Frank Turner is always on tour. He’s played over 2,000 gigs and when he’s not on stage, he’s constantly releasing records. Having grafted his way up to arena shows, he’s stripping it back a level and creating a new record ready to be played in “f**king dirty clubs.” His words. What makes the cut to be a f*cking dirty club? “Somewhere below street level with bad lighting and a bass-heavy PA held together by duct-tape” Frank Explains. “I’ve been to a fair few in my time.”

Late last year Frank announced Campfire Punkrock – a musical retreat, which included a meet and greet with Frank, working with him on a new song and geting involved in an open mic event. Tickets were priced up to a thousand pounds and some fans took to their keyboards to show their displeasure. In the end, Frank went as far as to make a statement to the NME. So what does he think about it all?  “I thought it was fucking stupid, for extremely obvious reasons.” explains Frank “There’s a certain contingent of people who enjoy spending their time hating on me. Whatever floats your boat. The Camp will be fun for those that want to go. There’s really nothing else to say about it.”

A new album, Be More Kind, is on the horizon and work is continuing apace. “We’re in the final stages of mixing as I write this. It’s been a long process – we started recording last June. This is easily the most amount of time I’ve spent making a record. It’s been a long slog, but I’m extremely happy with the outcome.”

Is it going to be a huge shift in direction? “It’s quite difficult for me to answer that question, as I have no possible objectivity on the subject. That said, I think it is pretty radically different in places, and close friends – people who I’d trust to call me on my shit – tend to agree. There’s a lot of new sonic directions and textures on there.”

With any news music there must be hopes and fears about how it will be received? “I’ve been doing this long enough now to be pretty emotionally hardened to the release of a new anything. A certain proportion of people will automatically dislike it, a certain proportion will unconditionally love it (which is nice). In a way, I’m interested in the people who fall between those two extremes, to the extent that I care at all about other people’s opinions of my work. Hopefully, it’ll be well received, but I’m confident enough in the work to be satisfied either way.” Is it a break from his comfort zone? “Very much so. There have been some really interesting moments. Technically, we spent a fair amount of time trying to do things in the studio that I simply don’t really know how to do, so there was a lot of learning for me and the Sleeping Souls. Lyrically, I felt more exposed on this than I have in quite a while, which is always a good thing, I think.”

Frank was known, from his early days, for the political or social edge that came along with his music – but whether or not thats important is not something he’s drawn on “I’m not sure it’s ‘important’ for anyone to have an opinion per se” he explains. “I have one, I have the desire to express it and the platform with which to do so. I’m not naive about entering that fray – the state of political discourse on social media is a fucking joke, and that side of it is going to be trying in places, I know.” That edge is still there in his music, and he explains that the record is “About the state of the world, if that’s not too pretentious a statement, for the most part. I hesitate to call it ‘political’ as such, for reasons that will become obvious in time, but it’s not so much about affairs of the heart, as the last few records of mine have been. The central inspiration has been my fear that the centre will not hold in our society, which I think is a terrifyingly dangerous thing. There are also songs that deal with my personal life as it currently stands, but they’re notably happier than they’ve ever been before!”

Frank has also released a reworked compilation of his songs called Songbook and explains “Putting it together was an interesting process, at the first Lost Evenings festival back in May last year, I headlined four nights at the Roundhouse in London, and in the process of trying not to repeat material across the four nights, I played something like 85 different songs. That gave me a chance to really think through my body of work as a whole for the first time in a long while. The idea for Songbook came out of that. The second element, the reworkings, is also part of that; I’ve always enjoyed doing different versions of my own songs, trying to find new ways into them, new ways of looking at them. So I wanted to get that down on record as well.”

With the shift in direction of the new record, how is it going to impact his live shows? “There are some technical challenges with some of the more beat-lead new songs, and I’m always trying to find new things to do in the context of a performance. That said, the underlying philosophy of the shows remains the same, it’s a participatory community event. I’ve always been someone who likes to please a crowd, so there will be old songs galore in there as well.”

Frank Turner plays Friday 4th May at O2 Academy Leicester. The Show is now Sold Out.


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