Interview :: Frank Turner

It’s become an inevitability that whenever Frank Turner sets foot in the North West of England, we will be there to pester him.

Just back from supporting Flogging Molly in the states, Frank has embarked on another Europe-wide tour, just five months after his last, in order to appease the cries of his ever growing fan base. We concocted theories as to why Fake Problems postponed their UK tour, awkwardly talked about his new single and failed in getting some ‘top secret’ information.


Anthony Barlow: Hi Frank, how’s it going?

Frank Turner: I’m good thanks. A little bit rashed today, but tonight is going to be the biggest headline show of my career so I’m excited about that. It’s gonna be a fun evening and it’s St. Patrick’s day so I’m sure that madness with ensue after the show.

Ian Critchley: There’s that ‘Pop, Bubble, Rock’ thing going on after the show, it’s supposed to be your after-show party. Do you actually know about it?

FT: No, I don’t. That happens quite often, people going “official aftershow” and I’m like “no one told me”. I think I’m gonna head off with some friends and go and get trashed somewhere. I’m not drinking Guiness. I can’t stand Guiness. Horrible shit.

IC: Get on the Jameson’s instead.

FT: Exactly. You’re a wise man.

AB: You’ve just come off the Flogging Molly tour, have you not?

FT: Yes

AB: Well, what happened to reducing your tour schedule then?

FT: I said I was going to reduce my tour schedule? Well, nothing really happened with that. It must be said actually. The Flogging Molly guys offered me that tour, like the day after we announced this tour and if they’d have offered it to us 24 hours earlier, we would’ve shifted the whole of this tour back a little bit. We missed the last few shows and I did a thing where I played Saturday night in Chicago, on Sunday I got on a plane, arrived Monday and then played Monday night in Newcastle. That was a fucking headache, to be honest with you. By the end of the show in Newcastle, I was a dead man walking.

AB: I was just going to ask, how’re you not dead yet?

FT: Well, I’ve got some creature comforts. Touring at this level in the UK is cool. I’ve got quite a big crew working for me now and I don’t have to re-string my guitars and stuff like that anymore, which is fine because I’ve got a lot of interviews to do and shit like that in the meantime. There’s not enough hours in the day. It does mean that, once the show’s done, I can get to bed or go out and have a drink or whatever. So it’s, in some ways, more relaxing.

AB: Fair enough, you’re off to Europe straight after this as well aren’t you?

FT: We’ve got three days off, I think, and then to Zurich.

AB: You’ve actually got a day off whilst you’re here to. Has no one commandeered you and got you to play a show yet?

FT: People have asked but, again, I haven’t really had a day off between Flogging Molly and this. I think I’m gonna take advantage of it and maybe have a bath, watch a lot of telly, maybe go to the cinema. Y’know, just chill out for a day.

AB: Yeah, definitely. You had to cancel a show as well in Detroit

FT: I did. I’m still fucking seethingly pissed off about it. I would, literally, rather torture small children than cancel shows. I just fucking hate it. There was a throat infection going around on the Flogging Molly tour and when drummers have throat infections it doesn’t really matter, but when singers do it is a problem. I kinda struggled through. We had three shows in a row where I had a really croaky, horrible voice and it just wasn’t gonna get any better unless I took time off. So I took a day off and just felt like an arsehole about it. Although it has to be said, Detroit is a fucking horrible place. The gigs are alright, the people there are quite nice, but as an actual city it’s a fucking shit hole. I must admit, I wasn’t actually that bothered about going to Detroit.

AB: Did you actually get people turning up this time?

FT: I got a few emails from people saying they were bummed that I missed the show, but I’m going to try and do a show during the summer some time so hopefully that’ll make up for it.

AB: Your new DVD arrived in the post yesterday

FT: Oh cool. I’m glad they’re sending them out. That’s good. I’m really pleased with how that came together. We got as much footage and sound on it as humanly possible to get on to discs. Yeah, I’m pleased that came together.

AB: Chris Farren from Fake Problems seemed pretty surprised that it was actually out.

FT: Shit, we need to send those guys a copy actually because they’re on it.

IC: I bet he’ll have to see if he can fit it into his busy Lost-watching schedule because That’s all you get on Facebook: “lost, lost, lost, lost” about 40 million times

FT: *laughs*

AB: I never thought about that actually. Fake Problems postponed their UK tour.

