Folk Punk troubadour Frank Turner starts his Australian tour on Saturday and will be joined by homegrown talent The Hard Aches and Emily Barker on his Be More Kind tour. Still celebrating his relatively new album, Be More Kind, represents a thematic and sonic line in the sand for the thirty-six year-old. It’s a record that combines universal anthems with raw emotion and the political and the personal, with the intricate folk and punk roar trademarks of Turner’s sound imbued with new, bold experimental shades. Produced by Austin Jenkins and Joshua Block, formerly of psychedelic-rock Texans White Denim, and Florence And The Machine and Halsey collaborator Charlie Hugall. Frank Turner speaks with Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles about the tour.
It must be a great way to finish off 2018 with an Australian tour?
It is going to be the first time in Australian in your summer, I’m very much looking forward to spending some time in shorts and a singlet going outside.
Are you saving the best for last in Adelaide?
Very much so, the Adelaide show should be a big ‘ole party as it has been a long slog of a year and Adelaide is the last show so we will be having some fun.
Do you remember the last time you played here at Fowlers Live?
I do, I know it has been a few years since I toured Australia and for that I do apologise but I do remember the Adelaide shows fondly.
I know you talked about this year being a slog of a year but has 2018 exceeded your expectations in terms of what you have achieved?
This is my seventh album, my seventh go at around the merry go round and that’s just solo records. It is funny, I come to the process now with a lot of forewarning or fore notice of how it is going to be. Nevertheless, the main thing for me to be an artist and doing a seventh record and doing some of my largest shows around the world is really quite odd. With every passing record I’m expecting the reality police to arrive and tell me that normality is about to be resumed and the rest of it. It is great to be here at thirty six talking about being at a good place in my career.
Was the fan response to the album like the cherry on top?
Definitely, for that same reason there is a degree of relief for me playing news songs and people getting in to them. With this record in particular with some new stylistic riffs and sounds I did that with open eyes. I was expecting some people to not necessarily feel that in to what I was doing. I think some people have not been in to the electronic elements we’ve got on this record. Generally speaking I have been pleasantly surprised with people dancing and jumping around while I have been messing around with drum beats and all the rest of it.
I was reading an article about when you wrote the album which was done at a time when you said that “the world has gone collectively nuts”. In your eyes do you think things have got better?
I think things haven’t got better, put it that way. I felt to me that 2016 was the year where there was a real fault line, perhaps because we’re talking about the election of Trump and Brexit in the UK and those sort of things. They haven’t been major dramatic events but the general culture and tone of our discourse is pretty low. My general theory on the root cause of all of this is to do with the communications revolution and the way we talk to each other on social media, you can’t uninvent it and it is a thing that we are handling quite badly and it has done terrible things to our discourse and eroded the centre ground. Politics has put a premium on this performative outrage rather than reasonable discussion. Nobody has worked out how to fix that.
Are you enjoying playing these new songs live and are they working well in the set?
It took some work to get some of the songs up and running because one the big differences in the studio this time around was that I decided not to spend any time thinking about whether we could play these songs live while we were in the studio. In the past with my band I’ve always had one eye on how we would play these songs live. This time around I decided to abandon that restriction and I’m very glad I did because it made for a much more interesting, diverse and ambitious record. Once we finished the album, we sat down, cool this song has three drum parts and eight piano parts, how the fuck do we play this live. There were some technological work arounds that we had to come up with and once we got that… great! Slipping the new songs in to the set list we’re able to go from a new song in to an old song.
Do you need to down tools an take a break before contemplating what you’ll do with the next album?
I’m quite the opposite, I’ve mostly finished writing the next record before I wrote Be More Kind when everything went nuts in 2016. I have this history concept record and I’m hoping to record that early next year, striking while the iron is hot. I’m ready to keep things moving on.
At the end of the tour in Australia do you get a few days off and like you said walk around in t-shirt/shorts and thongs before you go home?
We have a couple of days off here and there but this is a whirlwind trip and days off tend to be quite expensive for me as everyone is getting paid. Generally on tour I spend a lot of time not seeing places because I’m busy doing interviews, writing and all the rest of it. I try to make an effort not to be just travelling around the world and just seeing dressing rooms, car parks, hotels and airports. Hopefully I’ll have some time to stroll on beach and have a dip.
What does 2019 look like for Frank Turner?
My character is such is that I’m predisposed to being frantically busy all the time and I get bored very quickly. Having said that, this year 2018 has all been about touring and next year there is a fair amount of touring in there. I don’t think I’ll be quite as relentless as this year and I’ll spend more time recording and contemplating. My second book is being released next year in March and that’s something to look forward to. I’ve slowed down about, I have a house to go home to, a cat to go home to, a fiancé to go home to and that was in reverse order of importance so we do try and take a few more breaks than we used to when we were younger.
Interview by Rob Lyon
Catch Frank Turner on the following dates, tickets from