Acclaimed folk singer Frank Turner is heading to Red Deer to play The International Beer Haus on Feb. 29th.
Having spent years on the UK hardcore circuit, Turner picked up an acoustic guitar in 2005 and dug deep for what have been described as personal, introspective and rousing folk tunes.
His steady rise has seen him play in places as far removed as China, it’s seen him supporting Green Day at Wembley Stadium, not to mention playing the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics and headlining his own show at the O2 in London.
Yet he continues to support independent venues, play smaller towns and work with a host of rising musicians.
With six studio CDs including Tape Deck Heart and his 2015 chart-topping Positive Songs For Negative People – Turner is also touted as being one of the most inspiring and successful independent musical entertainers around.
He hails from Meonstoke, Hampshire, England. He was born in Bahrain where his father worked as an investment banker.
Upon return to England, the family settled first in Winchester before moving to Meonstoke. Turner was educated on a scholarship at Eton College, where he studied alongside Prince William.
“My mom was a prime school music teacher, and my parents are musical but they listen to classical music. They don’t really believe in drums,” he says with a laugh during a chat from Hamburg, Germany. But a growing passion for music was undeniable, and an interest in rock particularly hit the young Turner pretty much like a tidal wave, he recalls.
As mentioned, he eventually landed a guitar and started playing in a number of cover bands with his buddies. “It sort of evolved over time.”
There was room for focus on other areas – he attended the London School of Economics where he read history which he does remain very passionate about as well.
But his musical career really began with the alternative band Kneejerk during his teen years.
In 2001, Turner joined London post-hardcore band Million Dead.
In 2005, the band announced they were parting ways and around that time Turner got a tape with Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska on it. Although it wasn’t exactly a ‘lightswitch’ moment as has been perpetuated in other circles, it certainly helped to mark a new direction.
“My understanding of modern rock and roll was pretty lopsided, and when I was touring with hardcore bands, you can’t really get on the tour bus and listen to more hardcore music – it would drive you out of your mind.
“So I started to investigate the corners and edges of genres like folk music and country and getting into stuff like Springsteen, and Dylan and Neil Young.”
A broadening in his approach to creating music was underway.
In the studio and during live performances, Turner is accompanied by his backing band, The Sleeping Souls, which consists of Ben Lloyd (guitar, mandolin), Tarrant Anderson (bass), Matt Nasir (piano) and Nigel Powell (drums).
As to Positive Songs for Negative People, he knew going into it that it was time to inject some invigorating new elements.
“I wanted to try and make a record that had that young, exciting feel, full of piss and vinegar. This also tied in with the fact that to date I don’t feel like I’ve made an album that captures the live experience of seeing me and the Sleeping Souls do what we do best. So I had it in my head to make a record quickly, having worked on the songs for a long time beforehand in a live setting.”
The key lay with producer Butch Walker, whose name appears on the production credits of albums by artists as diverse as Katy Perry, Hot Hot Heat, Pink and Fall Out Boy.
“The Souls and I flew to Nashville with a suite of very well-rehearsed and road-tested songs, and smashed out the album in nine days,” says Turner. “Pretty much all of it is live, and I’m proud to say that with one exception every vocal take on the record is unedited as well. The end result is everything I wanted it to be.
“I think that a lot of bands get kind of comfortable, kind of flabby shall we say around that number of records coming out,” he said. “So I feel like this is a borderline ‘live’ record.
“In some ways I feel like this record is my definitive statement, a summation of the first five records,” he said.
Meanwhile, Turner is utterly grateful for the path he’s on in life.
He remembers a past job where he tried to sell phones over the phone, which he describes as, “A uniquely thankless task.” It was the last full-time job he held before embarking as a musician on a full-time basis.
“I’m very fortunate to do what I do. I essentially get to do my passion, my hobby,” he said. “For a lot of bands, life on the road is kind of like a holiday from the norm. There is another life that they are returning to.
“But this is my normal existence,” he said of the cycle of recording and spending so much time crisscrossing the globe to share his music. “This is my day-to-day. Being on the road is my normality.”