IC: I reckon it’s because of Lost.

FT: *laughs*

AB: Yeah, I think Chris would miss the Lost finale if he went on tour.

IC: He wants to watch it that much that he just canceled the whole tour

FT: It would not surprise me.

AB: Is the DVD on sale at the merch stand?

FT: Yep. It’s out and about now so.

AB: Are we going to hear any new material tonight?

FT: We’re not actually, but I’m writing a lot of new songs at the moment. Poetry Of The Deed we recorded very quickly. Which is fine. I want to take a little bit more time this time, so I’m doing something I haven’t done for a while, which is writing songs and then sitting on them for a little bit just to kind of mull them over. I’m very, very pleased right now with the material that I’ve got. Again, with Poetry Of The Deed, it was kinda like we wrote 13 songs, put 13 songs on the album and then put it out. I kind of want to write more songs this time and pick and choose a little more. Plus, there was that song called Pass It Along that didn’t make Poetry Of The Deed, but which footage exists of on the web and loads and loads of people keep going on about how much they like that song so maybe that might make a resurgence. So, no new material but every time I do a tour I’m mindful of the fact that quite a lot of people will have gone to the show in October who’ll be here tonight, so I want to make sure the setlist is kinda different. I’ll be playing some old songs that I haven’t played for a long time. We’ll be playing some material from Poetry Of The Deed that we haven’t played before, just to try and keep it fresh and interesting.

AB: And, of course, you’ve got people like us who just seem to follow you everwhere you go…

FT: *laughs*

IC: I’ve got to ask this, what do you think about people quoting you? Like getting tattoos of your lyrics or using them as a basis for things

FT: I think that’s cool man

IC: Oh good, because I’ve got a question and it’s got a quote in it so…*laughs*. On St. Christopher’s Coming Home, you sing the words “chances are that I am far away and so I’m phased out of the plan” and your new single is Isabel, which is about your ladyfriend.

FT: Yes

IC: How does she feel about your insane tour schedule and constant distance. Does it affect your relationship in a may you might regret? I don’t just mean with her, but with family and friends

FT: Well, without going to far into the details, the answer to that question is yes, I am no longer an attached man.

IC: Oh…

FT: No, it’s alright. It’s just fucking terrible because that song’s just getting played on a bunch of radio stations and shit and she’s got the radio where she works, so it’s like she’s sitting there at work all day with this fucking song coming at her. Which makes me feel like an arsehole. You know what, it’s very difficult and I just kind of… Again, I don’t want to get to personal. I’ve taken a decision recently that I’m just gonna do personal life in like five years. I fucking love what I do. There’s loads to do and I’m just gonna focus on my job for now.

IC: Fair enough. A lot of your friends are musicians and in terms of gig tickets, album sales your probably the most successful. If you write a song and Jay [Beans On Toast] gives you his opinion on it, do you find it hard to take on board?

FT: Not at all, no.

IC: You’ve not gotten to the point where you’ve got a massive rock star ego?

FT: No fucking way. I take criticism off Jay. Chris T-T is someone I run material by. I have a small circle of people who I run new songs by and get their opinion. How best to say this? I’m very grateful for the success I’ve achieved, but I’m not going to sit here and say it’s because “I’m fucking Jesus”. It’s a combination of luck, hard work and all that kind of thing as well. I think Chris T-T is one of the best songwriters in the fucking world. I actually think Ben Marwood is one of the best songwriters in the world as well. I will always, always listen to their opinions on their stuff and take it deathly seriously.

AB: You’ve not turned into Morrissey then? Shutting yourself away in a darkened room whilst you write.

FT: I fucking hope I never do. You guys can call me out on it. I like Morrissey, but c’mon the guy cancels gigs because he doesn’t like the acoustics of the room. I’d be like “fuck you mate”.

AB: Are you playing any festivals this year?

FT: Yeah, I’ve got quite a few. I’m not quite sure which ones I’m allowed to talk about. I know I’m allowed to talk about ‘T In The Park’, which is gonna be great. I’ve not done that one before. I’m headlining ‘2,000 Trees’, which is great because it’s an awesome festival. I’m also headlining a festival called ‘Wood’, which is a folk festival run by the guys who do ‘Truck’ festival. I’ve not actually been to ‘Wood’, but I know the Bennett brothers, who run ‘Truck’, very well. They’re old friends, so that should be fun as well. I’ve never headlined a festival before and now I’m on two, so that’s great.

