Much like Santa Claus himself, we’re here on this fine Christmas Eve to deliver the second part of the interview we did with Frank Turner in Manchester earlier this month. We talk covers, X-Factor, Bono and Frank gives us some interesting musical recommendations.
AB: Does this [fixation on Loudon Wainwright] mean that we’ll be seeing more covers then?
FT: Yeah, I really want to do a Townes Van Zandt cover. He was a Texas songwriter who died 15 years ago, maybe. He was mainly active in the 70’s. He’s almost like a secret code for songwriters. He was never mainstream successful, but amongst people who write songs he’s like the password. It’s kinda like ‘Townes Van Zandt’ and then if someone goes ‘Yep’, you know you’re speaking the same language. His songs are just so simple and just so perfect. If you want to know where fuckin’ Ryan Adams got everything he’s ever done from, then listen to Townes Van Zandt. His lyrics are just beautiful. The problem with him is that, it’s kinda dangerous covering his songs, because there’s something about the way he did them that’s deceptively simple. When you start playing them yourself, suddenly you’re like ‘this sounds rubbish’ like ‘how does he do it? I’m playing the same chords, I’m singing the same words’. There’s something about his poise that was different.
AB: How did the Mark Mulcahy cover come about?
FT: I didn’t know who Mark Mulcahy was until I got asked to do that, but Nigel, my drummer, actually played for Mark for a few years a while back and it was a benefit for his wife. Basically, Nige asked me if I’d be interested in doing it and I was like ‘yeah, whatever’. I listened to some songs, thought they were pretty cool and then recorded my version. It was only after that, that I found out the other people on the fucking record were like Counting Crows, Buffalo Tongue, Michael Stipe, fuckin’ Thom Yorke, All this kinda shit is fucking crazy.
AB: I first listened to that track coming back from your Wolverhampton gig and fell in love with it.
IC: Oh yeah, we were coming back from there and there was this guy sat on the train with what looked like a guitar. So I asked him ‘is that a guitar? We can have a jam’ and he said ‘no, it’s a banjo and then started playing [insert banjo playing impression here]. and the all the people on the train moved to this carridge to watch this guy going crazy.
FT: *laughs* Yeah, watching decent banjo players is fucking cool. Actually here’s a recomendation for you, to change the subject slightly. There was a guy who was on a dew dates of the Revival Tour called Possessed by Paul James and he actually blew my mind like my mind hasn’t been blown for a long fuckin’ time. He’s really nice and buff as fuck. He looks like a fireman, he’s like an American fireman type dude. Just fucking chunky and stocky. He plays banjo some of the time and he plays fiddle some of the time and then he just howls and yelps and yodels and wails over the top of it. When he plays sweat just pours off him. He’ll be sat there playing the fiddle going ‘ya, ya, ya, ya’ [or something to that effect, imagine ‘chomping at the bit’ and you get the idea]. He’s fucking mad, like totally mad, but he sings these hilarious, but beautiful, but crazy songs. It sounds like you’re listening to someone from the fucking 1830’s or something. He’s totally amazing. I totally have to take him on tour at some point. Someday. We shall see.
AB: I was surprised not to see Jay [Beans On Toast] on the tour with you this time around, because he seemed to get received quite well. What was the decision behind that?
FT: Well, I like to keep it fresh. There’s one person, it wakes me up at night the fact I haven’t taken him on tour yet, it’s Ben Marwood. He’s in my top friends on MySpace *laughs*. He is one of my favourirte songwriters, he’s amazing and he’s a lovely, lovely guy as well. I keep drnkenly going ‘next tour man, me and you’ and then shit happens. I don’t know, we shall see.
IC: You were saying before about people wanting you back in a hardcore band. Are you ever going to do anything like that again?
FT: You can write about this. It’s extremely hypothetical at this stage, only because the schedules of all the people potentially involved are just ridiculous. Basically, I was talking to Jim Ward on the Revival Tour. He was in At The Drive In, the guy’s a fucking god. We were talking away, and we had this idea to do a band that would have Ben from Million Dead on drums, Jim on bass, Jim Atkins from Jimmy Eat World on guitar and vocals and me on guitar and vocals. Then we’d try and do a record that sounded like Hot Snakes. Hot Snakes kinda became Rocket From The Crypt by adding a horn section and they had a different singer. It’s kinda just like straight down riffing in a punk kinda way. We were like ‘yeah, let’s do a record like that’. Incidentally, here’s another recomendation, check out Hot Snakes. Get the record Automatic Midnight. Holy shit, that record’s good.
