Blog Machine

Wowzers, I’m getting into the swing of this blog thing, it’s almost worth checking back daily or something, haha. I write from Oxford, week 2 of rehearsals for the album kicked off today and we’re back at the grindstone. It’s a hugely self-confirming atmosphere – we all start feeling like real, pro musicians when we take a 20 minute break for Nigel and Matt to discuss the cadences of a keyboard run, or when we piece together a four-part harmony, or argue over blue notes in a bassline. It’s also exhausting concentrating on everything all the time for 8 hours a day, and I’m glad that we decided to do 3-4 days a week rather than go at it constantly. Breathing space is a good idea. Anyway, as of today, we have Pass It Along and Poetry Of The Deed added to the “done” pile. Should have everything down by the end of this week, and then we can start drilling them until we’re tight as a gnat’s arse.

I have just been confirmed for the lineup on Y-Not Festival. It’s a great festival to be part of whatever the case (this is my 3rd year there), but I requested to play especially this year because it’s also a sister festival for 2000 Trees. Hopefully some people who have bought the joint tickets will catch a set after all. It’ll be solo as the band are on holiday (not together..) but it’ll be a blast nonetheless.

Propagandhi on Sunday, oh yes…

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Setting Things Straight

I return from the wilds of Birmingham, where I have been availing myself of the talents of Mr Matt Hunt, tattooist extraordinaire. I got a Hans Holbein Jr woodcut done on my right arm to match the Nambucca Rooster on my left. Pics when it’s not covered in ink and blood, haha. Also, Matt is awesome, and so is his shop – check it out.

In continuing discussions, kicked off by the 2000 Trees / Offspring thing, some points have been raised. Some of my friends have been telling me to leave off getting involved in this discussion, but it’s important to me and I don’t want to come across as aloof or not bothered. Anyways. The first thing is, people have been making comments about what I “represent”, and in some cases about feeling let down by my recent decision. In the first instance, I’m uncomfortable about “representing” anything to anyone – I do this because I want to make music and share it. The rest is trimmings. Secondly, if I am to represent anything, I’d like to be thought of as an honest, hardworking and humble musician, nothing more and nothing less. Within that I do my best to play as much as I can for as many people as possible, to be totally accessible to anyone who wants to talk to me (I note that none of the haters have actually emailed me), and to do this in such a way as I’ll be able to keep doing this and even be able to pay my rent too. I feel uncomfortable when people project much more than that onto me (though I recognize it often comes with the territory), and I’d respectfully ask that people respect me and my choices.

That then brings us onto the other thing I want to talk about – politics. There’s been some discussion of my politics over the years, and more intensely recently. I don’t actually want to go into a massive exposition here – it’s actually no one else’s business and I can’t be bothered – but some ground points serve to be made. Most of all, I am not, nor have ever, ever been, a socialist. When I was younger, say, in the first half of Million Dead’s existence as a band, I was a pretty convinced left-anarchist. Those days are long, long gone – the very first song most people heard by MD (“Breaking the Back”) was about my disillusion with that scene (and the second, “I Am The Party”, was about how my personal politics are irrelevant anyway). Nevertheless, there was some political and social commentary in that band, but I’d characterize it as left libertarian. There’s an important difference.

In the time since then, my ideas have shifted – as most people’s do between the ages of 19 and 27. A little more experience of real life has changed the way I try to find solutions to what I see as the essential problem – people’s capacity to be horrible fucks to each other, whether as organized government or in the form of large monopolistic corporations. In the past I guess I thought that boycotts and demonstrations might “smash the system” and then we could all live happily ever after. I don’t believe that any more. I started having to pay taxes, rent and so on, and stopped only hanging out with other middle class anarchists. My essential libertarianism is more in the middle ground now.

I suppose it’s an easy assumption in some ways – I have songs with words like “anarchists” and “Thatcher” in their titles, and I sing angrily whilst playing acoustic guitar. That makes some people immediately I’m a leftist / socialist or whatever. Well, here it is. I’m not. Sorry. And most importantly of all, so fucking what? I’m a musician, making music. When I creatively address politics, I sing about being a normal person trying to find their way in the world. Please don’t try and make me a flagpole for whatever it is you want to salute. I will make the choices I feel are right for me, and it is not now nor ever will be anyone else’s business. If you find that disappointing, it’s your problem I’m afraid, not mine.

