Tag: frank turner

Interview: Frank Turner talks touring, songwriting and album six

Frank Turner


‘You can’t just sit around wondering if you’ve made your Nevermind – because that was three albums ago’, Frank Turner.

‘God damn it’s great to be alive’, Frank Turner roars on Demons, a standout track on his sixth album, Positive Songs for Negative People.

When I ask him how on earth he’s managed to make six albums, he admits he doesn’t really know. “It’s quite rare for a band to get round to a sixth album at all,” he says, “and it’s particularly odd to get to a sixth album, and at least to some people, still be on the up side of the graph.”

This continued rise in stock is largely down to almost constant touring, documented in his recent book The Road Beneath My Feet, spending weeks on trains and beer-soaked sofas and picking up thousands of devoted fans along the way.

Frank Turner shows no sign of slowing down any time soon, having just announced a mammoth UK tour in November. Fittingly, it ends at London’s historic Alexandra Palace, the only large venue in London he has yet to play – having already filled Wembley and The 02.

He’s particularly excited about this, not least because he can walk home to his Holloway home afterwards. It’s almost impossible to imagine any other arena sized artist entertaining the idea of walking home from a gig and his down-to-earth demeanour is yet another reason why Frank is so well loved.

After a brief love letter to North London, The Angel Islington, Positive Songs For Negative People launches headfirst into the powerful, Springsteen-esque Get Better, a defiant anthem of positivity. ‘Rejoice, rebuild, the storm has passed!’ exclaims Frank on current single The Next Storm. Love Forty Down is an anthem of perseverance when the cards are stacked against you and Out of Breath is comfortably Frank’s fastest and punkiest anthem to date.

That said, the album is not completely upbeat, and album closer Song For Josh is a heartbreaking tribute to Josh Burdette, of Washington DC’s 930 Club, who committed suicide in 2013. It does, however, ram home the message of the album – life is short.


Whilst Frank is reluctant to agree with my statement that PSFNP could well be the definitive Frank Turner album – his ‘Nevermind’ if you will – he does admit that ‘it somehow feels like it might be the conclusion of a certain phase of my songwriting and album-making career’. It was recorded live in nine days and this comes across in the production.  This is the sound of Frank’s gigs: once communal sing-alongs in pubs, now arena-sized events with tens of thousands of die-hard fans screaming every word.

Album aside, before his upcoming tour, there’s the small matter of his Reading and Leeds sets. Frank headlines the Festival Republic stage 10 years after his first performance there. This looks set to be incredibly special, and the tiny tent will no doubt be packed to the rafters with fans he’s picked up during his previous nine performances at the festival. 

“God damn it’s great to be alive.”

Positive Songs for Negative People is out on Friday 7 August. Catch Frank Turner at Reading and Leeds Festival in August and on his UK headline tour in November

Live at Leeds 2014 preview

Live at Lee

I haven’t been up to Leeds in a little while, so I’m looking forward to heading up this weekend for the annual ‘Live At Leeds’ festival. The clue is in the title really, it’s a live music festival, it’s in Leeds. A £25 wristband gets you in to 25 venues in the city which, between them, have just about every genre of music covered – from death metal to commercial pop.

With this in mind, even moreso than traditional ‘camping’ festivals it’s practically impossible to make any sort of plan but I’ll definitely be catching ‘the world’s best bar band’ The Hold Steady close proceedings at 10.30pm on Saturday, and praying Frank Turner’s recently announced ‘secret’ set (time and venue TBC) won’t clash. Hopefully it won’t – Frank himself is a huge Hold Steady fan and even has a tattoo of the band – no doubt I’ll see him down the front!

Time permitting I’m also hoping to catch Chloe Howl and Ella Eyre, Los Campesinos, Royal Blood, Sam Airey, The Fat White Family and Women’s Hour – purely because that’s arguably the best band name I’ve ever heard. Tickets are £25 and you can find out more information here – www.liveatleeds.com

Upon returning, no doubt I’ll largely be harping on about the new album Earthwalker from Australian hardcore/metal five-piece In Hearts Wake – I’m currently sworn to secrecy until Monday!

Until next time!

Frank Turner @ The 02 – Preview

frank o2

I have seen Frank Turner perform live more times than any other artist. This is, of course, in part, due to his relentless touring schedule, but, equally, because he’s a bloody amazing live act and I rarely want to miss a gig!

It feels the right time then, on the eve of Frank’s biggest ever UK date, to compile a Top 10 of my favourite FT performances to date. (These are biased towards Leeds, since this is where I lived for my first few years of FT fandom!)

1. Leeds Brudenell Social Club, 31st March 2008.
The day his 2nd album Love Ire and Song came out, the first time many hear Long Live The Queen, a tribute to Frank’s late friend Lex. Not many dry eyes in the Brudenell that night. For me, subsequent Brudenell shows were always in this one’s shadow.

