Meine erste Begegnung mit Frank Turner geschah vor einem Jahr zu einem Interview in Frankfurt. In etwa so: ‚Hey how are you? – ‚Got a hangover and you?‘ – ‚Yeah me too…‘. Als wir uns vor einer Woche zu einem erneuten Interview im Hamburger Knust wiedertrafen ähnelte sich das Gespräch: ‚Hey, how are you?‘ – I’m fine thanks, just tired and you?‘ – ‚Ohh I have a big hangover. Too much whisky yesterday!‘ Dennoch schlug sich der Engländer souverän und ich darf erneut sagen, dass er einer der angenehmsten Interviewpartner ist, die ich bisher treffen durfte. Aber lest selbst, über was wir alles geplaudert haben:
Hey Frank, two weeks ago, your latest records „Tape Deck Heart“ was released and it went from nowhere to place number two in the UK Charts. How do you feel about it?
Frank (laughing): I feel good. I mean, it’s cool. It’s slightly with me, because I didn’t really give a fuck about the charts when I was a kid, I didn’t listen to bands, who were in the charts and it’s not really part of my conception of success. But in the same time it’s a nice piece of news. It’s a lot of people buying a record in one week and it’s great. (Smiling) It’s really nice that I sold more records than Will.I.Am – fuck that guy!
I have some questions inspired by the title, the lyrics or the new songs itself. So let’s start with „Recovery“: On tour you have long days like give interviews in the afternoon, answering mails whenever you have time, playing a set which is about 1,5h long in the evening and chat with your fans after the concert. How can you come down after a day like this and what do you do to recover yourself and especially your voice?
Frank (laughing): That’s the big question. I spend a lot of time thinking about my voice. It can be pretty hard sometimes. I sleep as much as I can and I sleep really well on tour busses. It’s like when you have a baby and you put it in a cart to make it go asleep, because of the rocking. It’s like that. I’m kinda used of it now. It’s really dark, cousy and I have earplugs in. I could sleep forever in a tour bus, it’s great!
And about the voice, there is a million things. For example (laughing) not drinking too much, honey lemon, special tea and I have throat sweets and shit would help. I mean actually it’s funny, because there is this whole world of information about ways how to take care of your voice. Most of it doesn’t go very far, I don’t think so. At the end of the day your voice is a muscle and it works or it doesn’t.
So the next one, „Plain Sailing Weather“: The last couple of days we all had brilliant weather – today it’s not. But imagine you have an off day with plain sailing weather – how would you like to spend it?
Frank: We had an off day two days ago in Berlin. The first day off we had in the last three weeks or something. So it was nice. What did I do? Nothing at all! (Smiling) It’s funny, there are clichés about tour: How you travel around the world and you see dressing rooms and carparks and it’s kind of true.
I have friends, who are like „Ohh, you’re in Berlin? You should do this, this, this and this!“ And it’s like „You don’t understand!“ I’m kind of working and if I get a day off, – what I did for 90% of my day off was, I sat in my hotel room and watched TV and it was glorious! And I didn’t get drunk – actually I did. But you know what I mean? I didn’t use my brain for the day as much as possible.
In the end I had a really nice evening, because I met up with an old friend. We sat in front of the Berlin‘ wall, where the East Side Gallery is. We sat in front of that with a bottle of wine watched the river.
Then „Tell Tale Signs“ – I have two questions for this one. First of all there’s a person, who appears for the third time (I Am Disappeared/The Story Of Me And My Friends) now – so who is Amy?
Frank: Well, she’s not called Amy. It’s a fake name. It’s a real person, but I changed the name to protect the innocent. (Slows down) It’s just person, who I’ve known for a very long time, who is problematic in my life, she would say. I’m not actually sure that she’s really in my life anymore. She is not very happy about that song.
Okay, my second question is: Don’t you think it’s some kind of antitheses to play this song and „Photosynthesis“ in one set?
Frank: Maybe. True although. First of all I wrote those songs have many years apart, like six years between each other? I have the right to change in six years. But as it says in „Tell Tale Signs“: ‚Of course I’ve changed with all the things that I’ve done and all the places I’ve been‘. You could stay the same all the time, but you shouldn’t! It’s not quite the question you asked, but I have to say this anyway (smiles). I don’t know.