Sorry if this comes across as harsh or petulant, I’m just trying to be thorough. It’s also a disconcerting experience, seeing vast assumptions being made about you and your personality on the internet by total strangers. Also, thanks to the people who have commented / mailed being nice about things. Hugely appreciated.

In final news – an interview here, and tickets for the Cheltenham show here. More festival news (for the UK) in my next update.

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The Rehearsal Diaries

So, I’m slowly emerging, battered but not defeated, from the fall-out from the post below. Most people have been really cool about the news and the decision, for which I’m grateful. Obviously, a lot of people are disappointed, and I’m worried about apologizing again in case it starts to sound worn out, but hey, I’m sorry. Something I didn’t stress enough before is that 2000 Trees is a fantastic festival, and definitely worth attending with or without me. Some people have been pretty harsh about it, which does keep me up at night a little. I hope no one feels like I’m “ditching” the UK or whatever. It’s not like that at all – a quick look at my gig list hopefully proves that. I guess I’d just urge those who are angry to put themselves in my shoes on this one.

In other news, we just finished day 2 in the rehearsal studio. I’m going to post some photos up as soon as I’ve figured out how to get them off my swanky new iPhone. Things are progressing really well, I’ve been pleasantly reminded how damn good the guys in my band are, and my confidence about the album is currently soaring. We have 8 songs down now – The Road, Live Fast Die Old, Sunday Nights, The Fastest Way Back Home, Dan’s Song, Journey Of The Magi, Richard Divine, and Try This At Home. Matt’s been playing around with crazy shit like Mellotrons and so on. The mandocaster made its first appearance today. I’m planning on decorating Tarrant’s little corner with emo posters, and maybe the headline from today’s Sport (which was too good to miss) – “Top Tennis Babe Has A Willy” (seriously). Good times.

Finally, my friend Sean now has a blog, and it’s worth its internet weight in gold. Check it out.

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Please, PLEASE Don’t Kill Me

Heavy lies the head that wears the crown, innit. The last few days have seen me quietly agonizing over some really painful decisions. Well, I say painful; in the end, having to chose between two great options isn’t exactly excruciating, but… well, you’ll see what I mean. In a frankly overwhelmingly awesome development, I have been asked to open for The Offspring on their summer run of arena shows in the USA. “Smash” was one of the first punk records I ever bought, and I’m blown away to even be considered for the shows. From a “career” point of view, it’s also great – playing to many thousands of people a night across the States is an opportunity not to be sniffed at.

Now, the bad news. The dates clash with some pre-existing commitments, in the way of UK festivals. Principally, both T In The Park and 2000 Trees Festival fall under the shadow of this tour. Thus I have a dilemma, and have been agonizing.

In the end, I’ve decided to go with the Offspring shows – it’s simply too good an opportunity to pass up. However, I’m painfully aware of how this is going to piss people off. I was super-excited to be playing T this year, and 2000 Trees is, as many know, a festival very close to my heart. I haven’t missed a year yet, and it’s going to suck not being there. So, to start off with, I’ll openly apologize to anyone planning on seeing me at either festival.

Apologies, empty words, only get me so far. So, we’ve set about trying to make amends in the way of shows. Firstly, I’ll be playing a show later in the summer in Scotland. Secondly, I’ll be playing a show at Cheltenham Town Hall on the 23rd July, let’s call it “2000 Trees The Aftermath”. This show will be £5 in (the cheapest we could make it), and will feature a full band set, as well as Mr Jim Lockey in support. It’s being co-promoted by the 2000 Trees team and tickets will be exclusively available through the 2000 Trees website from Tuesday 14th April. I know these shows won’t be possible for everyone at the festival to make, and for that I can only say sorry. I hope people understand the position I’m in, and my reasons for making this choice.

The Offspring dates can be found on the gigs page. Thanks everyone.

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Fare Thee Well Ol’ Yanksville

The San Francisco show, I’m pleased to say, revised my opinions of the town. Fickle of me, I know, but it was gratifying to play a great show to a packed bar. With heavy heart I bade farewell to Steve Soto and the band (thanks again to him, Mike, Veikko, Mike and James) and got into the Look Mexico Mobile. It’s an old bus that’s been converted to run on vegetable oil, which makes touring cheap and makes everyone smell of chips. It trundles along happily and comfortably with a double bed in the back and room for everyone to sleep. So, after a night in a communist squat in SF (after which I ran headlong into the open arms of McDonalds) we drove north.

