With his incredible year coming to a close, Adam Keys caught up with the former Million Dead frontman to talk about the recent highs and what we can expect from a man who simply won’t slow down.
rushonrock: 2012 has been an incredible year for you with a huge world tour, selling out Wembly arena, playing at the Olympics and recording a new album. How would you sum it up?
Frank Turner: It’s been surreal. Wembly Arena has to be the highlight of the year for me – it’s sort of a combination of all the trudging around the country for the last six years coming together. It definitely comes before the Olympics which was sort of disconnected from reality as there was so much going on that day. On top of that Ive been touring America and recorded a new album out there, so it’s been a fantastic year.
rushonrock: The new album was recorded with Rich Costey in Burbank California, how did that compare to other producers you’ve worked with?
FT: Rich was amazing. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do in an abstract kind of way however it was always out of the realms of possibility up until this point. Going into it and even on the flight over, I kept asking myself, ‘what can one guy do that is so incredible and so different to everyone else?’. Once I got into the studio and started working with him I realised he was just amazing to work with.
rushonrock: Could you describe what you’ve done on the album? Is it a natural follow on from England Keep My Bones?
FT: It’s not a radical stylistic departure to England Keep My Bones, but in terms of content it’s not an album about being an Englishman. I’ve always had a very confessional style with my songwriting and this is no different. In terms of style it doesn’t go astray from my usual.
rushonrock: Selling out Wembly Arena as a headline act – would you say that’s your biggest triumph to date?
FT: It was a great but very strange day. There were so many things to do, things like making sure my mum knew were she was sitting! In terms of the actual show itself, it was only a short time, but I think we had just about enough to start taking the whole thing in. It was strange too because it was sort of six months’ preparation for 90 minutes on stage which flew by.
rushonrock: As a proud Englishman, it must have been a great honour to be asked to perform at the Olympics opening ceremony. What was it like performing in the middle of everything that was going on?
FT: The Games will probably be the only London Olympics of my lifetime so it was great to be involved as only a certain number of people actually get to be a part of it. It’s definitely something that is now permanently engraved on my CV.
rushonrock: You’re only 30 and yet you’ve just recorded your fifth solo album. Is writing something that comes naturally to you?
FT: I’ve got a constant stream going through my head. 50% of the time it’s nothing but 50% of the time it might be a song so I write them down and just go from there. This may stop at any point, which is why I’m so keen to keep writing and keep going at this pace and keep releasing albums.
rushonrock: Back to America and how did the tour go? And how, if at all, do the audiences vary from the UK?
FT: The main difference is really the way I’m perceived. In America I’m grouped in much more to the punk scene, which is probably as a result of touring with bands like Social Distortion and the Dropkick Murphys. I wouldn’t say the audiences differ a lot between the two countries. I’ve played countries like China and Isreal where the audiences are vastly different to both here and America.
rushonrock: You toured with the Dropkick Murphys – a faux Irish punk band – and before the tour you said you would pull them up if they started any of the IRA freedom fighter stuff. Did you have to do this or did the tour run smoothly?
FT: The Dropkicks and their crowd were fantastic – a real bunch of sweethearts. The reason I had almost anticipated problems was due to a tour I did a few years ago with Flogging Molly, where I had people coming up to me at my merch stand and trying to start flights because I was English. These were American people of Irish descent who didn’t necessarily understand what had gone on and decided to vent their anger by throwing pints at me while I was onstage. It wasn’t a nice situation and it was as frustrating for Flogging Molly as it was for me.
rushonrock: On your latest headline tour you sold out most of the UK shows. Does it help to drive you on and show you that you are doing something right?
FT: Very much so. I’ve played many more shows that haven’t been sold out than I have sold-out ones, so seeing “sold out” beside my name is still a bit of a novelty for me. I’ve played shows where no one has showed up, many shows where less that 10 have shown up and so it’s very reassuring to know that there will definitely be an audience. It’s just one less thing to worry about before you go on stage.
rushonrock: This year you also launched a side project, a hardcore band that go by the name Mongol Horde. The band are very different from your solo stuff but does this allow you to explore new avenues that you wouldn’t be able to go down with your solo stuff?
FT: Doing a heavy band is something I’ve had on my to do list for a while. My solo stuff is a bit of a departure from the reality of my normal life in terms of my music taste, so Mongol Horde is much closer to the kind of music I listen to in my personal life. As with all of my music, I’m not trying to please people, music is about making something you like and you enjoy making. It’s not to please others – if they like it great but if they don’t I really couldn’t care.
rushonrock: There has been some talk of the band releasing Mongol Horde’s debut album some time next year – is there any progress on that?
FT: Well we put eight or nine songs together for our shows over the summer and it’s a constant work in progress. Matt and Ben sort of work on the riffs and the musical side and I focus on putting the lyrics to it. We plan on recording the music while I’m on tour in January and then when I get back I will record the vocals over the top.
rushonrock: Finally, with the hectic schedule you’ve had over the last two years, do you ever stop?
FT: I’m a very hyperactive person, I don’t like to sit around and wait. But in terms of most people I actually have quite a lot of free time. I have a team to look after everything now, I’m not coming off stage and trying to sell my merch anymore, I can come off and relax and chill, just go for a drink with my mates.