Just Play: 8 Questions With Singer/Songwriter Frank Turner

Frank Turner

Frank Turner

By Daniel Ford

If these aren't the perfect lyrics to sum up a 20-something writer/creative type in New York City, then I don’t know what are:

“Just give me one fine day of plain sailing weather/And I can fuck up anything, anything”

English singer/songwriter Frank Turner’s music is honest and personal—two qualities sorely lacking in today’s music scene.

Turner recently answered some of my questions about life on the road, his early influences, and how he is always striving to get better.

Daniel Ford: When did you first realize you wanted to be a singer/songwriter?

Frank Turner: Interesting question. Being a singer/songwriter, strictly speaking was never really something I thought about growing up. I wanted to be (and was) in a punk band. I guess when the wheels started falling off Million Dead, I had a little time to consider what it was I wanted to do afterwards. At the time, I didn't want to be reliant on other people as I was feeling quite let down by what had happened with the band, so doing things on my own made the most sense to me.

DF: Who were some of your earliest musical influences?

FT: As a kid, I was initially into Iron Maiden, Metallica, AC/DC, and stuff like that. Then, Nirvana hit me like a train, and pushed me toward punk stuff like Descendents, Black Flag, NOFX, and so on.

DF: How would you define your sound? How did you go about developing it?

FT: I don't spend time trying to define my sound, I just play. I don't really think about developing it, other than trying to be better at what I do.

DF: What’s your writing process like? Do you start with the music or lyrics? Do you prefer writing early in the day or late at night? Do you listen to music while you…write songs?

FT: I don't have a set process as such, other than the fact that I write on the road. Sometimes it's words first, sometimes music, and the best is when the two of them arrive at the same time. I don't listen to music as I write (wouldn't work!), but I do listen to a lot of music and I try to figure out songs I like, how they're constructed and so on.

DF: A good friend of mine demanded I listen to “The Way I Tend To Be” and it’s been on my writing playlist ever since. What went into writing and producing the album “Tape Deck Heart” and was the process any different than your previous albums?

FT: “Tape Deck Heart” ended up being an album about a breakup. I don't really sit around and plan what to write before, you know, writing it; I like to let stuff arrive in the manner of its own choosing. But I was going through some shitty stuff in my personal life and it naturally found an outlet in my songwriting. I wanted to write like I was totally unknown and no one would ever hear the songs. I think a lot of writers, at this stage in their career, get into second-guessing themselves, or trying to write to please various audiences, and I think that's kind of bogus, so I was trying to shut all of that out.

DF: What are the best and worst parts about touring? What are some of the more memorable moments you’ve had on tour?

FT: The best part is making the most of life, traveling, and playing music for a living. The worst parts are the toll it takes on your health, sanity, and personal life. It's not an easy way to be, in the long run. I've been touring pretty much full time for almost half my life, so it's hard to pick particular moments out.

DF: If you had to pick one of your songs that defined you forever, which one would you choose and why?

FT: It's not really for me to choose, I'd say; but I guess something like "If Ever I Stray" would be cool.

DF: What’s next for you? What’s on your bucket list for things you want to accomplish as an artist?

FT: Working on a new album, releasing the “Mongol Horde” (side project) album, festival season, stuff like that. There are plenty of things left on my bucket list; mainly songwriting-wise, I want to get better.

To hear more from Frank Turner, visit his official website, like his Facebook page, or follow him on Twitter @frankturner.

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