Interview: Frank Turner

By on Wednesday, 12th December 2012 at 3:00 pm

Feature by guest interviewer Alexandra Foxley-Johnson

Frank Turner walks into the room with a friendly smile and shakes my hand. It’s one of the qualities he’s known best for, ever kind when he meets someone. It’s probably also one of the reasons that his fans are so dedicated to him as a person, and not just his talent.

So you’ve done over a thousand gigs, which is an incredibly impressive amount; but how’s this tour comparing to the others?

“This tour’s really great actually, I’m really enjoying it. It’s the longest UK tour I’ve done in years, and in terms of sheer numbers, it’s probably the biggest UK tour I’ve ever done.

Frank says that this tour is about revisiting a lot of the places he hasn’t played for a couple of years. “For my own benefit, I wanted to get out and see my own country again, and also just let people know that I’m not going to be one of those bands that retreats into doing only massive shows.”

“One of the other things as well is that I keep hanging out with people who I haven’t seen since I was doing kind of tours on the train, with a rucksack and guitar.”

“We get together and we have dinner and we laugh at how ridiculous it is that the plan worked.”

What’s been one of your favourite gigs to play this tour?

“Oh, to pick one. What a loaded question. I don’t know, I mean it’s funny; in terms of my playing and me and the band’s performance, I think Norwich was the best show. In terms of the audience, I think Wolverhampton was the best show so far. The two are not by any means always synced.”

You’ve been all over the place, you even toured China a few years ago. Do you have any intention of touring in Asia again?

“Yeah, absolutely. We’ve got some stuff coming up next year, hopefully with the band this time round. That Chinese tour was really cool, it was technically illegal…I was playing like punk shows, you know? And it was a really, really fantastic and interesting experience. One of the best things about what I do is that I’ve had the chance to do stuff like that.”

Is there anything that you particularly like about touring abroad?

“It’s nice to see the world, you know? And to sort of meet people. I mean, it’s a cliche about touring that you tour around the world and all you see are dressing rooms and car parks, and it’s true to a degree. But the flipside is that you meet people.”

“You can make friends and learn something about the world through talking to people. It’s a great pleasure to me that if I wanted to just go and kind of sofa surf around the world with friends that I’ve met, not playing shows or whatever, I could do that.”

Still on the subject of touring; do you have a comfort food on tour?

“Yeah, I mean, this tour we’re lucky enough to have some guys out with us cooking for us, which is amazing. They’re brilliant, and Dylan’s a lovely man who cooks me what I like.”

“I love Italian food, so he’ll cook me Italian food a lot which makes me happy. I mean, nothing more specific than that. Toast and marmite, for breakfast, makes me feel good.”

Finally, as it’s something I’ve always wondered about, can I ask you what the tattoos on your hands mean?

“These two (Frank motions to the Greek letters of his little fingers) are alpha and omega which are the first and last letters of the greek alphabet. The phrase ‘alpha and omega’ was a kind of cipher to mean, a shorthand to mean, the entirety of creation.”

“It just means the entirety of creation, and I use my hands to make a living so it seemed appropriate. I can go on for hours about my tattoos; (pointing to the number thirteen tattooed on one of his middle fingers) it’s a lucky 13. It’s circus culture, which is where most tattoo culture comes from in the West, 13 was considered a lucky number because in circus’ [people] were very much social outcasts, and the reasoning was that if it was an unlucky number for normal people, then it will be our lucky number.”

“And there’s still a tradition today, if a tattooist is a particularly traditional guy, then on any Friday 13th he’ll give out free 13 tattoos to anyone who asks.”

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