The Awesome: An Interview With Frank Turner

Photo by www.gregorynolan.com
Photo by www.gregorynolan.com

I can not even begin to tell you how excited I am about this post.  I had the pleasure today to interview Frank Turner through email and could not be happier.  If anyone knows me, Frank Turner is a big deal to me.  I have to admit my appreciation for me grew to unmeasurable amounts after I heard his latest release Poetry Of The Deed.

I confess, the name Frank Turner was not fresh in my mind beforehand when I heard that album.  I continually smack myself in the head still as I could not put two and two together when listening to it at the time and realizing he was the guy in the UK post-hardcore, now defunct, act Million Dead.  I knew of Frank Turner but prior to his last release was not aware of his solo material.

Some music fan I am right?  Regardless I am a huge fan of Frank Turner so it only made sense for me to try and set up an interview with him.  It was easier for us both just to do it over the email and I must say no one has ever replied faster than him.

Such a proud moment for me here.  Let me take a moment and soak in all that is awesome for what I am about to share…

Ok I am better.

Enjoy!


BHP – Before I even begin, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for me. I know you have been a busy man for quite some time touring and all. How long have you actually been on tour now?

FT – Actually I just took 3 weeks off, which is the longest time I’ve gone without playing a show for about 6 years now. I did my first tour when I was 16, and have been pretty much constantly on the road since 2004. It’s great. Answering questions is no bother.

Were you been able to take any breaks prior?

I get little breaks here and there, and like I say I’ve just had quite a bit of time off (by my standards). I get very claustrophobic if I stay in the same place for more than a few days, I think I’ve rewired my brain now, haha. So when I’m not touring or in the studio, I generally find excuses to get on a train or a plane and go visit some friends or something.

Photo by www.christopherdibble.com
Photo by www.christopherdibble.com

I along with many of your other fans have been able to keep tabs on you thanks to your Facebook/Twitter posts. How important is it to be more personal to the fans?

What I like about stuff like Facebook and Twitter is that it pulls aside the curtain on rock’n’roll. I was never that taken with the whole business of mythologizing what it means to be a musician. I like to let people know what the realities of life on the road are like, and to point out that I’m no different from anyone who listens to my music. That’s the strength of the whole web 2.0 thing.

How stressful does it get traveling overseas from the US to the UK and beyond on any given date?

I don’t find it particularly stressful at all – in fact I find it quite liberating, and I find being in the same place quite stressful. I mean, transatlantic flights are always going to be a drag, but it’s a small price to pay. Whenever I get to go to new places I haven’t been to before solely on the basis that I play guitar, I think it’s absolutely wonderful, if a little insane. I pinch myself occasionally.

Seems like 2009 was your year to get noticed thanks to the release of Poetry Of The Deed. How does it feel to have a growing fan base?

It feels great. Without wanting to sound defensive, I’ve worked really hard in the last few years at what I do, to make the best albums and to play as many shows as I can. It’s a great feeling to see hard work pay off, and to see some of the dreams I’ve had since I was a kid start to come true. It’s as awesome as you’d imagine it to be. I’m very privileged to be in these shoes right now.

What prompted you to go into a more so acoustic solo career once Million Dead disbanded or was that something in the works prior to the band’s ending?

I think that when that band ended, in a lot of stress and recrimination and so on, I was just done with hardcore as a sound. I felt like I’d poured everything into that band, and when it didn’t work, I needed to do something different. I’d started listening to folk, country and so on quite extensively in the last few years of the band’s existence, and when it ended, well, it seemed like a good way to go. It also meant I could stay on tour without having to put a band together, without having to rely on other people, something I was very wary to do at the time.

So have you spoken to any of the members?  Or were the differences that led to the band’s departure more personal and evident of a reunion never to happen?

We’re all on at least reasonable terms now. The drummer and I are firm friends. It’s all water under the bridge now – that was a very intense band to be in, but now that we’re all clear and the dust has settled, it doesn’t matter as much. There won’t be a reunion though, I’ll say that for sure. I’m just not interested in looking back like that.

Who are your musical influences these days?

These days I tend to bore into a handful of bands at a time, get really obsessed with them, and they influence my thinking about music.

Springsteen has been an overshadowing presence in my music for the last few years, but more recently I’m super-into Loudon Wainwright III. He’s fucking amazing.

What bands have you been listening to as of late?

Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of Neil Young again because I’m reading a book about him. Beyond that, I’ve finally got into the latest Weakerthans album (which I’m fast starting to think is their best). Also Crazy Arm, who are coming on tour with me in Europe in March and April, and Ben Marwood, a friend of mine who puts me to shame with his excellence in songwriting.

I heard that Flogging Molly recently asked you to join them on tour. What was your initial reaction when they asked you?

I thought it was great, very flattering. And then I found out how popular they are in the States, and I was blown away. The shows we’re doing are biiiig.

Anyone else you would like to mention that you are touring with in 2010?

I’m happy that I’m going to be returning a favour in March – Chuck Ragan has taken me out in the USA and been a great friend and inspiration to me in recent years, and now he’s coming out on my next UK tour, which is a big one – 3000 people a show or so – so it feels good to be paying that one back. I’m also excited about Revival Australia – I’ve never been there before, and I get to play more shows with Tim Barry, someone I can’t get enough of right now.

