James McDonald 18/10/2006
After the implosion of much loved hardcore act Million Dead, Frank Turner felt like he needed a change, he decided to embark upon a quieter more acoustic and folk influenced solo project. Frank wanted to "show that it is possible to write simple acoustic music without sounding like james blunt, and whilst retaining some passion, anger, and a sense of humour."
With his debut solo album slated for release in early 2007. We at GIITTV caught up with Frank and asked him some questions:
Your solo work has been compared extensively to the work of Billy Bragg. Do you think this is a fair comparison? And if you do, would you actually buy a house on the street you'd have named after you, or would you fuck off to Dorset like Billy Bragg did?
Sure, there's clearly a lot of common ground between me and the Braggster - he laid the blueprint for the crossover between folk and punk in the UK, and I'm also hugely influenced by his songwriting, particularly lyrically (though I'd say more the non-political stuff, which I prefer). So yeah, it's fair, but I wouldn't say I was a carbon copy or anything, I'll just pay my respects where they're due. I doubt I'd be so up myself as to live on a street named after me (or even OK that in the first place!) but I also don't think I want to live in Dorset. Can I fuck off somewhere else?
To date you've released your EP 'Campfire Punkrock' as well as a split with Reuben through Xtra Mile. Are there any plans for a full length album as yet, and if so, when can we expect it.
The full length album just got finished yesterday actually, mixing-wise. There's mastering and artwork to sort, and then the usual promotional rounds, but all being well it'll be out in the UK on January 8th 2007 through Xtra Mile Recordings. And for what it's worth, I'm pleased as punch about it.
You look like a man with his eye on facial-hair fashion. Who else, would you say, has sported a lovely clump of beard at some point?
Hahaha, I only grew a beard in the first place because I have a big scar on my chin from an accident at an MD show. Erm, Karl Marx had a lovely beard, as does the guy from Arab Strap. And anyone from a Gainsville emo band in the mid-1990's.
Aside from The Automatic (of course) which bands or artists would you most like to go on tour with?
Well, it'd be great to tour with Bragg, of course. I'd love to tour with the Lemonheads too, Evan Dando is one of my favourite songwriters ever. Maybe someone like Ryan Adams would be cool too.
If you could have dinner with 4 people dead or alive, who would you choose?
Well, let's see... How about TS Eliot, Stravinsky, Henry Miller and Townes Van Zandt. That's a pretty weird mix, thinking about it, and they're all dead, but then why pass up an opportunity to revive my heroes?
Why have you decided to take yourself on tour in Eastern Europe, apart from the prospect of cheap cigs and booze?
I have contacts for organizing tours out there and I like to tour, so QED. It also doesn't hurt at all that the people in that neck of the woods are very welcoming, very friendly. And it's nice to see new, different parts of the world. I want to tour the states a lot, but it must be said that from a cultural / historical point of view I'm much more interested in Europe. I spent a fair while studying Central and Eastern European History, so it's very interesting to me to go there.
After MD came to an end, and you decided to continue as a solo artist, did you feel as if you had to prove yourself all over again, or was it encouraging having an already hardcore base of fans?
It certainly helped to have people ready to listen to what I was doing - it's very, very hard to start out from scratch as a folk singer. On the other hand, what I started doing was so different from what I did before that sometimes I suspect it may have worked against me a little, in the sense that I'm automatically categorized by many into an audience that probably isn't the natural one for my music. Not that I have anything against anyone from any scene being into what I do, of course... I guess I have had to prove to a lot of MD fans that folk music is something vibrant and vital, and not a tired / washed up / parental style of music. And to others, from a more folky background, I have to prove that I can do this. Which is taking longer, but there you go.
What are your views on The Quiet Kill (Tom/Julia ex-Million Dead's new band)?
I've listened to what they have up on their myspace, but unfortunately I haven't had a chance to catch them live yet. It sounds how I expected - I don't mean that in a bad way, it's just that knowing the tastes and styles of Tom and Julia, that's the kind of stuff I thought they'd be playing, and, as expected, they do it very well.
Have you ever considered a career in politics? What would be your policies?
Hahaha... No is the answer to this one. Partly because I don't think I'm built for that particular kind of pressure, partly because I am miles away from having my own political philosophies worked out in my head, partly because I really don't give enough of a shit about the human race to try and help it out, and partly because there's already several tabloids worth of dirt on me that various people could dig up if they wanted to piss me off. No I'm not telling you what.
Where do you see all this culminating, in the end? Is there a goal in your head or are you just going to ride it out and see where it takes you?
Who knows? This is a fickle business that I've immersed myself in, and moreover it's one that's geared more towards younger artists. Realistically, the chances of me being able to do this forever are limited. In an ideal world I'd like to be Neil fucking Young (obviously), and who knows, maybe it will happen. Otherwise I guess I'll just piss off my grandchildren by messily drinking myself to death in front of them.