Frank Turner talks to eGigs

on the road, tattoos, videos, festivals, and more on Wednesday 30 November 2011

In the last of our interviews from Birmingham's O2 Academy eGigs speaks to the headliner Frank Turner himself.

So we'll jump straight into it because I have been warned that you are a talker so, how's everything going?

(Laughs) OK sure. Well, we've been out since September out in Ireland and Canada and we've got like different production, different crew or more crew and these are the biggest shows that we had in the UK. So we've got a show tonight, but it's bells and whistles, I'm not going to tell you how, you'll find out later but it's exciting. Obviously we've got bands playing with us, Emily Barker who is amazing and Against Me! who are my favourite band so yeah it's going really great, really exciting. It's funny we just did eight weeks playing in the US playing to roughly 4/500 people a night with no crew, so looking after everything ourselves so it's actually really different now over here playing to over 3000 people and having the crew, on some levels it's a lot easier, but then the actual show itself, it's harder to entertain 3000 people all at the same time than it is 400. But yeah it's fun, it's going well is the answer to your question.

Very good. So you said you've played in the US before, you're also your touring there again soon with the Dropkick Murphys, are you excited about that?
Yes, I'm excited. There's a slight nervousness, we toured in the US with Flogging Molly which was great fun, I love those guys. The only thing is there's a vocal minority of people who are American-Irish who have a really limited understanding of the conflict in Ireland and they're put on this cope of like, (bad Irish accent) "I'm Irish and I hate the English". But that obviously leads to arguments and they [Dropkick Murphys] are obviously grown ups so they don't indulge that kind of b***sh** but there will probably be some people at those shows who are going to give me hassle for being from England but it's okay, I like a good ruck... verbally I should say not physically.

So I understand it's your birthday at the end of the month?
(laughs) Ahh yes, you are correct

Well we do have a very small present for you...
You're kidding? That's really kind this is the first birthday present I've ever received in an interview wow! (give him an 'I Am Nearly 30' badge) I'm going to wear that everyday (puts it on) thank you very much!

So are you planning anything pretty spectacular to celebrate?
Yeah I think I'm going to have a shin-dig with some friends in London town.

Very nice. So with all your gigs coming up, do you have any good luck rituals or techniques you like to do before you go on stage to prepare yourself?
Not really, there's a fair amount of technical procedures that go on, warming up my voice, warming up my hands and that sort of thing, but we don't all stand in a circle and make funny noises or anything like that. I Just try and get in the right mind set you know? I always feel the need to explain this a bit, it is my job and some people are like, "oh no it's not, because it's something you love" and it's a great privilege and it's those kind of things. I absolutely adore what I do for a living and I'm really lucky to do what I do but it is a job at the end of the day and before a show I sit down and get myself in the right head space, because my job is to make sure that everyone who comes tonight leaves with a smile on their face.

Well I don't think you need much luck at the minute with you recent achievement of winning not one but two AIM awards, 'hardest working artist' and 'best live act'. How was that for you and how do you think it will effect your career?
Thank you, I was really pleased I won the best live act as well because theoretically someone can be the hardest working musician and not be any good live. You know it's funny, the music I grew up with was really scatty underground punk rock and so my rock and roll wish list and day dreams as a teenager didn't really involve any award ceremonies or awards of this size. It involved getting to meet the members of SNFU and play at The Triple Rock in Minneapolis... both of which I've not done yet (laughs) The thing about award ceremonies, and there great and I'm very pleased, but I'm not a kid that sat at home watching the Brit awards thinking maybe one day that will be me. So I'm very flattered at the awards I got and it's great to go down and it was pretty funny just because I got trashed, but as to what effect it will have on my career I don't really know, we'll have to find out.

I'm also aware that you have a lot of tattoos and one quick question is how many do you have and which one is your favourite?
I'll try and count, I don't actually know myself, 1, 2, 3.. 23! And I'm getting my 24th in about 2 hours. My tattooist is from Birmingham so I get my tattoos from him. (Points to left wrist) On this wrist I have TVZ, Townes Van Zandt, who is the greatest song writer that ever lived in my opinion. I wanted to get my mums initials right here (points to opposite wrist) I love my mum very much and that's cool but it's going to be funny because my mum f**king hates my tattoos so it will be pretty funny to see how she reacts to her initials on my wrist.

