Interview: Frank Turner on Albatrosses, Relief, Springsteen and C90 Cassettes

Interview: Frank Turner on Albatrosses, Relief, Springsteen and C90 Cassettes

Aaaaarrrgh, it’s the crucial moment where I call the international rock star, not wanting to come across like a knob, and i get equipment failure. Not just any old crappy call quality, or intermittently dropped calls, but equipment failure where the recordy thingy wot captures my voice and said international rock star fails. Bloody Telstra and their intermittent bloody 3G coverage.

So, here I am sitting at work, at 8.30 in the evening, after a full day, having to rely on my memory and listening skills. @52weeksinsydney would be pissing herself laughing and telling me to give up now. Well maybe folk punk troubador Frank Turner just has more interesting things to say dear, as, despite his 200mph talking speed, I pretty got what the wanted to tell and more of the stuff I wanted to hear.

I first came across Frank Turner during his tenure as lead singer of hardcore band Million Dead at a Nottingham Rock City all nighter with Therapy? and the sadly missed Suffrajets. It was about 2am, and it’s fair to say I was lubricated, but the bands’ assault and Frank’s passion penetrated even my vacant drooling stare. As Frank recalls, “I remember that show very well, it was in the final few months. Change was inevitable” and change it was as Frank went from atonal screamer to the altogether more anthemic one man and his punk rock acoustic touring around the nations’ toilets and festivals.

If you‘ve never seen Frank Turner live, you’ve missed one of the true artists that is as one with his audience. For an Eton boy, he’s Frank turner wembleyremarkably classless and at one with his people, progressing from the aforementioned toilets to a show at 10,000 holding Wembley Arena last year with spiritual godfather Billy Bragg in support. Rather than joy at the time, understandably his overwhelming feelings was “relief. I put pressure on myself to make it feel intimate, but drew inspiration from people like Springsteen. The band (The Sleeping Souls) helped create the different dynamics, but of course it played on my mind how best to balance the two. They are now integral to the music of course”

The good news is that Frank is returning to Australia in April to repeat the jaunt he’s just made around Europe with everyone’s favourite Irish Americans, the Dropkick Murphys. “The tour finished in Madrid on the weekend, and it was a great tour. I’ve toured with them before, and they’re a crew and band who make you feel welcome, and who have a similar set of ideals and a fanbase that appreciates what I bring”

Perhaps most exciting though is the release of a new album, “Tape Deck Heart” and for the first time I get a chuckle out of Frank, and he lets his professional guard down, as rather than asking the inevitable, and in his mind expected, why did you choose Tape Deck Tape Deck HeartHeart as a title, I instead asked him what a Tape Deck Heart was, surely he wasn’t misisng cassettes? “Hahaha, that’s a good way of putting it. You always know when you start press for a new album you’re going to spend the next 2 years of your life explaining your album title. I could never understand why Coldplay called their album Mylo Xyloto .. maybe cos they didn’t want to talk about anything else. A Tape Deck Heart is someone who has a love of music above anything else. I don’t miss cassettes, but I am of an age, (like many of us) who’s music listening life was defined by Walkmen and c90 tapes.” Produced again by Muse producer Rich Costey, or “Sauron, the all seeing eye” as Frank likes to call him, “he brings an almost autistic eye for detail. He Made me do 42 vocal takes at one point, with the encouragement ‘I know there’s something in there.’ Never again hehehe”

Of course Tape Deck Heart follows England Feel My Bones, and, as someone who myself was born and brought up in Wales with Scottish parents, the very sense of capital E Englishness on that record, while not uncomfortable, was certainly putting a significant portion of his fanbase at risk. “England is not once mentioned on Tape Deck Heart. It almost became a bit of an albatross. ‘You’re that guy that sings about England.’ Eventually though, I drew heart though that I could go to somewhere like Glasgow and have them all singing along.”

New music is just as important to Frank, as it is to us here on SGSN, and when pressed about his favourites, he became enthused again about, “Jim Lockey & the Solemn Sun who I saw in Manchester last night, Larry And His Flask who are just greatest live band I’ve seen, and I’ll give you one more, George Frakes. I saw him in a pub in London, and just made me almost drop my pint and go What The Fuck’?”

Indeed!! If you want to catch Frank, his Sleeping Souls, and of course the righteous Dropkick Murphys, the catch them at:

Saturday, 30th March
Bluesfest, Byron Bay
www.bluesfest.com.au

Sunday, 31st March
Panthers, Newcastle Lic AA
www.moshtix.com.au 1300 GET TIX

Monday, 1st April
Big Top Luna Park, Sydney Lic AA
www.oztix.com.au 1300 843 443, www.ticketek.com.au 132 849, www.bigtopsydney.com.au

Tuesday, 2nd April
Festival Hall, Melbourne Lic AA
www.ticketmaster.com.au 136 100

Wednesday, 3rd April
Thebarton Theatre, Adelaide Lic AA
www.venuetix.com.au 08 8225 8888

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