Frank Turner Interview

After attending the recent Franks Turner gig at the Lemon Tree JoJo manages to catch up with the man himself to discuss tattoos, socks and Strummerville amongst other things.

Frank Turner

So Frank… you’re not long back from touring America, how was it?

It was great – the tour with Social Distortion and Lucero was really one of my favourite tours I’ve ever done, we had an awesome time and made a lot of new friends. I’m in love with the USA, it’s a great place to tour.

How do audiences in the USA differ from those in the UK?

Not drastically, apart from the fact that they’re prepared to travel a lot further for shows out there. There’s quite a strong strain of anglophilia, which helps me, obviously. I guess I play to slightly more ‘punk’ crowds over there than I do here.

What did you miss most about the UK whilst you were away?

Newspapers. American newspapers are dogshit.

You’re known for your relentless touring, how do you cope with being away from home for such a long time?

I guess I’ve just got used to it to the extent that I don’t really think of any specific place as being “home” any more. I’m very comfortable living out of my suitcase. Complaining about it would also be redundant, because this is the way I choose to be.

Recently you’ve visited Poland and Germany also, where has been your favourite place you’ve been to?

There are many to choose from, thankfully. Poland was amazing. I love the US very much as well. Latvia is always a blast, I can’t wait to get back out there again soon.

You’ll shortly be celebrating your 1000th solo show in only 6 years, how are you planning on marking the occasion?

Yeah we’re going to make it a charity show, we’ll be announcing the details very soon . Personally, I’m not so bothered about it, but a lot of people are, and if we can harness that to raise money for a good cause, so much the better.

You’ve recently completed the recording of your new album, what should we expect from this?

I’m very pleased with it, I think I achieved what I set out to do, which was to make a record that falls equally between “Love Ire & Song” and “Poetry Of The Deed”. The songs sound very strong to me, I can’t wait for it to be released!

In your last video, you get tattooed. It doesn’t sound like much fun to me being tattooed on camera!

Haha, it wasn’t the most fun I’ve ever had, I’ll say that. But I like tattoos, and it’s kind of a good pain when you get them.

What tattoos do you have, and what meaning do they have to you?

I have loads, and they all have a lot of backstory to them, I’m one for imbuing these things with layers of meaning. All apart from my Texas tattoo, which I got when I was piss drunk. I plan to get many more.

Looking on your myspace, there’s an album of tattoos that people have with your lyrics and things, is this flattering or does it slightly weird you out?

I think it’s very flattering, on the whole. I have a few band-related pieces myself, so I understand the urge behind it, and I feel humbled when people choose to put my words on their skin. Occasionally it can be a little bit full on, but the motive is complimentary at base, so I won’t complain.

You regularly write a blog on your website and keep up several social networking sites, do you think it’s important to keep in touch with your fans?

Yes. Well, actually, I don’t really like the word “fan” much, it implies division between me and my audience, and I reject that. I like the web as a tool, it’s great for pulling aside the curtain on rock ‘n’ roll, showing people how things really work.

Some of your songs have a very personal subject matter, how does it feel having crowds singing these lyrics back to you?

Occasionally it gets a little trippy, but for the most part it’s great.

The songs are personal, but there’s a very clear line in my mind between the personal and the public, and I’m quite good at holding back what I need to, to retain my sanity.

How was Lexapalooza?

It was great, it always is. It’s a special and slightly sad occasion, in many ways, but Lex would have wanted us all to get horribly wrecked in her honour, so we do, every time. Man, that hurt for a few days afterwards, I must be getting old.

You’ve done a few cover versions recently, including Build Me Up Buttercup for the Centre point’s 1969 Key to Change, which has been your favourite cover, and is there any other song you wish to do?

I do lots of new covers all the time, actually. Recently I’ve been playing a few Townes Van Zandt songs, he’s such an incredible writer, it’s awe-inspiring just to look around the songs from the inside.

With Jon Snodgrass you write a record and recorded it the following day, like a challenge do you?

Haha, yeah, it was an idea we’d had for quite a long time, and I’m glad we actually got round to doing it. Jon’s a great human being. We’re talking about doing it again, like “Buddies 2” or something.

This year you were nominated for Best Solo Act at the NME awards, I voted for you! How were the awards?

They were OK. It’s not really my scene to be honest, red carpets and paps and everyone trying to be cooler than everyone else. It was very flattering to be nominated though.

Do you prefer headlining a gig, or as the support?

Uh, it differs. On the whole, headline, but it can be fun to hit the stage and try and win a crowd over from scratch, it’s challenge and if you succeed it’s very rewarding.

Do you prefer playing a festival or intimate gig?

Either really. For me a good show is about atmosphere, and you can have that almost anywhere.

What’s the best gig you’ve played and the best you’ve attended?

Best I’ve played, um, well, there are many to choose from. I’m not trying to sound arrogant, it’s just that after a while you start playing at a certain level, and the quality of your performance becomes quite settled. We were playing great on the Social D tour actually, so I’d probably choose one of those gigs – maybe Toronto, where we did a headline show. That was quite an evening. Best show I’ve been to, hm, maybe The Hold Steady in Austin TX, that was a night to remember.

Any tips for artists to look out for in 2011?

Ben Marwood and Jim Lockey, both awesome singer songwriters from the UK.

JoJo spesh – What colour socks are you wearing?

Uh, checking now… grey.

F’n’S spesh – What’s your favourite flavour of crisps?

Salt n Vinegar. Old classics.

Five desert island tracks?

Argh, this is impossible!

“The night they drove old Dixie down” – The Band “In my time of need” – Ryan Adams “Don’t think twice it’s alright” – Bob Dylan “Grace Under pressure” – Elbow “To Live Is To Fly” – Townes Van Zandt.

Thanks for your time Frank, and hopefully we’ll see you again in November 😉


Frank Turner Website

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