Let Me Be Frank… Folk Hero Comes To Carlisle This November
Frank Turner is one of the hottest and most divisive musicians on the scene. Born a lovechild of the Eton establishment and hardcore punk rock roots, the libertarian folk artist dared to tour where no artist would. A stringent workhorse and fiercely dedicated to both entertainment and his evolution as an artist, Turner is the antithesis to the corporate machine that is the modern day music industry.
His everyman sound has harmonised with the voice of the people and in droves they are flocking to him; his last two albums both hit number 2 on the UK album charts.
Frank is coming to the Sands Centre on 22 November. Rachel Flynn caught up with the singer-songwriter.
You are making a return to Cumbria for your latest gig, are you looking forward to it?
I’m very much looking forward to coming to Cumbria; it’s been a very long time since I came to Carlisle so it’s good to be coming back. I’ve played the Brickyard a few times on my travels. I might be about to make a major geographical faux par but I played at Kendal Calling a few years back, that’s in Cumbria right? It is one of my favourite festivals in the world actually; it’s always a good time up there.
You tour more than most artists, how do you find touring and constantly being on the road?
It’s partly that it is the main part of my job, obviously I’m a song writer as well and all the rest of it, but if you had a gun to my head and said, describe what you do for a living, then I would call myself an entertainer and I would do so proudly. My job is to get up on the stage and try and make people have a good time for a few hours and I love it.
“One of the reasons that I love touring so much is that it is a weird way to live.”
One of the reasons that I love touring so much is that it is a weird way to live. Weird things happen all the time, so it’s quite difficult to try and pick out one in particular but you meet a lot of colourful people on the road and you have to try and be ready for anything really, but like I said, that’s part of what makes it fun.
How does Frank Turner spend a day out the office?
If I get a day off when I’m on the road I generally do very little because touring is very physically strenuous and it takes a lot out of you. If I do manage to get a day off I tend to just stay in my hotel room and lay as still as possible, and you know, read books and watch telly. When I get a bit of time off when I’m at home, which I am at the minute, it’s quite nice. I’m a massive history geek, I live in London and London history is sort of my topic of choice; I spend a lot of time walking around London looking at old stuff.
You are constantly evolving as an artist, where’s next on your journey?
Well first of all I’m glad that you think so. It’s important to me that I try and change and every time I do anything new I’m always trying to do something that I at least haven’t done before, to push myself out of my comfort zone. I think it’s important and it’s a funny thing because fans tend to be quite conservative and every time I do something slightly different someone somewhere complains and that seems weird to me, as I almost feel it’s my duty to do something new. The last record that I did it was more of a punk rock record; it was a bit of a live, under the finger nails type of affair. I’m in the middle of writing a new record, in fact, I’m almost going to be bold and say I am towards the end of it; I’ve got a big pile of songs. It’s a little too early to say what kind of vibe I’m going for just now, as I’m still sort of tweaking bits, but I am very excited about it.
“I’m always trying to do something that I at least haven’t done before”
What have you been listening to lately?
I try and listen widely; I try and keep my ears open. The band that has completely blown me away recently is a Canadian band called the Arkells who I was sort of vaguely aware of before but having now done a pile of shows with them, they are an absolutely phenomenal band; great singers, great songwriters so that has been very inspirational.
How would you describe the journey from your very first album back in 2007 to now?
A very short answer to that is I like to think I’ve got better; hopefully with practice, one improves. But it’s not just a question of improving over time, I sort of just tried to do things and look at things in another way, from song writing point of view, a production point of view and arrangement point of view. One of the main things is the Sleeping Souls, my band, they didn’t exist on the first couple of records, and these days I make records with them, it’s become more of a collective experience. It’s still my project, I write the songs, but we work on the arrangement together. That’s been a really rewarding experience; they are four really talented musicians, so it’s been good.
Which year out of the past 10 really stands out for you?
If I had to pick one I would probably choose 2012 because that’s the year when I had my show at Wembley and we also played at the Olympics. That was a pretty mad year. But I don’t want to spend too much time looking backwards.
Who inspires you musically?
I grew up listening to Punk Rock and Hardcore and stuff like that and obviously that’s not the kind of music strictly speaking that I’m trying to make right now, but it definitely informs what I do. I’ve been really inspired by people like Springsteen and Dylan and then at the same time I’m always trying to expand my horizons. Lately I’ve been buried in Nick Cave and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about Nick Cave so that has been a big inspiration.
“I’ve been really inspired by people like Springsteen and Dylan”
Can you remember the first record you owned?
The first record I ever owned my dad bought for me, it was Iron Maiden – Killers and It remains one of my favourites. My dad didn’t really know what is was, so he picked it up for me from the record shop and I think he still regards as an essential error in his parenting because that was definitely like a light-switch moment for me.
10 years, 6 albums, do you ever fancy taking some time out?
I keep doing this thing, in fact I’ve just done it again, where I finish a record, you look down and you’ve got 18 months, two years on tour, and I always kind of say I’m going to do that then take a sabbatical, take a year off, then every single time, by the time the end of touring comes around, I’ve got another record to go in my head. I absolutely swore to myself that I was going to take time off when we’d finished touring and I’ve gone and written another record, so one day I will take some time off. Partly the music industry is quite a fickle place, people move on quite quickly, so there is a degree to which striking while the iron is hot is not a terrible idea.
Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls will be playing the Sands Centre on November 22 at 7pm. Tickets £27.