I’ve got a point in my career where I get some kind of accusing old fans and accusing old friends, which would have say to me in an accusatory tone of voice: „You’ve changed….“ and I go „Yeah! That’s the fucking point, isn’t it? Who the fuck is militantly trying to be the same person they were, when they were 21?“ Or any other age. It’s a fucking stupid idea. You know, I don’t want to play in 31 different countries 1400 shows and come back and not learned anything at all. What the fuck is the point in that?
Anyway. The other thing is, what people are pointing out, is – there is a line in „If I ever stray“, that love is free and than there is a line in „God And Gone“ about that love isn’t free. And everyone is like: ‚What? You can’t do this man! ‚ or if it’s more intelligent it’s like ‚What happened to you man? Did something really bad happened to you?‘
I think it’s perfectly fine, that both songs are in the same set. It just pointing out, that life’s complicated and you can feel different way about it at different times.
Let’s continue with „Four Simple Words“ then. It’s one of the more fast songs of the new record and you’re playing your acoustic guitar like an electric guitar. Did you ever think about change it for an electric one?
Frank: Actually that is something I’m thinking about at the moment. Cause on Tape Deck Heart there is a couple of songs, where I play electric guitar. I was playing a hollow body electric – I really love them. This looks so fucking good, just like Rock’n’Roll. I mean, I thought about it. Live? Maybe… Part of it is that it’s more hassling for them and Ben (Ben just entered the room), hello Ben! Ben is like „It’s my department! You’re not allowed to play the electric guitar!“
Ben: I heard my name?
Frank: Yeah, we’re just talking about how you won’t let me play the electric guitar.
Ben: That’s not true…
Frank: No it’s not. (Everyone’s laughing) He’s lovely, lovely band. But I mean maybe. We’ll see. At the same time I quite like the way that we have as a live band. In a good way, everyone has his own department, they take care of. I don’t think we need to fuck up with it too much – I think we’re quite good live!
So „Polaroid Picture“ – polaroid cameras are some kind of old school stuff and so are vinyls. Make a guess, how many records do you have in your collection?
Frank: 4.000? It’s funny though, because it doesn’t quiet reflect my taste of music – accurately. Because I don’t really buy much vinyls anymore, cause I’m on tour all the time and I can’t fill up my suitcase with records to take home. So most of the time I get my records with Itunes these days.
For example there is a really heavy junk of my record collections, which is electronica and progressive weird old electro stuff. Because I went through a big phase of that. And I’ve lost quiet a lot of my old hardcore vinyls in one move. It sucks actually. I’ve got quiet a lot of it back, – but we’re talking about records you can’t get any more like old school UK hardcore records from late 90s and stuff. (Sighing) It’s heartbreaking to think about.
But yes, it’s kinda weird – there’s not nearly enough kind of – if it was supposed to be records of my taste of music – there’s not enough Country and Folk stuff in there, because I’ve been touring more when I was getting infected by this.
What do you think then about the new school stuff like e.g. Spotify?
Frank: Spotify is slightly problematic for me. Because I don’t really see the difference between Spotify and downloading. Aside from the fact that they charge people for it and then that money goes to the band. (Laughing) Which is kinda sucky.
The music industry is obviously changing a lot and has been for a while and continues to do so. And generally speaking I’m kind of optimistic about it. I think that we past the worst of it. What I mean, the point of the whole discussion is working out an economic model on which musicians can live and make music. The live thing exploded, merch is a bigger thing, people pay more to go to gigs now. I think people are kind of cool with that. I think people understand that.
I’m kind of optimistic, plus the thing of that whole debate is, that I think everyone needs to remember, that the point is music. There are sometimes people, myself included, who get too wrapped up in talking about economics. And this is not really the thing that matters. Actually in the other thing – god dammit – the other thing about it, which i feel quite strongly, is that I think the worst thing that happened in the whole music industry war about downloading was that right from the way it goes, it was framed as an argument between two opposing sites. So people who listen to music and people who make music.
And that’s so fucking stupid, because actually everybody wants the same thing in the end. Which is a way to have good records get made and people who make them make living out of it, so they can make it more. Right from the way it was us versus them and it shouldn’t have been like this. It should have been like a discussion, a conversation between people. At least it is happening now. Like with pages like Kickstart.
