Frank Turner can’t stop

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The English rocker brings his unique blend of folk and punk to Regina

Braden Dupuis
Contributor

Frank Turner
The Exchange
Friday, Oct. 21
7 p.m. $21.75

Thirty-seven days into the North American tour supporting his newest album England Keep My Bones, English folk/-punk mainstay Frank Turner has had exactly one day to himself.

But if you were the ironman of folk-/punk, how would you spend your only day off?

“I did drink a fair old amount of whiskey,” Turner said. “I do enjoy drinking whiskey.”

So goes a life spent on the road. It’s a life Turner has grown accustomed to over the past 13-odd years, having been thrashing his way through the U.K. punk and hardcore scene since before he could legally drink whiskey.

“I got involved with playing and touring in hardcore bands and putting out records and ‘zines and that sort of thing when I was just 16 years old, which I think is kind of reasonably early in the grand scheme of things,” said the singer, now 29.

Turner began making a name for himself back in 2001, when, at the request of a former band member, he joined London post-hardcore band Million Dead. After four years and two albums the group split up, and Turner found himself not quite ready to leave the road behind.

“Intermeshing band politics is what killed that band off, and I knew that I wanted to keep playing music. I knew I wanted to keep travelling and playing shows and that kind of thing. But the idea of being within a collective at that moment in time just felt like a terrible, terrible thing,” Turner said with a laugh.

Since 2005, the ironman of folk-/punk has released four studio albums, three EPs, and one compilation under his name. He’s played over 1,000 shows in 30 different countries, every night laying bare his honest blend of heartfelt, life-worn poetry and punk rock ethos.
In doing so, he’s won himself millions of fans across the globe.

And rightfully so. The instantly relatable, universal appeal of his music stems mostly from the legendary folk musicians who have inspired him the most in his later years, a class including Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and Neil Young. The influence is as hard to miss as a Frank Turner song is to get out of your head.

But while Turner, like all artists, has his songwriting influences, he believes the underlying rebellious spirit apparent in many of his songs may have come from a different source.

“I think it’s also slightly filtered through the fact that I learned how to play guitar and sing and learnt most of that music through the context of punk rock,” he said.

But despite the surface differences between folk music and punk rock, Turner believes that the two can have the same edge and convey the same message, but in a different way.

“I think part of it is just a function of getting older,” Turner said. “I don’t think it denigrates punk in any way to point out that it’s largely a sort of youth movement, which is fine, and that’s how it should be. I think that one can talk about similar things and make similar points and that kind of thing, but just in a different way.”

These days Turner and his backing band The Sleeping Souls play their unique brand of punk-meets-Dylan for crowds of varying sizes at venues across the globe, averaging more than 200 shows a year.

At that kind of  pace, it’s hard to find spare moments to write and record new material, which makes song writing an ongoing process.

“I know some people who set aside times to have writing sessions, and that kind of thing is foreign to me,” he said. “I dunno, for me the tap is just constantly  dripping.”

And at times it seems like that dripping faucet may just turn into a full-blown kitchen flood.

Turner recently revealed plans for a new hardcore project, but so far the specifics are far from nailed down.

“I just want to do something that’s really in-your-face and aggressive and violent and vicious. It’s going to be a lot heavier than Million Dead,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it. I think it’ll be a really fun thing to do, but it’s still pretty theoretical at this point.”

Amidst the non-stop touring, continuous writing for his next solo album, and the planning of a new hardcore project, Turner has also found the time to work on a book of tour diaries. Simply put, the guy is a fucking machine.

But for Turner, there’s no end in sight.

“At the moment I feel like I’m going to do this until I die and the rest of my life and all that shit, but you never know,” he said. “I’m sure there’s every possibility that something might slow me down, but for the time being I’m enjoying myself.”

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