Frank Turner, unofficially the UK’s hardest-working (and best) punky troubadour, answers 10 questions for Electric Banana!
The 30-year-old singer-songwriter – formally of John Peel and Steve Lamacq’s fave post-hardcore band, Million Dead – released one of the best albums of 2011 with England Keep My Bones, which (again) perfectly demonstrated “the people’s prince of punk poetry” knack for producing plucking good ol’ folk.
Frank answers Electric Banana’s hard-hitting questions to exclusively reveal why he loves Gary Barlow, details about his new side-project, fighting superstitions, and why you should never invite him to perform at a wedding reception.
So, without further ado, here are his answers to our questions…
New hardcore band? Give us the latest gossip!
It’s something I’ve been thinking about doing for a long time, but it took a while to figure out the right way to do it. Now we have a line-up and we’ve been in the rehearsal room as a bunch, writing songs. Still no band name as of yet. Haha. It’s noisy, tongue-in-cheek, aggressive, abrasive stuff. It’s a side project, so it takes back seat priority-wise, which means I’m not sure when we’ll have time to record anything or get some music released, but it’s a lot closer to being a real band right now than it has been previously.
A very impressive 184 gigs during 2011. Which one stands out for you the most?
There are many to choose from, which is nice. Sydney was amazing, the main stage at Reading was a real moment for me, Toronto and Philadelphia both were great, and we went to Poland and Croatia for the first time, both of which were great.
‘Frank Turner’s Friday The 13th’ is a huge event at Wembley Arena on Friday April 13. Not even a tiny bit worried about the unlucky date and title?
Haha, in part it’s the Ben Goldacre [Famed British science writer, doctor and psychiatrist. Ed] in me, coming out fighting against superstitious stuff. I guess we might as well embrace it.
Billy Bragg will be supporting. Is he aware of the influence his work has had on you?
I suppose he is, yeah, we’ve played together before and hung out. He’s a lovely guy.
You are well-known for your massive amount of gigs and touring, but what would be the ultimate longest break you could take from the road?
Some days I fantasize about taking a year off to go and live on a farm in the Dakotas or something. That could be fun. I’m kind of all-or-nothing, I either want to be in the thick of everything working my arse off surrounded by people in the city, or alone in the wilderness.
Million Dead. Does time heal all wounds?
Sure. We’ve hung out once or twice in recent years. But it’s just not really something I think about any more.
Ed Sheeran, James Blake, James Morrison, Noel Gallagher, Professor Green. Do you think that the Brit Awards made a horrific error with the British Male Solo Artist nominations?
Not really – those are all people who have sold a shit-ton of records, which is what the event is about really. I couldn’t compete on that level, and I’m not sure I’d want to. Good luck to them all.
You were once on a scholarship with “the rather dull” Prince William. But would you have played the wedding reception if asked? Maybe the invite was just lost in the post!!!
Haha, I actually hate playing weddings and so on, I’ve been asked and done it a couple of times, but it’s super awkward usually. So that’s a no.
Would you join At The Drive-In if asked?
Ha! Good question. Probably not actually, they’re a band I love but I’m not sure I’d want to be in the thick of it.
Superb new compilation The Second Three Years Album contains a couple of surprising covers; Take That’s ‘The Greatest Day’ and Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’. Are you a big fan of the songs?
Sure. I’d describe my taste in music as being for songwriting, regardless of what garb it comes clothed in. Fat Mike from NOFX and Gary Barlow have both written some great tunes, they just approach them differently. One of the fun things about doing covers is that you can strip that away and find the skeleton of the song underneath.
Questions by Andy Parker
Photograph by Erik Weiss
Frank Turner’s new compilation album, The Second Three Years, was released on 16 January 2012 through Epitaph Records.