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Frank Carter speaks to Joe Viney about his new project Pure Love
Getting the go-ahead to speak with Frank Carter can be a daunting experience. Even with an unknown distance separating our voices by telephone, the diminutive and heavily tattooed PURE LOVE front man possesses a certain aura; an obvious charisma that any politician would kill to have for themselves.
His time with his previous group, the vicious, angry and confrontational Gallows, left Carter with a reputation that preceded him. His willingness to use the stage as his own personal pulpit to preach twisted sermons, his predilection for criticising other bands, and his aggressive demeanour marked him out from the rest of the pack. Things have changed now. Since officially leaving Gallows in 2011, Carter has…whisper it…mellowed. Their debut video for the single Bury My Bones was conspicuous in its absence of vengeance and other negative attributes. The track’s opening line (“I’m so sick of singing about hate/it’s never going to make a change”) signalled a sea change, but what’s brought this on?
“I wouldn’t say it was a personal epiphany or anything like that,” remarks Carter. “It’s more of a gradual change, something I’ve been feeling for a long time. I’ve grown up and moved on.” Indeed, it’s this more mature outlook that provides Pure Love with a sharper, more introspective philosophy. But don’t think he has ideas above his station. Always keen to distance himself from the quasi-religious and sanctimonious bullshit that pervades the careers of others, Carter is happy to keep his feet on the floor. “I don’t think we’re rock and roll saviours, nothing like that. We don’t think we can do what nobody else can. Alls I can say about this band is that we have some great songs and we want to have a good time.”
As the old adage goes, pride comes before a fall. Carter’s new partner in crime, Jim Carroll (Guitar), is similarly imbued with a more understated and reasonable set of expectations. “It’s going far better than I’d ever hoped already,” enthuses the big American. “We’re only a new band but the crowds are receptive and seem to love what we do. Right now, that’s all that matters.”
If Carter and Carroll appear to be very much on the same page, it’s because their relatively new but immeasurably strong friendship is what underpins the band. The group’s appearance at the Manchester leg of June’s Dot To Dot Festival saw Carter tease Carroll about their so-called “bromance.” Carter says their friendship was started by luck more than anything.
“Jim and I have never really worked together before. Gallows toured with an old band of his, Suicide File. We’d met and spoken but nothing too serious. We just happened to bump into each other in Brooklyn during a period of downtime for both of us. We talked about what we both wanted to do, how we wanted to move on and it went from there. He sent me ten songs to work on and it just happened so fast. He’s a great guitar player and songwriter. His talent had never been showcased before.”
Some fans may be worried about the potential longevity of this group. Both Carter and Carroll are known for their propensity to keep moving forward and trying new things. Are we to expect Pure Love to fall by the wayside anytime soon?
“I’ve always got my eyes on other things, but this band is really important to me. I’d like us to become established and I don’t want to jump ship. I really like the album, I really like the songs and I love playing them live. I just hope other people like them.”
Carroll echoes these sentiments, adding that there might be a brief lull after their initial burst of creativity, but nothing to become overly concerned about: “As of right now we were very focused on the first record. Now that’s out of the way I’ve slowed my writing down in the last month or two. There might be another record in another year, we’ll see.”
Pure Love hit The Zanzibar (Seel Street) on Thursday 19th July. The uninitiated should expect energy, noise and songs with more hooks than a Peter Pan villain convention. You had best catch them while you can however, as they could hit it big anytime soon. Any success won’t dampen their spirits though. Carter is reassuring when he says he and the group will keep their heads about them when all others are losing theirs and blaming it on them.
“Even if, God forbid, we do really well,” laughs Carter, “whatever is taken away by larger crowds and bigger venues, we’ll make up for it. All of that means more money and more resources. I can use that to engage with people in new ways. That’s just the kind of person and performer I am.”
He laughs wryly and gives a child-like exclamation of “Really?!” when he’s informed that the Zanzibar’s stage is practically at floor-level; prime Carter territory. Will he be planning anything special? “Well, we’ll just have to see, won’t we?”