MY INTERVIEW WITH SINGER SONGWRITER FRANK TURNER

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Frank Turner is many things to many people. If you love him he is a gifted, energetic and extremely amiable songwriter who is happy to converse with fans, whilst providing them with some amazing music. If you dislike him then he is an imposter in the music industry, some one posing as a punk rocker when in reality he actually went to Eton at the same time as Prince William. Really though, he is just a guy who loves making music, and good music at that.
He has gained quite a following over the last few years, and last year saw him bring out his most critically acclaimed album to date, Tape Deck Heart. I recently had a little email Q&A with Frank. Enjoy…
Q. Like many people, I’m a frustrated songwriter (meaning I know the English language and can strum a guitar but can’t seem to marry the two)! How do you go about the process?

I don’t really have a process that I could explain in a short sentence like that. I have been working on this since I was about 12, so it’s more of an instinctive thing for me now. I just think about music and songs all the time, and from the murk emerges, well, something. Practice makes perfect.

Q. The music industry is notoriously sniffy about class. It seems if you’re not ‘working class’ then your some how not authentic. Would you say your upbringing has had any bearing on how you or your music has been perceived?

Yes, of course; a lot of people have been very vocal about having a problem with me because of where and when I was born and raised. It’s pretty frustrating, being judged, dismissed or insulted because of something you have no say in. It’s one of the reasons I like America – as the saying goes, in the UK people care about where you start, in the US they care about where you end up. It’s been going on long enough now for my skin to be pretty thick on the issue, and I just try and go about my business treating everyone I meet equally.

Q. A lot of your songs have that quality whereby they sound both personal to you, and also personal to the listener. Are your songs autobiographical?

They are – I’m not very good at fiction in song, haha. I guess writing something that feels personal to a lot of different people is the holy grail of songwriting, in a way. But then it’s something you can’t aim for directly, or you end up with something totally ersatz. So it’s a difficult thing to get right, and it’s nice to know that some people think I occasionally hit my mark.

Frank Turner performs at London 2012 Olympics opening ceremony

Frank performing at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics.

Q. You were asked, personally, by Danny Boyle to play the opening ceremony at the 2012 Olympics. That must have been some honour? Danny Boyle is a pretty good celebrity fan?!

Yeah Danny is a lovely guy, very talented, he has an infectious enthusiasm and vision. I’m not sure if I would have said yes to the show if it wasn’t for his involvement – I’m uneasy around big state-sponsored pomp and circumstance. But it was a cool thing to do in the end, a unique experience in the end.

Q. You started your career playing hardcore punk. Whilst there are certainly still punk elements to your music, you changed direction to a more acoustic based sound. What prompted that change?

A lot of things. I spent a long time playing hardcore / punk rock, and part of me felt like I’d run out of things to say using that medium. I was also pretty burned from the break up of my last band, Million Dead, and wanted to do something different. And I guess I was just growing up and listening to a broader selection of music.

Q. You are a famously politicised artist, yet your recent output seems to have sidelined that a bit. Was that a concious decision?

Yes. I got thoroughly fucking sick of the idiocy that passes for public political discussion. Having been wilfully misrepresented, attacked and insulted for a fair while, I thought I had better things to do with my time.

Q. How is the latest album selling? Your star certainly appears to be on the rise these past couple of years.

Good thanks. Enough for me to make another record.

Q. Who were your musical influences growing up?

Growing up, well, I’d say Nirvana, NOFX, Descendents, Black Flag, stuff like that.

Q. What bands/artists do you admire now?

The above, and also Springsteen, Townes Van Zandt, The Weakerthans, the Hold Steady.. there are loads.

Q. How is your own brand beer selling?! Should I order one in my local if I see it?!!

Actually I’m genuinely not sure if they’re still making it. I hope so, it was fun to be involved.

Q. This also being a movie site, what are the best and worst movies that you last watched?

Best, probably “American Hustle”, which I watched on the plane. It was fantastic, I thought Christian Bale was (predicatbly) sublime. Worst, uh, the third Batman film with him in it actually. Can’t remember the exact title. I’m not really into superhero stuff, but I thought the Heath ledger batman film was great. The one after was total piss, in my opinion.

About thomasjford

I like Movies and Music and most things popular culture.

11 comments

  1. Lucky, lucky man!

  2. Reblogged this on Forget the Viagra, Pass Me a Carrot and commented:
    Musicians like writers are challenged by the mass of talent that is competing for an audience – Interviews like this can make a difference. Love it.

  3. Interesting interview! I agree with him about the final Batman film being somewhat of a disappointment! He seems to deal with his “haters” so to speak in a mature manner! I cannot imagine how hard it would be to want to snap on them and break some necks haha!

  4. That is a very once-in-a-lifetime thing! You must have been so excited!

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