Adam Keys caught up with one of the busiest musicians on the planet to see what we can expect over the next few months.
RUSHONROCK: Firstly Frank, congratulations on the upcoming release of your first book. How does it feel to be hitting Waterstones for a book signing, compared to a dirty music venue as you take an album on the road?
FRANK TURNER: Slightly surreal. I had no idea what to expect from the backstage facilities at a Waterstones. I was expecting quills, ink and chilled white wine. But I was also prepared to be disappointed.
RUSHONROCK: In your Introduction/Disclaimer you stress how grateful you are to do what you do, and how it’s by no means a right. Does the “Find A Job” text at the end of the final Million Dead tour poster hold a strong memory of what could have been?
FT: Yes, very much so. That continued to be a phrase that haunted me for the first few years of my solo career. If I’m honest, I still wake up in the middle of the night expecting a knock from the reality police, come to tell me there’s been a huge mistake and drag me back to a telesales job.
RUSHONROCK: You mention how being contactable is extremely important to you, to the point of listing your email on your website, which as you say leads to some utterly ridiculous proposals. Of all of those ridiculous proposals, what stands out most?
FT: It’s hard to pick one, and I’m not interested in singling people out for ridicule who approached with good intentions, if also with unrealistic expectations. I guess it blows my mind sometimes how cheeky people can be. “Hey, can you just quickly re-record one of your songs but change the name to my girlfriend and then redo the video, and send it to me for next Saturday?” I’ve had mails along those lines a number of times. It’s mental.
RUSHONROCK: Throughout the time covered in this book, you’ve lived your life. Really lived your life. Was there ever a doubt about revealing all this information? Did you ever think some of it is best kept untold?
FT: Yes, very much so, but I suppose honesty has become a trademark of me and what I do. Plus large chunks of the story wouldn’t make sense without some of the gory detail. Of course, there are some things I did leave out, but for the most part that was because it wasn’t my place to implicate other people in my own disreputability.
RUSHONROCK: You’ve been hitting SXSW, now you’re on the road at home, followed by a tour of Australia, then dates in mainland Europe. How difficult has it been to differentiate dates and eras with this kind of consistent schedule over the last decade?
FT: Oh it’s not difficult if you choose to take a moment to talk to people, or look out of the window, which I love to do.
RUSHONROCK: While the book itself is full of stories of rock and roll excess, the big question on everyone’s lips following the release of Get Better is, when are we going to have album number six at our disposal?
FT: We are still tweaking some small bits and bobs of the album, making sure it’s as good as it can be. It’ll be out in the summer.
RUSHONROCK: You were recently quoted as saying this album is “about resolving, not surrendering”, what has made this year particularly tough compared to others?
FT: Various things. Partly it was recovering from the fallout of the events that inspired Tape Deck Heart. Partly it was dealing with some of the extra stresses of success and the concurrent level of public scrutiny. And there was some other stuff too, that I won’t delve into just yet.
RUSHONROCK: The new album sees you play electric guitar on more than half the record, do you feel this is a natural evolution for your solo work? Has your work with Mongol Horde helped influence this?
FT: I don’t think that MH has directly influenced my solo stuff – it was more of a release valve kind of project, a bit of fun. But every time I make a record I try to do something new, to evolve and spread myself somewhere I haven’t been before. Playing electric for a few songs seemed to fit the musical and philosophical mood for these songs. And it was a lot of fun. And the kind of people who will get narky about it really, really deserve to have their days ruined anyway.
RUSHONROCK: Having recorded the album in nine days, you describe the album as having that raw, live feeling. Tape Deck Heart came with a polished, professional feel, what is the reason for going back to that beautiful rough and ready approach?
FT: Partly it fitted the mood of the songs I was working on. Also the format, with the Sleeping Souls, who played a big part in the arrangement of these songs. We are, in my humble opinion, a fearsome live act, and we’ve never really captured that spirit on record. That was a big ambition for this recording. And I suppose I do react naturally against the last thing I did; it’s a way of making sure you don’t stay stagnant.
RUSHONROCK: Finally to tie everything up. In five words, what can readers/listeners expect as their dive into your new material?
FT: Some New Songs By Me.