Gaining further recognition and success with every record release, British singer/songwriter Frank Turner has made his mark on home soil and internationally with his political, folky punk-rock. He performed at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics and has huge plans for 2013 including another album release in April as well as a lot of time on the road: his favourite place to be.
So, the Olympic opening ceremony, sold out tours, international recognition. Do you ever look in the mirror and think 'Bloody Hell. I've done alright haven't I?'
Haha, well, I don't generally spend too much time talking to myself in the mirror, but it is all a bit nuts. I guess I spend a lot of time being pleasantly surprised by things at the moment. I hope I retain that sense; I wouldn't want to be overly adjusted to this kind of thing.
You've played a fair few festivals. How do they compare to playing your own gigs?
Festivals are great for making new friends, whereas your own shows are good for catching up with old ones.
"My schooling certainly sent me headlong into the arms of punk rock as a teenager."
I know you've said in the past that you've felt a bit of hate about going to Eton. I guess it's really easy to label and pigeonhole people. Does it bother you? Does it inspire you in any way? Maybe it has an impact on your music?
My schooling certainly sent me headlong into the arms of punk rock as a teenager, in a way that probably wouldn't have happened otherwise. The negative associations and judgmental bullshit are a pain in the arse. It blows my mind that some grown adults think about life in that way, but it's something I'm well practiced at brushing off. It's also something that is an almost exclusively British thing, which disappoints me, but it means I can forget about it when I get out of the country!
Favourite album to date? If I may, mine is Love, Ire and Song. Love that shit!
Thank you. Without wanting to sound like I'm ducking the question, I have to say that each record of mine has a special place in my mind. They represent different times, places, people, experiences. Also, I'm going to say that my new record is probably my favourite. It's not out yet...
You've got quite a Celtic vibe to a lot of your tracks. Any Irish ancestors?
Not that I know of, but then the English are a mongrel people so you never know. I should add that traditional English music has been slightly overlooked by history – a lot of melodies are common to both Irish and English traditions.
"Each record of mine has a special place in my mind. They represent different times, places, people, experiences."
Let's talk about Shanghai. You came here a while back and played at Yuyintang. How do you like the city? How do you like Yuyintang as a venue to perform?
I had a fantastic show in Shanghai last time around - loved it. I didn't get much time to look around the city alas, but that's life on the road for you. I'm excited to be coming back through. The last show I had in Shanghai was remarkably packed out and awesome. The scene seemed vibrant and in a good place from my brief experience. People seemed genuinely enthusiastic for live music which, as someone who lives in jaded London, is something I found very refreshing.
Finally, tell us a bit about how the UK is looking post Olympics. The arts are getting a tough time of it and things in general are looking a bit bleak. What's the mood like? Maybe you could write the happiest, most inspirational and moral boosting song EVER and cheer people up? It's a lot of pressure but I reckon you could do it...
The UK actually brightened up a fair bit during the Olympics and the immediate aftermath, it was quite nice. Things are back to normal now though. I can't really comment on the arts in general, but I don't believe in state funding for pop music – among other things, rock'n'roll is supposed to be a rebel artform, in my opinion. Rebel artforms don't get state grants. I'll do my best on the upbeat thing!
INTERVIEW BY ANNA BENNETT