Frank Turner talks to eGigs

on Saturday 4 December 2010

eGigs got a chance to have a quick chat with Frank Turner ahead of his gig at Sheffield Plug on Saturday 4th December 2010.

How have the first few nights of your tour been?
Good, it's a little bit annoying because it should have been the first three nights and if there's one thing in this life I hate even more than punching babies it's cancelling shows, so the Aberdeen situation was annoying. Other than that, it's been great. Glasgow was cool. Last night was great because every tour I always feel like the first couple of shows you're finding your stride but yesterday in Preston we hit the ground running and we all came off and we're like "Now that's a F*cking show right there" and having Ed Harcourt and Dive Dive here as well is cool.

You've just got back from the US supporting Social Distortion, is it strange coming from first support to headlining?
Yeah, it is a little schizophrenic, because it's a very different approach and dynamic to the crowd and I had this moment in Glasgow, just thinking to myself "Okay, I don't need to be thinking about the front row, they're here to see the headliners" and then it was like "wait a minute, we are the headliners! Holy Sh*t!" But yeah, it does feel strange but the US tour with Social Distortion was amazing though, it was really one of my favourite tours we've ever done, had a great time, made a lot of new friends and it was really cool.

In the video for your new single, 'I Still Believe' did you really get tattooed live on set?
Yeah I did (rolls up sleeve) there you go. That's my tattooist in the video, he does all my work… Well most of it, I got a couple of tattoos done recently which he didn't do, which he's going to be really upset about next time I see him. We were talking about it, because obviously there's a lot of people with tattoos on the video and the director's spin on it was if you believe in something then get it inked on you.

If you could tour with anyone, who would it be?
Well, in terms of people supporting me, the answer to that question is pretty much in the bands that come out with me. I have a really long list of people I want to tour with and I just wish I did more headline tours so I could ask more people to come out with me. We've got Ed [Harcourt] on this tour and I'm looking at getting Tim Barry over to the UK next year who I f*cking adore. In terms of opening for people, I operate on the principle I'll open for anybody, I'd like to say I'd open for Napalm Death and I'd open for Mariah Carey, I don't really give a sh*t, I just like to think I could be put in front of a crowd and achieve something but I might be mildly up my own arse by saying that. One band I have always wanted to open for is Counting Crows because they are a band that pretty much define my taste in music

You've got a new single (I Still Believe) out in the next couple of weeks, and a new album out in the new year. What can you tell us about that?
Well the EP is actually technically out on Monday but we're selling it at these shows, so it's kinda out and about now. Basically, we're recording the album in January, and that's been the plan for sometime, then over the summer I was just looking at it and thinking it's going to be a long time between releases and I've also just had way too many songs kicking around and then also 'I Still Believe' was starting to get a lot of reactions live from people watching it on YouTube and so we all sat around and talked about it with my manager and the label and stuff and then we just said "f*ck it, let's do an EP, why not?" Then we recorded it in 3 days in September and now it's out now and only 1 song (I Still Believe) is going to be on the album, the rest are exclusive to the EP. The other thing was, we got to try out the producer I wanted to work with on the next record and see whether that worked and whether it was all happy families, and it was great. It was this guy called Tristan Ivermy [The Holloways, Towers of London] who actually mixed a lot of [Second album] 'Love, Ire and Song' and I think he did a great job of that but we'd never actually tracked with him before so it was like "how are we going to get along in the studio?" and the answer is very well.

Is it hard to choose what you're going to put on the new album?
Yeah, well, the sessions in January, I think we're aiming to record 16 songs and then I don’t know how many will be on the album, I guess probably 12 or 13? And then there’ll be some B-Sides kicking around or whatever people call them in this modern, new-fangled age of ours. I've always been a firm believer in not sitting on songs, just recording them and getting them out there, just always try and believe the next thing you're going to write is going to better than what you wrote before.

What do you feel about songs that you write and haven't released being on YouTube and torrents?
If we're talking about live stuff being on YouTube, that's fine because at the end of the day I play them at gigs for people to hear them so that's neither here nor there. My only reservation about it is until songs are recorded they are works in progress and occasionally people get attached to earlier versions of something and it's like "yeah, but, that's not f*cking how it goes anymore" and you get "oh, but I liked it how it was before" and it's like "Yeah, well, right your own f*cking songs" At the end of the day, it can be kinda cool, the 'I Still Believe' thing was interesting because a lot of people were getting really into that song before I'd even recorded it and I thought that was pretty special.

