Photo by Peter Hill
Frank turner was born in 1981 and following a stint in bands such as Million Dead he has been on the road more or less constantly for the past 4 years playing mostly solo acoustic shows. Slowly he has built up a hard core following and with the release of his 3rd album ‘Poetry of the Deed’ he has finally achieved recognition and a place in the album charts. Frank has played Cardiff on numerous occasions and will be back in Cardiff in October. It looks set to be one of the Principality’s live highlights of the year. We thought it would be timely to interview Frank about his life and work so far.
Who or what inspired you musically when you were growing up?
I first fell in love with Iron Maiden actually, and got into all things rock and metal from there. I kinda navigated via Nirvana towards punk rock, and then into hardcore. I wanted to be in a band from the moment I started having my own taste in music, if you see what I mean.
You went to Eton on a scholarship. What impact did this have on your views about politics, society etc?
A pretty large one, as everyone's education usually does. I wasn't from quite the same social background as the vast majority of my school contemporaries, so I felt a bit fish-out-of-water while I was there. It made me interested in hard left politics for a while. But I also received a fantastic education, for which I am grateful.
You began by playing in the band Kneejerk and then Million Dead. Since then you have played mostly solo. Do you prefer playing live with a band or solo?
Well, more recently I've been playing with a band again, but a backing band. From a musical point of view, both are fun, but in the final analysis I prefer band shows because the palette I can choose from is wider. I also get to play with some incredible musicians right now. From a writing point of view it's very different - the bands I was in were radically democratic, whereas now I work on my own. Again, both are interesting, but for the time being I prefer being in control.
Photo by Gregory Nolan
You have played extensively up and down the country for the past few years. What are the best and worst parts about being on the road?
I love being on the road. It makes time go slower - I think about where I was 2 weeks ago and it feels like a lifetime has passed. For me personally it's the only way to be. There are downsides - it makes social, family and love life pretty disjointed, and it's often not a particularly comfortable existence. But I don't see the point in comfort for its own sake, personally.
A lot of your songs are personal about family and friends i.e 'Father's Day' and 'Faithful Son' what response have you had from your family and friends?
I've had some pretty frank discussions with members of my family, but actually it's been cathartic, to a small degree.
Your songs are very passionate about personal issues and observations about your life. Could you see yourself ever writing 'issue' songs in reaction to world events, politics etc or a sequel to "Thatcher fucked the Kids".
Not really, on the whole. I think songs like that date really fast. I aspire to some degree of timelessness. I don't want to be a "protest singer".
Tell us about the new album. Which songs are you most pleased with? Which songs work best live?
I'm pleased with all of them really - there were a load more songs written for the record which were weeded out in the rehearsal and pre-production phase. Live, well, we'll see when we get to October for most of the full-band material. I've been really enjoying playing "Journey Of The Magi" lately actually, I think I got that one right.
The album has been well received and made the charts. How do you think you will deal with the fame that this will bring i.e. being recognised at Tescos and down the pub?
I think all of that kind of shit is, to a degree, self-inflicted. If you just keep your head down and carry on like you were before, not much has to change really. If people approach me and say they like my music, it makes me feel pretty good, it's compliment.
Photo by Christopher Dibble
What can we expect from your tour when you appear in Cardiff in November? Solo? Band? special guests? Any surprises?
Band show for sure. We have a bunch of little tricks up our sleeve, but I won't go revealing them just yet. We have Fake Problems and Beans On Toast coming along for the tour, which I'm really happy about.
A theme that appears several times in your songs is about getting
older. What would you want Frank Turner to be doing in 25 years time?
Hopefully still touring, writing and playing music, and entertaining people. I want to be like Loudon Wainwright.
Frank Turner will be playing at Cardiff University on
Sleep is for the Week (2007)
Love Ire & Song (2008)
Poetry of the Deed (2009)