If he isn’t sick of us yet, he soon will be. See you in March, Frank!
Those of you who read our stuff will have come to know we really like Frank Turner. In fact, we like him a hell of a lot. We had a good chat back in October, but our time was cut short. We went for a beer with Frank a few hours prior to his set as part of XFM’s Winter Wonderland show in Manchester. God bless you Frank, you’re keeping us in work.
Anthony Barlow: So my first question is, are you sick of us yet?
Frank Turner: *laughs* Not at all, not at all. I remember last time we spoke it was all curtailed because I had 9,000 interviews. This is my only interview today, other than radio stuff for XFM. So we have time, time is on our side.
AB: That’s good because, as we know, you’re a bloody busy guy. You’ve just come off the Revival Tour and you were in Europe yesterday. Was this your only day off then?
FT: No because in Europe, particularly when you start getting into Scandinavia, you have to have quite a few travel days because it’s alarmingly big so we’ve had a couple of travel days. They’re not days off as such really. We did have one day off in Amsterdam, but everyone was in such tiny moral pieces after the night of the gig in Amsterdam. It was a restful day, but me and my tour manager stayed up drinking until 9am after the Amsterdam show. At which point he not only blagged us into a hotel room but also, and this is 9 o’clock in the fucking morning I wanted to go to sleep, he produced a fucking screwdriver and succeeded in unscrewing literally everything in the hotel room he could find that had a screw in it. All the fixtures, fittings, Ikea furniture. I fucking went to sleep, and I woke up to discover that he’d literally demolished the entire fucking room we were in and then gone to sleep.
AB & Ian Crichley: *laughs*
FT: Housekeeping were knocking on the door and shit and it’s like ‘what do we do?’. So we ran away. So yeah, I’ve been busy *laughs*
AB: I’ve heard the song about Little Rock, was there literally 20 people there?
FT: I think there were actually less than 20 people, but that was a weird one. I think the promoter was not quite up to scratch with the show or whatever. As the song says, it’s about playing, it’s about entertaining people regardless of them there are. Jim Ward from Sparta was on the tour as well and me and him are having a full on bromance by the way, like we’re fucking bezzie friends forever. He bought a bottle of whiskey and just sat on the front of the stage with plastic cups and poured a shot for everybody in the room. All the bar guys, everybody in the crowd and everybody in the Revival crew and we all did a shot together. We had a blast and me and John [Snodgrass] actually wrote the song that night after the set. Good songs can come together very quickly. John Snodgrass is an amazing dude as well. I hadn’t met him before this tour, he’s also one of my new favorite people.
AB: Like I said, you’re in the middle of your European tour and it seems to be going really well.
FT: It’s kinda weird, because it’s the first headline European shows I’ve ever done. When I say that out loud it sounds kind of weird to me or slack, like I should’ve gone to Europe more than I have, particularly Germany. All of the German shows have sold out and it’s the second time I’ve ever been in the country. It’s great, it’s just a bit weird though. I’m used to working my arse of for a fucking thousand years and playing every shit-hole club in the entire universe and eventually people took notice. In Germany it’s just gone bang out of nowhere, which is kinda cool. I’m a little bit worried that the people of Germany might just see me as some kind of hype act because I’ve just kind of arrived and everybody’s started liking my music. Hopefully I can get around that little pitfall. Otherwise, yes, Europe is fucking great. We’ve been learning how to count to four in lots of different languages and my merch girl knows some fucking horrendous Sweedish, which she was sharing with me and I shared it with the crowd, which they didn’t find very funny because it was something about hitting their grandfather in the face with my crotch or something, I don’t fucking know.
AB & IC: *laughs*
FT: Anyway. Good times
AB: You’ve flown in this morning from Helsinki and you’re flying out tomorrow morning to Copenhagen. Are you mad?
FT: To be honest, I think tomorrow’s gonna be a bit easier. The problem with yesterday was that between the curfew at the show and the check in time for my flight there was like three and a half hours. I thought stopping was fucking pointless so I just kept on drinking and slept on the plane, so now I’m really fucking tired. At least the guys at XFM were nice enough to get me probably the nicest hotel room I’ve ever slept in. It’s like a suite. It’s got a little sitting room bit as well and all that kinda shit. I’m gonna try and sleep in that as much as I can tonight.
