Interview With Frank Turner - 22nd May 2011
Photo Of Frank TurnerJames caught up with Frank Turner during his headline tour which stopped off at Wiolverhampton to talk about the tour, his new album, summer festivals and much more.

You are currently on a massive sold out tour across the UK, how does it feel knowing that these shows sold out so far in advanced?
Really good, makes me feel like I’m doing something right in my life. It was quite exciting actually the day the tickets went on sale because I was getting text messages from my booking agent and eventually she just started sending me names of towns so I would know that one was sold out. That made me feel really good; the only problem is that people who want a ticket couldn’t get one, the vibe of the tour was to be retro playing smaller venues, people not getting tickets troubles me slightly but we’ve got another UK tour later in the year so people can get a ticket to that.

How have the shows been so far?
It’s fun, it’s a nice change for me. When we do shows with the band everything’s generally regimented, we have a pretty strict set list run a song into another and everything’s planned; so it’s nice to get on stage and not really have too much idea what I’m going play, tell stories, fall over drunk, it’s quite liberating the band shows are meant to be the way they are but this is a nice change.

Ben Marwood and Franz Nicolay are supporting you on the tour, were these handpicked by yourself? And what have they been like to tour with?
I always handpick the support bands; it’s something I’m quite bothered about. I feel if somebody pays money to see a show I’m not just responsible for my set but for the whole show and atmosphere; that covers everything from making sure there’s merchandise and it’s not too expensive, I talk to the security every night to tell them I don’t like arseholes manhandling the crowd and a major part of the show is the other acts. Ben has been a friend of mine for years and I’ve been meaning to take him on tour for a long time now to the point where there were a couple tours he was meant to be on but it didn’t work out all of which made me feel like a terrible arsehole. Bringing him on this tour I feel like I’m writing a great wrong; Franz and I met about a year ago, he used to play for The Hold Steady which are one of my favourite bands. We did a show together in San Francisco and he was playing solo; I’ll admit I was worried it was going to be crap, when you see him prepare to have your mind fucked, he has one of the most interesting and exciting solo acts around right now.

Have any of the shows on the tour stood out more than others so far?
The show at Lancaster Library was absolutely spot on. It was literally in the library and there wasn’t a bar in there, obviously people had been drinking round the corner. It was one of those shows where everybody was pin drop silent all the way through which I like because you get chatty crowds especially in Scotland bless them; but it can get quite annoying when people are shouting over you when telling a story or singing a quiet song but for the most part on this tour the crowds have been great.

You played some of the biggest shows of your life last year opening up for Green Day and Wembley Stadium and Manchester Cricket Club, how did you find that?
Pretty nuts. It’s funny I’ve been touring for a long time and I’m not trying to sound jaded or anything like that but it is not often I get to do things that are new to me. I’ve never been around anything that has been like the operation that is Greenday’s live show. The band and crew were really sweet and cool to work with but we arrived and it was like “fuck me this is huge”; it had a backstage city we had passes that got us into some of it but not all of it. We had a briefing with their pyrotechnic guy and he said “If there’s a red line on the ground don’t walk across it because you’ll get blown up”. Then the funniest thing at Manchester Greenday ran on to what they call a “Shotgun Blast” and we weren’t expecting it; everyone dropped their beers and screamed “Fucking hell!” we were scared of being on stage.

You are pretty much on the road touring from now right until the end of August, what do you get upto on the road between shows to pass time?
Generally catching up on sleep and showering, showering is good. I read a lot; watch a lot of HBO TV shows like The Wire which are great for touring as they kill a lot of time. I’m a guy that reads a lot of book at the same time, I’m reading like 3 at the moment slightly does my head in getting plot lines confused. I do crosswords and read the paper terribly rock and roll things, we’re actually booked through till this time next year but we haven’t announced those legs yet.

You have been booked to play Download Festival, how do you find playing such a heavy rock festival?
It’s a left field booking on their part. I think it’s cool, originally they wanted me to play half way up the main stage on the Sunday and I said no fucking way; that’s a recipe for disaster I’d just get bottled with piss. It’s like a red rag to a bull; hold up an acoustic guitar to a crowd of bored metal heads and its like “THROW PISS, THROW PISS”. They asked me then headline the third stage and I said yes it’s a weird one but it’s going to be good. Something that really tickled me was when I first got announced I spent a little while on the message boards and all these “Slayerfan_72” people saying “Frank Turner playing download?! What a fucking cock!” and also when we got announced as third stage headliners people that have a problem with the whole reading thing saying “Why the fuck is Frank turner headlining download?! This is stupid and disgusting and I hate it!” You beautiful human being, I bet you’ve got an undercut ha ha!

