With His 6th Studio Album Arriving This Summer, British Singer-Songwriter, FRANK TURNER Chats With All Access About The Album and More!
Posted On 19 Jun 2015
Tag: ABBA, All Access, All Access Music, All Access Music Group, Aphex Twin, Artist Interview, Bruce Springsteen, Butch Walker, England, Fall Out Boy, Frank Turner, Get Better, Hollywood, Iron Maiden, KATY PERRY, Nashville, Neil Young, Next Storm, Nick Cave, Pink, POLYDOR UK /INTERSCOPE, Positive Songs For Negative People, Robbie Robertson, Singer-Songwriter, Tape Deck Heart, The Band, The Road Beneath My Feet, The Sleeping Souls, The Souls, Tom Petty, Xtra Mile Recordings
The British singer-songwriter Frank Turner will release a new album, entitled Positive Songs For Negative People, on August 7th via Xtra Mile Recordings/Polydor UK /Interscope.
The album is Turner’s sixth album and follow-up to his critically acclaimed 2013 release Tape Deck Heart. He recorded the collection with his trusted backing band The Sleeping Souls and it was produced by Butch Walker in Nashville.
“I feel like this record is my definitive statement, a summation of the first five records,” Turner says. “When a band makes a debut record, there’s a freshness and excitement to it that bands often lose as time goes by. I wanted to make a record with that young, exciting feel.” After a period of writing and perfecting the songs at a rehearsal studio in England, they headed to the US to work with Walker for an intense nine-day recording session. “Pretty much all of it is live,” Turner says. “The end result is everything I wanted it to be.”
Learn more about Frank Turner and his music in the following All Access interview:
This summer, you will be releasing your 6th studio album, “Positive Songs for Negative People”. How is this music on it different or similar to your previous releases? How has your approach to making a record changed over the years?
Every record is different, it depends on time and place, so it’s hard to compare across records, other than to say that I like to think I’ve got better with practice! This time around I was really keen to try hard to capture the spirit and the feeling of my live show, with The Sleeping Souls – something I don’t think I’ve yet managed to do. Working with Butch Walker as producer was fantastic, as he understood what I was going for – an album that feels raw and energetic but also full and lush. I think we nailed it, personally.”
Positive Songs for Negative People is a pretty interesting name. How did you come up with it? What other names were you considering? Can you give fans a little insight into this collection? What can they expect?
This time around I had the title before I had any songs. In the aftermath of “Tape Deck Heart” and the events it was about – a nasty breakup, which was largely my fault – I wanted to try and reassess who I am and what I do. A late night drunken conversation with an old friend resulted in me stuttering out the phrase, and immediately it felt like the right direction to head in, philosophically. So the record is about picking up the pieces, about surviving a fall.
I read that once you picked a producer, it only took you 9 days with him, Butch Walker (known for his work with Pink, Katy Perry, Fall Out Boy) to record this new record? Why did it all come together so fast?
This was an album that took a long time to make quickly! I wanted to make it like a debut album – when bands usually just set up and tear through their live set in the studio. The Souls and I rehearsed these songs and road-tested them for a long time. It also took a while to find a producer who I felt fully understood what I was trying to do with the songs and with the overall feel. After some false starts and a fair bit of frustration, I met Butch and instantly felt like he was the man for the job. So we finally cut the record pretty much live in Nashville with him; but there was a lot of preparation before we were ready to do that.
The first song released from the new album is “Get Better”. What was the inspiration for the song?
Sometimes I feel like it’s important to go back to first principles when working on songs. With the title and the direction for the record in my mind, this was one of the first songs I wrote for the album, and it came together quite quickly. It’s a song about pulling yourself together.
I think you are known for incredibly smart and thoughtful lyrics. Generally, what has been your songwriting process?
Why thank you. I don’t really have a set process as such, things (music and lyrics) arrive in dribs and drabs, and I do my best to collate them into songs when I can. There’s an awful lot of drafting and tinkering, particularly with the lyrics and with the arrangement, which I work out in tandem with the Sleeping Souls. The whole thing remains slightly mysterious to me, which is fine, as long as it’s still working!
Throughout your career, you’ve always toured a lot! Can you remember some favorite gigs? Where were they and what made them so special?
It’s hard to pick individual shows, there have been too many to choose just a few. I wrote a book about the memorable ones lately.
How would you say your fans in the US compare to your fans at home in England?
They drive further for shows, have better manners, but pronounce the word “vitamin” wrong.
Earlier this year, you put out your first book, “The Road Beneath My Feet”. What was it like compiling that? How did you go about choosing which pictures and stories from fans to include in the book? Can you recall one that you didn’t have space for but really liked?
Writing the book was interesting for me, looking back through everything, and also quite a bit harder than I had anticipated. It took a lot of effort, not just writing the individual entries, but also constructing a book-length narrative arc that would sustain a reader over 300 pages or so. I came away from it with a much higher regard for proper writers (which was already high). It was fun though, I think it gave me some insight into my career that I didn’t have before. Everything that needed to be included was.
Growing up, was music always a big part of your life? How did you come to the decision to be a performer? If you weren’t a musician today, what else could you see yourself doing?
I fell in love with rock’n’roll aged about 10 – before that there had been music around, my parents listened to classical music and my mum taught primary school kids how to play the recorder. But then I heard Iron Maiden and everything span on a dime, the world turned upside down. Since then I haven’t really wanted to do anything else with my life. Of course it’s been a long road since then learning how to actually do what I do, getting better at it, and convincing other people that what I do is worthwhile. I guess if I wasn’t doing this I’d probably be (trying to be) in the academic world, I was a scholarship kid, I love history.
What artists have consistently inspired you? And what would we be surprised to find on your iPod right now?
Consistent inspiration, for me, comes from people with long and varied careers – Springsteen, Tom Petty, Neil Young. I’m interested in how you sustain yourself in music over a long period of time. And the tunes kick ass, of course. I don’t know what other people find surprising, and I don’t much care. I like what I like, be it ABBA or Aphex Twin.
Living or dead, who would you love to work with and why?
Robbie Robertson of The Band fascinates me as an arranger as well as a songwriter. Nick Cave is remarkable in every way as a musician. There are too many to list, in a way.
Where do you see yourself in 10 or even 20 years?
That’s hard to say. I’d like to think I will still be a professional musician and entertainer, I enjoy what I do. That said, if you’d told me 10 years ago where I’d be now I would have found it hard to believe, to say the least. The finding out is the fun part.