AB: Nice. So, off the back of this tour of Europe, you’ve got the UK tour in 2010.
FT: Yes, and I’m sure I’ll see you guys for another interview when I’m here.
AB: Yeah, we’ll be back.
FT: No, seriously, let’s do it. It’s nice to get a bit of a thing going with people.
IC: You’ve got friends for life now Frank *laughs*
FT: *laughs* yeah
IC: You’re bringing Chuck Ragan on that tour with you as well.
FT: Yeah Chuck’s coming, so that’s gonna be great. Do you guys know who Crazy Arm are?
AB: I got their free track from Banquet Records the other day, but I haven’t listened to it.
FT: They’re the shit. I love that band they’re fucking amazing. I think it’s gonna be a good lineup on this tour.
AB: Well I trust you, because I didn’t know who Fake Problems were before I saw them In Manchester and they’re one of my favourite bands now.
FT: Oh, cool.
IC: Chris from Fake Problems added me on Facebook *laughs*
FT: Did he?
IC: I was like ‘yeah, rockstars add me’ *laughs*
FT: *laughs* Chris is a lovely, sweet guy. My mum was asking if he was gay, which I thought was quite funny. He’s not, for the record. Not that it’d matter if he was. He’s got an insanely hot girlfriend actually, if I’m honest.
IC: That’s on record now *laughs*
FT: *laughs* I’ve told him to his face
AB: What was the decision behind playing an acoustic set tonight? Getting back on topic *laughs*
FT: We just can’t afford to fly the whole band over with equipment and all that kinda shit. We’ve got a van full of a gear that’s currently somewhere between Stockholm and Copenhagen. Yeah, it’s just expensive flying people around the world at the last minute and all that kinda stuff. Plus, I think everyone would’ve mutinied as well and refused to do it. It’s funny I had a big discussion the other day with the band and they were just kinda like ‘if we move towards a point where we’re doing more shows with the full band’ which is what we want to do they were like ‘we’re not gonna do some of the tour schedule shit that you do’. Coming back from an American tour and going straight into another tour then flying to fucking Manchester. They were like ‘we’re not gonna do that’. I just said ‘pussies’.
AB: *laughs*. Is there any chance of hearing that new, “overly political”, song tonight?
FT: No, not tonight because it’s not 100% finished yet. It needs a little bit of tweaking here and there, but it’s essentially done. I just wanted to write a song, you know I might be about to have a rant now.
IC: Go for it
FT: Something that I find increasingly as i get older is that, ironically enough, there’s a real mainstream political opinion within the music world, which is broadly left wing and if you’re not left wing you really better not mention it, because people will get real fucking shirty with you. To start with, most people don’t seem to understand what the difference between left and right is. For example, the BNP are a hard left party. I consider myself a libertarian, I consider myself to be pretty right wing and I get shit for saying that out loud. I was thinking about it the other day, I was thinking about how, quite often, I do keep myself to myself on the subject because I can’t be fucking bothered to have some guy look all shocked at me because I think socialism’s retarded. Then I actually thought hold on a minute here, one of the many things that everybody preaches, which I sincerely agree with, is fucking stand up for what you believe in. I strongly believe that Che Guevara was a racist, homophobic, murdering thug and I strongly believe that people who wear U.S.S.R. t-shirts are as offensive as people who wear Nazi t-shirts to me because, in fact, they killed considerably more people and I’m fucking passionate about that kind of thing. So I was like I should actually write a song about this, because I do firmly believe it. I do firmly believe that leftist politics lead to the misery of many, the crushing of the little guy and all that kind of thing. I mean, it’s important for me to say that in public because I believe it strongly and that sometimes in life you’ve got to fucking put your foot down.What’re those guys called? The anti-facist lot who are always campaigning against the BNP. There’s this one particular group, they’re just utter fucking morons, just fucking cretins and somebody needs to stand up and say it, somebody needs to remind people about free speech. If you punch a Nazi in the head because you disagree with him, you’re no better because that’s why he’s a dick head. All those people getting in a pissy about the BNP being on question time are fucking morons. They don’t seem to understand what it is that makes it good to live in our free society. It’s these fucking dicks who’re slowly chipping away at things. The bottom line is, the West is a great place to live. The problem with it is, a lot of parts of the world are fucked up and people take that post-colonial guilt and take it one step too far and say the thing we have in the West are bad. Freedom of speech and assembly, freedom to trade, to live, to do what you want as you choose are things spent centuries fighting for and we should all be proud of them and protective of them. Then you’ve got these fucking dick heads who want to have a law about who can say what whenever makes me want to fucking kill everyone I’ve ever met. So, end rant. So that’s what that political song is about. It’s just kind of saying I really don’t want to stand in the same fucking line up as people who think Lenin had something worthwhile to say. I think Lenin was evil, beyond all fucking doubt, evil.
