Frank Turner: “Bruce Dickinson Is Entitled To His Opinion”
Frank shares details about his new album and defends his controversial interview with the Iron Maiden frontman…
By Georgina Langford
Frank Turner – you know, the one with the guitar, who played some folk-punk songs during the London 2012 Opening Ceremony – put the cat amongst the pigeons earlier this year when he interviewed his hero, Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden, and the metal frontman had some ‘interesting’ statements to make about punk rock. MTV UK caught up with Frank to get his take on that interview, to find out where he’s at with his new album, his September tour and his headline appearance at new festival, On Blackheath.
MTV UK: Hi Frank. Are you a fan of Massive Attack, who are your co-headliners for On Blackheath?
Frank Turner: Yeah I am and it is bizarre - in an excellent way - to see my name written on the same line as theirs on the line up. They’ve been around for a million years, and I mean that in a positive way! So I feel a bit weird about being put on the same level as them.
MTV UK: After the kerfuffle over Metallica playing Glasto this year, it’s clear that people get very fussy about having the ‘right’ people on a festival bill.
Frank Turner: People are more bothered about line-ups than they should be. Just this summer, I played at Sonisphere festival, and beforehand people said to me, ‘Ooh, aren’t you a bit worried about the crowd reaction?’, and of course if loads of people start saying that, then you start thinking, ‘Should I be worried? Are we going to get loads of angry Anthrax fans throwing things at us?’ Actually, it was absolutely fine; everybody was cool with us playing, and everybody had a nice time. I’m sure there were some people there who aren’t into what I do, but do you know what they did? They went and did something else for 45 minutes.
MTV UK: Apparently, there’s going to be lots of interesting food at On Blackheath, not just chips and soggy burritos. What’s your post-show snack of choice?
Frank Turner: My band and I get a post-show pizza delivered to the dressing room. That’s one of my little tour traditions.
MTV UK: Are you still veggie?
Frank Turner: No! Also, side note: I don’t read my own Wikipedia page, but I can always tell when something has changed on there; it’s like I can feel a disturbance in ‘the force’. Suddenly people start talking about something more in interviews… Between the ages of about 16 to 25 I was straightedge and vegetarian. But someone must have recently added that fact to Wikipedia, because I posted a picture on Instagram the other day with a caption saying how hungover I was, and I got loads of comments saying, ‘Hold on, I thought you were teetotal?’ I don’t understand it, I’ve written five records about drug abuse – and of course how it’s a terrible thing - but I mean, Recovery?! What part of that word did you miss?! It just seems bizarre that people could have missed the fact that I’m definitely not teetotal or vegetarian at this point.
MTV UK: On your forthcoming September tour of the UK, you are playing in some smaller towns and cities, when you know you can fill stadiums. Why is that?
Frank Turner: I wanted to go to the slightly more out-of-the-way places – I grew up in Winchester, which isn’t on the main touring route for bands, so I had to travel for a lot of the shows I wanted to go to. The entitlement of people who live in big cities (where bands always play) gets annoying. Kids should get on a train, have an adventure, go somewhere they haven’t seen before; it makes the show so much more memorable. Announcing this tour has made me realise how bad most people’s geography of the UK is… I got annoyed enough to send someone a train timetable the other day, because they are moaning that we aren’t playing their city, but one of our venues is an EIGHT MINUTE train journey from where they live.
MTV UK: You are constantly on tour, but do you ever miss normal ‘home’ things like having a dog?
Frank Turner: The fact that I can’t have a dog is my absolute, number one main regret about my lifestyle choices. In fact it’s almost the only thing that I regret about what I do for a living. Because I f**king LOVE dogs.
MTV UK: How do you maintain your friendships when you are out on the road so much?
Frank Turner: Tour life is normality for me now. My friends all know what I do for a living; they know that I’m not going to be around all the time. Anybody who I end up dating knows the deal when they meet me, and my mum knows the deal. This is just my life. Without getting too mopey, I had a really rough time with my family growing up; various friends of mine really helped me, and therefore friendship is a very important value to me.
MTV UK: Speaking of which, after your controversial interview with Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden earlier this year, do you still believe that ‘there’s no such thing as rockstars’?
Frank Turner: A lot of people were really p**sed off at Bruce Dickinson after we did that. And yeah, he said some s**t that I disagree with, but with someone like Bruce Dickinson, he’s been touring since 1980 in one of the biggest bands in the world; he’s entitled to an opinion, and he’s entitled to say it out loud. That being said, I stand by my original statement. I still don’t think anyone deserves special consideration by virtue of ‘being a musician’.
MTV UK: With your fanbase growing all the time, around the world, who are you talking to with your new album?
Frank Turner: It’s a little early to say because I haven’t finished writing, but currently, the theme of this record is picking yourself up and dusting yourself off. The tornado has gone and the sun has come out, the town has been destroyed but the shutters are opening, and the family are coming out. So it’s a case of ‘everything’s f**ked, but we are still alive, so what next?’ I had a pretty terrible year last year and I survived it; I got a lot of help from people I care about; so there’s a fair amount of, ‘Thanks guys, I know I was a bit of a nightmare for a while’. Tape Deck Heart was something that I needed to get out of my system, but it’s quite liberating having done that album and now not having to talk about heartbreak and personal failings and f**k-ups anymore.
Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls tour the UK this September, including On Blackheath festival, on 14 September 2014