Music / Interview

Frank Turner: “Music needs a space to exist in”

Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls bring the 'Be More Kind' tour to Australia this December.

Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls are spending the summer down under, having locked in a headline tour for December.

A certified legend in the world of folk, rock and far beyond, this will be the UK musician’s first tour of Australia since 2015.

The upcoming visit will see him hit the road in support of his seventh studio album, Be More Kind; another synonymous release that challenges even Turner’s great emotional limits.

We chatted with the man himself in between his hectic tour schedule, where he dished details on the Australian artists he’s loving right now and the vital role venues play in the sustainability of the rock scene. Plus, the singer/songwriter delves into his influences from writers, poets and lyricists.

Image: Frank Turner / Facebook

Read on for our full Q&A with Frank Turner:

You’re no stranger to the stage, but what would you say, today, are your favourite things about performing live?

I love being an entertainer, to stand on a stage and try to engage and elevate a room full of strangers feels wonderful to me. I also like that I do those things through the medium of my own creativity. There’s something redemptive about the fact that every night I get the chance to try again, to restate my case to the world.

How do you think sharing the stage with The Sleeping Souls enhances or changes your live performances?

We certainly make a lot more noise as a five-piece than I do solo! The musical palette available to me is much broader, and I get to work with four very skilled musicians, so the creative horizon is wider as well. There’s more energy.

You’re taking The Hard Aches and Emily Barker out on tour across Australia, why those artists?

I’ve know both for a little while personally, and I love their music. The Hard Aches are a killer new voice in Australian music. Emily is an old friend, we’ve played together for years, mainly in the UK, so it’ll be great to share a stage in her home country.

Are there any other Australian artists that have caught your attention recently, or you’d love to see live while you’re over here?

Lincoln Lefevre is an amazing songwriter, we’ve crossed paths a few times. Jen Buxton still rules.

Your December tour includes a date at The Forum in Melbourne, which first opened in 1929, what role do you think long-standing venues like this can have to the local music community?

Music, especially loud rock music, needs a space to exist in. Without venues, there’s no culture for us. It’s cool to have old and long-standing places still playing an active role in the scene, for sure, though I think it’s also good to focus on and support new spaces as well. I’m excited to be back at the Forum, it’s a great room.

‘Be More Kind’ is a Clive James quote, tell us more about the influence of ‘Cultural Amnesia’, and other books/authors/poets who have influenced your music over the years?

I’m a long-standing James fan, but his recent creative fertility, brought on by the tragedy of his terminal illness, has been absolutely remarkable. He’s just a wonderful writer, and the line (“I should have been more kind / it is my fate to find this out but find it out too late”) just devastated me the first time I read it. ‘Cultural Amnesia’ revolutionised my thinking about culture and art as a whole. I have some poetic influences in my writing – Larkin, Eliot, Betjeman and so on – but on the whole my leading lights tend to be song (and thus lyric) writers – John K Samson, Adam Duritz, Aidan Moffat, Leonard Cohen and so on.

After seven albums, which all contain and convey your views of the world, what role does writing and creating music play for you?

Creating music is a necessity for me, it’s the centre of my identity and indeed my life, career, whatever. It’s an instinct, a reflex, a joy.

Tickets for Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls’ Australian tour are available via Ticketmaster.com.au.

Lead photo: Ben Morse/ Frank Turner

Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls

  • The Triffid, Newstead, QLD
  • Forum Melbourne, VIC
  • The Basement, Canberra, ACT
  • Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle West, NSW
  • Metro Theatre, Sydney, NSW
  • Club Capitol, Perth, WA
  • The Gov, Hindmarsh, SA

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