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Frank Turner at the Goose Island 312 Day celebrations | © Joe Okpako
Frank Turner at the Goose Island 312 Day celebrations | © Joe Okpako
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Frank Turner on His Music Influences and Travel Essentials

Picture of Cassam Looch
Film Editor
Updated: 27 March 2017
Frank Turner burst onto the music scene over a decade ago, and the singer-songwriter has continued to be a popular figure with both his recordings and live performances. We caught up with the star as he was about to take to the stage at the recent Goose Island 312 event in East London.
Frank Turner at The Yard in East London. | © Joe Okpako
Frank Turner at The Yard in East London | © Joe Okpako

Culture Trip: Tell us about the material you are working on at the moment.

Frank Turner: Right now I’m working on a ton of songs, it’s a very fertile moment for me, thankfully. After a few years of avoiding politics as a subject, it seems to be coming back to me with something of a vengeance, which is surprising but nice. I’ll be in the studio in the summer – I’m excited about it.

CT: Who, or what, has been the biggest influence on your career?

FT: If I had to pick one thing, I’d say punk rock, specifically the UK hardcore scene in the late 90s, which was like my real high school. I learned the basics there, maybe not quite so much about the music I make now, but about how to be part of a community, how to conduct myself as a musician.

CT: Who are your current influences?

FT: Pretty much anything really. I try to listen widely. Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of post-punk, electro-funk kind of stuff, and quite a lot of grime. It’s fun.

CT: What are your favourite things about making a video and what do you like the least?

FT: Videos are an interesting little artistic sideline, I think they stand alone as a form, which can be fun. I love the ‘Mittens’ video, that was a real art piece for me and Ben Morse, who directed it. Filming them is usually pretty tedious to be honest, it’s repetitive, tiring and (depending on the treatment) usually uncomfortable. I keep making videos that involve me being cold or beaten up, haha.

CT: What do you do to relax? Do you look for anything other than music when unwinding?

FT: On tours or immediately afterwards, I do a lot of just lying still in a dark room reading a book. Touring is a very physically demanding lifestyle, so you need to take time to recover from that. Beyond that, well, London history is a big hobby for me, I spend a lot of time wandering around the city.

CT: Did the success of your solo debut Sleep Is for the Week come as a surprise at all? Who were the big champions of that album?

FT: It wasn’t exactly a massive success at the time, it kind of did what we were expecting it to do. Over time it built a little, and it gave me the time and the ability to make Love Ire & Song, which was the album that initially really broke through for me. There were some people who really helped out back then, primarily Xtra Mile themselves, but it was all basically hand to mouth at the time. It was a very different point in my career.

CT: We’re always interested in hearing about the international music scene. Do you have any artists you can recommend from around the world?

FT: Sure. I’ve been touring with Arkells from Canada recently, they’re remarkable. Homeless Gospel Choir from Pittsburgh, Forest Pooky from France, there’s loads of good stuff around at the moment.

CT: What are your favourite places to visit abroad and why?

FT: I love the USA a lot, even with what’s happening over there at the moment. I’d like to spend more time there not on tour – tour is work, it’s not a holiday, you don’t get to stop and smell the roses much. Beyond that, well, I’m keen to see as much of the world as I can while I’m around.

CT: What is the one personal item you can’t travel without?

FT: My notebooks. I have quite a few, for various different forms of writing.

CT: You have been previously quoted saying your music is ‘beer drinking music’ – does this still stand?

FT: Uh, yeah I suppose so, though hopefully not exclusively.

Frank Turner played a rare and intimate acoustic-gig to a 500-strong crowd at the Goose Island 312 Day celebrations, at The Yard in East London | © Joe Okpako
Frank Turner played a rare and intimate acoustic-gig to a 500-strong crowd at the Goose Island 312 Day celebrations, at The Yard in East London | © Joe Okpako

CT: Playing at Goose Island 312 day must mean you are a big beer fan, any beers you’ve particularly enjoyed drinking/trying while on tour?

FT: I’m pretty simple in my tastes when it comes to beer. I do enjoy a cold Lone Star when I’m in Texas, that’s for sure. Always happy to try new things though; the Goose Island day was pretty eye-opening for me, they really know about brewing beer, and I tried a bunch of stuff I wouldn’t usually have gone near. Some of it was delicious.

CT: Back in 2012 you launched your own beer, have any of Goose Island’s beers inspired you to brew another?

FT: Well, that was Signature Brew doing that, I helped out with the recipe at the beginning but I wasn’t actually brewing it myself!