Frank Turner Talks About His First Gig, His Last Day Job and Trusting Your Own Judgement

May 19, 2015

Tell us about your tour vehicle.

Uh, we use different buses in different countries all over the world. Depends where we are.

First tour I did was in an old transit van. The early solo years I did were on the train. I have never owned a tour vehicle myself.

How do you eat cheaply and/or healthy while on tour?

We have tour catering who come with us in the UK and Europe, which is great, it means we eat really well and it’s actually cheaper once your tour party is more than about 20 people. Otherwise, well, you just learn how to find good places, take vitamins and so on.

How many strings do you break in a typical year? How much does it cost to replace them?

I have no idea. I change all my strings every day though, three guitars – well, actually my tech does it for me. We have a great deal with Ernie Ball strings so we save money, but it is a significant cost for me.

Where do you rehearse?

My band (The Sleeping Souls) and I built a rehearsal space of our own in Oxford a few years back. It’s a little cramped but it’s ours, we have worked on the last three records there, as well as rehearsing for tours.

What was the title and a sample lyric from the first song that you wrote?

I have no idea. It was a very long time ago.

Describe your first gig.

I played at my older sister’s birthday party, when I was about 12. I don’t think her and her friends were that into it.

What was your last day job? What was your favorite day job?

My last day job was working telesales, but that was more than a decade ago. I guess my favourite was probably working for in about 2000, that was a cool and interesting place to work.

How has your music-related income changed over the past 5-10 years? What do you expect it to look like 5-10 years from now?

I’m not really at liberty (or inclined) to discuss the details of that. I do OK tho, and I full time employ more than 10 people, which I’m proud of.

What one thing do you know now that you had wished you knew when you started your career in music?

Your own judgment always trumps someone else’s, when it comes to anything artistic.

When is an underdog no longer an underdog? Is it when he’s the act who begins the Olympics Opening Ceremony? Maybe it’s when he has headlined both Wembley Arena and O2 Arena, two of the UK capital’s biggest venues? Or perhaps it’s when each of his records is bigger and more successful than the last: selling more, playing more, infiltrating the nation’s consciousness more? Or maybe it’s simpler than that: maybe an underdog is no longer an underdog when he connects in the way that Frank Turner connects, writing songs that inspire their crowd to reflect, to singalong, to holler along, to hold their arms aloft, all at once.

It is almost a decade since Frank Turner went solo following the demise of Million Dead, the hardcore quartet he fronted. In that time, he has been on a constant upward curve, its momentum propelled forward by a mixture of Turner’s force of will and his effortless craft of song. Each record now brings with it new landmarks for the 32-year-old from Hampshire. His fourth album, 2011’s England Keep My Bones, sold more than 100,000 copies and entered the UK Charts at number 12. Its success raised questions for the singer. “It made me think about where I’m starting and where I’m heading,” he says. “It made me wonder if I could continue as a musician with integrity influenced by punk rock whilst doing arena tours. The answer I concluded is yes, obviously.”

Turner’s most recent release was 2013’s Tape Deck Heart.  A new album is planned for later this year.  You can connect with Turner online and on the road.