Interview: Frank Turner


Poised for the release of his eighth studio album and ready to play a sell-out night at Newcastle’s 02 Academy, Gigs North East talks historical women, empathy and ‘Agent For Change’ with Frank Turner…

On ‘Be More Kind’ Turner has worked with Austin and Josh from US psych band White Demin – at first glance this seems like a strange pairing, at least sonically. However, he explains that a connection through tour managers, admiration and good old fashioned chemistry sealed the deal for the collaboration. Frank reminisces about the partnership, “we got chatting about where my head was at, sonically and stylistically, and things just clicked.” When asked if he borrowed from White Demin’s sound however, Turner was more concerned with sticking to his guns, “I wouldn’t say there’s much in the way of “psych-rock” on the album”, he says, “but their incredible breadth and depth of musical knowledge was a major weapon in my arsenal. There wasn’t much I could throw at them that they didn’t already have a handle on.”

When originally sitting down to write his seventh studio album, however, Frank Turner had his eye cast not upon the future but into the past. Tasking himself with the duty to tell stories of ‘women from the historical record who have been ignored’ it seemed the album concept couldn’t have been more perfectly timed for 2017’s year of outspoken, empowered women. Or was it? You see, the irony here is that these ‘ignored women’ in Franks mind were once again overlooked for the true thematic focal point of his seventh album ‘Be More Kind’: Empathy. Never fear, however, Frank’s got this idea on the back burner, giving insight into album number eight already, “It’s the next record I’ll be working on, the project is very much still alive. It’s not finished as yet, and there will be plenty to say about it when it does see the light of day”.

In Frank’s defence, ‘Be More Kind’ fits into the political landscape in an equally timely manner. Turner states that ‘Be More Kind’ was a long time coming “I’ve been working on ‘Be More Kind’ for a few years now, it’s probably the longest I’ve ever worked on a single record actually, the recording process alone was nearly a year.” Completing his record over one of the most tumultuous periods in British history, throughout Brexit and the rise in hate crimes that followed, it seems like there’s never been a better time to sing about empathy and kindness for our fellow humans. “Recent political trends have seen people taking pride and pleasure in ditching that idea[empathy], and I think that will end very badly for everyone if we don’t do something about it” explains Turner. “I guess, on some level, this record is a contribution to the debate, at least”.

Don’t get Frank Turner wrong, he’s not stating himself to be some sort of Buddha with the power of complete tolerance of all peoples. Explaining that ‘Be More Kind’ is an encouragement rather than a preachment Frank confesses, “there are days and discussions in which I’m just pissed off generally, I am far from perfect, obviously, and could happily do with taking some of my own advice.”

Aside from the album release, 2018 brings other new successes to Frank Turner. A dedicated supporter of Independent Venue Week, his cause received a massive win with the announcement of the proposed ‘Agent For Change’ Laws that shifts the onus of soundproofing onto building developers. “It’s great!”, he exclaims.  “We’ve been campaigning on that issue for around 4 years now, and it’s a real breakthrough. It’s not a panacea, of course, but it’s a step in the direction of fairness at least, and it means the Music Venue Trust can turn its energies onto other pressing matters.”

Words: Dominique Daly

Frank Turner comes to o2 Academy Newcastle on 22nd April. Tickets are now completely sold out but you still have the chance to catch Frank in the flesh during his DJ set afterparty in the Academy2 after the show.



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