling. We’ve done so many big tours in the last year, that this is really nice, to come back and get to have intimate shows with people. It helps them to understand what we are about as a band.
How do you kill the downtime whilst out on the road?
I’ve got a lot of friends from America and also my girlfriend is from here. I tattoo, I get tattooed and I paint. I’ve also got a bike out here so I just get on my bike and cruise around and just try and see as much of the world as possible. Touring is a great life; it’s hard when you’re doing the shows, but as long as you get off the bus for eight hours a day, then you’re ok. The hard life is when it’s freezing and your parked in the middle of nowhere and the only thing about the town is the diner or the venue. That’s when you start to get cabin fever. Even when you are surrounded by twelve other people it can be really lonely and quite frustrating as well. But this tour has been really good. The weather has not been that great. It’s sunny, but ridiculously cold. ‘It was minus 12 degrees last night. It’s really really brutal.
You were asked in a recent online interview – London or New York? You answered ‘London, obliviously, cause that’s where I’m from’. I wondered when you are so far from home, what it is that makes you so proud to being British?
Sense of humour! I think that’s one of the things I’m most proud of. I mean Britain is such a small place, yet it’s such a creative country and that transpires all over the world. A lot of humour is based around British comedy and I’m really proud of that. I know it’s a ridiculous thing to say, but I’m proud of that. And I’m proud of our history and heritage and culture of course.
2007 was a mad year for the band. You were the smallest band ever to appear on the front cover of Kerrang!, you got to tour with your heroes and play on countless bills. How in your eyes could 2008 top that?
I don’t know really, I don’t know if it will, even. I mean so far its winning. I’m in a fantastic relationship. I’m in a fantastic relationship with the band; we are getting on like we never have before. We took four weeks off over Christmas and that really helped. We didn’t even really speak to each other in that time, but that’s sensible, and a really good idea for us to be doing that. We’ve got a lot of plans already booked in for this year, but we’ve also got time off. Not so much about us doing nothing, but for time to write a record. We’re all really, really excited about it, ‘cause it’s been such a long time since we’ve written a song. Now that we’ve been touring so much, we have more inspiration and so much more to write about. It’s gonna be a good year!!!
With a new album on the horizon, can we talk about the current changes within the music industry, concerning the massive global growth in downloading?
I think it’s great. It’s difficult for a lot of people who have been in the industry for a long time, ‘cause they have to adjust to the curve at the same time as everyone else, so it seems like a lot of experience is being wasted. I can see how that can be frustrating and upsetting for a lot of people, but at the same time, EVERYONE has to adjust, so it’s exciting. I’m sure it will be prosperous for everybody. We’re really fortunate ‘cause we got picked up off the back of our record and not anything else. We were a great new band, who had good songs and knew how to deliver them. So I’m excited about the new shape of the industry. I hope that we are the new shape of bands. We have a lot of determination and passion and we care very much about what we do and how we are perceived. There’s very little that’s left to chance with our band. We always like to have complete control over everything we do, and I think a lot of the changes that are coming in now are good in that respect. It’s making music more accessible to people. I fully support downloading. I sit and download music all the time. I can’t remember a time when I did it illegally because we have iTunes now.
What do you think would need to happen to get the hardcore punk scene back to its glory days?
I don’t think it will ever go back to the way it was because of the changes within and around the music industry; it’s more about performance and delivery. When you look at something like X Factor, they are looking for people who are easily marketable. With us, we stand completely against that grain, yet we were also the perfect tool, ‘cause here’s a band who has literally taken everything they’ve loved, re-written it so it’s original, appropriated properly, so we have created something that’s original. It’s separate from everything we love and it’s modern and up to date. If you are pining for the way things once were, you’ll be pining forever. Nothing will ever be good enough. Fact of the matter is that things are changing and I hope our band give people the right idea and they play music for themselves. That’s what we did and that’s why we can still play songs we wrote three years ago. Remember it’s an art form; it can only be as creative as you make it.
You set up your own label ‘Black Envelope Records’ to release your debut album, which was put out by Warner Bros. Why was this?
The album is actually released on an imprint; we are fully a member of Warner Bros Records. Black Envelope was simply a means to an end where we wrote a clause into our contract which meant we could release a vinyl record of two unsigned bands every six months. This way we have the backing and the financial stability and the resources of Warner Bros. It’s not a case of trying to re-build the scene, or trying to do anything for ourselves; it’s about using the facilities of a major label. It’s all about using ‘The Man’ to your advantage. Stop trying to fight the Man ‘cause the Man is too fucking big. He’s a big fella and he’s got many Arsenals all over the world.
Ok, so if you could have written any Punk or Hardcore album of all time, which would it have been?
I’m glad it was Orchestra of Wolves…
You’ve got a lot of tattoos. Is there a particular ritual that goes with getting a new piece done?
No there’s not actually. I only really get tattooed spontaneously now because I cannot hack the build up anymore. There’s nothing about it I enjoy anymore, well apart from the finished result. It’s just a lot of hard work for me.
I believe you’re a tattooist yourself, when did you first get into it all?
I’ve been into it all my life really. Some of my uncles had tattoos when we were growing up and I just found it all fantastically interesting. So I’ve always wanted to be part of the tattoo community. There are a lot of people I really need to thank for getting me here, especially people like Dan Tate and Keith Underwood.
You said that if you made ‘The NME Cool list for 2007’ you’d get a tattoo with ‘Fuck the NME somewhere. You came in No. 1 – have you had the done tattoo yet?
Nah, not yet. Like I said, tattooing is a spontaneous thing, one day I’ll have my machine set up and I’ll just to it, or an appointment will get cancelled and I’ll do it then.
Have you a specific issue with the NME?
I’ve had many. We were a very young band and frankly the amount of press attention we got was unprecedented. It really knocked us for six. To be honest nowadays I just don’t bother reading it, because I can’t be fucked. I’ll sit and talk to people for hours on the phone and nine out of ten times I’ll be misquoted or misinterpreted and then miswritten. It gives off a bad impression. Time and time again I have tried to stop doing press…but you can’t to that. It’s part of the job description.
Finally, have you played in Norwich before?
Yeah, we’ve played at the Cricketers Rest about a year and half ago. It got cancelled three songs in. The owners had to cut the power because the night ran over. There were six bands on the bill, one of which played for like fifty minutes; it was all a bit ridiculous in the end, but one of my favourite shows actually. I like Norwich, I’ve got a lot of friends there – the Kings of Albany Road. There’s a house I go to on Albany Road to hangout with my friends John, Gareth, Greg, Chris & Simone. We eat Angel Cake till four in the morning and tattoo; it’s good times. That’s my favourite place to go in Norwich.