In your music video to 'I Still Believe', you actually got tattooed live on set. Speaking of music videos, obviously you're pretty busy at the minute, but when do you think you will find time to make another and what will it be?
I'm in two minds about music videos. On the one hand it's promotional and something we decide to do when the record label decides to release a single, which can be a kind of pain in the arse but at the same time they can be fun to make.

The music video for 'I Still Believe' looked very fun to make.
That one was probably my favourite music video. Both in terms of making it and how it looks at the end, if I can say this without coming across as a raging misogynist, both in shooting the video and watching back afterwards me and all the guys were like... 'that's why bands have videos with good looking women in'. Because shooting it was way more fun, and everyone was watching it and were like, 'I wanna watch that again!' And by contrast, the video we did for 'If I Ever Stray' which I think is a good video, instead of spending the day hanging out with beautiful women with tattoos and ball gowns I spent the day up to my waist in the f**king North Sea, dying literally. I was stood there with the waves coming up and down my chest thinking... I think we should have done another video like 'I Still Believe'.

Any artists to lookout for in the up and coming year?
Loads, it depends on how much time you've got! To try and restrict it, erm, there's a guy called Jim Lockey who just signed to Xtra Mile Recordings, he's amazing. Every time I go out in tour as a headliner, I always spend f**king ages thinking about who else to come on tour. Against Me! are one of my favourite bands of all times, if your not familiar with their stuff?

Yeah I really like them, especially their song 'Wagon Wheel'.
F**king love them! Yeah, yeah, yeah. And then erm... Emily's an old friend and she's amazing too. Also there's a band called The Weakerthans who are a Canadian band who are arguably my favourite band of all time. Their singer John K. Sampson has just made a solo record, it's not out yet but he sent me a copy and I think it's a contender for the best album I've ever heard and that will be out in January, so look out for 'The Provincial' by John K. Sampson. I mean, it should destroy you, if it doesn't then... that's a bum.

So with spending most of your time touring, I imagine it can get quite lonely. You yourself have said that you are a 'lifer on the road' do you agree?
I guess so. I don't wanna get involved in too much self-psycho-analysis, that's self indulgence to the Nth degree. I enjoy the life I lead and I choose to lead it. I can't complain about what I do for a living because I choose to do it. You know, obviously there are days when it's pretty socially dislocating being on your own for a long time and you know. My guitar tech is one of my best friends in the whole world and all the rest of it. I've lost touch with a lot of people I was friends with before, but the plus side is I live a life I consider to be a full life and an adventurous life and to me it's kind of the point. It's funny, I had a thing the other day where I ran into an old friend who I went to school with and he was like, "you've changed man"... of course I've changed. Isn't that the point of life not to stay the same? So yeah, I'm trying to change and develop... anyway I don't know why I'm talking about all this, I'll stop.

Okay, so lets talk about festivals and our local festival Y Not, are you ever going to play there again?
I was actually emailing Ralf about half an hour ago. He's always asking me and I'm like I will, but in the summer there's a million different places I could be...

We actually went to Two Thousand Trees Festival where you were supposed to be doing a secret show but we couldn't find you?
In all honesty I wanted to go down there and hang out. I haven't been to a festival and not played in such a long time and if I can say this without sounding like a dickhead I just wanted to go down and just wig out for a bit and I think there were too many people that know me at Two Thousand Trees, it's a bit kind of weird and like... "arrgghh!". So I ended up not doing it, boo, thumbs down. But Two Thousand Trees is one of my favourite festivals.

Final question, would you rather be called, as a stage name, 'Trank Furner' or 'Frunk Tarner'?
Actually we did some secret shows a couple of years ago as Funk Tanker, I really like that one.

Brilliant. Well I'm afraid there isn't enough time left unfortunately but thank you for taking the time out to come and speak with us, and good luck for the show tonight.
Pleasure, and thank you again for the lovely present, it's very kind.

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article by: Megan Knight

photos by: Elle Rigby

published: 30/11/2011 10:55