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Baker's Dozen

'Snake Hits: Frank Carter's Favourite Albums
Patrick Clarke , January 18th, 2017 10:12

Frank Carter of Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes is one of the nicest men in all rock - here he sits down with Patrick Clarke to discuss the music that has shaped his life

"There's a saying in the tattoo industry that you're only as good as your last tattoo. I think that applies perfectly to all creative industries," says Frank Carter. A tattoo artist as well as a frontman bestowed with effortless intensity, from his departure from hardcore thrashers Gallows in 2011 for the more expansive climes of Pure Love, then once again to his current heavy rock project Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes, he's often been partial to a dramatic shift in tone. "Speaking from personal experience I don't want to be judged for music I made ten years ago. I'm writing all the time," he continues, and explains that as soon as his second album with The Rattlesnakes, Modern Ruin is released on 21 January, his to-do list will bear only the name of their third.

Carter has such an intense focus on the present that he says "when I really start ramping things up for a new album I just can't listen to anyone else's music. Subconsciously it seeps in; it finds its way in in a way that a couple of weeks later I'll listen to my own music like 'I know where this is from'." There's a fixation that borders almost on anxiety when it comes to Carter's desire to be true to himself as an artist, and he often speaks with admiration about those musicians with the ability to remain authentic among those he's picked for his Baker's Dozen. At one point during our interview he suddenly breaks out into a cold sweat at the sudden realisation that Modern Ruin might bear even slightly too much of a Glassjaw influence.

This philosophy goes some way to explaining why much of Carter's selections are so recent. Three of his picks were released just last year, and five within the last half a decade. "In that respect wanted to include artists that I loved, and unless there was a particular record I just couldn't walk away from, I wanted to include their most recent stuff," he says. "The problem with 'classics' is that that's not defined until after a decade."

That being said, it's easy to trace the route of Carter's musical development. His father was, for a time at least, a DJ, and growing up in the 1980s his parents' home boasted "an enormous wealth of CDs and quite a good stereo system. My dad had everything great from Dire Straits to Phil Collins, through to Madness and all kinds of pop, Wham! to Blondie." His love of music was sparked by the "classic British 80s soundtrack," as he puts it, until a teenage obsession with skating culture immersed him in punk, eventually leading him to the hardcore scene in which he would eventually first make his name with Gallows.

"When I hit my teens I wanted to listen to anything other than what was in our house, just any punk rock I could get off my friends. I bought Kerrang! avidly and music, skating and painting were my life. My dad had a few Clash records and there was some punk in there, but it was never his thing. The more mainstream side of new wave was what he was into, so I guess I wanted to find something a little rawer than that; everything was a bit too bright for me. But it instilled a taste for pop sensibilities that I'm yet to brush out of my mouth."

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