AB: Just going back to recognition a little bit. The NME, more specifically Ben Patashnik, wrote an article called “Why Frank Turner Gives Us Hope For The Music Industry”. I mean, how do you react to praise like that?
FT: *laughs* Oh Ben, I don’t know. Ben’s a sweetheart. He’s prone to flights of fancy. I’d count him as a friend. I don’t know what that means. It’s a compliment, so I’ll take it as one. What it specifically means? I have no idea.
AB: I’ve certainly noticed a rise in your recognition. I mean, before I interviewed you last time, i’d be trying to get a bit of work and people would be like ‘who?’ and I’d have to explain who you were [thankfully the good folks of M&B had faith]. I don’t have to do that now.
FT: Cool. That’s good. It’s coming together, slowly but surely.
IC: It’s definitely a good thing.
FT: It’s good for me *laughs*
IC: Yeah definitely. I’m just sick of hearing songs like “I’ve had the same jeans on for four days now”. It’s just crap.
FT: Well, I still wear the same jeans for fuckin’ ages.
IC: Well, yeah. I’ve had these on for about a week I think *laughs*. They’re actually covered in dirt.
FT: It’s funny. I think that, because I grew up with punk rock, because of punk rocks and defensiveness, there is a kind of ingrained instinctive tendency to be suspicious of success in whatever shape or size it comes. I think that’s a bad tendency. I think it’s lead to some of the most in-edifying bits of punk’s history. It’s like when everyone got pissed off at Offspring for selling loads of records, despite the fact they were still on an indie label. They just sold a lot of records. I think I have that in myself and that there’s part of me that gets uncomfortable with the notion of success. I’m learning to put that bit to bed. It’s bullshit. I work my fucking arse off. If people want to come and see my shows and have a good time, then I’m proud of that. It’s that inner punk rock demon I need to tell to shut up and slap it down every now and again.
AB: One thing I wanted to bring up last time we spoke was Lexapalooza. Are we going to see the return of Lexapalooza in 2010?
FT: Yeah, Lexapalooza gonna keep going. I don’t want to particularly go into this in massive detail, but we all made a promise to eachother and to Lexi that we would keep Lexapalooza going as long as we could. It’s been getting bigger year on year and I think there’s been talk about doing Lexapalooza 7 inches next year on pink vinyl. Hopefully, next year, we’re gonna do it somewhere bigger. Maybe like a 500 capacity place and try to get things going on the up.
AB: Speaking of the last time we spoke, Poetry Of The Deed had only just come out. Looking back, how well do you think the album has done?
FT: Commercially it’s done very well. It sold better than my other albums.
AB: Does this mean you’re rich now? *laughs*
FT: *laughs* No. I’m not as poor as I used to be. I’m not sure I’d call myself rich. I can afford to get taxi’s every now and again and stuff like that. It’s pretty cool. It’s funny, I was actually trying to write quite an immediate album and in the process seem to have written an album that isn’t immediate at all. A comment I hear again and again is that people weren’t so sure about it and it took people a while to get into what the record was about. Which is kind of cool in a way, because the records that take a while to work are usually the records that stick with you. It’s slightly weird for me, because I wanted to write quite a ‘poppy’ record and I seem to have done the exact opposite of that. I mean, it’s not a prog album. It was a change of direction and I think some people were wary of that. But, in a non-agressive way, fuck ’em.
AB & IC: *laughs*
FT: Also, I don’t want to repeat myself.
AB: Yeah, definitely. Plus without change people would complain anyway.
FT: Yeah, and it’d get pretty boring for me. It would be artistically redundant.
AB: Now, on a completely different subject, I have beef with the BBC. However, I’d like to thank you for the Retweet on the Gavin & Stacey thing because it made a really shitty day a bit more tolerable. Anyway, I have beef with the BBC. Why was your Take That cover not on the latest Live Lounge CD? It’s a disgrace if you ask me *laughs*
FT: It might be on the next one. I’m in the running for the next one. I hope I do get it because it makes a lot of fucking money, so that would be nice. They played a song on Never Mind The Buzzcocks the other day as well. That’s pretty crazy. I’d like to be on that show. That’d be cool. Although, I’d rather be on QI.
AB: Yeah, QI’s top. You can’t beat Stephen Fry. So, I took some questions from Facebook and Twitter to see if there was anyone out there who wanted to ask you anything and there was a pretty good response. First of all, did you know Campfire Punkrock fetches nearly £50 on Amazon Marketplace?
