If there is one thing Frank Turner knows, it’s the road. Starting his touring life at the ripe old age of 16, Turner was in and out of England’s punk and hardcore scene for years. In 2003, his latest band called it quits, and Turner hit the road by himself. In true troubadour style, Turner toured and toured, developing his English folk style of music, but still retaining the intensity and passion from his punk rock days.
Turner’s latest release, ‘Poetry of the Deed,” which came out last September, reached 36 on the UK album charts, and his fanbase in the states has only grown with each tour
In March he will release a live DVD/CD, ‘Take To The Road,” which documents the maturation of Turner’s live sound and focuses on two sold-out headlining shows of the UK.
His solo career now booming, Turner is currently on tour across the U.S. supporting Flogging Molly, during which he was able to take a quick break (while en route to his next show in Baltimore) to answer a couple questions about his musical style, song writing and his never-ending touring trek around the globe.
How’s the tour been going so far?
Frank Turner: Pretty good. We’re out with Flogging Molly. It’s the first time I’ve been able to bring my band to the States, and that’s been pretty great. And Flogging Molly has very big crowds and that’s been going over very well so we’ve been having a lot of fun.
Is it weird being an English folk singer touring with an Irish-dominated group?
There’s been a couple of moments, not with the band at all. A couple of people have come up to me and told me that they liked me even though I was English. And I thought that was terribly cheerful of them.
Irish punk music is great, and the culture everyone getting their knees up and having a good time and getting drunk and dancing, you know? It’s very much something I’m into as well.
You said this was the first time you got to bring the full band to the States. Is there a difference for you playing live shows with a full band as oppose to playing solo?
It’s definitely a different experience. Playing on my own with just me and my guitar has always been kind of the main skeleton of what I do.
But with the last record I put out, with the full band, I kind of feel that’s the full experience of those songs.
And it’s much more of a rock show than when I play on my own. And it’s pretty different, but it’s been a really good feeling. I’ve been to the States quite a few times now and in the past it’s just been me on my own, and it’s kind of fun to show people over here what it’s like with the full band.
You mentioned your last album, “Poetry of the Deed,’ was the first time you took the whole band in the studio. Is that where you see your music progressing?
The thing about it is that basically we’ve reached the point where I got the line up for the band finalized, and they are all great players and everything, and good friends.
And we had reached the state where the live version of most of the songs off the first two records I did are in my opinion kind of superior to the recorded versions … so, it felt crazy to kind of end up in the same predicament again and have another album’s material where the live versions were superior to the recorded versions.
It felt like, you know, I had this tool in my armory and I might as well take advantage of it.
Is there any look at forming a full group or sticking with the Frank Turner name for the group?
We’ve been trying to come up with a ‘Frank Turner and the …” kind of thing. But, let’s say, there are five head strong individuals and we haven’t yet come up with a name … we’re working on it.
One of the reasons I’d like to do that is I’d like to make it clear that I’m not playing with a bunch of random hired hands, or people I met at Salvatore. This is the band I want to play with, this set lineup, and I don’t want to change anytime soon.
What are your upcoming touring plans?
When we finish the Flogging Molly tour, we’re heading straight back to a headline tour of the UK for two weeks, then three weeks in Europe, then back to the States for a few dates on the West Coast, the Coachella Festival, and then I’m going to Australia, and then New Zealand, and then back to the UK for some festivals.
My life is kind of essentially planned out until February next year. I’ve got a lot to be getting on with.
Never really a break in there, is there?
I’m not a believer in days off. I’ve got various other things in the pipeline as well. I’m trying to see if there is a way I can get the studio to record another album this year so we can get it out early next year.
I’m also trying to work on doing an album of traditional English songs, which I think would be a really fun idea to do. And then also trying to write a book, as well.
Do you have any favorite songs you like to perform in your concerts?
That’s a good question because it’s kind of like choosing between your children, you know what I mean?
To me a live show is about … I’m not all that perfect, I spend a lot of time picking set lists for most shows, but I’m not sort of artistically fresh about it.To me a live show is about everybody having a really good time and getting together and singing songs and it’s that kind of spirit that you have at really good shows.
I want to play the songs that are going to get people going. It’s always fast songs and stuff like that because then we get the whole crowd together.
For your songs, what kind of writing process do you have?
I’m really bad at talking about writing. I feel a bit like somebody just comes into the room with a body with somebody holding a bloody knife.
It’s like, I know I did this but I can’t really remember doing this. Songs just kind of arrive, and I seem to forget the process every time.
I don’t know, I’m still in the process of songs coming pretty thick and fast right now. I’ve got a lot of stuff I’m working on, and I’m hoping to get another record finished by the end of the year.
What do you enjoy most out of playing live?
I’m constantly surprised that you don’t see more people in bands saying this, but I just love playing, I love it, I love it. Everything about it, I love playing guitar and singing.
That’s not really an analytical answer, but there’s something about the whole process that just really makes me happy.
I’m never happier than when I’m on stage playing guitar in front of people.
Last question: Do you have any final words for your fans?
It’s a great thing about touring that you travel around the world and see cut up parts and dressing rooms, and the flip side of it that doesn’t get mentioned as much by the clich mongers is that you also get to meet people all over the world and hang out and find out how people live all over the world, and trust me I find that really, really fulfilling.
You can always find me wandering around at shows, so come and say hi and share a beer or something like that.
Turner will play Sunday, Feb. 28 at the Rochester Main Street Armory, opening for Flogging Molly. Tickets are $26, doors open at 6 p.m.
Clark is a member of the class of 2012.