Frank Turner 10 Questions with TotalNtertainment.
Folk/punk favourite Frank Turner has just released his new live album, “Live In Newcastle”. We grabbed a few minutes with Frank recently to chat about the album, his fundraisers and whose house he would like to be a fly on the wall of.
1. Hi Frank, how is life treating you at the moment?
I’m doing as well as can be expected given these peculiar times we’re going through. I think at the beginning I took comfort thinking that “we’re all in this together” although now I’m not so sure. Some people are suffering more than others and you have to be mindful of that when you’re talking about it in order to not sound like an arsehole.
2. You’ve just put out the live album. Was that something that was always in the pipeline regardless of the situation ?
Yes, it was. We recorded the tour last year as it was a different approach to a show so we had it documented. We had it there and I think, but I’m not sure, the plan was to put it out at the end of this year but then, of course, things happened and gigs got cancelled and we were all locked in our houses so we thought why not just get on with it and get it out there?
3. In place of the headline tour, you’ve held a number of fundraisers, are you planning any more?
Well, the independent venue thing I’m doing has turned into a weekly thing. I’d like to add as well that there is also another reason behind me doing those gigs. They’re fundraisers, which is great, but it also gives me something to do and it gives my week shape. I think, for all of us, we’re looking for ways to shape our week. I know, for me, on Thursday I’m doing a live stream with different albums each week. I’m really enjoying that structure it has given to my week and I’m also enjoying the fact that I’m helping out people who have helped me out in the past and it’s now time for me to return that favour.
4. How damaging do you think this will be to the independent music scene – bands, venues, record labels, etc.?
There are people struggling for sure but I also have friends who are treating this as a minor blip that will go away. Personally, I think that is crazy. I think this is going to affect everybody for our lifetime. I can’t see this as being anything other than a once in a lifetime ship. The damage this could do is unbelievable but, at the same time, it has given us the opportunity to do something about it, like I was saying. We can all pull together and use this as an opportunity for change and change things for the better. It just depends on how you manage it. I don’t think people thought the world was perfect three months ago but, at the same time, it’s not the bad guys who are suffering. It’s not like I think the people who run the Joiners Arms are evil and are destroying the music industry and need to be taken down. I think this is a time when people need to now be focussed on what is going to change and how.
I also think social media has had its part to play in helping people. This would have been more difficult say twenty years ago. Then again we’d have probably been saying the same thing back then. I have a love/hate relationship with social media most of the time leaning towards the hate end but I get to do things like the gig streaming and I chat to my mate Darren every week so the ability to do things like that is really helpful and cool and I’m grateful for it.
5. Do you think there will be a big change in the music industry when we come out of this?
Possibly. The first thing to remember is that nobody at the moment has any idea when gigs and events will start again. Just as an example, I saw a discussion yesterday about possible ways to open bars and restaurants and one suggested was running at 30% capacity. Now, anybody that runs a venue will tell you that, if you run at 30% capacity, you’re losing money so there is no point in doing it. Having said that, I can see that people are thinking about this but I don’t think they’re thinking about this very profoundly at the moment.
6. You celebrated, what would have been the Nottingham date of the tour, by playing back your 2000th gig. Given the situation, has this allowed you to reflect on your career and milestones like that one?
It’s given me time to reflect, that’s for sure. I always think you have to be careful talking about the upside of what is happening right now because there is a lot of people suffering right now. On the flip side, it’s not all negative and, having the opportunity to pause and gather your thoughts is not an unhealthy thing you know? It’s given me time to think “Christ, what have been doing for the last twenty years of my life?”. There is definitely value in that but it is funny how quickly you get used to things like there is a little part of me that is wondering how I ever left the house but I’ve also had the chance to look at what I’ve done to date with a little pride.
7. Like you said earlier, you tried something different for the last tour. Looking back is it something you would try again ?
It was certainly good to do something different. In the past my shows have leaned more towards the punk end of my range. That’s all well and good and I love punk rock but I think that I’m also capable of doing other things. I wanted to see if I could try something different for a tour so the emphasise was on the listening more than dancing. I was very nervous beforehand and worried that my audience would hate it because I didn’t play “Four Simple Words” and I didn’t stage dive but it was very well recieved which I’m really pleased about but I don’t know if it something we would do again. Maybe one day but not any time soon but that’s also the reason we chose to record it so we could document this unusual thing we were doing.
8. Have you been taking this time to write any new music ?
I have actually yes. To be honest though, writing new music was always on my to-do list for this year anyway. The funny thing was that, when the lockdown started, I thought to myself that I could write without any distraction forgetting that a global pandemic was a pretty big distraction. I had a couple of paralyzed weeks where I couldn’t do anything and I didn’t just want to churn out songs about the lockdown. I’m definitely in the frame of mind to write now but, as for when that will come out, well there have been a couple of other projects moving up the pipeline like the live album.
9. Just for fun, if you could be a fly on the wall in someone’s house during lockdown who would you choose and why ?
[laughs]. I’d say probably Kanye West mainly because he’s out of his mind. Don’t get me wrong, he’s an incredibly talented and creative person but also completely bonkers. There is a part of me that is intrigued as to what a normal day in the life of Kanye West is like.
10. Finally, thanks for your time. Any message for family and friends ?
Firstly, I’m very much looking forward to hugging people again and getting out again. One thing I would like to share is that it’s alright to have days where it doesn’t come together. There are days at the start where I didn’t want to get up or get off the sofa but then I’d get pissed off with myself. Then you realise it’s a global pandemic so it’s fine to have days where it all comes down on you. It’s okay to have Pyjama Days. Not all the time obviously but a few of those days is ok.
Live In Newcastle’ now available everywhere, for more info go to frank-turner.com