How long has it been since we’ve really had a genuine new rock n roll legend in the UK? Well, one man who could be close to filling that vacancy must be Frank Turner. There aren’t many who have gone from one man and his guitar shows in some pretty dodgy venues to the Olympics opening ceremony. We got the chance to grab a few words with Mr Turner shortly after he returned to the UK from having recorded songs for his new album:
Paul: When you started touring with just you and your guitar, did you ever believe you would achieve the level of success you now have?
Frank: I’m not sure I believed it as such, it did all seem pretty unlikely. But I don’t want to pretend I was unambitious, I’ve always wanted to be successful at what I do and play my music out to a lot of people. There’s a difference between realistic expectation and day dreaming, I guess.
Paul: During your solo career you have continued to develop your sound, do you often come across ‘fans’ who bemoan that development?
Frank:Yes, which slightly puzzles me. Of course, if people like things I was doing before more, that’s fine, they can listen to those records. But the innate conservatism of the idea that artists should remain who they were when they first emerged isn’t really to my taste. I feel I have a duty to my art to try and evolve, do different things every time I make a record.
Do you ever wish you could go back to the ‘simpler’ life without the attention and demands on your time?
Frank:Sometimes, but I think that type of nostalgia is pretty self-indulgent, kind of a waste of time. I’d rather look forwards than backwards.
Paul: What about the political side, there seems to be a tendency for press to keep bringing out the same old quotes, frequently out of context, are there times you wish you’d just kept shtum?
Frank:Very much so. I was pretty naive about both my own politics and about how to talk about them in public once upon a time. People seize on every detail and uncertainty and then shout really, really loudly, and are essentially impervious to reasoned counter argument. Which is pretty galling. I have precisely zero interest in engaging in politics in a public forum any more, my experience of it was shitty and stultifying, so I’ll pass.
Paul: You’ve built up what appears a full time support band, is that just because you prefer being part of a gang rather than a lone troubadour?
Frank:I always wanted a permanent band, like the E Street Band or the Attractions or whatever. I think it’s better musically, and it’s kind of a cooler vibe, I want people who come to my shows regularly to be aware of who they are and to appreciate their talents. It is nice to also have some company on the road; but I think the solo, vocal and guitar thing will always remain the conceptual backbone of what I do.
Paul: From a live perspective, it really is a full on band experience now and you appear really tight as a unit, is that important?
Frank:For full band shows, yes. I think the Sleeping Souls are one of the best bands in rock’n’roll, they’re fucking tight, we want to put on a good show.
Paul: You’ve recently been recording with the awesome Butch Walker, how did that come about and what was he like to work with?
Frank:I got in touch with Butch through some mutual friends because I was interested in working with him; I was slightly conceptually stuck in a rut with the new material and needed someone to help me see the whole thing through, and he was the perfect guy for the job, he’s an amazing producer and a thoroughly lovely chap.
Paul: Any chance we will hear some Southgang covers as part of your set?? (If so, can I request Love for Sale or Tainted Angel!!!!)
Frank:I doubt it.
Paul: What can we expect from the album in terms of sound?
Frank:I wanted a record that sounded fresh and hungry, like a debut record, rough around the edges and full of piss and vinegar. With that in mind, we rehearsed a lot but didn’t take long recording the album at all, it’s pretty much played live.
Paul: Most importantly when do we get to hear the fruits of your labour?
Frank:When the mix and the set up is done, so probably early summer.
Paul: You appear to be constantly keeping yourself busy, not only with your own recording and shows but also DJing and producing, what drives that?
Frank:I get bored very easily. Life is too short for dawdling.
Paul: Sadly, I’ve yet to see a DJ set, what type of stuff do you play and what’s your guaranteed dance floor filler?
Frank:I play things people want to hear; I’m not really into the cerebral, educational approach to DJing. People came down to dance and have a good time, and my job (as a DJ) is to facilitate that. So I play a lot of Queen, basically.
Paul: You recently produced Billy The Kid’s excellent album (see our review https://thesoulofaclown.com/2014/09/28/billy-the-kid-horseshoes-and-hand-grenades/ ), how did that come about and did you enjoy it?
Frank:I’ve been interested in getting into production more lately, and the guys at Xtra Mile had worked out a deal with Billy, so they asked if I’d be interested in being involved in the project. She’s a friend and an amazing songwriter, so I said yes, and we had a great time arranging and recording the album. To the extent that I am allowed to be, I’m very proud of the end result, I think Billy made a great record and I’m happy to have been part of that.
Paul: What stuff are you listening to at the moment?
Frank:Recently I’ve been lost in a lot of old country stuff, like Louvin Brothers, George Jones, stuff like that. Trying to educate myself about another corner of the music world that I might have missed.
Oh well, sounds like we’re more than likely to see a country cover than a glam metal song when Frank next tours (boo!). At least, however, we have the new album to look forward to and given how his sound has grown on each release,it should be a corker!