IC: Who’re you gonna vote for?
FT: Well, I don’t know. I don’t want to vote for the Coservatives because I think David Cameron’s a shit and the reason he’s a shit is as statused as New Labor. I think New Labor are one of the fucking worst things to happen to this country ever, pretty much. I think, arguably, particularly with the signing of the Lisbon treaty it’s actually the end of about 800 years of continuous parliamentary history. I think the people responsible for the signing of that fucking treaty without asking the people of Britain need to burn in fucking hell. Cameron’s obviously a turd, we all know that it’s pretty obvious. I dunno, I must admit I’m friends with a guy. Have you ever heard of The Devils Kitchen? It’s a libertarian political blog. The guy, Chris Mouncey, who runs it became leader of the libertarian party, which is a really small political party. Now, I’m uneasy around fringe parties because it just seems like a fucking waste of time. Having said that, I do agree with what they say. I’ve been talking to Chris because I think they’re using the song Sons Of Liberty as one of their campaign songs or something *laughs*. I don’t know, fuckin’ a. You know what, if there’s a Libertarian party candidate I’ll probably vote for them just to make Chris feel better about his life. It’s difficult because, at the end of the day, politics is the art of the possible. The kind of politics where you sit around in circles discussing abstract theorisation of how society can be run is essentially pointless because it doesn’t change anyone’s life for the better. If you’re gonna take an interest in politics, you might as well take an interest in it that’s actually gonna make a difference to anything.
AB: You talked about Sons Of Liberty there and that, sort of in a round about way, relates to a question Ian tried to ask you via the powers of MySpace.
IC: Oh yeah, have you ever played Metal Gear Solid? I tried sending you an email, but I got the address wrong. Because when you were last here, I didn’t have a ticket so I wondered if you had played Metal Gear Solid, y’know where he hides in the box? I could hide in a box and you could sneak me in.
FT: *laughs* I think I played it once, many years ago.
IC: It’s a pretty good game.
FT: Yeah. I used to be quite into gaming, but I just don’t have the time anymore. The phrase Sons Of Liberty is more than a Metal Gear reference though
AB: *laughs* it was actually before the album came out that he tried to send that, it was quite a nice coincidence actually.
[Here’s a brief interlude I thought needed to be included. Enjoy!]
IC: [to himself, looking at attractive girl] Wow. She’s amazing.
IC: Ask her out for me. You can be all ‘hi, I’m Frank Turner will you go out with my mate?’
FT: My god *laughs*
IC: How won’t that work? You’ve been on TV and shit.
FT: *laughs* we’ll see.
IC: If she comes back *laughs*
FT: I’m not sure about my position as a lubricant
FT: Anyway, where were we *laughs*
AB: That ties in quite nicely actually. Do you get recognized in the street and stuff like that?
FT: Sometimes. The thing is, to be honest, because I’m gigging all the time the streets I’m walking around are streets quite close to the venue, so it’s more likely that there’ll be people who know who I am and what I do in that part of the world. It’s very nice when people come up and say hello, for the most part. Every now and again you get besieged by dick heads, but it’s a rarity. Such is life.
