HAVING enjoyed a year of soaring popularity with performances at Wembley Arena and the London Olympics, folk-punk singer Frank Turner is undertaking his biggest ever tour and next week he’s heading our way.
With energetic anthems like I Still Believe and Glory Hallelujah and heartfelt melodies such as Rivers and Song for Eva Mae, the modest singer is fast becoming one of Britain’s greats. While on the road he took time out to chat to WWW.
‘It’s the longest UK tour I’ve done in years and years,’ he said, ‘and it’ll be the biggest one I’ve ever done actually, in terms of the numbers of people. It’s really nice to be back in what’s essentially home turf and doing a proper number of shows rather than just showing up and doing a five-day tour.’
So has rising fame had a huge impact on Frank? ‘Life has obviously changed a little but hopefully by design it hasn’t changed dramatically,’ he explained, ‘I mean I still travel round playing shows. It’s kind of a nice thing for me that my career is at different stages in different parts of the world, it keeps me on my toes. It’s been a fantastic couple of years. I’m sort of constantly waiting for the reality police to come knocking and tell me there’s been a terrible mistake and I have to go back to playing in pubs to five people and a dog.’
Following on from the success of England Keep My Bones, he and his band the Sleeping Souls have just finished recording a fifth album in LA, which is due out in the spring. ‘I was a little nervous about recording in America,’ said Frank, ‘because its such a tired cliche - British band does reasonably well, goes to America and disappears up its own arse which is something I was keen not to do and my music is self consciously English.
‘But at the end of the day I wanted to work with this guy Rich Costey who’s an incredible producer. And actually when you get in the studio you’re inside for 15 hours a day - you might as well be in a spaceship for all the difference it makes as to where you are in the world.’
How will this new album differ from his previous work? ‘I think musically it’s a slightly bigger record, it just kind of feels bigger somehow,’ he said, ‘And lyrically it’s a lot more raw and a lot more personal than I’ve done in the past.’
Frank’s English roots feature quite prominently in his folk song lyrics - they’ve even sparked some right-wing accusations, but he explained: ‘I’m not a flag-waving, chest thumping nationalist you know I don’t think I’m a better person than anyone else because of the place in the world I happen to have come from. But it does define my world view and that’s important to me.’
He’s been described as the English Springsteen. ‘I love Springsteen,’ said the 31-year-old, ‘He sings about New Jersey but he doesn’t sing about it like it’s the best place in the world. It’s not like you can’t get his music because you’re not from New Jersey. I have exactly the same approach to it. It’s kind of acknowledging it, examining it and celebrating it on occasion.’
In his hit I Still Believe, Frank claims rock’n’roll is the answer, so how important is music to him? ‘There’s a small degree of tongue in cheekness about the song,’ he quipped, ‘in the sense that it’s a deliberate kind of beggars’ opera but in small ways I do think music is very important. It’s something that certainly makes my life a damn sight better than it would be otherwise.’
He explained that attending Eton on a scholarship was a very socially alienting experience. ‘I think part of the reason I got into punk rock is that it kind of squared a circle for me. I felt kind of disassociated from the people around me and the kind of vibe of punk rock spoke to me at that point of my life. I always wanted to be a musician. I got into rock and roll and it’s certainly the only thing I have tried to do with any real passion.’
Frank played to a thrilled crowd at last year’s Mannifest and now returns to the island to the delight of many hardcore followers.
So what have we got in store when he takes to the Villa Marina Royal Hall stage on Monday (December 3) night?
‘I always like to play the hits,’ said Frank, ‘but I’ll definitely be dropping in some new ones and I’ve got Jim Lockey with me as well so it will be a good fun time.’
The show starts at 8pm. Tickets, costing £20, are available on 600555 or at www.villagaiety.com