I recently sat down with Frank Turner for an interview when he was touring across Canada with the Gaslight Anthem.
How has touring with the Gaslight Anthem been treating you?
Itís been good, Iíve toured with them lots before. Iím on a bus this tour too, which makes everything easy and comfortable. The shows have been cool. Iíve been coming to places Iíve never been before, like Winnipeg for example. Iíve been having a really good time.
How would you compare the crowds to those in the UK?
Itís been great. The main difference is just that my bearings are better in the UK because Iíve been touring there longer. I started out in that country as opposed to Canada and the USA. But people have been really receptive and Iíve been making new friends every night.
Youíre opening the entire show too. Which song of yours do you think best represents what youíre all about?
A heartbreaking question. I donít know, off the top of my head Iím going to pick ďThe Road.Ē
Iím guessing you really played 24 shows in 24 hours for the music video?
Yeah, we actually did it and it was one of the most hellishly awful experiences in my entire life. It was fun in the end and Iím glad we did it because it made for a great video but after awhile, I just did not want to do it anymore, you know what I mean? But the live show was fun and a lot of cool people came out.
Moving back, has anything memorable happened on this tour during the last little while?
Yeah. Iíve been to Eastern Canada before, like Quebec and Toronto, but this is my first time in Western Canada. Vancouver was fun but I got absolutely destroyed and I succeeded in falling over and ripping out half of my knee whilst trying to find the tour bus. So that was pretty memorable, I left my knee in Vancouver. (Laughs) But you know, itís been fun, itís been interesting. I was really, really excited about coming to Winnipeg because Propagandhi and the Weakerthans are from there. Even though I wonít be seeing those guys, itís still cool to see the place where theyíre from.
Speaking of the Weakerthans, you signed with their label Epitaph. Iím assuming that was huge honour for you.
Yeah, it was really cool. It just came out of the blue. We didnít approach them, we being my label in the UK, they just approached us, which is like a dream come true. They just called me up and said ĎWe want to sign youí and I said ĎThatís cool.í Iím very happy so far, itís cool to be on the same label as the Weakerthans and also Nick Cave and others for sure.
You were on CNN recently too, what was the experience like?
It was pretty weird, but cool. The guy does lots of the music stuff for CNN, we hung out for a day and he was very nice. Itís funny, a friend of mine called me up and was like ĎWhat the? What were you doing on CNN?í It certainly spread the word.
What made you choose the Kerbdog song for Memoria: A Tribute to the Alternative 90ís?
Theyíre kind of like a bandís band, if you know what I mean? They werenít really all that successful but they still had an influence on some people. I think that they put out one of the best albums in the 90ís, it was absolutely amazing, somewhere between Nirvana and Rival Schools. The cover was certainly a lot of fun to do.
I was going through previous interviews and I read one where you compare punk rock to Catholicism. I thought that was an interesting statement.
Yeah, just because I think that itís something that sort of invades your life. When you get into it when youíre younger and grow up with it, itís kind of there no matter what youíre doing or where you go.
It sticks with you for life?
Yeah, theyíll probably get married to a Black Flag song or something like that. I feel like you can take the boy out of punk rock, but you canít take punk rock out of the boy. And also, the other reason why I think itís a good comparison is because there is a little bit of conflicting emotions sometimes, between the concept of punk rock and the people who make up the punk rock community. They can be total dicks on occasion. Like people back lashing against Gaslight for example because they did a song alongside Bruce Springsteen. Iím just like ĎWhat is your fucking problem?í I think people in the punk rock community can be in a hurry to be bitchy and I think thatís a very unattractive quality in my eyes. But you know, punk rock has still given me most of what I think and believe about the world, so Iím not going to bang it up too much.
How old were you when you discovered it?
I started listening to punk when I was 13 or 14, around then. I got into metal first, but then I ended up into punk rock.
In ďTry This At HomeĒ off of your latest record Poetry of the Deed you wrote ďThereís no such thing as rock stars.Ē Is that one of the main aspects that really appealed to you first?