Frank (Laughing): I should point out that line I stole from guy called John C. Stubblefield, who is the bass player in Lucero. The very first time I met John, he walked into the dressing room, picked up a bottle of whisky and said ‚I’m not drinking any more and I’m not drinking any less neither!‘, so I put that in the song. The beer, right. That was what we were talking about. It’s cool. But I can’t understand it, cause whenever a musician brings out like a perfume or some shit, it’s always kinda like ‚Oh god, really!? Fuck off!‘ And I certainly kinda feel like that.
So ‚You’ve got a beer, you’re totally hip‘, is what people say now. And people have said ‚Oh fucking, you’ve got a beer? God, your such a dick!‘, but the fact is, that I sat at my computer one day and I got an email that said ‚Would you like to have your own beer?‘ And I’m a man, I’m English, I mean it’s like what the fuck else you gonna say other than hell yeah! People seem to like it. The guys, who make it, keep trying to offer to send me some to have it in my house. And it’s kinda I don’t really wanna it, it’s a bit too much for me. You invite a friend and then you open the fridge and just in case forgot who’s house you’re at…(laughing)… here’s my beer in the fridge!
„Broken Piano“ is next: Which instruments can you play and which would you like to?
Frank: Well, I play guitar transferable from that I can play bit of like banjo, mandolin and those kinds of stringed instruments. I play a tiny bit of piano. And I really wish I could play it better. Actually this is what I worked out today. My mum has just told me that I could have her piano. And it’s the piano, which was in my house when I was a kid, growing up and I learned a lot about music on. I love it. Basically she said ‚You can have it, if you can get it.‘ – from my place to yours. So I’m trying to organize that. I kinda like the idea of having a piano in my appartment. And than hopefully I play it more and I might get better on the piano. We’ll see. And actually I played drums in a band once. We were called The Record Buying Public and there is a set up on YouTube somewhere. I think our band name was the best thing about us. Such a good name for a band. But we were kinda instrumental postrock, jazzrock thing. But I’ve forgotten how to play the drums. I can play the drums on my legs (drums on his legs), but if you give me a pair of sticks, I’m fucking useless.
Then we’re already at the last song of my list: Tattoos! Can you remember the first time a fan showed you his/her Frank Turner tattoo? And what did you think in this moment?
Frank (laughing): I’ve got a terrible story about that. I always don’t wanna tell it, because there would be the chance that this person would read it. The very first time I saw anything of mine in a tattoo was actually Million Dead, my old band. I’m still enormously proud of that first album, I think it’s a good record, I think it’s a really original album. I’m really proud of the lyrics, but there is on the entire album one line, that I’m not really happy with. And his dude came up to the show and rolled up his trousers and he a had a tattoo on the back of his leg. And I was just like (monotonous) ‚Thanks man!‘ – You can’t bump out anyone’s tattoos, because they don’t go away.
The whole thing with the tattoos, you know I have this Facebook page, I really like it. It took me a while to find my peace with it as an idea. Because part of me thinks it’s cool shit, part of me is kind of worried. It’s not my place to tell people ‚Get tattooed!‘ I’d never do that. But I think it’s cool and I think there are some really great artworks out there.
Final question: Will you continue to improve your german skills?
Frank (laughing out loud): Yeah, very much so! You know there language tapes you listen to, whatever. I keep thinking I’m gonna do something like that. But I don’t have this much free time. I was really annoyed about Al Barr, when we supported the Dropkick Murphys. Because I never fucking knew he spoke German! Not that many bands are willing to learn any language in the countries the go to like English/American bands. This is one of the reasons why I do. I mainly do it, because it’s respect to the people, you’re playing to. But it is also a pretty easy way or winning over some people, if you speak e.g. German all the time. And particularly if you’re the support band and the main band don’t do it. It’s a cool way of stealing the show. So before we came to Germany, we have been in Scandinavia, so I said ‚Let’s do it in Swedish, let’s do it in Norwegian,…‘ . And the review of the Oslo show had this huge section about how I had spoken in their language and that it was really great. And they didn’t really write much about the Dropkicks (laughing). Yes! And then we got to Germany and suddenly Al was like ‚I speak German!‘ and it was like ‚Fuuuuuck you, you arsehole!‘ (laughing). So yes, I would love to learn more German! Der newcomer aus UK! (laughing).
Thank you for taking time!
Das Interview führte Arabell Walter
am 07. Mai 2013 in Hamburg.