FT: Wow. That’s ridiculous.
AB: The guys follow-up is, are there any plans to cash in and re-release it outside of The First Three Years?
FT: No. Part of the reason we did The First Three Years compilation was that we’d sold out of The Real Damage – EP, Campfire Punkrock and all the rest of it. It’s expensive for us and it’s expensive for everyone else as well. Just in terms of people being able to buy the songs, which is presumably the important thing, we did the compilation. If people want to spend fifty quid on an original edition, they’re more than welcome. I’ve only got one. So, when I run out of money…
IC: You could sign it and everything.
FT: *laughs* I’ve not got to that stage just yet.
AB: One of my Canadian mates wants to know what’s happening with Nambucca? He says it seems like a mythical place you and Jay [Beans On Toast] sing about.
FT: Well, it burnt down. The guys who ran Nambucca set up The Flowerpot, so all it’s people now run The Flowerpot. The actual building, I don’t know what’s going on with it. There’s actually legal reasons why I probably shouldn’t talk about it. Jay lived there, Jay set it up. I lived on the sofa once, for about six weeks. It was fucking shit. It was a cool place.
AB: People also seem to want your opinion on various music industry people and things. The first one mentioned is X-Factor.
FT: It’s easy to get pissed off about X-Factor, but I actually don’t see the point because it’s not going to go away. You know there’s that whole Rage Against The Machine for number one thing on Facebook? It’s just like ‘whatever’. Who cares? Just let them be number one. If you don’t like it, don’t listen to the fucking radio. To be honest, it’s more like entertainment than music. It’s cruise ship singing. I don’t like it very much. The only time it really bothers me is stuff like that Alexandra Burke cover Hallelujah, because then it crosses, in my view, the two completely separate worlds of X-Factor and music. The funny thing is, people in America don’t really know about it and, on YouTube, I’ve showed people that song to Americans and fuck me, they’re angry. The guys from Fake Problems were like ‘we’ve got to kill her’. They actually want to fucking kill her and everybody involved with this fucking song. Derek was like ‘this is the worst thing I’ve ever heard in my life’. I was like ‘I know, this is on the radio everywhere in the UK’. They kept it secret from everybody in the states.
AB: The next person people want your verdict on is Lady Gaga?
FT: Again, same answer really. I don’t really know that much about Lady Gaga. I know that she had that song Paparazzi, which is a straight rip-off of Take Your Breath Away and that’s about it.
FT: The funny thing about Bono is that, the one thing everyone wants to give him shit about is the one thing I actually agree with him about, which is his ideas about taxes. I think that’s great, because I think taxation is theft essentially. I think that his efforts to maintain the money he’s earnt through his own hard work away from the graspy, grubby little hands of the Irish government is an excellent move. However, it’s everything else he does I think is kinda shit. It’s not even shit. Third world poverty’s a really bad thing and working towards a way to stop it is a good thing. By soldiering on with what he does, he’s made a difference to people’s lives. Well done to him. He can be occasionally sanctimonious about it but, to be honest, a man who rubs his own crotch through PVC trousers whilst wearing wrap around mirror shades in the middle of the day, it’s just like ‘what’re you doing?’. Plus there was that song they put out recently where the chorus was ‘yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah’. How long did that take to write? I can see him sitting there with a lyric pad writing ‘yeah, yeah, yeah’ and then The Edge comes in and says ‘one more yeah’ and he’s like yeah, that’s the one, that’s perfect.
AB: *laughs* Conor Oberst?
FT: I’m not really a fan. He doesn’t really do it for me. He was a cock head at Glastonbury a couple of years ago. He’s a fucking dick. Did you hear about that? He got up on the John Peel stage, it was the first year they had the John Peel stage, and he slagged off John Peel. Fuck that guy.
AB: Finally, someone wants to know how you feel about Alkaline Trio joining Epitaph.
FT: I think it’s cool. I must admit, I missed the Alkaline Trio bus. All of a sudden, everyone I knew had been into them for three albums. It was like ‘really? No one told me’. I think they sound pretty cool, from what I’ve heard, but I don’t know very much. I’ve never met them, but I know a lot of people who know Matt and everybody keeps yaking on and on and on about how he’s the nicest guy in rock and roll. Apparently they’re nice people.
AB: Well, I think that about wraps it up. Thanks a lot Frank.
Thanks again to Frank and the people of Xtra Mile for sorting that out. As we said in part one, we’ll be catching up with him again in March, so any questions you might have for him, shoot them this way.