Frank Turner is one of England’s most loved artists who continues to deliver high spirited and energetic folk punk. After years of working his ass off playing over one thousand gigs from a sold out Wembley arena to local pubs. It’s safe to say that Turner has triumphed and his latest album England Keep My Bones really does confirm that. We got in touch to talk festival season, Wembley and his new outfit Mongol Horde.
Q – After selling out Wembley arena you still return to play the occasional intimate pub venue, it’s brilliant to see an artist staying true to their roots. Do you get a certain buzz from getting up close and personal with your Frank Turner family if you will?
Absolutely. As great as Wembley was, that’s very much out of my element. I’ve played more small shows, pubs, bars, bedrooms, squats or whatever, and anything else. There’s a part of me that will forever feel at home in that environment.
Q – Your songs really do carry an assertive uplifting spirit within them for example tracks such as ‘Eulogy’ and ‘Glory Hallelujah.’ Do you have a certain self belief when writing your music?
I guess I have an approach to life, something to do with an egalitarian approach and seizing the day, that comes through in the music that I make.
Q – Through your heavy punk and folk roots you bear many similarities to Joe Strummer, what does Joe and his music mean to you?
I’m a big Clash fan, and I find Joe very inspiring. I’ve been lucky enough to work with the Strummerville crew a fair bit in recent years as well, which has been fun, all good people. The way Joe channelled his soul and his energy direct into his guitar and microphone, with no bullshit, no intercession, is amazing to me.
Q – Over the summer you announced your involvement with new hardcore outfit, “Mongol Horde” how did this new band first come about?
It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while, I grew up playing heavy music and there’s a part of me that always wants to make that kind of noise. I also wanted to play with Ben Dawson again, we are very old friends and played together for years. So it’s been on the to-do list for a long time, we just managed to find some time for it this summer.
Q – Things really started to take off for you when you played the Lock Up stage at Reading and Leeds in 2008, you have returned numerous times since, more recently with Mongol Horde. What’s special about Reading and Leeds to you?
Reading is the festival that I used to go to when I was growing up, so it has a special place in my heart. On top of that, the guys who run it have been amazingly supportive to me over the years, and the festival has always been a highlight of my year, and usually a moment of gear-change as well. So yes, they’re special for me.
Q – How would you compare your experiences at Reading and Leeds to that of Glastonbury? (Hope you’ll return next year !)
Glastonbury has a slightly different vibe, for me – it’s more holistic, less music-focussed, which is fine if that’s your bag. It’s an amazing event in and of itself, and I’m very much hoping to be back there next year.
Q – Lets say you had a free bet at Ladbrokes. Which three bands could you see headlining Glastonbury 2013?
Uh, not sure. I’m not very good at this kind of thing, haha.
Q – You have played over 1000 solo shows during your career so far, this demonstrates how hard you have worked for your success. Do you consider this as a special achievement? and were you counting? haha!
I was counting, yeah, I’m slightly OCD about it actually, I have a complete list on my website. On the one hand, yeah, I am proud of having played all those shows; at the same time, I sometimes compare the number of shows I do in a year with the number of normal Monday to Friday working days for a normal job, and it’s about the same number. I’m a musician, so I’m not sure how many accolades I deserve for doing my job, if you see what I mean.
Q – Extensive is a word which is over used when it comes to touring. But over November, December, January and February you have scheduled almost 50 European dates. How do you make time for writing, are there any plans for another album?
I am in the studio right now working on a new record, so I have a ton of new songs as it is. I write pretty constantly on the road, it’s not something I’ve ever really had a problem doing.
Q – Let’s talk a little bit about your sell out Wembley Arena gig earlier in the year, I couldn’t think of a more fitting support than Billy Bragg was it a surreal occasion for you?
Yeah, very much so. When I asked Billy to do the show I’m not sure I was expecting him to actually say yes, haha. But he was amazing, he’s a lovely guy, very generous soul, and it was great to have him be part of the event. The whole thing was pretty surreal for me, I don’t play shows like that every day!
Q – In the track ‘I Still Believe’ you state your faith and belief in rock and roll, what new bands that do you think convey the real spirit of rock n roll?
There are plenty around, there always are. Right now I’m listening to a lot of the new Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun records, and a band from Australia called The Smith Street Band, who are amazing.
Q – How did you develop the album title ‘England Keep My Bones’?
Actually a friend of mine, who is a drama teacher, suggested the title to me when I was struggling to find something that fit perfectly. The moment I read it I knew it was right.
Q – One to leave us with, list your top five most loved albums?
Very hard to pick a definitive list, but here goes nothing:
– The Last Waltz (The Band)
– August & Everything After (Counting Crows)
– Live At The Old Quarter (Townes Van Zandt)
– Everything Sucks (The Descendents)
– Levelling The Land (The Levellers)
Thanks Frank It really is a pleasure to have your time, good luck with the new material. Can’t wait to hear it.