2. Wembley Arena, 13th April 2012.
FT becomes an arena artist, albeit one most people have never heard of. I could not believe it when this was announced, and still don’t know how he managed it. FT fans from all over the UK take the pilgrimage and pay an absolute bargain of £25 for WEMBLEY. I’m living in North London at this point anyway but wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

3. Leeds Student Radio, 21st October 2008.
Had to sneak this one in here. Whilst running my student radio station, we got FT in to do a quick session and interview ahead of his date at the Cockpit. I suggested someone else do the interview, but our Head Of Music insisted there was nobody else as keen, so I gladly obliged.

4. Outside, then inside Leeds University, 15th May 2008.
Ahead of his set supporting The Holloways, a fire alarm forces the whole of the union outside on a hot summers day. FT brings his guitar with him. Next thing he’s performing acoustically to literally to hundreds of students who haven’t the faintest idea who he is. When the all-clear comes, he then blows his friends in The Holloways off Mine Bar’s tiny stage.

5. Leeds Santiago’s, 5th March 2011.
FT rejects ludicrous claims of ‘selling out’ by playing a series of tiny shows. Luckily I know the promoter of the Leeds date and we race up from London on the, erm, Megabus. FT is taking requests for charity donations. I ask for ‘Worst Things Happen At Sea’, put £20 in and end up on stage. After the gig we tell FT how we’d come up from London after we couldn’t get in to a Camden show the previous weekend, he seems genuinely touched.

frank leeds

6. Leeds Festival main stage, 23rd August 2013
As soon as Bring Me The Horizon leave the stage, the heavens open and everyone hides, apart from a committed core of FT fans getting positively drenched. None of this mattered at the time, obviously. I interview FT before the set and he tells me he’s about to announce an arena tour. I knew it was coming, but still couldn’t believe it.

7. BBC Maida Vale studios, 24th April 2013
The day it was announced that I was joining Kerrang!, I was also lucky enough to win 2 tickets to this, going out live on Radio 1. FT plays for half an hour longer than Radio 1 had allocated, and only stops because of a flight the band have to catch.

8. Reading Festival, 28th August 2011,
FT’s first main stage appearance, becoming the only artist to play every stage at Reading, an accolade unlikely to ever happen to anyone again. This is followed by a secret appearance in the ‘punk’ tent, ending with a rousing cover of Queen’s Somebody To Love.

9. Granary Square, 17th Dec 2013
FT teams up with Billy Bragg on a December lunchtime in aid of Shelter, performing mainly covers and FT tracks. I become a Billy Bragg fan.

frank kx

10. Olympic Opening Ceremony, 27th July 2012.
Ok, not the best FT performance, clearly – nobody knows who he is! But for the sheer WTF factor, this HAS to be in there. (Disclaimer – I wasn’t actually there)

Not many artists can make it to arenas and stay there. Indeed, Frank has said himself that he doesn’t think he can stay at this level. Personally, I’m not so sure. It’s not like he has just appeared at the 02 overnight, it’s taken years of hard graft during which he has developed the most enviable of fan bases, and its still growing.

Whatever happens, one thing’s for sure. ‘TONIGHT I’m going to play it straight, I’m going to take my chance, I want to dance’. See you at the 02!

Meeting Jared Leto


Last week I caught up with Mr 30 Seconds To Mars himself, Jared Leto. I was particularly excited about this since I think his forthcoming film Dallas Buyers Club is comfortably one of the best films I have ever seen, without exaggeration.

The film is about a group of dying AIDS patients who are forced to take unapproved anti-viral drugs not available in the USA, provided by Matthew McConaughey. Jared plays the part of Rayon, a transgender, drug-addicted woman who strikes up an unlikely friendship with McConaughey, despite his initial homophobic tendencies.

I also asked Jared about a number of recent articles suggesting that rock music is dying. He was particularly passionate about this so I included his full response in the interview.

Talking of transgender issues, if you have not checked out the latest Against Me! record, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, you are missing an absolute beast of a record. In equal parts dark, disturbing, shocking, brutally honest but yet euphoric at the same time. They are one of my all-time favourite bands, but personally I found their last record White Crosses to be quite bland and samey, dare I say it, quite MOR, so it’s an absolute pleasure to see them re-gain their inner anger. We live in an age now where bands struggle to stand out from each other and anything even slightly controversial has either been done before or just comes across as rather desparate publicity. It’s heartwarming, then, to be championing a band with a transgender frontwoman screaming lyrics like ‘You’ve got no c*nt in your strut, you’ve got no ass to shake’ and ‘They just see a f*ggot, they hold their breath not to catch the stick’, essentially releasing the first genuinely controversial and confrontational rock album in years.

Here is the single ‘Black Me Out’ (interestingly the last song on the album – has that ever happened before?!)

Elsewhere on the show, Renee from The Alex Baker Show was horrified to find that I didn’t know my shoe size, a source of much amusement to her and fellow K! presenter Jake Thomson.

Gig-wise, I’m looking forward to skanking my mind out to the Less Than Jake/Reel Big Fish/Zebrahead show at the Islington Academy, and Frank Turner’s biggest ever UK date at the 20, 000 capacity 02 Arena. More on that later in the week.