While not quite as bad as west Texas, northern California certainly does go on a bit, beautiful as it is. Our aim to get to Portland in one day (a day off) eventually came off, but some Olympic-standard faffing on our part, plus some hills (bad news for the bus) meant we got into Jordan’s house at 4am. Portland is great, very bohemian, with weather to make an Englishman feel at home. A cool-as-hell show ensued (complete with old friend Josh English), after which we descended into debaunchery which is best left undocumented.

Portland to Nampa, Idaho, was a long slog through dramatic scenery which reminded me of Scotland, alongside a massive river. I failed, alas, to see the state of Idaho in daylight; we arrived late, played a small but cool show, and then set out for Utah. Our original plan was to drive a few hours and then stop at a motel, but we hit a blizzard in the mountains. A couple of hours of extremely tense, fraught driving, with visibility at zero, jack-knifed trucks and more, left everyone too wired to sleep, so we drove on through to Salt Lake City, arriving at 8am.

Grubby and tired, we had two shows in Salt Lake City (SLC). It’s virtually impossible to get drunk in this town, as the beer is mandated at 2% and the liquor is obviously watered down. The first show was great fun, the second not so great. We met mormons who told us they’d be alcoholics if they had one sip of a beer (?! God help me), so we drank their share for them. Annoyingly sober, we decided on a hotel, as another overnight drive might have killed us.

Our final day took us on yet another mammoth drive through Wyoming to Denver, Colorado. This country is bafflingly huge. I have yet to think of a good reason for Wyoming to exist – the emptiest landscape I’ve ever driven through, hundreds of miles of nothingness, which has a kind of survivalist appeal for a short while but soon becomes relentlessly depressing. It was with some relief that we finally pulled into the mile-high city, where, in a mirror image of SLC, it’s very easy to get wasted because of the altitude. After a careful beer with Virgil from Suburban Home Records, we played a final intimate little show at the Marquis Theatre (with support from Chad from Drag The River). Another sad farewell to the LM crew, and I was in the car with my sister, off to spend some family time in Longmont.

So, there it is, my US travels. Thanks again to Look Mexico, Steve Soto / Twisted Hearts, Caitlin, and everyone we met / stayed with / rocked along the way. Good times, and I should be back for a tour in September, all being well. Now to the UK, to start working hard on album 3…

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Yes, I Am Going To San Francisco

Greetings earthlings. I write from a hippy hotel in San Francisco. Much as it pains me to admit in public, I’ve never been the biggest fan of this city. That said I haven’t exactly spent masses of time here. It just grates with me when everyone treats somewhere as such a fucking meccah. It immediately makes me start picking holes in it. Maybe that’s just me being an arsehole.

The shows with Steve Soto and the Twisted Hearts have been fantastic, and it’s a shame that they’re coming to an end. Still, I get to spend more quality time with Look Mexico after today, and that’s no bad thing. Northern California is breathtakingly beautiful, I’m definitely planning on ending my days somewhere around Big Sur. Los Angeles was beautiful, unhinged and trashy as it ever is, and I think we’ve made big headway with my plans over here – more on that in the coming months.

A surprise party for y’all: my good friend Jonny Awsum has a new show, called (wow) The Jonny Awsum show. It takes place at the Met Bar in London, and it generally insane. I’ll be playing there on the 21st April, but it’s invite only. So, this is how it’ll work: the first 30 people who send an email to info@jonnyawsum.com with the subject line “I must touch Mr Frank” will get an invite and be able to come down to the show. It’s 18+ (sorry) and it’ll be running late. More info goes to the people who win the places. Good luck!

To finish with, here’s some lovely footage of my recent Nottingham show with Gaslight.
http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=3858628&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1
Frank Turner Live at Nottingham Rock City taster video. (Please help me by filling out the survey) from jack lilley on Vimeo.

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Texas Is The Reason

I’m currently in bed in a hotel room in Phoenix, Arizona. The last few days have been pretty extreme. The SXSW festival was great but predictably unhinged, given the personnel combination of local friends and an international selection of reprobate drinkers. The journey here was a total fuck-up thanks to the breath-taking incompetence of www.edreams.com (avoid at all costs), and I arrived on Wednesday night feeling shattered. After meeting up with my (excellent) new American band mates on Thursday morning for two hours’ rehearsal, we hammered out three shows, and one more on Friday. I also got to see The Hold Steady, The Van Pelt and Adam from Two Gallants – a pretty awesome haul, in my opinion.

