Frank Turner is releasing his 7th solo album Be More Kind on May 4th and he couldn’t be more excited. “I’m feeling great, it feels good to have endured this long in the music industry” and to release what he says is one of the best records he has made in his career. “It’s exciting and surprising to be releasing a seventh album”. And he can’t wait to get back out on the road with new material…
Be More Kind represents a thematic and sonic line in the sand for the 36-year old. It’s a record that combines universal anthems with raw emotion and the political and the personal, with the intricate folk and punk roar trademarks of Turner’s sound imbued with new bold experimental shades. Where his two previous albums (2015’s Positive Songs For Negative People and 2013’s Tape Deck Heart) were, as Frank puts it, about “affairs of the heart”, Be More Kind is a record about his reaction to the outside world. “I feel like the world is becoming a less easily understandable place and a much more terrifying place. It’s a record about how we, collectively and individually as humans, react to a scarier and more hostile world”.
Be More Kind get its name from a Clive James poem entitled “Leçons Des Ténèbres” in which the sadly terminally ill poet (one of Frank’s favourite writers) writes about the end of his life; ‘I should have been more kind. It is my fate. To find this out, but find it out too late.’ And to Frank, it is more than just an album title. “It’s a gentle piece of advice”. Although he is well aware that “rock n’roll records don’t change the world” (and he is by no means claiming that they do), “Being more kind won’t solve all the problems in the world but it is not a bad start”.
“If there is any finger pointing or message delivering on the album, I hope it is clear that it is directed at myself as much as anybody else” Frank asserts about ‘being more kind’. “I very much had to take my own advice”.
With the album exploring new directions for Frank, he is looking forward to hearing the reaction from his fans. “Hopefully people will react positively, but we’ll see.” Frank admits that stepping out of his comfort zone to create the album has been a difficult one. “It’s an important thing for artists to do, and I decided to do it more on this one than on previous records. I just like messing around with different technology; loops and synthesizers and so on”.
“With this record, and with every other, if other people hear it and enjoy it; I’ll be extremely grateful and flattered. But if they don’t, that won’t change my opinion of the album. My aim was to satisfy my own creative urges and make what I think is the best record I’ve ever made”.
Frank Turner has achieved a lot in his career. He has played sold-out arena tours, had two No.2 charting records, written a book and even released a movie. However, one of the most intriguing developments in his career was when he was asked by Danny Boyle to take part in the London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony. “It was an amazing thing, being asked to do something like that was totally surreal. It was flattering to be asked by Danny Boyle himself.” Frank was concerned about the reaction from his fans to this potentially massive career boosting opportunity. “I thought an influx of people checking out what I do might in some way swamp the people who’ve been supporting me for a long time but it didn’t work out that way, there was definitely an uplift of people interested in who I am and what I do but it was just a nice boost of what had already happened”.
Despite his many successes, Frank occupies an interesting place in music. “I’m not underground, but I’m not overground either. I guess maybe that means I’m ‘cult’…”. “I’m definitely not a mainstream artist. I don’t get invited to Birthday parties, and I wouldn’t go if I did!” he laughs. Frank Turner can have all this success, a singular artist and songwriter of considerable talent, he’s able to sell out arena tours, Alexandra Palace and four consecutive nights at the Roundhouse but still walk down Holloway Road untroubled. “It’s a great privilege. I’ve been doing this for a long time now”. Frank recounts how often he sees pop stars come and go and how he has managed to stick around. “In a way that doesn’t sound cruel, I’ve got used to the hoards of ‘hangers on’ and photographers freely passing me in one direction with somebody and I’ve got no idea who they are. And I know that six months later they’ll be gone”.
“And an awful lot of people have no idea who I am and don’t know my name. I’m fine with that. And it does tend to mean that the people that are into my music have purer motives. No one as of yet has come to a Frank Turner gig to be ‘seen’ or to be ‘cool’, do you know what I mean? And I think that’s awesome, and I’d like to maintain that If I could.”
So with all these milestones ticked off the “bucket list” for Frank Turner, what is left? A number one album? “Well a number one album is quite high up my list. I’m hoping we pull it off this time, we’ve had two number twos”. His first No.2 (2013’s Tape Deck Heart) was “completely unexpected” and his second (2015’s Positive Songs For Negative People) “was extremely frustrating” (Frank was heading for No.1 before the surprise release of Compton– Dr Dre’s first album in 16 years). “I’m hoping that no more hip-hop mega stars have unexpected albums up their sleeves this time around…”
Interview by Simon Neal
Be More Kind is out on the 4th of May
- 13th – Manchester, Academy
- 15th – Dublin, The Academy
- 16th – Dublin, The Academy
- 18th – Belfast, The Limelight
- 20th – Aberdeen, The Garage
- 21st – Edinburgh, Liquid Room
- 22nd – Newcastle, O2 Academy
- 24th – Sheffield, O2 Academy
- 25th – Liverpool, O2 Academy
- 27th – Bristol, O2 Academy
- 28th – Exeter Uni, Great Hall
- 30th – Cambridge, orn Exchange
- 1st – Southampton, Guildhall
- 2nd – Southend Cliffs, Pavilion
- 4th – Leicester, O2 Academy
- 5th – Oxford, O2 Academy
- 8th – Hull, City Hall9th – Norwich, UEA