Interview With Frank Turner 16th October 2009
Frank Turner - BandWe caught up Frank Turner backstage at the Academy in Manchester to talk about his current tour, plans for 2010 and so much more.

Hi Frank, how is the tour going so far?
It’s going really well, this is the biggest headline tour I’ve ever done, most of the venues are sold out now, apart from Wolverhampton, Plymouth and Cardiff, but I think the latter two will sell out within the next day or two. Wolverhampton bastards! No, we’ve sold over a thousand tickets for Wolverhampton, but it’s a big venue! It’s funny, because this is new territory for me, it’s very nice territory! It feels really good selling out venues this big; it’s not something that I’m used to

You’ve just released your third album ‘Poetry Of The Deed’, are you happy with the way it’s been received so far?
Yeah, I am! It’s kind of funny, between finishing and releasing an album is like a limbo period where there’s a couple of months where you’re like ‘Argh, I want to get it out there!’ But also, this time there were more people who had expectations about this album, much more than any other record I’ve put out. So I went through a number of different emotional phases. When I finished the album there were days when I thought ‘this is great’, and then those where I thought, ‘this isn’t good enough’. At the end of the day it got in the fucking Top 40, which is ridiculous! So people are into it, and I’m happy with it. My creative aim is to do everything as best as I can, and I think I’ve done that.

The album was produced by Alex Newport, who has a pretty awesome repertoire, how was it working with him?
It was really good actually, he is the most Midlands person in the entire universe, his nickname is Captain Sunshine because he’s just like ‘everything’s shit!’ We recorded the music to the album in an amazing, beautiful residential studio on a farm in Norfolk and then moved to his studios in Williamsburg, in the States. I’m a big fan of his production work, I love Fudge Tunnel and Nailbomb, they’re pretty big bands to me. We had fun, and he’s a really nice guy, he also has the most ridiculous set of ears on him! It’d get to the point where he’d be A B-ing stuff to me, so he’d say “Do you like it like this, or this?” and I’d be like “I cannot tell the fucking difference, why are you asking?” It’s the first time I’ve ever worked with a producer, my guitarist Ben produced the first two albums, so it was different. I was really keen to work with him, but there was a moment when I was a bit defensive and was like, “Who the fuck is this guy?” I was really worried he was going to tell me to do something different with the songs, but he didn’t do that, he basically just held a mirror up to us and made all of us triple check that we’d done the best job that we could, and in the process he made us realise we weren’t ready to record yet. It was just little things like he’d stop us all and go, “What were you playing on bass?” and then Tarrant (Anderson, bass) would play it and I’d go “Oh, you’re playing that? Don’t play that!” From the start we wanted to record the album live, even the vocals, in the past I’ve spent ages on the vocals and been really anal about it, but Alex was just like “You’re going to sing the song five times, and we’re going to record the last two, and then you have to pick which one you like most!”, that actually made me feel quite good about myself, it made me think ‘Oh, I can actually sing!” Hooray for Alex Newport!

You are no stranger to life on the road, so when you get some time off, how do you like to spend it?
It’s been a while since I had anything more than a couple of days off, but I generally keep moving when I’m not on the road, it sounds melodramatic, but I start feeling really cagey and weird if I stay in one place for too long! My friends live in London, my Mum lives in Winchester, and my band are based in Oxford, so when I’m not on the road I’m zipping between those three, and I try to take time to go visit friends in other towns in the UK. I’ve been doing this for a long time, it’s been about six years since I was not on tour, so I’m used to it now!

For someone who has never seen you play live, in your own words, what can they expect?
Pyrotechnics and costume changes! Nope, none of that! Let me put it this way, something I’ve always loved about Springsteen and something that really sets him apart from so many other people, people like Coldplay who reach a certain point where they have to have revolving stages, costume changes, and a novelty bit where they pop up in the middle of the crowd, is that it’s just a bunch of guys that just get up on stage, they all wear normal clothes and they play for three hours, and it’s amazing, and much better than all this choreographed, light show crap. They’re just a solidly, excellent group of entertainers, I would describe myself as an entertainer before anything else, so I try and make sure everyone in the room has a really fucking good time when they come to a show!

Do you prefer playing solo shows, or with your band?
Right now I prefer playing with the band, I’ve just done a tour of America where I played solo, but right now I do prefer it with the band. I get to play a few solo songs in a set, so that kind of balances it out a bit. It’s a real pleasure playing with the guys that I play with, they’re amazing musicians.