Saturday was a day off for me, and so the party got started in earnest. In the end I really want to blame it all on Fake Problems, but that’d be duplicitous of me – I have only myself to blame. Safe to say after a full day’s drinking, Sunday morning dawned like this:

Yup, I got a tattoo of the state of Texas done on my arm. The work was done by the talented Mr Derek Martinez. All I can say is, don’t go drinking in tattoo shops…! Also I think I came off better than John Berna, FP’s guitar tech, who got some of my lyrics on his chest, including a few letters actually done (not very well) by me.

So, that’s the story of my sojourn in Texas. Actually I’m not overly repentant, this trip has been consistent with my other times in that state: chaotic but tons of fun. I can think of many worse states to have immortalized in this way. New Mexico, for example, haha.

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Moral Collapse

Argh, I went and did it, I got me a Twitter account. In fact, my original motivation (or so I tell myself) was to make sure no one bagged my name on there and started sending out fake shit, but I then discovered that someone already has – though he seems to legitimately share my name. Anyways, since I’d crossed the Rubicon already, I went and signed up. Voila. Sorry.

In other news, we just restocked the online shop. I’ve not been particularly snappy at advertising its existence, so, here we go, my online shop. You can order stuff worldwide, and we should have most sizes in stock. Happy shopping.

Finally, as inspired by the good people of Polar Bear Club, I want to set up a gallery on my myspace for FT tattoos. If you have one, or know someone who does, send me a photo and I’ll upload it there (if you’re OK with that, obviously).

Today, I am all about the internet.

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Ireland / America / Studio

Sad as I am not to be living it up in Moscow right now, it must be said that having some time off is not to be sniffed at. It’s lovely to be back in Winchester with a little spring sunshine and not too much work on. Last night I got to catch up with the Polar Bears one last time, and tonight Emily Barker is playing down the road. I also plan to have a bath.

Some points of order.. Firstly, touring. We’ve added and announced two more Irish shows for the October tour – Dublin and Belfast on the 13th and 14th respectively. Details and ticket links are on the gigs page. Beans On Toast will be with me, but alas no Fake Problems.

Speaking of trans-Atlantic cousins, the dates for my US run of shows are now finalized. They can also be found on said gigs page, but for those at the back:

  • 22nd March @ The Warhol, San Antonio, TX, USA
  • 24th March @ Chyro Arts, Phoenix, AZ, USA
  • 25th March @ Hensley’s Flying Elephant, San Diego, CA, USA
  • 26th March @ The Viper Room, Los Angeles, CA, USA
  • 27th March @ The Blank Club, San Jose, CA, USA
  • 28th March @ Thee Parkside, San Francisco, CA, USA
  • 30th March @ Backspace, Portland, OR, USA
  • 31st March @ Flying M Coffee Garage, Nampa, ID, USA
  • 1st April @ SHO, Salt Lake City, UT, USA (early show)
  • 1st April @ Bar Deluxe, Salt Lake City, UT, USA (late show)
  • 2nd April @ Marquis Theatre, Denver, CO, USA

Next up… I have a split vinyl coming out on Suburban Home Records in the USA, as part of their “under the influence” series. My side is a cover of Springsteen’s “Thunder Road”, while on the other you have the amazing Austin Lucas covering Dolly Parton. To top it all, Mitch Clem did the artwork (swoon). So yeah, it’s a steal, and you can pre-order it here. How many links can one man fit in a paragraph? Welcome, friends, to the 21st Century.

Finally, Tarrant, Ben and Nigel have been working on a rehearsal space for the band to use in preparing the new album. I want to keep a pretty thorough diary of the process, so this here is the start of it all:

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God Doesn’t Want Me In Finland

God fucking dammit. The shows scheduled in Russia, Finland, Estonia and Latvia with Anti-Flag have been cancelled, due to Justin breaking his collar bone at a show in Norwich last night. Obviously, this totally sucks for them and I hope he’s OK. I’m gutted, and that makes two Finnish shows cancelled in a month. Not happy. We’re taking about rescheduling for the summer, so watch this space, but yeah, apologies to those who were looking forward to the shows – I was too.

The tour with Gaslight is over, and it was sad to see it end – all those guys, Polar Bears, the crew, were awesome, and it’s the least I can do to say thanks to everyone on my internet brainsplurge. Can’t wait to see them all on the road again.

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