Interview: Frank Turner

Frank Turner has consistently proven himself to be one of the greatest songwriters of his generation, with an long and soul-filled back catalogue of folk-punk anthems. The former Million Dead frontman has seen huge success with his six solo albums and world-renowned live shows, with his spectacular band The Sleeping Souls. Having previously toured alongside The Offspring and Billy Bragg, as well as getting huge performances at Reading & Leeds (nine years in a row), Wembley Arena and even London’s O2 Arena. 

On November 15 & 16 the people of Nottingham get the chance to see Frank Turner and his fantastic band of scallywags in the wonderful Rock City, touring in support of the incredible new album Positive Songs for Negative People. The first night in Nottingham sold out so quickly that Turner & Co. have had to announce another show for the following night. Positive Songs for Negative People features hit after hit, including the new singles: ‘Get Better’, ‘The Next Storm’ and ‘Josephine’, all of which one can expect (or at least hope) to hear on these nights. We caught up with the man himself to chat about the upcoming tour and what he has in store for Nottingham.

This past August you released your sixth studio album ‘Positive Songs for Negative People’, and it is fantastic, how’s the reaction been?

It’s been great thanks. People have bought it and reviews have been good. Most importantly, people have been singing along with the new material at shows, which is my main yardstick for judging these things.

What was the writing/recording process like for this album?

Both were easy enough once I was in the right place. Writing was cathartic, a process of release, after the whole business of Tape Deck Heart, which was an album written and made in a dark place. It took me a long while to get in the right studio with the right producer, but once I did, the Sleeping Souls and I made the record with Butch Walker in 9 days in Nashville.

The album follows the theme of staying positive, where did that theme come from?

Tape Deck Heart was about failure and collapse. This record is about surviving that.

It closes with ‘Song for Josh’ a heart-wrenching eulogy for Josh Burdette, that song is incredibly emotional, does that make it difficult to play live?

Sometimes, sure, but people have been telling me they get a lot from the song, and it’s remarkable to see a rowdy room in silence for that song, and quite gratifying.

On that subject, are there any songs from the new album that have been particularly fun to play live?

I like it when a crowd gets involve. “Out Of Breath” gets people on their feet, and “Get Better” has already been ensconced as a crowd favourite, as far as I can tell.

You’ve got a massive tour coming up this November. Interestingly you’re playing slightly smaller venues this time around, because of this a lot of them have sold out, and extra dates have been added. Why did you choose to do it this way around?

I try to change things up a little every time we tour. The last two UK tours we did were a big arena tour in main cities, and then a tour of some pretty obscure regional places. This time around we are doing a longer tour with some multiple nights. It’s fun.

The tour stops off in Nottingham on 15 & 16 November, what can we expect from these shows?

Me and the Sleeping Souls playing some songs. The supports are hand-picked and worth catching as well – Skinny Lister and Beans On Toast.

After this tour, you (surprise, surprise) are touring even more! Do you ever get sick of being on the road so much? What can we expect after this set of tours?

My schedule for this record will run through until the end of next year at least. I like being on tour, it’s the one thing in life I’m good at. I have my bad days, but so does everyone, in every walk of life.

You saw a lot of success this summer with the release of your book as well, between that and having released incredibly successful albums with Million Dead, The Sleeping Souls and Mongol Horde, is there anything left to achieve?

Sure. Life is full of possibilities. I have a lot of ideas, and I’m far from satisfied with my creative output, things could always be improved.

Finally, do you have any fond memories of Nottingham?

Yes. Rock City is my favourite venue in the country, great people there.

Liam Fleming

Frank Turner will be in Nottingham at Rock City on the 15 and 16 October

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Co-Editor of the Music Section at University of Nottingham's IMPACT Magazine.

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