INTERVIEW: Frank Turner

Published in The Music (VIC, NSW), X-Press Magazine (WA) and on, Aug 2015


With his latest record, English troubadour Frank Turner went from fighting inner turmoil to literally going head-to-head with a pro wrestler. Daniel Cribb steps in the ring.

The title of Frank Turner’s sixth record, Positive Songs For Negative People, might seem like a scripture for fans down on their luck, but the record’s far from a mission statement to the lost and broken hearted. “I’m always slightly weary of music with a ‘Message’,” Turner begins. “If people take ideas and thoughts from the music I make, that’s great, but I’m not setting out to spread the good word; the songs that I write are directed at myself, and not too much anyone else.”

The singer-songwriter’s previous effort, Tape Deck Heart, dropped in 2013 and was  “a breakup record, and record about failure and fucking your life up”.

It was a vulnerable time in Turner’s life, and a back injury and run-in with the media compounded the themes throughout album number five. It was during that time that the new songs started to form. “All those things were survivable, and in those situations, you can either wallow in your misery, or you can do something about it. I had a bit of a wallow for a while, but decided that doing something about it was a bit of a better direction.”

The biggest battle Turner faced that year was when The Guardian ran an opinion piece in which they dug up comments he made in 2009 and labelled him right wing. “They tore my life apart for a period of time, so I think I’d be mad if I weren’t more weary of [the media] now. It’s also made me just utterly, utterly, thoroughly bored of any discussion of politics in a public forum; I’m not interested. The standard of debate is way too fucking low for me to be bothered to be interested in it.

People got fucked off a bit because I refused to toe the line, essentially, and subscribe to what the correct thing is, which to me doesn’t feel very punk, but that’s just my opinion. A lot of people these days are extremely bad at dealing with the concept of debut and opposing views, in a way that I find very depressing, but it’s not a fight that I’m interested in having anymore.”

A fight he was interested in – and one that effectively summarises the themes around Positive Songs For Negative People– was one with pro wrestler CM Punk in the music video for lead single The Next Storm. “It fucking terrified me, because wrestling is really not my scene,” he laughs. “The guy who directs my music videos found out that CM Punk was a fan and we just sort of got in touch.

“This was a record about gathering yourself and standing up after a fall. It’s an optimistic record, but not in a ‘don’t worry, be happy’ kind of way, kind of a ‘fight back, don’t let the fuckers drag you down’ way.”