Are you still going to play house shows here and there now that you are making it into the spotlight? I have a place in Cleveland you can play if you ever want to…

Sure, here and there. If you can put up 6 people (me, band and crew) after the Flogging Molly show in Cleveland, I’ll play a set there as well. Deal?

Sweet!  So you still do house shows?

I still do a fair few of them – I’m playing a house show in Toronto tonight actually. It’s something that’s easy to put together, so it’s always an option.

Obviously there is more to Frank Turner than just yourself. Can you tell me about the backing band that helps you out on the album and tours?

My band [members] are amazing, and I’m really excited about them coming to the USA for the first time next month with Flogging Molly. It took me a while to get the line-up right, I wanted the best, and also a set of people who would gel together well as musicians. We finally got the chemistry right at the end of 2008, and we haven’t looked back. They’re all amazing musicians, much better than me, and they’re great at helping me get ideas out of my head. Plus they’re cool guys.

Any reason there is no actual band name like “The Frank Turner Band” or “Frank Turner and the…whatevers”?

You know, we’ve spent a long time talking about this, I really want a name for them – I don’t want them to be faceless sessionistas or whatever, they’re a band, you know? But we’ve struggled to find something everyone agrees on. The Contraband has been doing the rounds recently, and the 161 Band (a reference to where we used to rehearse and where I recorded my first album) but we’re still tussling over it. Some day.

The video for “The Road” to me was an amazing concept. 24 shows in 24 hours? How difficult was that to shoot?

Logistically it wasn’t so bad, we had a schedule and we stuck to it.

Physically it was a little more challenging. We did 8pm-8pm, and by time we hit around midday, everyone was fucking drained and unhappy, haha. It was pretty miserable for a few hours there. But we burned on through, and we made it to the end. It was a good experience.

Any plans for another music video off your latest release?

We did a tour video for the song “Poetry Of The Deed”, which you can find on YouTube. Then I think I’m making a video for the song “Isabel” when I’m in Los Angeles next week.

Last year you appeared in an alternative 90’s compilation and covered UK’s Kerbdog. Why Kerbdog? “Sally” is a great choice as a cover for a band that never really made it in the states.

I love Kerbdog, they were such an awesome band. I was actually asked to record a song for a Kerbdog tribute album, which I did, and then we decided to use it for the 90s thing as well. Great song, and apparently Cormac thought I did a good job too, which is cool.

You also covered a Bruce Springsteen song at one time. Have you heard any feedback from The Boss himself about your version of “Thunder Road”?

Not directly, though I know Brian Fallon [of the Gaslight Anthem] put a copy of the 7 inch into the Boss’s hands, so he has to be aware of its existence, haha. I’d be very excited to meet Springsteen, he’s a real hero for me.

Speaking of The Boss you are headlining a show at Asbury, NJ on Feb. 24th.  Can we expect to hear about any special guests?

I wish, haha. We shall see.

How does it feel to be a part of the Epitaph family?

Great. It’s a label that I grew up with and that has an amazing roster now, so it’s a cool association. And now I’d count a lot of the people I work with as close friends. They’re very effective at promotion and so on.
So yeah, I’m very happy about it, all in all.

Can you tell me about a certain tattoo you got in Texas while at SXSW?

Haha, uhm, well… I’d been there for a few days and had some great shows, basically sealed the deal with Epitaph, had a lot of old friends around, that kind of thing, so I was in a good mood. I had one day where I had no shows to play so I got wicked drunk with the guys from Fake Problems, we went to see Van Pelt do a one-off reunion show, which was pretty emotional for me. Anyways, after about 14 hours on the booze I ended up in a tattoo parlour with Casey Lee, and we both got Texas tattoos. Seemed like a good idea at the time.. I was a little dismayed at first but I quite like it now. It has a good story with it.

Any regrets in life?

I do my best not to. I’m still sad that Million Dead never quite achieved what I thought we were capable of. Beyond that, not really.

What’s next for Frank Turner?

I’m on tour most of this year, it looks like, all over the world, which is great. I have a rough ambition to get another album recorded before the end of the year, so we can get it out in early 2011. We’ll see. The songs are coming together, it’s more a question of finding the time to record it properly. I also want to do an album of traditional English songs sometime. Keep myself busy.

Why should someone check out Frank Turner?

That’s not for me to say, really. Why not?


Catch Frank Turner playing with Flogging Molly on the Green 17 Tour on March 5th, 2010 at the House Of Blues on Euclid Ave.  Rumor has it the show is sold out but if you look hard enough online you might be able to find a ticket for a decent price.  I will be there.

CLICK HERE to check out Frank Turner’s blog.

I also should mention that Frank Turner is serious about the house show and I am going to be working my magic trying to find a suitable place for him and his crew to play a set as well as crash for the night.  If any of you readers in the Cleveland area know of an appropriate spot where Frank Turner can play a house show please email me at broken@brokenheadphones.com.  I have a few places in mind but am open to suggestions.  Keep in mind the set he plans on playing would be after the Flogging Molly show.  If this falls into place I will also be looking into filming it for the site.

Keep your fingers crossed!!!

If you do not own Poetry Of The Deed yet you really need to have it in your collection.  CLICK HERE to order it (or the album cover below) and if you are wondering why you should own it CLICK HERE to read the review I did of it last year.

Then again you can just watch the following too…

Stay tuned for possible house party featuring Frank Turner!

Oh and if you have never heard of Kerbdog and were wondering what they were all about…

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