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Frank Turner Talks to Stereoboard about His Forthcoming UK Tour and the New Album (Interview)

Thursday, 03 March 2011 Written by Rob Sleigh
Frank Turner Talks to Stereoboard about His Forthcoming UK Tour and the New Album (Interview)

Anyone familiar with Frank Turner’s work to date would almost certainly agree with the opinion that he is The Rock Music Fan’s Folk Singer. His first three solo albums - ‘Sleep is for the Week’, ‘Love Ire and Song’ and 2009’s ‘Poetry of the Deed’ – were filled with a host of rock-friendly folk and country anthems that embraced an overall punk attitude that has, in recent months, seen him grace the cover of Kerrang and warm-up for Green Day at Wembley Stadium. However, despite his widespread rock appeal, it seems that not everyone was entirely happy with his recent addition to the line-up of the biggest rock festival of them all – Download.

“It's a bit of a leftfield booking for them, for sure,” admits Frank. “And there have been a few meathead people complaining about me being on the bill. But, for the most part, I think there’s a lot of people excited about it. I sure am.” Having started out as an indisputable punk rocker himself, with London-based post-hardcore quartet Million Dead ten years ago, Frank explains how his debut at Download Festival will almost represent a return to his roots: “I'm a metalhead at heart, so I'll be back on my home turf in a way.”

ImageSince parting ways with Million Dead back in 2005, Frank has built himself a laudable reputation from his relentless touring schedule, his infinitely catchy songs and his hardcore showmanship. Frank’s repeated appearances on the annual festival circuit over the past five years have helped to make him the indie scene folk hero he is today. “It often gets a little daunting, looking back at my schedule in recent years. But I'm proud of it and long may it continue. I've learned a lot more about myself, self-reliance and song-craft. It's been much more intense being a solo artist than it was being in a band. I've done four times as many shows, for example, and made more than twice as many records.” But despite the commitment to his increasingly successful solo career, he refuses to rule out any future work with a band. “I'd do a side project for sure, when I have some time off. I'd love to make some heavy music again. But I don't think it'll ever be the centre of what I do again. I'm pretty comfortable with the way I have arranged my affairs now.”

Lucky for us too, as he’s just getting ready to unleash fourth album ‘England Keep My Bones’ on his eagerly-awaiting fanbase. Anyone fortunate enough to have witnessed Frank at one of recent gigs will have already caught a glimpse of the new album. “The shows were great. It felt really good to be back in the saddle again after a long break to record the album.” Needless to say, Frank’s idea of a “long break” is slightly different to that of some of his contemporaries. After last year’s festival season, he spent several months touring the US before travelling home to spend the tail-end of 2010 playing for the UK crowds.

In fact, several of the live dates this February were rescheduled shows from his December tour, thanks to our ever-pleasant British winter. “The December tour had been in the planning for a really long time. It was very annoying to get home from a US tour and see those plans not come to fruition because of the snow. But these things are sent to try us, I suppose, and we did all the shows in the end.” It also proved to be a great opportunity for Frank and his band to road-test some new songs following the album’s completion. “It's been great. I think the band and I have been playing well lately and we've been working really hard on these new songs, getting them honed, and it feels good to play them in front of a crowd. The whole run was good. The afterparty in Bournemouth got a little raucous.”

Many fans may have noticed that ‘Poetry of the Deed’ had a much more full-band, rock-influenced sound compared with Frank’s earlier albums. Speaking about ‘England Keep My Bones’, he explains how the new album will be making something of a return to his previous sound: “I wanted this album to feel more like a solo record made with a band, whereas the last record was more of a band album overall. There's still a fair bit of ‘rock’ material on the record, but there's a lot more folky, acoustic material this time around than last time.” He also confirms how he’s been covering certain areas of new ground on this occasion as well: “I'm not taking any drastic stylistic turns here, but there are little forays into new territory at the edges. ‘Poetry’ was definitely off to one side of the spectrum for me. This record is a bit more down the middle. There's even an acappella tune on there. But then there's a pretty full-on hardcore song as well.”

As Frank has previously confessed, he had some help from someone called William Shakespeare to give the new album a name. “I was looking around for a title and a friend of mine suggested the quote ‘Heaven take thy soul, England keep my bones’ and it just seemed to fit perfectly with the things I'm talking about this time around. I don't write albums to concepts, but various themes often become apparent after I’m done. In this case, it became clear in the studio that the album is about mortality and Englishness, for the most part.”

Frank also describes how the making of this album was an altogether different experience from previous offerings: “We did more preparation work for this record than any I've done before. The songs were written on the road as ever, but we took a lot longer arranging them and we demoed the album in its entirety three times before we hit the studio. I've never really done that before and it was a great experience, if a lot of work. I felt very prepared to make the record when we finally hit the studio proper.” Looking back at the album upon its completion, Frank acknowledges that he is feeling good about the outcome and looking forward to revealing it properly: “I'm very pleased, although it's hard to tell. I'm too close to it to make any real assessments just yet. I'm very keen for people to hear the finished results.”

So keen, in fact, that he’s already announced a huge UK tour, which will take place ahead of the album’s release on 6th June. In addition to his Download slot, Frank will also be headlining Blissfields Festival near his hometown of Winchester and, as he goes on to confirm, more dates can be expected soon: “There's loads more coming and plenty of cross-European driving madness to go with it. But it's a healthy festival summer and I'm looking forward to letting people know about more of them.” Unfortunately though, he’s remaining tight-lipped for the time being: “I've announced everything I'm allowed to for the moment. Sorry.”

So, with a new album on the way and a book of tour diaries in progress, things certainly don’t appear to be slowing down for Frank Turner. As he looks ahead to the future, he doesn’t seem to be planning on taking it easy anytime soon either. After playing alongside many of his heroes and new friends over the past few years, Frank considers which of his influences he’d most like to write or record with at some point: “Many, many people. I'd like to meet and work with Adam Duritz some day - that'd be incredible. Maybe Loudon Wainwright too.” However, in addition to his various hopes and aspirations, he refuses to rule anything out either. “Life has taught me not to make too many long-term plans [Laughs]. Hopefully I'll still be touring, still be making records and be a little better at it than I am now. But you never know, I might be a drum’n’bass DJ by then.”

’England Keep My Bones’ will be released 6th June

May Tour Dates
9 Stockton ARC
10 Dundee Doghouse
11 Dunfermline, PJ Molloys
12 Brighton Coalition
13 Nottingham Rescue Rooms
14 Lancaster Library
15 Chester Telfords Warehouse
16 Leeds Brudenell Social Club
18 Manchester Night & Day
19 Liverpool Cathedral Crypt
20 Stoke Sugarmill
22 Wolverhampton Slade Room
23 Gloucester Guidhall
24 Bristol St Georges Church
25 Bath Komedia
26 Kingston Hippodrome (New Slang)
27 Cambridge St Pauls Church
28 Norwich Play Festival
29 Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms
30 Winchester Railway

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