Interview – Frank Turner

Frank Turner has recently reissued his fourth album, England Keep My Bones, due to 2021 being the tenth anniversary of the release of that album. We decided it would be a good opportunity to have a catch up with Frank and find out a little more about what he has planned for the future – read on below for more info!

By Jane Howkins

Photo by Gregory Nolan

You recently re-released England Keep My Bones for the 10 year anniversary of the album. How did that feel? When you first started out as a solo musician, did you ever think you would get to the point of being able to celebrate such anniversaries? 

It felt great, thanks. We’ve done anniversary editions for the first three records before this one in previous years, and those were the ones that were more surprising to me. By time we got to EKMB, things were really starting to kick off, and I allowed myself to suspect that people might still care a few years down the line. Nevertheless, it’s an honour to be able to celebrate the record like this, and it’s still one I’m very proud of.

How has the reception been to the re-release and the bonus material included on the reissue? What can you tell our readers about the album if they haven’t checked it out yet? 

People have been enthusiastic, which is lovely. The bonus material consists of demos and solo versions – so it’s something for the diehards, but personally I love listening to that stuff from the bands I love. It gives a lot more insight into how the songs were written and arranged, how they grew and developed.

Last year you released a split album with NOFX, where you both covered each other’s songs. I found it to be a really interesting concept, how did that come about? Would you ever consider doing anything like that again? 

The whole mutual covers split thing used to be quite common in the hardcore scene in the 80s and 90s. The last notable one was the NOFX / Rancid split, in 2002, which I bought at the time and love(d). It’s a cool creative idea, to me, it shows some interesting creative depth in both directions for both acts. Mike and I have been friends for years, but he randomly asked me if I’d be interested at a festival in Italy in 2019. I was blown away but managed to keep my cool while I said yes. It’s one of my favourite things I’ve done in my career – they’re still one of my favourite bands.

You have a new album coming out next year, what can you tell us about that? 

It’s not finished as yet, but we’re nearly there! Some of it was written before lockdown, most of it during, but it’s not a ‘lockdown’ album as such. It’s quite intense, quite personal, and sonically it goes to more heavy, aggressive places than anything I’ve done before. You might even call it a punk record (if you wanted to waste your life arguing on the internet). It’s called FTHC and I can’t wait for people to hear it.

A single from the forthcoming album was recently released, titled The Gathering. What can you tell us about the song? Do you have any more singles planned for release in the near future? 

That song is the closest to pandemic-related material on the record – but it’s about coming out of all this, celebrating the joy of live music and coming together. It’s in the middle of the spectrum of the album, in terms of heaviness – some stuff is lighter, some stuff is a lot heavier! We will have more singles out before the end of the year.

You’re perhaps more well known now for your solo work, but you’re also got a bit of a background in the punk scene, with your previous band Million Dead. Have you ever considered going back to that style of music or starting another band like that again? 

I did! Mongol Horde formed in 2012, we did an album in 2014 and an EP in 2018. We are the slowest band in history, in terms of our work rate, but we do have vague plans to do more sometime soon.

Has your music taste changed much over the years? What have you been listening to recently that you can recommend? 

It’s changed a lot, or at least grown. Right now I’m going through a bit of a Parliament/Funkadelic phase, weirdly enough, plus I’ve also been educating myself about the new wave of feminist punk bands doing the rounds – The Tuts, Petrol Girls, Dream Nails and so on. Loads of good music out there, it’s endless.

You’re quite well known for your festival appearances, and you’ve just been announced to be performing at Slam Dunk Festival. Are you excited? Do you prefer festival gigs or normal gigs? 

Right now I prefer any way of playing music to a real audience, haha. I guess in a normal year, festival season is exciting at the start and by the end you’re excited to get back to your own shows. It’s part of the natural cycle! 

Any last words for the fans?

 Can’t wait to see you all again soon enough.