You are playing the main stage of the Reading and Leeds Festival this year just after Taking Back Sunday, this is an amazing opportunity for you and something you must be extremely excited about?
The first big musical event I ever went to was Reading ’95; I just remember running in and seeing Beck playing the same spot I’ve got this year. That was 16 years ago and it feels pretty fucking good to have that spot. I went to Reading for years and years, Leeds is good too but Reading was like my festival. I don’t want to sound like I’m blowing smoke up my own arse but at the same time like I’m so fucking cool that it doesn’t mean something to me to be playing the main stage at Reading festival, that’s fucking awesome!

You have been working on your new studio album ‘England Keep My Bones’ for some time now, how excited are you to finally be releasing it on the 6th June?
Can’t fucking wait. One of the things about the music world generally, there’s always the time lag between finishing the record and releasing it. I understand why the time lag is there but it’s frustrating because since March when we finished it all I’ve wanted to do is run around with an iPod and force people to listen to it because I’m really proud of it. Out 2 weeks tomorrow and I can’t fucking wait.

What themes and stories are featured on the album this time around?
Lots of stuff, I think there are 2 overarching themes to the record. Incidentally I don’t write towards themes they just become apparent afterwards. England is definitely a theme, not in a nationalist flag waving “aren’t we fucking great” kind of way but in more of a reflective way, something I think about a lot. Death is another one, not quite sure why because I’m in quite good health but it just seems to be something that’s on the mind; there’s also songs about my friend dealing substance abuse, God, my grandma, lots of stuff also about the death of King William the second!

What would you say the main standout tracks from the album are?
This is going to be a naff answer but it’s true. I don’t feel like there was any filler on this record I’m happy with all of the songs.

What’s your take on the digital revelation killing off the music business?
Well, how long have you got? Ok the thing is the way that music is recorded, delivered, promoted, spread around and listened to had changed quite rapidly and still is. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that I do this because I like music. There’s a concern because it took 30 years after the business model was made for the artists to stop getting fucked over. It took a lot of long legal battles by Michael Jackson, George Michael and The Beatles for people to stop getting screwed over, the early Motown and punk bands got royally screwed. I know a lot of people that work their fingers to the bone and care so much about spreading good music to people and people have started taking from them and not giving anything back which is bullshit.

Social network sites seem to be a big tool in the music industry these days, with artists communicating with their fans over it and some even ditching their own website and having just a social network page, what are your opinions on social networks as tools in the music industry?
I think its pretty cool. People kind of get gooey eyed about saving up their pennies and getting vinyl delivered from America for half price. It amazes me that if you told me about a band I could hear their music in 30 seconds on my phone. When I was growing up it was unheard of what we did was cross reference thanks lists, if we had 3 punk CD’s and they all thanked a particular band we’d go and get a CD by that band and do it that way. I love that people can just listen to whatever they want at any time now its opened doors. Also I’d have no social life if it wasn’t for Facebook so that’s good.

Where do you hope to see yourself in a year’s time?
On the road; In fact I know I’ll be on the road I could probably tell you exactly where. I’m not touring as much as I do to get anywhere I’m doing it because I don’t want to be doing anything else.

One last random question that we ask every band, if you could be an animal out of a zebra or Giraffe which one would you be and why?
I’d be a giraffe; zebra’s always struck me as shit horses. My friend had this thing about running into a zoo painting all of their black stripes white and then suing them for false advertising. Fact of the day for you, you can’t ride zebra’s; if you got on them to ride them it would break their backs, horses were bred to have backs strong enough for that so they’re just shit horses. Now giraffes are pretty cool, you can reach high stuff; you could stand on the other side of a fence at a music festival and check shit out.

Thanks for your time is there a message for your fans reading this?
I don’t like the word fan so people reading, hi how you doing? See you at the show!

Interview By James Webb
 Band Members

Frank Turner
 Latest Releases
Frank Turner - England Keep My Bones
Release Date - 6th June 2011
1. Eulogy
2. Peggy Sang the Blues
3. I Still Believe
4. Rivers
5. I Am Disappeared
6. English Curse
7. One Foot Before the Other
8. If Ever I Stray
9. Wessex Boy
10. Nights Become Days
11. Redemption
12. Glory Hallelujah
 Band Related Links
Frank Turner Myspace