Frank Turner’s career has reached all kinds of highs lately, with arena tours and hit albums, he’s turned himself into a household name. We caught up with him as he was headlining Y Not Festival in Derbyshire, just down the road in the East Midlands.
Your upcoming tour is hitting slightly smaller venues than your last arena tour (Frank comes to Leicester’s De Montfort Hall on 12 September). Do you miss the days of playing small intimate venues?
It’s a hard one because I do love those small, sweaty gigs, but a lot of the time when we’re touring around the world we’re still playing in those small places. We only went on to playing bigger venues because more people wanted to come to the shows and getting the chance to do that is incredible.
You’re very accessible to your fans, inviting them to email you on your website. What’s the weirdest email you’ve ever had?
Oh god! Haha. I have had some really weird shit on there. I don’t want to name anything specific because some of the things I’ve had come through have come from people with real issues, but let’s just say I’ve definitely had some fucking weird requests. I try to reply to as many as I can, that’s why I put it up there. I’m not going to tell people they can email me and then not bother to reply.
As your career has developed who is the person or what’s the worst thing you’ve encountered in the music industry?
I mean I feel really fucking privileged to do what I do and I meet a lot of people. I don’t want to slag anyone specific off but yeh I guess I could say I’ve probably sat backstage at V Festival and thought “wow you’re a fucking dick” about a few people. There are some great people in the music industry too though. I’ve worked all through the industry as a techie and roadie so I know what it’s like to be working at all levels. It’s tough at times but totally worth it.
What’s on your festival rider?
Not much you know. You get those bands who have these ridiculous crazy riders but I don’t fucking buy that, who needs all that shit? I do always ask for whisky though. It’s a bit of a tradition that before we go on stage the band and me we all do a shot of whisky.
Do you have any highlights of shows you’ve played in Leicester over the years?
Yes! I’ve played some great shows in Leicester. Definitely the one that stands out was a few years ago on tour we played at the O2 Academy in Leicester and I’d been really ill and my voice was shot. We’d been struggling and then I remember getting on stage in Leicester and it just worked. When you’re a singer and rely on your voice, suddenly losing it is your worst nightmare so to get to Leicester and everything fall into place that was a highlight of the tour.
What’s your next goal?
The new album! We’re heading into the studio and I’m really excited about the new record. I mean, it’s the sixth album and I know nobody really gives a fuck about your sixth album. First album, yeh, second, sure, but sixth I don’t expect anyone to care but I’m fucking excited about doing it.
Who’s your hero – musical and otherwise?
I don’t know about hero but there are definitely people who inspire me. I’ve been reading a lot of stuff lately by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who is a Somali writer. Seriously if you haven’t read anything, make sure you look up her stuff! Also people like Henry Rollins too.
Musically, it has to be Springsteen or Dylan. Both I guess. Musically they’ve both had an impact on me and what I’ve done. I’d find it hard to choose between the two. Although what I love about Springsteen is that when you go and see him play he seems really fucking grateful that you’re there. He really appreciates it and he puts on a fucking show. With Dylan, I sometimes feel like he’s not so bothered about the audience, he’s just playing his songs whatever, and so I’ve probably taken more from Springsteen.
As your music has become more commercially popular do you find a sense of responsibility that kids look up to you as a role model?
That’s a great question and one that I do not know how to answer!! My first reaction is to say no, fuck it, I’m a musician and I write songs, I’m not here to save the fucking world. But then the reality is these days that people do look to music to help them. I’m such a fuck up in life in every way outside of my music that I certainly don’t feel qualified to give advice to people but if my music can help someone get through something then that’s great.
Who’s the best person you’ve seen live this summer?
The Prodigy. Without a doubt. We were playing a festival in Germany that they were at too and we found out that our passes got us side of stage for their set. They blew my fucking mind. What a great fucking show. If you haven’t seen them live go. Or go again.
Cat or Dog? Dog
Favourite buffet item? Oh god, err… Olives. Green olives.
Favourite mealtime? Dinner
Favourite holiday destination? Oh… England. Is that boring? I love walking around the English countryside, beats anywhere for me!
Football or rugby? Rugby
What song do you want playing at your funeral? Haha oh I have actually thought about this and I actually want 2. I want Motion Picture Soundtrack by Radiohead and also this song called Sheep Go To Heaven by Cake. Have you heard it? It goes Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell. Yeh, I definitely want that!
Who would play you in a movie about your life? Well, I once got mistaken for Edward Norton by a Dutch hooker in a bar, so I guess him.
Favourite book? Catch 22
Frank Turner plays at De Montfort Hall in Leicester on 12 September 2014.