Frank Turner may very well be one of the busiest men in the music industry, having achieved more in the last year or so than a lot of people can boast in a lifetime. Along with the upcoming release of his fifth full length album Tape Deck Heart, he has performed at the 2012 London Olympic Games, began working on an exciting new side project, Mongol Horde, and is currently preparing to make his way around the globe with his new album, from the US to China, before arriving down under in April. Killyourstereo.com recently caught up with the musician to have a chat about the new record, and find out how he juggles his busy schedule.
So, I gather at the moment you have just finished recording and mixing Tape Deck Heart, are you pleased with the result?
This time around we had the opportunity to work with Rich Costey, the producer who is a fantastically talented man, and I feel like he dragged the best out of me, kicking and screaming, if you know what I mean.
Can you give me any hints as to what direction you took in comparison to your last album – is it dramatically different – have you taken any risks this time round?
It is different from the last one, I’m not normally interested in repeating myself, but at the risk of sounding like I’m dodging the question, I feel like I am too close to it to talk about it from the outside. My nose is up against the grindstone, I think it’s a good record, and I’m very pleased with it, I think it sounds great, but I’m a bit too close to it right now.
I’ve heard you’re doing some work on a hardcore side project at the moment, Is this true?
Yeah, it’s a band called Mongol Horde. Basically It’s me playing with my buddy Dan and yeah it’s really good fun. It’s not the sort of thing that I normally do. Hopefully we are going to get a record made and put out soon, but I don’t want it to get lost in the noise, if you know what I mean.
I also am aware you have an extensive history in the realms of heavy music, has that in any way influenced the way you approached your new album?
No, not in the sense that I suddenly started writing heavier over softer songs. The one thing that I think that it did have an impact on was that, with my other stuff I kind of had six months agonising over every syllable and it’s so completely thought over and planned. But what’s different about Mongol Horde is that we wrote our first ten songs in one rehearsal and there was a definite spirit of just, like, ‘fuck it! Let’s do whatever, It doesn’t matter.’ Musically and lyrically it was just kind of like, the first thing that comes into your head, almost.
And, how much of a part does your accompanying band, The Sleeping Souls, have to play in the new album – or is it more of a solo effort this time round?
Tape Deck Heart is definitely a band effort, and I am very pleased to say that. It’s really good, and I feel like, as a group, it’s a really weird balance in that we are not a band, but its not quite a solo act either. It has taken a long time to get into the right kind of balance. The guys in the band are a very important part, but at the same time it is still my record.
So, in your past work, you have often written with England and your heritage as a prominent influence in your song writing, how much does this feature in Tape Deck Heart?
No, and what a joy that is too. The whole thing about England Keep My Bones was that I fulfilling a need to address the subject matter and to get it out of my system. This record is not about England at all – I’m not bound to England at all. Subject wise, Tape Deck Heart is a very raw, very personal, introspective kind of record, and that is partly because of where I am in my life right now. Also, I have this theory that bands often cease to be interesting as they go on because they get too considered about who is going to listen to what they do. But to me, the reason firsts records are always really good is because you write it in your bedroom where you imagine no one will ever hear it, and I tried really hard to recapture that, and write a record like that. Even so, I’m slightly paranoid right now about who is going to hear what part of what songs., and what they’re going to think about it.
So, you’re just on the cusp of going on tour with Tape Deck Heart, from the US, to Australia and China – that’s a really long way to go! As a performer, do you consider touring as a large part of what you do?
It is really integral to what I do, and I really enjoy getting out of the studio, as much as it’s cool to make an album and all the rest of it, I’m more slightly agonised over the fact that what you make in the studio is permanent, and it all goes on tape and that’s what people will hear forever. What I like about live is that I get the chance to reinvent songs, and sound and everything, so yeah it is a really big part of what I do. And also, I’m proud to call myself I live performer. I think that me, and my voice put on a really great show and I always have a really good time.
Do you find that your persona on stage is different to how you are as a person, or are you as much yourself as possible on stage?
In principle, I don’t have a persona. But when you’re on stage, in front of people, it isn’t quite the same as talking to someone at the pub. But, I still try as be as honest as possible.
We are greatly anticipating your return to Australia in April, is there anything in particular you are looking forward to about heading down under?
Just the whole thing really, I’ve been many times and I’m very excited about coming back here. We’ll being doing a tour with Dropkick Murphy’s, we have done a few tours with them before, and its going to sound like I say this every time but they are my favorite band to tour with.
So, is there anything else in particular you want our readers to know that we haven’t covered?
I’m just really excited to be back in Australia again. I really want to go and see The Smith Street Band again, because they are a great bands, so I’ll be seeing them again as well.
Alright, well thank you so much for your time, Frank, I’m sure I’ll catch you when you come to Australia in April.
Thank you, I’ll see you then.