Frank Carter , the wire-framed lead screamer with hardcore punk band Gallows , has just found out that he has to fly to Canada in a couple of hours. It’s something to do with sorting out his US visa for a hastily organised SXSW appearance. Following that, the band embark on a gruelling three-month tour of the US. For these “five shitty kids from Watford”, life has recently taken turn of pace every bit as hectic as their ferocious debut album Orchestra of Wolves
Frank is undaunted by their punishing schedule. “Everyone’s screaming, You’re gonna fucking die” he says. “But I’m still putting in the same amount of energy at all the gigs.” Is it hard going? “It’s 20 minutes of pure fucking agony,” says Frank. “But I’d be doing it regardless. May as well go and do it in the States.”
The 22-year-old is sat in a quiet East London pub. Tattoos ooze over the turned-up collars of his polo shirt. He’s taking a rare breather with his band — Laurent Barnard (26, guitar), Lee Barratt, (23, bass) and younger sibling Steph Carter (21, guitar/inhaler), while the vagaries of London transport have thus far prevented drummer Stuart Gili-Ross from joining us. Frank talks about recent events with the same steely determination that characterises their gigs, which in six months have leapt from 50 kids in a boozer to 5000 people at Hammersmith Apollo. He’s humble and remains unfazed that heavy metal bible Kerrang recently put them on their cover, calling them “the most exciting band in the UK”.
They formed at the beginning of 2005 from the ashes of Winter In June and My Dad Joe. They’ve survived numerous ups and downs since then. “I’ve quit this band four times and every time I think that’s the worst decision of my life,” says Frank. “I quit when we began recording the album, and then, when I came back to do the vocals, I was on my hands and knees begging to be let back into the band.”
What a good thing they did. Orchestra Of Wolves is an absolute gem. Dark riffs, pounding rhythms, math-rock inspired signature changes and intelligent yet ferocious vocals – date-rape, divorce and the dentist are a few of the themes – make for a brilliantly ear-splitting listen. You can clearly hear their love of ’80s American hardcore bands such as Black Flag and Minor Threat , as well as and Scandinavian post-rock such as JR Ewing , but the final product is their own, from the Herts-tinged vocal delivery to the near-symphonic compositions.
It’s challenging stuff, even for the band themselves. “We released the album in September and there are songs that we still can’t play,” says Frank. “We’ve been so busy, we haven’t had a chance to practise them.”
“I never thought it would get this far,” continues Frank. “Never thought we’d be on the front cover of a magazine. Never thought I’d be going to Canada tonight. But we’ll push it as far as we can, because it’s all we’ve got. And if the bottom falls out of our ship, it doesn’t matter. They’ll bury me kicking and screaming, ’cause I’ve got shit to say.”
Gallows’ debut album, Orchestra of Wolves is on In At The Deep End.
Written for the autumn 2007 edition of Dummy.