Soon after completing their biggest-ever tour in early 2020, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes (Carter and bandmate Dean Richardson) sought to capitalize on the jubilation and went off to Thorpe Forest in Norfolk to begin writing a new record. “Within two weeks of that session, the whole world had started shutting down and it was just chaos,” Carter tells Apple Music. From there, the duo decamped to locked-down London and got to work on their fourth album. Titled Sticky, it’s a record that pairs the feeling of triumph from the UK Top 5 success of their third album, 2019’s End of Suffering, with a punky defiance, offering up snapshots of pre-pandemic, post-pandemic, and mid-pandemic Britain in the form of anthemic, rattling rock. “I was constantly writing about energy and everything that was lost,” says Carter. “I always wanted it to be more of a celebratory album rather than a lockdown album. That was the most fun part: figuring out what I wanted to talk about that I was really fucking excited about getting back in my life—essentially all the ways that you can get sticky.”
Making a record while the world was at a standstill had an effect in other ways. It’s Carter and Richardson’s most collaborative effort, featuring guest appearances from Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie, IDLES’ Joe Talbot, experimental pop artist Lynks, and Essex rocker Cassyette. “We saw the opportunity to be like, ‘If we call people now, they won’t be on tour, they’re at home,’” says Richardson. “I produced the record, so we had the ability to stay late and get someone down. We had no restrictions.” Let the duo take you through the world of Sticky, track by track.
“Sticky” Frank Carter: “This is about me doing this slow transition from the countryside to Hoxton, London, in the middle of a pandemic. Moving further away from my family but closer to my work—and moving into the belly of the beast at a time when there was no one else around. The song takes a pretty brutal look at who I was when everything was taken away from me, just kicking around with too much time on my hands, up to no good at three in the morning with all the other fucking foxes. If you’re going to put that anywhere on the record, you might as well put it at the front.”
“Cupid’s Arrow” FC: “This is about falling in love with someone a little bit quicker than they fall in love with you—and by that, I mean they never do. We've all had those weird dating app dates where you find yourself at one in the morning having a panic attack in someone’s bed, like, ‘Have you got any CBD or anything?’ It’s about how emotions are thoughts and feelings but they can feel so physical.” Dean Richardson: “This is one of the ones that came from the early cabin sessions. When we made it, we were like, ‘This is what this record should sound like.’ It got us really excited.”
“Bang Bang” (feat. Lynks) FC: “It’s about how class A drugs just have such a tremendous effect on your life in good and bad ways. I was writing it from the perspective of this office worker who’s just biding his time, gets to Thursday and he’s already tipping a bit, and by Friday at 8 pm, he’s already off the rails, and then 8 am Monday morning, he’s still off the rails, but he’s back in the office. Lynks just got it. His lyrics are some of my favorite on the album, and that is incredibly frustrating.”
“Take It to the Brink” DR: “This one technically predates the album. We’d written this wild psychedelic version of the verse, and took a second dive at it when we were in the midst of everything and got it to feel like it fits in the world of Sticky.” FC: “The song is about doing too much all the time and how if there’s one thing you’re consistently good at, it’s pushing it over the edge—and that’s us all the time.”
“My Town” (feat. Joe Talbot) FC: “I was trying to find a decent analogy for the collective mental health of not just London, but all the smaller towns that I was nipping to and from during the pandemic to see family or pick up my daughter. Without life, you could really start seeing those places fall apart, and that was a good reflection of how everybody in those towns was feeling. I reached out to Joe Talbot because I really needed someone to help me push it.”
“Go Get a Tattoo” (feat. Lynks) DR: “We always have one every record and it’s always the main single. For whatever reason, we are gluttons for punishment and we fight against it, but it finds its way on.” FC: “The resistance is because we just know: We can hear that it’s probably the closest we’ll get to a hit, that’s got all the right things in the right place. Francis Bacon used to dismantle and destroy his most perfect paintings. Set it on fire and throw it in a bin.”
“Off With His Head” (feat. Cassyette) FC: “It’s about the patriarchal chokehold on the world and how brutal it is to watch in yourself. It’s so ingrained in me and I’m having to do quite a lot of work to undo it all the time and there are times where I completely fail and it is really frustrating. So naturally I was like, ‘We’ve got to do it with a really strong female vocal, or at least someone that is actively trying to chop up the patriarchy every day.’ Cassyette is walking, talking rock ’n’ roll. She’s got the greatest voice, the greatest look. She just embodies it. She rocked up at 9 am, smoked a fag, and just went in and started howling. She nailed it and I hadn’t even had my breakfast.”
“Cobra Queen” FC: “This kind of goes hand in hand with ‘Cupid’s Arrow.’ It’s about when you’re chasing down this unrequited love and falling in love with the wrong people. You never know when that’s happening until it’s happened. It’s about the intoxication, it’s like a cobra being in the room. It’s beautiful. It’s fucking deadly, but you just don’t take your eyes off it.”
“Rat Race” FC: “‘Rat Race’ is about the first year of lockdown and how savage and Groundhog Day it was for everybody. The pandemic was an equalizer for most humans. When we get to the end of the pandemic, it’s as if every rat has completed the race and now they’ve got a choice: Do you want to go back in the maze or do you want to go into something else? The sad thing is a lot of people will go back in the maze.”
“Original Sin” (feat. Bobby Gillespie) FC: “Bobby Gillespie is a fucking living legend. He’s a hero, the ultimate rock star. He’s just pure inspiration. Primal Scream have written some of the best rock ’n’ roll songs ever.” DR: “Whether we mean to or not, we leave our records on this kind of tease of what might come next. If you go through all our records, the last track is always where I think we’ve started moving into our future.”


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