Interview by Shelley Te Haara
After announcing a couple of New Zealand shows as part of his Be More Kind World Tour, The Speakeasy was lucky enough to be able to
chat to Frank Turner ahead of his visit next month.
The Speakeasy: Hi Frank, thank you for your time. I want to start by saying congratulations on your engagement!
Frank Turner: Oh thank you very much. That’s very kind of you to say.
SE: Your most recent release is your album Be More Kind. It’s an incredible album. How did it feel releasing it and did
you expect it to be received as well as it has been?
FT: Every time you release a record it feel great because you spend so much time working on it. On the one hand it’s kind
of this feeling of relief that you’ve actually finished the damn thing and got it out in the public domain. There’s
always a kind of nervousness as well cause you know, whilst I try not to think about this while I’m making records
because it’s to try [and] serve my own artistic angst, I hope people like it. That seems important too. Of course this is my
seventh record. I’m occupying an unusual space in the industry, in the sense that I’m putting out my seventh record
and people are still paying attention. And actually this record has had better reviews than any record I’ve put out
before so that was a really really good feeling for me as well.
SE: Where did the idea for your Be More Kind cover art come from? It’s so simple and beautifully done.
FT: The thing is I’m the worst person at drawing in the world, I literally couldn’t draw you a stick man. So I had the idea
for the cover, I wanted it to be a line drawing and I wanted there to be some hands. I put it out to a couple of different
artists to see if people could come together for different ideas for it and Ben Rix, an artist from Swansea in Wales just
came back with the album cover and the minute I saw it I knew it was the album cover. After he did that one I was like
this is the guy I’m going to work with. So we talked through the songs and drew up designs for each song on the
record actually. Which I love, it’s kind of a beautiful suite of art work.
SE: You played The Tuning Fork on your last tour here and were meant to do that again, but it has been upgraded to The
Powerstation due to demand. Did you have any idea of what the reception might be for your return?
FT: I didn’t realise we were at the stage where all that upgrading stuff is happening. I’ve been there a few times in my life
and we’ve always had a good time but it’s lovely that there are more people interested in what I do.
SE: You’ve got The Hard Aches and Emily Barker supporting you at your Auckland show. I saw that you pick your
support acts for your tours, is that still true?
FT: Yes very much so. The Heart Aches, I’ve known them for a few years. They’re a fantastic band. Emily I actually met in
London and we’ve done loads of stuff together over the years but she is actually from Western Australia. So it’s kind
of nice to almost take her back home.
SE: You just played the last Warped Tour ever… How was your experience, particularly being your first Warped Tour?
FT: More than anything else it was a little sad to me because it’s the last one. I’ve been talking to Kevin Lyman about
doing the Warped Tour for so many years and for whatever reason, something else is always in my schedule or
whatever. Then this summer… suddenly it’s the last ever year so I had to do it. Honestly I grew up listening to
bands that were heavily influenced by Warped Tour every year. It’s an institution. It’s a legendary punk rock
institution. So I’m very glad I got to be a part of it. It was kind of these few days where it was like this is amazing and
then it was finished.
SE: I did the last 3 dates and it was pretty intense. I don’t know how people do the full run.
FT: Yeah I think I would have probably got sick of it after a bit so I probably lucked out that way.
SE: How is the second book coming along?
FT: I think I have a little bit more wisdom than when I did the first one. With the first book, when I sat down and agreed to
write a book I thought it was going to be an easy thing to do. You know I was like, “How hard could writing a book be?”
And the answer is really really hard. But the first one did well. The publishers were wanting another one so I just
finished my second draft. I think it’s very nearly there and hopefully it’ll be out early next year sometime. This time
around I was ready in a way that I wasn’t the first time.
SE: I have tattoos myself so I want to ask about yours. You previously mentioned tattoos are like stickers on a suitcase,
which is beautiful way to think of it. Do you have a favourite tattoo? Are there any that are super memorable for you?
Which one hurt the most for you?
FT: It’d be hard for me to pick a favourite one really, though I tend to enjoy the more recent ones. I got “Modern Leper”
on my wrists as a tribute to my buddy Scott Hutchison from Frightened Rabbit, who died earlier this year. We used to
sing that song together. Pain… well, each spot has its ups and downs. Actually my calf was pretty horrible, but I have
muscular issues down there which probably doesn’t help.
SE: I had heard your name before but I didn’t really know much about you until I listened to you on the podcast Lead
Singer Syndrome with Shane Told and there are a few people in our group who rave about you and your shows. I have a
couple questions asked by a couple of the synners. They ask:
Since you released Be More Kind have you experienced the same kind of reaction you’ve received in the past when
performing ‘Glory Hallelujah with Make America great Again?
FT: The reactions to both songs have been slightly different, mainly, I think, because MAGA is a song about current
events, while Glory is more broadly philosophical. Also, sadly, people are more polarised about politics now than
they generally are about religion. We have had a couple of walkouts on tour, and a few angry emails and tweets and
so on, but actually my favourite reactions have been from people I’ve spoken to at shows who have self-identified as
Trump supporters or Republicans and who have said that they could see where the song is coming from. That seems to
encapsulate what I was hoping for with the album as a whole, actually.
SE: Are you still working on the concept album about the women of history?
FT: Yup. Should be in the studio early next year actually.
SE: Why did you pick Jimmy Eat World to open on your UK tour early next year?
FT: Because they’re fucking awesome! I grew up listening to their stuff, we’ve become friends over time. I actually can’t
quite believe they said yes!
SE: Okay some random quick fire questions:
What are you currently listening to?
FT: Right now actually I’m in America and I’m on tour with a band called Bad Cop Bad Cop who are kind of an all-girl champed
punk band from California. They are absolutely amazing and I’m actually listening tot them everyday.
SE: If you could make up a rumour about yourself, what would it be?
FT: Well you know I’ve heard a lot of rumours about myself. Sometimes they’re shocking and sometimes they’re fine. Um I
guess I would start a rumour, have you ever watched the TV show Arrested Development?
FT: Yeah I would start a rumour that I was never nude.
SE: What’s one thing you can’t go on tour without?
FT: The answer to this is going to be boring and conventional. I can never go on tour without my laptop. I use my laptop
to write music, to record music, to write book stuff, to communicate with the world, all the rest of it. Like it would be a
fucking disaster if I didn’t have my laptop with me. I know that’s a boring answer to the question but it’s true.
SE: Do you have any strange or weird fan interactions?
FT: I mean yeah I have. I’ve been doing this a very long time and I always try to say hey to people after shows. I’ve seen
some pretty crazy tattoos. Seeing a portrait tattoo of yourself is a strange experience I have to say.
SE: I get lyrics but portrait just seems kind of intense.
FT: Well to be specific like I’m not dead yet you know what I mean. You don’t know what I’m going to say or do next, it
may be something that you don’t like.
SE: If I say New Zealand, you instantly think?
FT: My childhood best friend that I grew up with now lives in Auckland and the first thing I think of his him. When I go
there on tour we get to hang out again which is always a lovely thing.
We’re very stoked to be coming back to New Zealand. I know it’s been a couple of years so we are stoked and we’ll se