AB: I actually thought you were going to say you didn’t get recognized, because last time you were in Manchester you were stood at the merch booth and there was a line of people stood waiting for a drink at the bar and not one person, to my knowledge, acknowledged you were there.
FT: That’s cool. Basically, when I’m standing on a stage I’m doing my job. When I’m not on stage I don’t hold myself as any different than anyone else. What that means is that if someone wants to come over say hi then say hi, that’s normal courtesy. At the same time, I don’t go swanning around expecting people to throw rose petals under my feet. Fuck that. There are times when it’s a bit like my commitment to being available for people to come and talk to me gets skewed by people who have no social graces. People who just walk over and go ‘waheey’. It’s like, interact with me as a normal person, now you’re just being a dick. There was this guy, I actually nearly fucking lamped this guy in Amsterdam. It was right after the show, I was stood at the merch stand with a whole load of people. I was talking to everybody and he was like shouldering people out of the way and saying ‘hey man, another photo, another photo’. I was like mate, fuck off. That’s fucking rude. I’m in the middle of a fucking sentence. I’m talking to somebody else. Anyway, where were we?
AB: I was just gonna ask you about your plans for 2010 besides the tour of course.
FT: Well, my tour schedule is currently solid and in the diary up until the 2nd of May. From January 20th til the 2nd of May I think it is. Then there’s some absolutely insane shit that might come together in the summer. Yeah, so I’ll be busy in the summer. I’ve got this kind of vague plan that I’ll stop by a studio at some point before the end of the year and knocking out another album, because I’ve got the songs coming together, but that might not be realistic. The thing is, I would love to get another album out in April 2011, but that might literally kill me. So we’ll see, we’ll see.
AB: What’re the chances of a live CD or DVD?
FT: It’s happening. We recorded and filmed the Shepard’s Bush show and I’ve been going through edits for the DVD recently. It looks fucking great. My drummer, Nigel, is mixing the audio and as we drive around Europe he sits in the back of the van with his headphones on doing the mixing. Yeah, it’s gonna be cool. Hopefully we’ll have it out before the March tour next year.
AB: Didn’t you do a stage dive?
FT: No, my manager did. Charlie and I go back a long way and we’re very good friends. He was involved with Million Dead as well. When I went solo, there was a moment where literally everybody was like ‘you’re out of your mind. Fuck off.’ Not even fuck off it was just ‘come back when you’re in a hardcore band again’. He [Charlie] was the only guy who was like ‘yeah, fuck it man, let’s see what happens. Let’s do this’. We made a bet years ago that if I ever sold out the Astoria in London he would do a stage dive. The Astoria’s closed down now, but Shepards Bush is the same size. So when we sold out Shepard’s Bush I said ‘you understand that bet is transferable’. He was like ‘is it bollocks’ and he’s 40 odd as well. I was like ‘fuck you man, you aren’t getting out of this fucker. Do a stage dive’. So he did a stage dive and it was fucking hilarious. By the time I’d left the stage, he was still out there. He just did a lap of the ground floor. I was like ‘see you later’. It’s on the DVD anyway.
AB: I was having a look at your forums and people are speculating what you’ll do based of what Springsteen did. Is that the case?h
FT: *laughs* well, you know what, that’s not totally insane on the basis that a year ago, less than a year ago in fact, a lot of my thinking about Poetty Of The Deed was based around trying to make an album like Born To Run. I think it kinda worked for what it was. I would say that my Springsteen fixation has, it’s not even like it’s receeded. It’s just been absorbed by a fixation with Loudon Wainwright. He’s my fucking hero. I’m a comparatively recent convert and I just kinda want to be him. He’s one of the best songwriters in the whole fucking world. I’ve learnt 10 of his songs already, actually I’m gonna play a Loudon Wainwright song tonight. [For the record, he didn’t. Shame]
We’ve split this interview into two parts because it’s really bloody long. The second part will be up soon. Hope you liked it because We’ll be talking to him again in March.