We visited the Dutch festival Down the Rabbit Hole. For three days we went headfirst into a world of rock-‘n’-roll, dance, pop, and hip-hop. We even found time to talk to some of the artists while we’re at it.
On day one we had the pleasure to meet Frank Carter and one of his Rattlesnakes Dean Richardson right before their amazing show at the Fuzzy Lop stage
You guys just released “End of Suffering.” Was your approach for making this album different than for previous records?
Frank: Yeah we kind of changed the whole writing process. For previous albums, Dean and I would sit on the couch with a guitar and a cup of tea just writing stuff. As soon as we had the songs, we would go in the studio with the whole band and start recording.
This time around we took these very basic demos to our producer Cam Blackwood. We sat there together with our drummer Gareth and dismantled everything and put it back together. It was really good to have fresh eyes and ears working on the songs.
Dean: Previously we used to record more like the basic bits together. But with this one we entered a patchwork process where you just kind of piece it together. You’re a little bit more destructive with the songs and you don’t worry too much about saving your rhythm guitar sound for your next track. You take each piece as it comes and basically jump on what’s exciting. This way of working felt more carefree.
Did this new approach work better because you guys are more experienced now?
Frank: We are definitely more experienced now. But this new way of working on a record came from Cam. He was really confident about what he was doing and that confidence rubbed off on us. Naturally we are more experienced, since we have two records under our belt as The Rattlesnakes before we started working on “End of Suffering.”
In the end I think it was our producer’s confidence in saying, “anything goes.” Those were the magic words we’ve been waiting to hear for ten years. And the moment I heard them I was like, “I want to sing right now!”
And did you?
Frank: Cameron had the mic right there and I was like, “Oh shit!” This had never happened to me in my life. So I was able to sing, and on day one I did takes of vocals that made it on the album.
Dean: Normally we wait for five weeks before starting to work on the vocals, and now he did it in the first couple of days.
So this felt much more natural?
Frank: Exactly. And the studio amazes me, because writing songs is such a nice organic and fluid process; but recording them is so stressful. Everyone is on a deadline, everything has to be done in a certain way. It’s crazy.
Dean: If your bass player for example has had a rough time but he has to record right now, well that’s going to sound different than when the bloke is in the right place and feels good.
Dean, what was your first instrument?
Dean: I started out playing guitar – Spanish guitar actually. Later on I picked up drums, and that was the first instrument I played live in bands.
And do you still have your first guitar?
I do actually – a Yamaha Pacifica. It’s in my parents’ loft. I’ve had a few guitars since, but I’ll never get rid of that one.
Do you guys have favorite chords or keys you like to fall back on while composing?
Dean: I guess I do instinctively, but neither of us is heavily into music theory. We’d normally write loads of material and go to the studio. Sometime the producers – who are more educated in theory – will be like, “Oh right, this one’s in A again.” But instinctively each album seems to fall into place, if it’s a key or a mood I guess. I’m never specifically chasing it because of that.
What’s your craziest backstage story?
Frank: Sorry, can’t tell you.
Dean: What happens backstage, stays backstage.
Frank: I grew up as a straight-edge punk-rock-‘n’-roll kid. So I didn’t drink or take drugs for a long long time. As I grew older I kind of hit thirty, got married, had a kid. And then just recently we started playing some shows with the Foo Fighters. So one evening Dave Grohl turns up in our dressing room with whiskey and shots. And I’ve never done a shot in my life.
Dean: I thought to myself, “Well this is going to be interesting.”
You couldn’t turn down Dave Grohl?
Frank: I told him I’d never done this in my entire life, and he assured me that I didn’t have to do it. I was like, “I kind of do, don’t I?” Then I nodded and I was like, “absolutely!” So then I made a new rule: I would only drink shots with Dave Grohl. But that kind of fell apart when his guitar tech gave me a shot and I was like, “Okay from now on I’ll do shots with anyone connected to Dave.”
If you could give starting musicians a piece of advice, what would that be?
Frank: Play, write, every day, all day. Just play as much as you can and worry less about what you look like, what you sound like. Don’t worry about the fact that no one is coming to see your gigs. Just play and listen to as much music as you can of all genres.
And try your best in that world to do something original. As long as you play from the heart you’ll find what interests you most. And hopefully you’ll find something that hasn’t been said before. Which is very difficult, because it’s all been …
Another piece of advice is to go and find your scene in the region you’re at. And if there is no scene, just create one. Start your own gigs, invite other bands to play with you. In the end it will help you grow.