Are you going to be playing many songs off the new album tonight?
Yeah, we're going to do four. What we're trying to do is drop a couple of new songs into the set list not only so people can hear them but it's good for us because you can play a song a million times in a rehearsal studio and try and fine tune it, but the minute you play it in front of an audience, you spot some glaringly obvious things you haven't noticed before and you're like "oh f*ck! That doesn't work at all!" or "We should do that bit again!" so trying to get them out there for that reason.

You're motto is 'always on tour'. How many tours have you actually done now?
I don't know. That slightly depends on what you define a tour. I do know that, if you exclude studio time, I've basically been solid on the road for about seven years now, well six and half I suppose. I did my first tour in 1998, so… a while… I like it though, I like being long in the tooth and whorey and old and it's really funny, I was at a show just hanging over the summer and I suddenly realised all the bands were treating me like an elder statesmen . They were younger bands just starting out and stuff but even so I was like "you f*cking kidding, what are you doing?" and they were like "Tell us about touring Uncle Frank." It is a bit weird now, there are people I feel very strongly like that about like Tim Barry and Chuck Ragan and Ben Nichols, people like that. It was mind blowing last year when I toured with him that I had Chuck Ragan opening for me, it was a bit retarded, I had a poster of Chuck on my wall when I was a kid… it was a very strange turn of events.

Do you know how many tours you've got in you?
Well, here's the thing, I feel like a lot of people who are in touring bands are doing it because they're heading towards some kind of end point or goal or something. I really don't feel like I'm doing that. What I feel like I'm doing, is a process, this is how I want to exist and I'm quite happy existing like this and I like being on the road and it's not something I'm sustaining in order to get somewhere else or to achieve something else, what I want to achieve is being on tour and I'm achieving that right now. Who knows? Five years from now I might turn round and go “I hate me life, I'm never going to tour again” but I can't see that happening anytime immediately.

Looking ahead to next summer, have you got any plans for festivals yet?
Yeah, we're going to be doing loads of them, I don't know which ones, my life has kinda devolved. It's kinda awesome but it's really surreal as well to a point where I just get emails telling me to turn up at a certain airport with the following week's worth of clothes packed and a passport and a guitar and I'm like "OK, but where are we going today? Austria? Okay! Wow! Sweet! Let's go Austria!" So people will book festivals for me and then I will play them, I'm pretty confident I'll be at Glastonbury and Reading and Leeds again, beyond that, f*ck knows.

Would you say Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds are among your favourite festivals to play?
No, probably not actually (no offence to any of them) I love going to Glastonbury as a punter, but it can be a bit of a headache to play just because every single person on the entire site is stoned all the time and it just gets annoying. I do really, really enjoy Reading and Leeds. We did Two Thousand Trees festival this summer and that was just amazing, I f*cking love that festival and also the Canadian folk festival circuit is the f*cking bomb and I've basically told my booking agent (because I did three or four this summer) if you get me all of sumer just playing Canadian folk festivals, you will hear no complaint from me. They just treat you so well and it's such a good time and the audience is great and do this thing with workshops where just you and three other people get shoved on stage together and work something out and its f*cking cool and I ended up sat next to Ramblin' Jack Elliot on stage, who's the man who taught Bob Dylan how to play guitar and he was ramblin' and old. Very old.

Do you have any more plans to do anymore charity songs like 'Long Live The Queen'?
Yeah, well, not in the immediate pipeline, I try to keep my end up with that side of things. There's a compilation CD coming out for CentrePoint which is a homeless charity. I like doing stuff like that, partly because it's good but also because my job is relentless self promotion for quite a long time and it's quite nice because it's nice to do something for something other than yourself for a while and for a good cause to help people.

Awesome, It's been excellent to meet you and thanks a lot for your time and best of luck with the rest of the tour.
Sweet, it's been great to meet you too, hope you enjoy the show tonight. Hand you over to the gentleman here… Jaime from Dive Dive.

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article by: Chris Terry & Tom Stentiford

published: 06/12/2010 10:45


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