Singles of the Year – 2013

As ever this list has been an absolute nightmare to compile. The fact that Nine Inch Nails’ Come Back Haunted, Lady Gaga’s Applause, Kanye West’s Black Skinhead and life-affirming singles from the likes of Hatebreed, Bring Me The Horizon, Tegan and Sara and Chrvches did not get a look in is testament alone to how much great music has come out this year. Special mentions must also go to Alter Bridge’s Addicted To Pain and Disclosure’s White Noise for just missing out.

1. Frank Turner – Recovery

Lead single from Frank’s fourth album Tape Deck Heart. Well worth getting absolutely drenched at Leeds festival for.
And I’ve been dipping in my darkness for serotonin boosters, cider and some kind of smelling salts…

2. Deaf Havana – Boston Square

From their game-changing, 3rd album Old Souls, my album of the year hands down.
But I guess I was wrong. All I am is wrong these days…

3. Hacktivist – Paris

Because the only thing this Jay-Z/Kanye West track was missing, was some beefy guitars and a load of breakdowns the RAC wouldn’t know what to do with.
You know how many sick trainers I own?!

4. Fall Out Boy – My Songs Know What You Do In The Dark

Highlight of a triumphant return nobody would have predicted, and many didn’t realise they needed.
I’m on FIRAAAA!!

5. Max Raptor – England Breathes

This Daily-Mail hating four-pice are arguably the best British punk band right now – and this takes no prisoners.
We are now taking over it.

6. AFI – 17 Crimes

Spectacular return to form for the Californian four-piece. Lead single from the natural successor to 2003’s Sing The Sorrow, Burials.
Let’s love, and kill like 17 now.

7. Limp Bizkit – Ready To Go

Featuring Cash Money labelmate Lil’ Wayne on vocals, with one riff Wes Borland demonstrates the Bizkit aren’t going anywhere, anytime soon.
I’m so pokerfaced, ladies going gaga.

8. Avenged Sevenfold – Shepherd of Fire

First track from their UK No. 1 album Hail To The King, crushing any doubts about their ability to join rock’s premier league.
Know me by name, shepherd of fire!

9. Manic Street Preachers – Rewind The Film

Epic six and a half minute ode to youth and life, featuring a vocal lead from Richard Hawley.
I want to see my joy, my friends…

10. Paramore – Still Into You

One of four stupidly catchy singles this year from the Tennessee four-piece’
I should be over all the butterflies…

Reading & Leeds 2013


As mentioned earlier I’m heading to Leeds Festival this weekend. A Friday night spent at Kenwood House in London watching Suede means I’ll miss Nine Inch Nails, but there’s plenty else I’m raring to see.

If you’re heading down make sure you wake up early on Sunday (Friday at Reading) for Decade. They’re a five piece ‘post-hardcore’ band from Bath with hooks that will get stuck in your head for days. I’ve been playing them on the Kerrang! Chart for a couple of weeks now and they’re opening up proceedings on the Lock Up/Rock stage. Check out the video for ‘Never Enough’ below.

Also, there’s a handful of other great R&L warm-up gigs this week if you’ve been lucky enough to get tickets – primarily Green Day tonight at Brixton Academy (supported by the excellent, Frank Turner) and Bring Me The Horizon at, ahem, a tattoo parlour in London. The latter is so over-subscribed that even their PR guy told me he his only chance of getting tickets was by entering a competition! If you’re there, you have my envy.

See you at Leeds!

The Day The Whole World Went Away

Nine Inch NailsNine Inch Nails, The Scala, 20/8/2013: Review

You don’t really need me to tell you how good this gig was – you know the story. Nine Inch Nails are an incredible live band. They possess a frontman capable of delving deep into his unconscious to deliver some of the most intense performances known to man. They boast an enormous back catalogue covering everything from metal, industrial, goth, disco, to glam, pop. dance and everything in between and they’re back after a six year hiatus with an album that promises a spectacular return to form, playing a TINY venue as a Reading and Leeds warm-up. Needless to say, tickets sold out in minutes and people were practically selling their mother to get in. All of that is patently obvious.

BUT what I didn’t see coming was an epic light show that wouldn’t look out of place in an arena, a brutal cover of David Bowie’s (NIN-esque) ‘I Believe In Americans‘, a surprisingly talkative Trent Reznor, a brutal moshpit for Terrible Lie, and (however many times you’ve seen it before, it never ceases to surprise) the sight of grown men crying to the dark balladry of Hurt that gets you every single time. Epic.

Of course, this was just a warm-up for the madness to come this weekend at Reading and Leeds Festival. Their previous performance, in 2007, was so captivating that frankly, The Smashing Pumpkins were blown off stage, and I certainly don’t envy Biffy Clyro this weekend. Unfortunately I’ll have to miss this, as I’m heading to Suede at Kenwood House on Friday, but I’m heading up to Leeds on Saturday and looking forward to checking out Frank Turner, Deaf Havana, Bring Me The Horizon, Twin Atlantic, Chase and Status and Eminem (in that order!).

(Re NIN, Cleverly I turned up 20 minutes before showtime which meant I was literally right at the back with no chance of moving, so the above pic is sadly the best I could do!)