Yeah. The first hardcore show I went to, I went to see Agnostic Front. Before that I only went to see Foo Fighters play to 2000 people. There were only 500 kids at this show but the thing that blew me away at that show which I will carry with me until the day I die was when the band was done playing. They just walked off stage into the crowd. The idea that people who were standing next to me were onstage earlier that night just totally blew my mind. It just totally made me fall in love with the idea straight away. Itís like, I want to talk to people about life and interact with people and you can do that at shows. Thatís so important to me and I think that is one of the best things Iíve gotten out of punk rock.
Some people were asking about that downloading blog you posted and want to know how you feel about people who donít use downloading as a ďfree lunch?Ē Like, theyíll download it, but if they like it, theyíll buy it right away?
The first thing Iíll say is that Iím not really familiar with the world of downloading. I donít know, but part of me is still slightly cynical that people do it and they donít buy the records afterwards.
Some people do though.
Thatís cool. The thing that I think didnít come across strongly enough in that blog is that the ways we talk about music, share music, discover music and everything is completely changing and thatís not a bad thing. I think we will reach a point where recorded music is essentially free but if that is going to happen, the other things have to change as well. That blog was not about how things are forever, it was just about how they are at this exact moment, you know what I mean? I donít really want to call people out but I travel around every day and it gets very frustrating when you get kids who have downloaded the album for free, they try to get on the guest list and then they come up and ask if they can have some free merch and all this kind of shit. Itís like, this is my life, you know? This is what I do for a living. And also within that, Iím not swimming in cash. I only get paid $200 for the show tonight, some of which goes to taxes. Plus Iíve got to pay for my flight, the gas for the bus, all this kind of shit. I donít make much money doing what I do. I donít care about that, Iím not complaining about that, but itís amazing to me the number of people who think Iím some kind of millionaire because they saw a video on TV or heard a song on the radio. Iím not rich, Iím never going to get rich doing what I do, and I donít want to get rich at what I do. Itís just protecting the small income that I have isnít unreasonable. It breaks my heart when people just take and donít give. But the good thing is I think many people donít do that. I pay to go to shows, I buy albums that I like and I think most people do too. Thatís great and I think the change will work itself out eventually but some people donít want to fucking contribute to something that theyíre taking a lot out of.
Aside from that issue, a lot of people wanted to know about Million Dead. Do you ever miss playing ďangrierĒ music?
Sometimes yes and I have thought pretty hard about doing other projects, in particular with Ben Dawson, who was the drummer for Million Dead. Iíd really like to play with him again. I think the first problem is just that I donít really have any time. At the moment Iím planning on touring all over until October next year so when Iím going to sit down and start recording heavier songs depends on that. I guess the other thing too is like hardcore, angry, heavy hardcore, can be some of the best music in the world. But if youíre not sincere with it, it very quickly turns into some of the worst music in the world, you know? Thereís nothing worse than a band whoís shouting and doesnít really mean it. And so I feel that if youíre going to play that type of music, you have to fucking mean it and Iím not as angry as I was when I was 21. I donít know, weíll see. Iíve got all of these excellent hardcore band names that I want to use up.
So if you did, youíd be starting an entirely new band? There is no hope for a Million Dead reunion?
No, thatís history. Iím sad to say, but itís not going to happen.
Lastly, Poetry of the Deed came out pretty quickly after Love, Ire & Song. Are you already thinking about new material?
Yeah, Iím writing like crazy at the moment. I actually have this idea where for the next record I might just do traditional English songs. I donít know about Canada, but American people know songs like ďWe Shall OvercomeĒ stuff like that. Nobody in England knows that, I didnít until I researched it. Itís a great song. Iíve been going through that sort of stuff listening to ballads and picking out ones I like. I think it would be really fun to do an album traditionally but either way, there will be another album soon enough.
I want to see this guy live so bad. He is friends with Look Mexico so I am hoping they can get him at one of their hometown shows. I still do not get how he can tour so much and still put out new good albums so fast.
i'm pretty sure Million Dead's drummer was Ben Dawson not Ben Sherman.
Fixed. There are parts of this interview that I had to contact him about after the fact because I couldn't 100% understand what he was saying on my voice recorder. I feel awful that I STILL made a mistake after all that. But I just sent it over again and he said "looks ace" so I'm hoping that is the case now finally... Thanks for the catch!