AB: Can you say anything about Reading/Leeds? There was a ‘leaked’ line up and you’re on it so…

FT: I actually, in all honesty, I heard about it I didn’t actually see it myself. I’ve no idea whether it’s true or not. I’m gonna be at Reading and Leeds this year, but I don’t know on what stage, basically. That’s what I can tell you at this stage. In fairness, I should be finding out any day now. In fact, my booking agent is coming to the show tonight so I’ve got a feeling she might know and she’s saving it to tell me in person because she’s like that. So, we’ll see.

IC: What’s going on with the Neil Young thing? Can we talk about that yet?

FT: Yeah, well…I think Neil has postponed his summer tour, which is kind of annoying, but I have got a tour in the sates this September that I can’t really talk about now. It’s with one of my fucking all time favorite bands and I’m getting really, really piss excited about it, but I can’t talk about it yet.

AB: Oh, go on

FT: No, I can’t. I literally can’t. I’ll get in so much shit if I do.

IC: What about the, Turner-fronted, ‘super band’ with Jim Ward?

FT: *laughs* Yeah, I saw Jim Ward the other day actually. I stayed at his house for a night, in El Paso. It’s kinda the same as it was last time, in a sense that everyone thinks it’s a fucking awesome idea, but my tour schedule currently runs through til February 2011 and then I’ve got a plan put together that’s gonna take me through until next summer.

IC: So it’s gonna be a while then

FT: Yeah. I mean, oh this is actually worth talking about actually. I’ve got a plan for next year. I’m gonna do a summer tour of the UK, which I haven’t done for a long time. I wanna do small venues, 200 cap. kinda places, but it’s gonna be a 12-week long tour. I’m gonna play fucking everywhere. So, for example, instead of just playing Manchester I’ll play Manchester, Wigan, Preston, Sheffield, Leeds, Liverpool…

IC: Do you realise you’re gonna get really, like, stalked by us?

FT: *laughs* Literally we’re trying to put together a 60-date UK tour. The thing is, I’m trying to put together an album of traditional English songs out next year as well. The idea is that, we’ll do that together and I’m gonna, this is concept here, because what I’m gonna do is get local people to support in each show and I’ve got a whole bunch of books about English folklore, legend and myth and I’ll read-up about each town before I go there and maybe do a bit of a talk between songs about local folklore and shit like that. It’s gonna be called The Folklore Tour. It’s gonna be really long and really fucking hard, but I think it’s gonna be fun. A thing a lot of people say, which I totally sympathise with, is that it’s been a long time since a lot of people in the UK saw me play a solo show in a smaller club and it is a different thing to see me play a full production show downstairs here. I’m sensitive to that, and I want people to get what they want,  so we’re gonna do that.

IC: Hypothetically, if your music career stopped today (or perhaps didn’t happen at all) where do you think you’d be?

FT: I’d like to be a history teacher. Yeah, I’d like to teach A-Level history. I had an A-Level history teacher who just completely turned me around on so many different things. I like telling stories and, it’s not the whole thing, but there’s a degree to which history is story-telling. Particularly at that kind of level. When you get to university it gets a bit more analytical. I just like the idea of telling people the story of the Second World War or whatever it may be. It’s kind of cool so, yeah, that’s what I’d like to do. Anyway, sorry that got cut short guys. It’s nice to see you again and I’ll see you downstairs.


Massive thanks to Frank and everyone who helped us sort this out yet again. Needless to say, next time he’s about we’ll be there to ask more questions. You never know, we might not put our collective feet in it as much next time. Look for Anthony’s gig review very soon.

2 Responses to “Interview :: Frank Turner”

  1. Paul says:

    oooh shit, gotta be hard on the guy with the single coming out and that happening, tough times.

    on a lighter note, didn’t realise he ran things past Chris T-T; saw him live last week, is an awesome lyricist….thinking about it actually you can hear cross overs in their music.

    Folklore Tour sounds good an’ all, looking forward to that one. Though, Reading/Leeds thing I’m not getting??

  2. Can’t wait for the Folklore Tour…so much Turner in so little time haha.
    What’re you not getting about him playing Reading & Leeds?

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