Interviews

Frank Turner: Voice of the every-man?

Nov 17

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009  RssIcon

Interview with Frank Turner, formerly of Million Dead

Frank TurnerAlthough Frank Turner is a well known singer/song writer in certain circles of music fans, he has in no way been affected by his fame. Leading the way up to his dressing room in The Academy, Dublin City, he made small talk and confessed that he is "a fan of peace and quiet." 

Turner kicked off his U.K and Ireland tour in Dublin on October 13th, a tour which consisted of 16 dates. He's has just finished touring with The Offspring in the U.S. promoting his current album Poetry of the Deed and he has a reputation of being dedicated to being on the road. The singer spoke overtly about his gigging, saying he believes it is his duty to perform to the best of his abilities for his loyal fans: "I see myself as being an entertainer, above and beyond anything else, and my job is to get up on stage and make the people, who pay to come to the show, have a really good time." He likes to think of himself as somewhat of an anti-rock star, in that, although he has just released his third album to critical acclaim, he doesn't feel that he has a license to become a typical chauvinist rock star who has become consumed by the stereotypical music luminary: "If I'm not doing that…and I'm just sitting around my home and being an artiste," he says with ironic humour, "and being fed grapes by women in togas, then I'm not being what I want to be, or who I want to be." 

It appears to be Turner's musical background that has created this philosophy. He was a member of post-hardcore band Million Dead, which enjoyed reasonable success between 2001 and 2005.  Speaking honestly about the experience, he feels that although the time spend with Million Dead was valuable, it was also unpleasant: "Million Dead was a very intense experience, we didn't have very much fun! We were hyper-self critical. It's not really surprising that we sort of hated each other after four years of that." When comparing his solo experience with his time with the band, he remarks upon the different temperaments he has come across with underlying jesting: " If somebody screws up now… we'll just have a laugh, while if somebody screwed up then there would be death stares for the entire gig, and then we'd go back to the dressing room and someone would be hit." 

Now many music aficionados adore him as the voice of the every-man. He has accumulated a large amount of loyal fans, but Frank himself is very humble with regard to his cult status: "sometimes I feel like if I sit down and analyse why the people who like me, like me, it will just crumble." Rubbing his face in apparent nervousness he seems to recoil at the term "hero", showing his modest character in it's most genuine form. He laughs as he tries to scrutinise the notion, finally deciding that it's simply "better than being a cult failure." The musician agrees that the down-to-earth sentiments within his songs may lend to the offbeat heroism with which he has been affiliated. However he also declares that he writes the lyrics to suit his own ability to bear the song: "If I write a song that's going to be in my set, I'm going to play it an awful lot, so it has to be something that I can be bothered about for more than five minutes." Unfortunately however Turner's undeniable talent for lyricism is not the reason his name has been mentioned on certain websites and in certain publications.

In August, Frank updated his blog, commenting on how file-sharing effects people in his position and he is now being somewhat involuntarily involved in the tired subject of file-sharing which is headed by the likes of Lily Allen and Tom Smith of The Editors. At the moment Frank is trying to digress from the situation, but cannot help but be a little peeved by the notion that some individuals feel they have some kind of right to free music: "People are talking about stuff that they don't understand." he points out gravely, "I don't go into to hospitals and tell them how to run things, because I don't know how that works. I do know how being a musician works... and you get kids who live with their parents telling me how I should run my business and it's kind of like; 'how about you go f**k yourself?' " Not only did he receive death threats for his comments, but he also worries that his future successes may be determined by the management of illegal file-sharing. 

Aside from his worries with regard to file-sharing, Frank Turner seems to be excited by the prospects that lie ahead of him. Unsurprisingly there are yet more tour-dates to come for Frank Turner in the US and Australia. Although the touring is somewhat a given for the hardworking musician, he divulges his unexpected plans for his next recording venture, a compilation of traditional English folk songs: "I really want to do a record of English folk music. I'm English and I grew up not knowing anything about English folk music. I knew none of the words, or the melodies. There all about f***ing and death at the end of the day so it should be good fun." He seems amused by his reasons for planning this stop-gap album and undoubtedly his fans will be just as entertained by the concept. 

Frank Turner is just an ordinary man, who happened to find fame through hard work. He advises anyone who is aiming to break out of their local scene to do the same: "This is hard graft, it's very unlikely that you're going to get rich, but what you might do is have the incredible privilege of doing something that you love doing for a living. It's a rarity in life and it's something that I'm lucky to be able to do. The thing is to just love what you do and work really hard."

Claire Kane

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