Frank Turner: ‘I’ll be on the road forever’

– Luke Botham contributed to this report

Frank Turner is one of the most hard-working artists around these days. Renowned for gigging more than a thousand times and touring all over the world with folk rock hits such as “I Still Believe”, Turner can make fans link arms and shout out lyrics in a kind of folk-punk frenzy, even all the way to the Olympic stadium this summer.


Frank Turner headlined the Engine Shed for the first time on Sunday, November 25th - his second visit to the venue. Photo: Xtra Mile Recordings

2012 has been a pretty amazing year for Frank Turner. As well as featuring in the Olympic opening ceremony, the British folk rock singer has sold out Wembley and recorded his fifth studio album. It’s as if he just can’t stop.

Turner took some time out just before hitting the stage for the Lincoln leg of his tour to chat to The Linc on gigging, new material and why he doesn’t want to talk politics anymore.

In the past, Turner’s political views have been widely speculated on by both fans and the media, but speaking to The Linc he says he is fed up of media attention on politics than just his music – and that he shouldn’t be judged for what he believes in.

At one point, he claims that he was receiving 400 or more hate fuelled emails per day: “I got kind of character assassinated earlier this year, and it was an extremely upsetting and unpleasant experience. I felt hounded and it really put me off talking about politics.

“You can be as thick skinned and blasé and ‘I don’t f*****g care’ about it as you like, but it’s horrible.”

Turner says he feels such attention is unnecessary, and that his music should be the main focus: “I want my music to be inclusive and I hate the idea of people not coming to my shows because they do or don’t agree with my politics because it doesn’t matter. Music is supposed to be a unifying force!”

Gigging is a huge part of Frank’s life. He performs around 250 gigs every year, meaning that he’s almost constantly on the road. But, to him, constant touring and gigging feels no different to a 9 to 5 job: “This is my kind of normality; it’s not any easier or harder than any other walk of life. You just kind of adapt.”

Despite this though, he’s only ever been to Lincoln once before. This was as support to the Levellers way back in 2008, although he ended up performing a second gig to some fans that missed out on the show. “We walked over the bridge to a bar… and we just sort of said ‘Do you mind if I play these guys a few songs?’ so I ended up playing a second gig, which was really fun!”

This time though, he was the main act. The show itself got off to an amazing start as the support acts got the crowd going and were received really well, and when Frank finally graced the stage with his presence, the crowd went what could only be described as completely insane. Some fans had even been queuing up since midday for the gig.

And as much as he loves and appreciates his fans, this is a concept that confuses Frank. He said: “I’m very grateful to them, but I do also wanna go outside and be like ‘Go and get a pint or something!’ It’s very flattering, but I guess it’s just I’m a bit old now.”

He got the gig underway with the classic “I Am Disappeared”, which had the crowd singing along pretty much instantly. This was followed by a few other favourites, as well as a few songs from his upcoming album.

Turner really knows how to work the audience, and his live performances create a fantastic atmosphere. It’s clearly where he wants to be: “What I like about touring is that every one of the songs that I did on the record, I’ll get up and play, and if I wanna change the inflections or play it a bit faster, I can do that. There’s that endless potential for self-reinvention.”

Having recorded his upcoming album in California, Turner is insistent that compared to his four previous albums, this record is far more personal. To him, this is the key to making an album work: “I really pushed myself to write like no one was gonna listen to it and write it like it was just for me.”

That said, how do you follow up four previous albums? Turner says after the first few albums, artists and bands begin to write in a way that will solely please the fans. However, he explains that a record which comes from the heart is much better: “When you’re in a bedroom with a guitar and no one cares what you do when you write a song, you pour your heart out and you say things that are exposed and dangerous.”

Yet perhaps it is because this album is from the heart that he seems quite nervous about its release: “The album is going to upset some people I know and I feel bad about that, but at the end of the day, your heart shouldn’t be comfortable. Your heart should be exposed.”

He continued: “It’s kind of like I’m pregnant before recording because these ideas are here, and you know they’re going to be good, but there’s no way of telling people.

However, despite being an advocate of live shows and touring, recording material is still special: “I like the end product of recording. I like that feeling when songs that have been brewing inside my mind are now real things that exist outside of me.”

But as exposed as the new album may be, Frank is keeping its name locked tightly behind closed doors for now. He explained: “I don’t want to jinx it. For me, the title of a record is a really big thing because it sets the tone for the whole thing.”

The name he’s calling the album by at the moment isn’t the first idea, either. He almost gave it an entirely different name, but woke up at midnight one night deciding it was completely wrong. This is when the album’s current name came about, and he’s pretty sure it’s the right choice.

It’s easy to see that Turner loves what he does and appreciates being so lucky. Gigging and touring is something he has no intention of stopping any time soon. In fact, he’s booked up until mid-December and when the album is released next year, he’ll be back at it all over again. Turner concluded: “I’ll just be on the road forever and that’s that.””

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