A dictatorship built on camaraderie
Armed with an acoustic guitar a golden voice and some Orlando Bloom good looks England’s folk-rock troubadour Frank Turner seems as much inspired by Elvis as elves. Purveying a disarmingly charming combination of traditional British song-making and post-punk-meets-alt-country experimentation Turner’s charismatic voice and cathartic lyrics have left a lasting impression on audiences from China to New Zealand.
“I grew up playing in hardcore and punk rock bands but I’ve also spent a lot of time calling myself a folk singer and playing acoustic country” Turner says. “The term ‘rock and roll’ as I want to use it refers to three-minute long songs that are youthful exuberance encompassing everything from Presley to Radiohead and everything in between. It’s rock and roll and that’s all you need to know.”
Remarkably dedicated to his trade Turner celebrated the accomplishment of performing his one-thousandth live show this past 4.
“The run-up to that was quite funny as I’m slightly rather OCD about keeping track of my solo shows” Turner confesses. “It started looming beforehand that I was coming up on my one-thousandth show. Initially I wasn’t particularly bothered about it like watching the mile-o-meter roll over but then I started thinking that it would be cool to do something memorable for the event.
Fortunately Turner is close with the family and friends of the Clash’s Joe Strummer who run an organization called Strummerville. “It so happened that they were planning a big party in an indoor car park and did a little math and figured out how to make it be my thousandth show. It felt appropriate that the show should be in London and so I flew in directly from Perth Australia which takes about one million years did the show and then got up the next morning and flew to Toronto.”
A veteran of the North American and European festival circuit both as a lone guitarist and as a member of his former band Million Dean Frank enjoyed a world traveller’s homecoming as he returned to his old stomping ground to record his fourth studio album.
Released this past summer England Keep My Bones was pretty much kept under wraps during recording sessions with producer Tristan Ivemy at Church Studios in Crouch End. The real-life Wind in the Willows appeal of the locale typifies the abiding Englishness of his latest work as a whole. A highly emotive album crafted with the assistance of Turner’s band The Sleeping Souls — Ben Lloyd Nigel Powell Tarrant Anderson and Matt Nasir — England Keep My Bones confirms his status as a self-styled modern Taliesin (an English poet from the post-Roman period obviously).
“The band is the same every time kind of like the E Street Band so I’m glad they’ve finally settled on the name The Sleeping Souls” Turner says. “We’ve all wanted them to have a name since we’ve established the lineup; they are an entity unto themselves. We just try to make the best records we can and now the tour’s here and it’s about ‘how do we re-create this in a live format?’ and ‘let’s go!’”
Relying on his own work ethic and the support of his indie label Xtra Mile Recordings in the U.K. and Epitaph Records in North America Frank continues his campaign of Love Ire & Song on both sides of the Atlantic. Noted for raising the bar for intimate storytelling through song Frank was honoured with recent NME Awards for Best Solo Artist and Best Band Blog/Twitter — a testament to his talents as an artist as well as his willingness to open up and personally connect with his growing fan base. As a soloist or bandleader Frank Turner is equally comfortable warming up the audience for Green Day at Wembley Stadium serenading Calgarians at the folk fest or packing smaller joints like London’s Borderline venue. Still despite having few regrets about striking out on his own Turner readily acknowledges the strength he draws from having his mates The Sleeping Souls by his side.
“I’ve spent years touring on my own and I miss camaraderie” he admits. “When you have your band around you it’s like you’re a gang or you’re on a pirate ship and you go hunting together. I’d miss that to an extent so it’s certainly nice to have my boys and my crew with me. And at the same time this still remains my project and that’s why it’s under my name. I have the best of both worlds — I love the camaraderie of having my gang along but this is definitely a dictatorship not a democracy. I’m in charge.”