One thing Frank Carter knows for sure about himself — he can take a good knuckle-dusting punch.
It’s a lesson he learned on the playground, growing up in the British burgs of Watford, and later Slough, the sad-sack city featured on Ricky Gervais’ original UK TV series “The Office.”
“The first time you get in a fight, the fear kicks in before you’re even hit,” the tattooed Carter, 22, recalls. “Because you never know what it feels like, or what’s gonna happen. But as soon as you get a slap to the face, you’re like ‘Oh, that didn’t hurt — that’s nothing!’ And your whole perspective changes.”
To the point where Carter — who now vents that frustration snarling lead vocals for Gallows, a frenetic, Fear-retro punk combo that’s taken England by storm — regularly makes a rather unusual offer to his fans in concert (now on the Warped Tour in the United States). If anyone in the crowd takes offense to the band’s tunes from the new “Orchestra of Wolves” (out this week on Epitaph), don’t grumble about it in the back row, he says. Come down front and sock him a good one, right in the chops.
“And if there are any haters at the show, there’s not really anywhere for them to go after they’ve hit you in the face, you know? It all started when we formed two years ago, with one song in particular where I used to say ‘If you know the words, then sing along, and if you don’t, get stuck in and try and punch me in the face.’ And I’d rather someone who’s that bothered were hitting me instead of any of our fans.”
Admittedly, Gallows anthems like “I Promise This Won’t Hurt,” “In the Belly of a Shark” and “Rolling With the Punches” inspire a kinetic physical reaction.
“So if someone does punch me, I couldn’t care less,” says Carter. “I’m onstage, I’ve got the adrenaline pumping, and I can truly take it. But normally if you call hecklers out on it? They shut the hell up. So very rarely have I actually been hit with a fist. It’s normally the girls who jump straight in there and give me a slap, and that hurts way more.”
He ends most tours with a pair of shiners, although his last jaunt left him with an injured index finger instead. “The nail came off and it got infected, so I’m on a course of antibiotics for that,” he brags of his latest war wound.
That means inking fresh flesh is out of the question; Carter left his tattoo equipment at home. Thanks to Gallows’ being dubbed ‘the world’s most exciting new band’ by Kerrang, and other overseas mags following suit, he’s had to quit his tattoo-parlor day job to fulfill tour demands.