Frank Turner is by far THE hardest working man in the music industry, if you don't believe me, go and try to find someone who tours as much as he does, I bet you won't be able to come up with anyone!
Prior to the launch of his new release Songbook (due for release on November 24th) which includes 10 reworked classic tracks, we caught up with him to chat about the thought process behind the project, possible future dub-step remixes and what would be THE ideal gift to buy him for Christmas this year, read on to see how we got on....
Frank, I wanted to ask you HOW you managed to settle on the 18 tracks (19 with "There She Is") that makeup Songbook?
I'd been worried it would be difficult to choose, but actually it wasn't all that hard, in the event. There's a few obvious choices from a popularity or commercial point of view, and there were a few that I wanted to include for my own personal reasons. In the event there wasn't too much conflict between those two imperitives, sometimes I think people overdo the idea that popularity and artistic value are somehow mutually exclusive. It was kind of fun.
Talk me through the process.... did it involve late nights, bottles of whiskey and an endless supply of cigarettes?
Ha ha not especially. The idea was born at Lost Evenings Festival in May this year, when, playing over 4 nights, I tried not to repeat songs. That meant I played a lot of songs, which gave me a chance to think about my body of work to date in a holistic way. Whittling the list down from that involved listening to my catalogue, which I don't often do, but it was rewarding.
You have reworked 10 of your songs for Songbook, did you settle on these because you've always wondered what they would sound like had you recorded them differently? Would you consider future 'reworkings' of entire albums?
One of my first musical loves was Counting Crows. They're a band who have long done a lot of reworking of their own material, rearrangements and re-imaginings, which, as a fan, I found super interesting, and as a songwriter I found it technically fascinating. We've long done that kind of thing, and I think it's a valuable exercise, and something the fans enjoy too. It pulls things out of the songs that aren't always obvious in the first arrangement. It was fun to do this for Songbook, I'd imagine we'll be doing it again sometime in the future.
We chatted at Boardmasters and Beautiful Days festivals in the Summer and you mentioned that there is a new album in the pipeline for 2018, do you have any confirmed dates for its release? Will you be releasing material from the album ahead of its release? Maybe a bonus track upon pre-ordering?
As I write this, we just finished tracking about an hour ago, which is exciting. It still needs to be mixed of course. Hopefully it'll be out in the spring, I don't know more than that just yet.
You mentioned in a recent interview that your new album is "something of a stylistic departure", please would you expand on this statement? can the fans expect some Frank Turner Dub-Step remixes?
Ha ha not dubstep per se, though I've been experimenting with some different instrumentation, which includes some electronic sounds, alongside horns, strings, pedal steel and so on. It's pretty radically different in places (though not all the way through). Not everyone will get it at first I'd imagine, but then that can't really be a concern for me right now, I have to concentrate on following my muse. You'll see when it comes out, I guess.
"There She Is" was, as you said, a conclusion to a 'story' which deals with a rough time in your personal life, do you feel that writing songs about these times helps in allowing you to move on?
Absolutely. Music has long been a sort of public form of therapy for me, or at least contrition. The last two albums were about things being messed up in my personal life. They've settled down now, thankfully, and that song draws a line under all that. The rest of the record is about other things.
Bundled in the Super Deluxe Triple Vinyl Box Set you include a film of your 2000th show that was held at Nottingham's Rock City, was this created by the same team who did "Get Better"?
Actually no. My friend Nick filmed the gig with his crew. I have long been wanting to document the live show that the Sleeping Souls and I have been doing on this album cycle, I think we are at the top of our game, and I also think things might change a bit going forward, so it's good to have captured it, especially as it was such a special evening.
Are you planning on releasing any exclusive items for Record Store Day 2018?
I have no idea right now; the label may well have ideas! I love RSD.
I've asked you before about your hectic touring schedule and why you put yourself through so much to play an unbelievable amount of shows every year (all over the world), now that you're more settled, do you ever think about slowing things down a little?
We have, actually, a little. We don't tend to do more than about 4 weeks in a row anymore. People have reasons to go home now, which we never had before - partners, children, houses, pets. I'm kind of over the bravado of touring as hard as humanly possible. I want to keep playing and touring for the rest of my life, but I don't want to burn myself out, and I don't want to be a one-dimensional person either. We'll still be touring a lot next year, never fear.
Saying that, you'll no doubt be on tour promoting the new album in 2018, other than this, are you playing any additional UK live dates between now and then?
Yes, lots of news coming as and when it's ready / appropriate.
Touring is a great way of getting out there, meeting fans and promoting your music, what three things can't you stand about the touring process?
I'm not sure I'd say there's anything I absolutely can't stand, otherwise I wouldn't do it. It's a massive strain on personal relationships and physical health, though I've learned to deal with both those things, to an extent, over the years.
The Lost Evenings II has been selling very well indeed (2 nights sold out already), each night brings something different to the table, how do you go about planning this 4 night extravaganza? Will there be any 'special guests'?
We are knee deep in planning this right now, working on the bill, the panels and discussion groups and so on. I have big plans! Hopefully we'll be announcing some of the other acts pretty soon.
Lastly, Christmas will soon be upon us, what (apart from a map) would be on your list this year?
I've started collecting tattoo books, so maybe something like that. But I much prefer giving gifts to receiving them!
We'd like to thank Frank for sparing his time to chat to us, we wish him every success with Songbook and look forward to the new studio album which is pencilled in for a Spring 2018 release date. You can pre-order Songbook HERE
The full track listing for Songbook is:
- Four Simple Words
- I Still Believe
- The Next Storm
- The Road
- Long Live The Queen
- Glorious You
- Plain Sailing Weather
- I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous
- Wessex Boy
- The Opening Act Of Spring
- Polaroid Picture
- If Ever I Stray
- The Way I Tend To Be
- The Ballad Of Me And My Friends
- Get Better
- There She Is
- Polaroid Picture (Songbook Version)
- The Ballad Of Me And My Friends (Songbook Version)
- Broken Piano (Songbook Version)
- Josephine (Songbook Version)
- Love 40 Down (Songbook Version)
- The Way I Tend To Be (Songbook Version)
- Glorious You (Songbook Version)
- I Am Disappeared (Songbook Version)
- Long Live The Queen (Songbook Version)
- Photosynthesis (Songbook version)