Last week I had the pleasure to have a little chat with singer-songwriter Frank Turner who is currently using his tour break to promote his new album “Tape Deck Heart” like there’s no tomorrow. It’s his fifth studio album and it will appear in your favourite record store on the 22nd of April.
“Tape Deck Heart”, produced by Rich Costey, who also produced bands like Muse, The Mars Volta, Nine Inch Nails, The Shins and System of a Down, is probably Frank Turner’s most personal album so far. When asked why it’s more personal than the others, he said, “it’s a break up record and unlike many other artists, I didn’t think about who will be listening to my songs, I just wrote and played what I liked”. He probably hasn’t worried about the “target group” too much before, but never to this extend. So it will be very exciting to see whether people like “Tape Deck Heart” or not. Frank doesn’t have one particular favourite song. They are all his “babies”, which he mainly wrote on the road. Where else? He is basically touring non-stop.
The most recent tour with his band the Sleeping Souls and the Dropkick Murphys in Europe was great, because they have a great connection with each other, the folk/punk troubadour reports. It was the second time that they toured together and it’s actually not over yet. By the end of this week, Frank is going to continue his road trip with gigs in the US and China, before he comes to Australia for the fourth time, together again with his mates from the Dropkick Murphys. Frank told me that he is looking forward to his trips to all the different countries: “It’s a great opportunity to catch up with people. I have friends in all the countries.” Of course, he gets to see a bit more than just the stages in the various places but more important than sightseeing for him is meeting old friends. “I have a soft spot for Australia”, was his answer when I asked him whether he’s looking forward to flying down under. Reasons for that are the people here, who are always very nice and friendly, and the beautiful and sunny country. “It’s not like waiting in a car park somewhere in rainy Czech Republic. Don’t get me wrong, I like the Czech Republic, but places like that or England for example are rather depressing in comparison”.
After the gigs in Australia, two shows in New Zealand, Frank will tick off a few more concerts in the UK before traveling around Europe and also playing at some festivals like the Hurricane Festival in Germany. “Playing in Germany is the killer, the audience is just awesome”. Frank always gets a bit excited when starting to play on festivals, especially in Germany. “It’s also great for making new friends. People that normally don’t listen to my music can see me live. And it’s good for hanging out with other bands. At the end of the festival season I usually get pretty sick of it though”.
Well, when Frank takes a break of music, he likes keeping himself busy with another big passion, which to my surprise is: “Catching up on History”. That sounds funny somehow. Frank studied History and he actually never stopped as there is so much to learn. If he hadn’t become a successful singer, he probably would have ended up as a lecturer. “Haha, yes, I would have tried at least”.
One highlight in Frank Turner’s career certainly was his performance at the opening ceremony of the London Olympics in 2012. However, he was quite modest about it: “It was surreal. A good thing from a professional point of view, because it reached so many people that don’t know me. It was interesting but I don’t see it as the biggest thing that has ever happened in my career. The biggest thing will still have to happen, right?!” A very memorable event however seemed to have been a concert he went to as an audience member. When I asked him about his best concert he has seen so far, he told me that it was from his favourite band the Weakerthans. “It’s probably cheating because I wasn’t in the audience for the entire time – I ended up on stage”. The gig was in Hamburg and Frank Turner had the honour to write the set list for his friends from the Weakerthans. “It was a great concert because they played everything I wanted to see”. Of course – and towards the end of the show, they asked him on stage to play guitar to one of their songs. “I cried at the end of the night”.
Referring to his first years as singer of Million Dead, I wondered if he never missed playing in a band. Ok, he has his band the Sleeping Souls, but that’s more like a band around him as solo artist. “I did for a while, but now I have the best of both worlds”, he responded. He has his project, where he is the “boss” but where he also can play in a band.
Coming to the end of our little talk, I wanted to know what Frank Turner would do if he could rule the world for a week. Hm, it was probably not the right question for him. Or maybe it was… “I would abolish as many rules as possible, make people free”. It turned out that he hates the idea of governments, i.e. a few people making the rules and laws for the rest of the population. Freedom for everyone is what Frank believes in. Therefore he would hate to be superior to others, albeit for just a week. At last, I asked him if he could see himself making music forever or if he has an alternative in mind for later. Of course, like most musicians would do, he answered that he liked to keep going for as long as he can. But it would be realistic to have a plan B. “Maybe I end up as History teacher then”.
Come and see Frank Turner live on the following gigs, if you don’t have a ticket yet!
- 28 Mar 13 – Byron Bay – Blues Fest (FB)
- 30 Mar 13 -Caloundra – Kings Beach Tavern (FB)
- 31 Mar 13 – Newcastle (w/ Dropkicks) – Panthers (FB)
- 01 Apr 13 – Sydney (w/ Dropkicks) – Big Top (FB)
- 02 Apr 13 – Melbourne (w/ Dropkicks) – Festival Hall (FB)
- 03 Apr 13 – Adelaide (w/ Dropkicks) – Thebarton (FB)
- 04 Apr 13 – Perth – Amplifier (FB)