Being a public figure means people assume until the fucking cows come home every aspect about me and about my life. I’ve read such hilarious bullshit about myself online in all different directions over the years, and you have to learn to ignore it really…You just have to hold onto the fact that the people who matter are gonna know who you are.
BY LISA MROCK
PHOTO BY Brantley Gutierrez
By the time English troubadour Frank Turner performs in Chicago this January, he will have had over 2,000 shows under his belt…and probably a few more tattoos as well. His sixth album Positive Songs For Negative People is filled with full-throated proclamations of betterment, defiant fists raised against tragedy, and charging songs meant for pushing past heartbreak. His purist fans might’ve scoffed at his use of electric guitars on the album, but there’s no way those same critics haven’t shout-sang “Mittens” in the shower. We here at Chicago INNERVIEW spoke with Turner about the art of telling others to “fuck off” and buffalo wing aromatherapy.
Chicago INNERVIEW: It’s been about a year and a half since Positive Songs For Negative People was released. Looking back on the album, were there certain ideas you wanted to do but were unable to?
Frank Turner: Not really with that particular album. The whole vibe of Positive Songs was me essentially telling everybody else…to piss off because I had a very, very, very clear idea of what I wanted that record to be. I was very fired up. Sometimes, you go to make a record and you’re not entirely sure of how it’s going to come out when you come out the studio. I felt like I knew what that record sounded like six months before we got anywhere near a studio and I was on a real stubborn mission to make it that, which I’ve succeeded in doing…It was my defiant, ‘This is me, this is what I do, and everyone else fuck off’ kind of record.
Chicago INNERVIEW: You’ve written a lot of songs about other people but I’m wondering, has anyone ever written a song about you?
Frank Turner: Yes, although not always in a way I’ve particularly appreciated. There’s a couple of people who’ve sort of name-dropped me in songs. I know that the guys in Bowling For Soup keep name-dropping me in songs, but they’re lovely. They’ve always done it in a lovely, friendly kind of way. There’s been one or two…somebody wrote a slightly barbed political song about me but I don’t think anyone really noticed, so life went on.
CI: Where’s a place you haven’t played yet that you’d absolutely love to play?
FT: The short answer to that is anywhere I haven’t played. I’m trying to get to all 50 states. One of the fortunes I have in this life is I get to go to different places, different parts of the world, through the medium of being a musician, which always strikes me as sort of hilariously unlikely but also wonderful. Top of my list right now is South America. I’m very keen to get there, and we are working on something right now.
CI: If you could write a song about a certain food item or kind of food, or just a place you like to eat at, what would it be?
FT: Buffalo wings. We don’t have buffalo wings in the U.K. It’s just not a thing. It’s a source of enormous sadness for me because whenever I go to America, I’m in [Buffalo Wild Wings] so we can breathe in. I’m a big fan.
CI: What’s something people assume about you that isn’t true, and something they wouldn’t or don’t assume that actually is true?
FT: I’m not trying to dodge the question but the nature of what I do for a living is that, even to the small degree I am, being a public figure means people assume until the fucking cows come home every aspect about me and about my life. I’ve read such hilarious bullshit about myself online in all different directions over the years, and you have to learn to ignore it really. I’ve seen mad claims about me personally, politically, whatever else, all of which were bullocks, and you just have to hold onto the fact that the people who matter are gonna know who you are. I’ve seen a lot of silly shit. Off the top of my head, one of the silliest ones is somebody at one point thought I was [Arctic Monkeys frontman] Alex Turner’s uncle, which is annoying to me because I’m not old.
CI: I think collectively the world’s been looking forward to 2017 since about June, but what are you looking forward to most next year?
FT: Well, like anybody in my shoes I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire…and I’m looking forward to seeing which of those come to fruition. I’m not just working on a new record for myself, I’ve got various side projects…I think the most concrete thing I’m looking forward to next year is the tour that we’re doing in January and February because it’s gonna be my biggest American tour to date. I’ve spent a lot of time and energy slogging around the States in the last two years, and it’s really exciting to see that start to pay off. We’re doing our first headlining arena show outside the U.K. in Boston in February. It’s very exciting for me.