FRANK TURNER HAS A READING CLOSING NIGHT HEADLINE SLOT ON HIS WISH LIST, BUT FIRST THERE’S A BRAND NEW ALBUM TO DEAL WITH.
WORDS: ALI SHUTLER. PHOTOS: SARAH LOUISE BENNETT.
“It’s good to be back in the saddle,” starts Frank Turner. “There was a break and a lot of that was arguments over what to do with the album, but I won my fights. I won my battles with record labels and now, I’m just excited to be on tour with this record.” It’s the road that’s been his home for the past decade. “By my standards, I’ve had a fair amount of time off the road in the last year,” he offers. “Part of it was working on the record and part of it was, at the end of the ‘Tape Deck Heart’ tour, there was definitely a feeling shared everyone in the band that, ‘Wow, we’re nearly dead.’
“There’s a certain degree of bravado in my tour schedule and I realised the only person who really gave a fuck about it, was me. What is the point in sacrificing yourself on the altar of your own ego? That’s ridiculous. We have resolved to take it a little bit easier but I’m very excited to get back on tour, from Reading [& Leeds Festival] I’m going to be out for at least a year. Reading to Reading would be an interesting one,” he ventures. ”Ready? Go.”
“I first went [to Reading] in 95 so it’s definitely changed. In some ways it’s bigger, in some ways it’s not,” he explains before pausing. “That makes this 20 years, which hadn’t occurred to me until just now,” the dawning realisation taking him aback. “I’m getting old,” he exhales with a certain degree of melodrama.
“With all due respect to Glastonbury, when I was a kid there was definitely Reading kids and Glastonbury kids and it was quite the social divide, Glastonbury kids were generally people interested in getting wasted and the vibe while Reading kids were into seeing the following bands in the following order. I was definitely more on the Reading side of that divide, so there’s an allegiance to it on that level.
“Reading isn’t cool in the way that Glastonbury is and that’s part of the reason I like it. I feel like that myself, I’ve never been particularly cool, I don’t think I ever will be and that’s fucking fine,” he adds with a smile. “It’s got a slightly nerdy quality about it.”
Frank appearance at this year’s festival makes it nine appearances in nine years, which is an impressive run. “Over the years we’ve had a steady ascent, which is nice. I played three of four years in a row, it went well and it just kind of turned into a thing. It was already kind of ridiculous how many years in a row I’d done and the guys at Reading took us to one side and said, ‘It’s fine, just keep playing. You’re welcome back anytime’.”
It’s an offer Frank’s looking to hold on to. “Hopefully we’ll go to ten years next year. This year’s a slightly weird one. I think we’re planned for something quite big next year so they’re putting me on ice this year,” he says shaking his head. ”Putting me on ice, I’m headlining a stage, what a ridiculous thing to say. It’s going to be a solo show, which will be fun. I’m grateful to be invited and people generally come to whatever stage I’m playing so it’s all right.”
He’s played practically every stage at the festival but there’s one slot he’s still got an eye on. “Fuck yeah, headlining Sunday night,” he fires back immediately with a smirk. “Of course there’s a little bit of nerves but I’m quite proud of this record,” Frank ventures of ‘Positive Songs For Negative People’. “I think it’s what I wanted to do,’ he adds.
“I just wanted it to be more raw and in your face this time round. With ‘Tape Deck Heart’, we got really lost in a studio and it seemed like an interesting thing to do. I’m always trying to change up what I do, every time I do it. I always think it’s important to go out of your comfort zone because nothing good comes from being in your comfort zone, but there are parts of ‘Tape Deck Heart’ I would do differently in retrospect, shall we say. This time I wanted to capture the sound of me and The Sleeping Souls playing live, which is something we haven’t done before. Hopefully we’ve done it but it’s not really for me to say.”