Frank Turner is a rare species of musician who perfectly manages to juggle beautiful song-writing, strong showmanship and relentless tours. Prior to his 1,999th show at Portsmouth Guildhall, we sat down to have a chat.
“It’s been a really long year,” Frank said as he ripped open a chocolate bar. “Sorry, I’m just really hungry. In the last couple of days it feels like 2016 is catching up with me a little bit. We have two more gigs to go on the tour though which is exciting.”
Frank was a bundle of energy and exhaustion, claiming that he hadn’t really considered that he’d be playing his 2,000th show the next day until two hours previous – the perks of a busy lifestyle.
The 2,000th show was huge. Playing at “the best venue in the world”, Rock City in Nottingham, he invited Beans on Toast and The Tailors to play; The Tailors being Frank’s favourite band from a decade ago, who had reformed just to play on this night, with Frank himself on guitar.
The show also served as a touching tribute – “My friend, Nick Alexander, was killed at Bataclan a year and a bit ago in the terrorist attack. Everyone knew Nick. He was a merch guy who worked for every event and the venue recently named their merch area ‘The Nick Alexander Office’. Nobody asked them to do it, they just did it because that’s the kind of shit they do”.
No one can question the epithet that Frank has been given as a ‘hard-working’ musician, especially now he has reached his 2,000th show. But this man has much more to show than the sheer number of gigs he’s played.
Donning the attitude that “It’s possible to work hard and still be shit,” Frank said “I think the songs are more important.”
“The core of what I do is much more about the performance. It’s more about the live show and that’s my strong suit if you like.”
But whilst Frank’s lyrics are honest and relatable to his fans, he writes from the heart. “I don’t really write with an intended effect in mind, I just try and write good songs.”
Commenting on Positive Songs for Negative People he said “I was certainly at a time in my life where I’d been through a rocky patch and I wanted to celebrate not giving in to that… I tend to write autobiographically and in a confessional style.”
This style has now transferred from music to film. Get Better: A Film About Frank Turner was released in cinemas on the previous night, for one night only. Frank described the release a kind of relief; “it covers a particularly uncomfortable topic and these times in my life.”
The impact of his non-stop lifestyle meant that Frank wasn’t particularly nervous prior to the film’s release. He commented: “I don’t really have time in my days to think about this. I started getting nervous yesterday afternoon. There’s just too much other shit to do.”
Frank shows no sign of slowing up with four nights at London’s Roundhouse planned in 2017 under the Lost Evenings banner. As part of the festival, Frank revealed that they’re trying to get people from lower income backgrounds in the music industry, including interns shadowing the crew, workshops, and discussion panels.
But for now? Frank only has eyes for Christmas dinner. “My mum makes the best f**cking gravy in the world. Hands down. No discussion. Even when I was a vegetarian a long time ago – and I was a terrible vegetarian – I still made exception for my mum’s gravy because it was so good.”
Frank Turner plays the Roundhouse on the 12th – 15th May 2017.