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In the fast lane with Frank Turner

Two records and opening slots with Green Day and Social Distortion. It hasn't been a bad year for the English singer. Frank Turner
He may look lonely here, but Frank Turner is making some important friends.

By Scott Thomson

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To say Frank Turner has had a busy year would be an understatement.

Since we last caught up with the English singer (!earshot, March 2010), he has toured a good portion of the globe, opened for Green Day at some of the largest stadiums on earth and then found time to record two new records. If that is not enough, he has recently finished up a North American tour with punk legends Social Distortion and Lucero (review Nov-Dec 2010) and is already talking about another album.

“It was a little bit strange at first.” Turner said, in regards to that recent tour. “It’s fucking Mike Ness (Social Distortion lead singer) but he is just a really nice, down to earth, kind of guy. He’s a bit ‘been there, done that’, but that’s not a bad thing. They are just cool guys.”

“I was nervous about what the fan base was going to be like.” Turner said. “I don’t want to cast any assertions on them, but bands who have been around that long and have that degree of loyalty in their fan base, sometimes have a fan base who come to shows and do not give a fuck about the opening bands.”

One of the problems I have is that since I was 21, my politics have moved. I am angry about, and passionate about politics. The problem with it is, is that everyone thinks I am a fucking socialist but I'm not. I'm a fucking libertarian. I believe in freedom of the individual.

“With one exception, we have gone down really, really well and we’ve been making a bunch of friends.” He said “We did have a thing in Chicago where some skinhead guys were mouthing off to us during our set.” Turner said went on to add.

“I said I was going to kill them all.”

“The problem is, I am doing my own merch on the tour, and I can’t fight for shit. Thankfully, the guy driving our truck, Craig, who is a badass, was raging and he came and stay at the merch table, wanting them to come over so he could tear them a new asshole.”

Turner, who is working on the release of his fourth full-length album, is set to release two separate records on December 14. The first, entitled the Rock N’ Roll ep is being served up as a teaser for next year’s record.

“We have been planning on heading into the studio, for the new record, in January, for a long time.” He said. “The record will be out in April and I decided that there isn’t fucking time to wait so we found a week in September, went to the studio and did five new songs, one of which will be on the album.”

“There is also a song in the set, which has become somewhat of a live-favourite over the summer (“I Still Believe”), particularly in the UK. Again, it seemed like waiting a year before conveniently releasing it was too long.”

The EP was initially planned as a UK only release, but Epitaph Records have opted to release it to the North America market.

Also being released on December 14 is Buddies, an album he recorded with Drag The River’s, Jon Snodgrass.

“That was a ridiculous couple of days.” Turner says of the recording, and writing, of Buddies.  

I have an awful lot to say what's happening in the UK right now. In all honesty, I am nervous about saying it because I would get castigated for it

“We had this plan that we would try to write an album in a day. My sister lives near him in Colorado, so I went to stay with her for a while.” He said. “We actually did it. He came out to my sister’s place and we wrote nine songs in four hours.”

“Then, here’s the thing, we got pretty drunk whilst doing that. The next day and listened back to them (the songs) and we were like ‘actually, some of these are quite good.’ Some of them are fucking dumb, but some of them are not bad. On the next day we went up to his house, where he has a little studio and we recorded the songs.”

“The thing is,” He said. “There was a moment where everyone sat down and talked about sequencing, choice of tracks and whether we should do an EP instead of an album, and then eventually we listened to it and was like ‘you know what? It is a perfect snapshot of four hours of us fucking around.” Turner said.

“There is an awful lot of talking between songs. Taking the piss out of each other and shooting the shit. But it stands as an excellent document that runs in order so we basically decided not to fuck with it at all.”

Turner seemed genuinely excited when talking about the prospect of his new, yet to be recorded, album.

“I wake up every morning terrified of the concept that time is running out. I know that might sound ridiculous because I’m only 28, but there is still so much I want to do, given the opportunity.” He said. “At the moment, creatively, I am concentrating really hard on the album. It is coming together and I am very comfortable about it.”

“I feel like there are things I like, and things I don’t like about all three of the studio albums I’ve done so far.” He said. “I really feel like now I am really ready to make a ‘me’ album. Every other record I have done, I always had a couple of other albums in mind that I wanted it to be like.”

He said that when he made his debut Sleep Is for the Week, he was picturing Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush. For his second record, 2008’s Love Ire & Song, it was The Counting Crows and for 2009’s Poetry of The Deed he was thinking of  Bruce Springsteen’s classic, Born To Run.

I know that a lot of my fan base has a very different view than me. On one hand, I have these platforms and these views. On the other I don�t think politics is the be-all and end-all of it.

“It’s a nice feeling to think that I am making a Frank Tuner record as opposed to my version of somebody else’s record.” He said. “Not that I think that any of my other records ended up actually being that, in the final result.”

“I feel like I know what I do well now, and how to do it.”

Earlier in 2010, Turner was asked by Green Day to be their opening act at a few of their UK shows.

“They were really nice.” He said. ““We met them very briefly. The shows were such a size that they had their separate dressing room village for them.”

“Apparently, they watched both of those shows from the stage, which is fucking amazing to know.” Turner said. “It is funny. My booking agent is watching our set at Wembley and she said ‘There is this weird, little dude in a hoodie next to you. I couldn’t figure out who it was and then after about three songs I went ‘fucking hell, that’s Billy Joe Armstrong.’”

He says that at the end of the second show, Green Day had placed a bottle of Cristal champagne in his dressing room as a show of thanks.

“It was a positive experience, but it was not like we were all just hanging out in the same area.”

Turner, who normally plays for around much smaller crowd, seemed to take the opening slot all in stride.

He says that the “mechanics of playing a good show are similar” whether you are headlining or not. “Obviously, it depends on whether you are playing to your home crowd or whether you are going to have to win them over. The most challenging show I have done this year was the Wembley Stadium show with Green Day.”

“I had never played for that many people before, and on a stage like that. I remember the first time I played on a stage to 2000 people rather then 200 people, it being difficult to get my head around it. With that experience in mind, I spent a lot of time thinking about how to attack it.” He said.

“What I think it comes down to is that completely and utterly unquantifiable thing known as stage presence.” Turner said. “You need to look like you are comfortable up there and you own the space. It is totally doable. Look at Queen. There were four people on stage, but it looked like the stage was hardly big enough for them.”

Frank Turner Discography
Sleep Is for the Week (2007)
Love Ire & Song (2008)
Poetry Of The Deed (2009)
Buddies – With Jon Snodgrass (2010)

Campfire Punk Rock (2006)
The Real Damage (2007)
Rock N’ Roll (2010)

The First Three Years (2008)


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