Frank Turner’s Road to Recognition
By Melanie Wolfson Gardiner
Frank Turner’s unique blend of acoustic folk-punk has finally spread to all corners of the United States after wrapping up his recent tour with Social Distortion and Lucero. The English singer-songwriter has been writing and performing for nearly a decade, with roots in the English hardcore scene. Since starting his solo career in 2005, Turner has been on the road all over the world, singing songs which tell tales of love, politics, and life, and people everywhere are catching on. Singing “Something as simple as rock and roll would save us all” in his latest single “I Still Believe,” Turner reminds us to acknowledge the power music holds for each one of us. The song appears on Turner’s ‘Rock and Roll EP’ which came out yesterday, offering listeners five brilliant tracks. Turner took some time yesterday afternoon to talk to me on everything from the new EP to performing to the road ahead. Check it out!
First off, congrats on the new release! With the EP out and having just finished your biggest tour to date with Social Distortion and Lucero, how are you feeling right now?
“Awesome. The tour was dreamy. I mean, I grew up listening to Social D, so being able to tour with them was fantastic. Lucero is one of my favorite new bands and some of my favorite people in the world. And on top of all of that, there’s something iconic about touring in America. It’s something that you read about in books when you’re a kid, and you watch films about it. There’s something about the road in America which has a particular kind of allure to it. So it was great seeing pretty much all of the USA, making new friends and playing music with some awesome musicians.”
Do you think your success and making it in America grew as a result of signing to Epitaph last year?
“I’m never quite sure what people mean about making it, it’s a funny thing. In my experience, every musician is always striving toward something. I mean, I imagine even Bon Jovi is still even striving towards something. That aside, things have been going great in America for me. It’s funny; the English have a particular kind of obsession with ‘breaking America.” While I feel like things are happening in the right direction, I expect to have more success in the USA as time goes by. I mean, it’s amazing I could be 3,000 miles away from home, have 300 people show up and know every word to my songs. That happened at a recent show in Jacksonville, Florida. If that’s all life was going to deal me, I’d be more than happy with that. I do have the hunger for being more than that, being able to play for 10,000 people, but I think one should be aware of how great it is just to know people in places like Jacksonville, Florida know you. I’d never even been there before.
What differences do you see in the crowd response between your shows in the UK and here in the States?
It’s not wildly different, I mean a lot more people in the UK know about the hardcore bands I used to be in, while people really don’t here. Although, that is fading into the past now. I find that Americans are generally quite Anglophilic. You guys like English people, you like English accents, and you like songs about England. It’s funny on some of the shows on the recent US tour, people accused me of having a fake English accent and I was like, I don’t really know what to tell you, ‘I am from England.’”
What was your motivation in wanting to release an EP right now?
“My last studio album was out a year ago, and the next isn’t coming out until early next year. It should be out before summer of 2011, but when I sat down with my manager, we were looking at it, and it was still so far away. We thought ‘fuck it, let’s just do an EP in the meantime.’ So, it’s basically a pit stop between records.”
Did you always have a place in your heart for playing acoustic folk-punk, or did that happen as a result after Million Dead disbanded?
“Well my first love was actually metal; it wasn’t until later that I discovered my love for musicians like Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen and started doing the acoustic thing. However, I learned how to play guitar from listening to the Counting Crows. They are one of my all time favorite bands. I still argue their first album is one of the best rock and roll records of all time.
In your video for “I Still Believe,” you appear to be getting a tattoo of the title words on your arm while playing. Did that actually happen?
“Yes it did. Actually, the director who is my friend Ben said that he might release some of that footage on YouTube from the original run-through as a kind of extra. We did one full run through of the song where I was lip-syncing while getting tattooed. My friend Matt is sitting there tattooing this shit, and I’m trying to not look like I’m in pain, but it’s still fairly obvious. Ben told me it’s hilarious, so it might be put up sometime.”
What plans do you have after your current European tour?
Well, this tour will go pretty much up until Christmas time. After that, it’s back into the studio to start recording my new album. That should be out early next year and then there will be many more tour dates.
In a recent interview you did, you stated the following: “Every now and then, I play a show that reminds me of why I got into it in the first place.” Can you tell of a recent show that evoked that sort of feeling?
I’m a headlining these dates in the UK right now, so there have been a whole lot of them lately. There was a show a few weeks back in Toronto at the Horseshow Tavern though that was great. You know, like everything just came together. The band played especially well, and the audience reaction was awesome. Just a really fantastic show.