Frank Turner: An Interview

Following the split of Million Dead in 2005, Frank Turner has since enjoyed a hugely successful solo career, accompanied by The Sleeping Souls. His music retains influences from his hardcore punk past, which he revisited last year with a side project, Möngöl Hörde.  Since 2007, Turner has released 5 studio albums, including the hugely successful ‘England Keep My Bones’ and ‘Tape Deck Heart,’ which peaked at No.2 in the UK. We caught up with him ahead of a highly anticipated return to the main stage at Reading & Leeds 2013:

You once said in an interview for ‘New Beats Media’ that you’d write a song about Simon Cowell’s hair – is this on its way?

Ha. I think it’s safe to say I was being flippant on that score. I don’t think the world needs any more attention paid to Simon Cowell.

When  you tour with ‘The Sleeping Souls’, to what extent do you call the shots both musically and otherwise?

Uh, I’m definitely the boss but it’s not a total dictatorship. Everyone throws ideas in and we are all working for the same outcome, namely good music and good shows. We have been a travelling unit for about five years now so we have a pretty good and settled way of working. I love the guys. At the end of the day I have a power of veto but I very rarely need to use it.

Do you have any musical idols we don’t know about?

It depends who you know about. London Wainwright III and Townes Van Zandt are lesser known people that I draw from a lot. Also the Weakerthans.

Much of your music has an intimate, story-telling feeling – how do you preserve this atmosphere on such a large stage?

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to maintain a sense of intimacy on a larger scale, and in the end I suspect the trick is to do nothing much. The temptation is to change up what you do when the context changes. But actually it’s still the same basic ideas. Simple songs about real people. Or something like that.

Although you’ve declared yourself a ‘classic liberal’, an erroneous article you wrote for The Guardian that stated you held right wing views led to death threats. Is this sort of misunderstanding always a danger to musicians who use political themes in their music?

It’s a danger to people who hold countercultural and unfashionable political ideals. It’s very easy to spout a certain kind of “protest” boilerplate and everyone will cheer and nod appreciatively and no analytical thought occurs. If you actually say something you mean, something unusual, people get very hot under the collar.

You’re appearing at Reading & Leeds this year with some brilliant bands. Who are you most excited to be playing alongside?

The Deftones. I’ve loved that band for a long, long time.

Why should people come and see Frank Turner at the festival?

Because I like to think that the band and I put on a pretty good live show which involves the whole audience. Something like that.

What does the future hold for Frank Turner?

Much touring, including a big UK tour which we are announcing the day after Reading and Leeds.


With a new tour on the brink of being announced (you heard it here first – probably), the future looks exciting for Turner and his fans. So long as you weren’t hoping for that song about Simon Cowell. Make your way to the main stage to see what he’s been working on.


Frank Turner will appear on the Main Stage at Reading (Friday) & Leeds (Saturday). Check out our guide to that day here.


Author: Tim Higgins

CFO/Music Correspondent Tim spends every moment he possibly can going to gigs and loves finding small venues with a great atmosphere.