As you’ve just said, you recently returned from a trip to America with The Gaslight Anthem, and previous to that with The Offspring. How were those tours and would you like to spend more time over in the States and Canada?
The tours were great, The Offspring tour was fun, it was kind of weird and really big, they were really nice guys and everything. The Gaslight Anthem tour was also great, we have a lot of history! That was exactly the right kind of crowd for me. It was mental, being with Epitaph Records (Frank’s representatives for non-UK releases) makes a difference, we played in Vancouver, and I’d never played there before. There were about 500 people when I went on stage, and as I walked on this big banner saying ‘Welcome To Vancouver Frank’ just went up across the whole crowd and I was just like “Who the fuck are you guys? How do you know who I am?” In terms of going out there, I’m going to be in the States a lot. I think it’s possible to over tour the UK, whereas it isn’t really possible to over tour the States, if you wanted to you could just keep going round and round! I also like spending time in Europe, I haven’t been out there in a while, but I’m hoping to, maybe in January. The crowds over there are actually mental! They’re all genuinely enthusiastic because you’ve actually bothered to go over at all. I like going to Latvia, and I’ve been to Russia a few times. It’s pretty wild in that part of the world!

Whenever you tour over here you seem to hand pick your supports, is this something that you deem important, and do you still have a say in this given your ever increasing status?
I think it’s very important, and right now I almost have more say in it than ever! There are two reasons I think it’s important, partly because there are a lot of bands that I think are great and more people should too. We’ve just settled the supports for the March tour next year, it’s going to be Chuck Ragan and Crazy Arm. There’s a guy called Ben Marwood, he’s a friend of mine and he’s incredible. He’s in my top friends on Myspace! I wanted to take him on the next tour so much, but for various reasons I couldn’t, he’s definitely on the one after that though. Secondly, I feel kind of responsible for how the night goes, because it’s kind of under my name. When people come out to a show I want them to have a really good time, not just for my set, but to find something new as well. It’s great having Fake Problems on this tour, I fucking love those guys! They’ve taken me on tour in the States a couple of times, so I really owed them one! And Beans on Toast (tonight’s other support) is on fire at the moment! Jay (Beans on Toast) and I are really old friends, he’s basically the reasons I’m doing what I’m doing! He used to run a bar called Nambucca in London, which sadly burnt down, but now he owns the Flowerpot, where I played just after the 24 hour filming of the video for the last single ‘The Road’.

You’ve become notorious for doing some awesome cover songs, and I’ve recently read that for this tour you have Spandau Ballet’s tour bus! Are you planning on recording any of their classics as homage to them?
Frank now bursts into a rendition of Gold…
I doubt it very much, but I’m trying to convince the rest of the band to do a full, unchanged and un-ironic cover of ‘Bat Out of Hell’, but for some reason they don’t seem to want to do it! It’d be fucking great, but we’ll see!

You’ve been signed to Xtra Mile Recordings in the UK for quite some time, both with your solo stuff and Million Dead, are there any bands coming through from them that we should be looking out for?
As I’ve mentioned, Crazy Arm are definitely one to look out for. But also The Xcerts, when I heard their album I thought it was pretty cool, but it’s seeing them live that did it for me, they’re awesome! I was lucky enough to have Chris TT send me his album the other day which is coming out on Xtra Mile in January, he’s really pulled it out of his arse for this one. It’s really funny as well, there’s a song on there called ‘Market Square’ which is a kind of leftist, political song and I’m of the kind of opposite political persuasion when it comes to economics, and I have a song called ‘Sons of Liberty’ which is kind of about that, so we were thinking about maybe releasing a split, with one on each side! That’d be fun!

What does the next year have in store for Frank Turner?
Essentially, touring! My touring schedule in various shapes and forms goes through to about October next year. But it’s cool, I’m going to go to some new places, I’m going to go to Australia and hopefully Japan. Every time I go somewhere new on the basis that I’m playing guitar and singing I just laugh my arse off, it’s ridiculous! I think ‘Who the fuck is paying for this?’ I find myself getting off planes in Los Angeles and thinking ‘Yeah, this is good!’ Life is alright, I have no complaints about my station in life at the moment.

Interview By Ben Connell
 Band Members

Frank Turner (Guitar, Vocals)
 Latest Releases
Frank Turner - Poetry Of The Deed
Release Date - September 7th 2009
1. Live Fast Die Old
2. Try This At Home
3. Dan's Song
4. Poetry Of The Deed
5. Isabel
6. The Fastest Way Back Home
7. Sons Of Liberty
8. The Road
9. Faithful Son
10. Richard Divine
11. Sunday Nights
12. Our Lady Of The Campfire
13. Journey Of The Magi
 Band Related Links
Frank Turner Myspace