Once again, Frank Turner will be taking the stage at Reading and Leeds Festivals this year, with his first performance on the Main Stage. His new album England Keep My Bones is due to be released June 6th, which follows his last album Poetry of the Deed, and the Rock & Roll EP. Frank managed to take some time out from his busy schedule to give Strictly Festivals an exclusive interview.
Hi Frank, firstly thanks a lot for agreeing to do this interview with us. Good luck with the tour. To start off,
This is your first year playing the main stage at Reading and Leeds, after playing the festival for many years, what’s going to be different this year?
Well, being on the big outdoor stage is pretty cool and a little daunting. I’m very excited about it though.
Are there any acts that you’re particularly looking forward to seeing over the weekend?
I have to say I’m not too familiar with the lineup. The Descendents are playing though, and that’s just fine with me.
You’ve played Reading and Leeds many times now, what’s your favourite memory coming from the festivals?
I’ve been going to Reading as a punter for many years as well, so I have a lot of memories. Playing there is always a blast, as a result. Too many to mention, in a way. Playing there with Million Dead in 2005 was a bittersweet occasion, as we broke up shortly afterwards.
Your cameo with NOFX last year was a big deal for the lock-up tent, was it as much of a big deal for you?
Absolutely. They are one of my all-time favourite bands, I adore them, and that was a real moment for me, a career highlight.
You headlined your first festival last year at 2000 trees, how did that feel?
It felt great, not least because the people behind that fest are good friends.
This summer also involves headlining the Pepsi Max stage at Download. Do you feel slightly out of place headlining at such a festival, or are your punk roots and punk following a big factor in the matter?
I’d imagine they’re a factor in why they asked me to play. I don’t feel out of place in many places, to be honest. It’ll be interesting to see what the crowd is like, but I’m kind of proud of the fact that I’m playing there this summer and at the Cambridge Folk Festival.
The new tour that has just started includes many smaller venues, and is also a solo tour; what made you decide to do this, and is there anything special planned for the homecoming gig in Winchester?
A lot of people have been asking for a while if I could do some more UK gigs which were in smaller venues, and solo. I aim to please, so we booked the tour. The only problem is that the whole thing sold out very fast, and then people started complaining about that. You can’t win sometimes. But it’s fun, the tour is going great.
Recently, you have referenced Bob Dylan a lot in your songs, has he had a big influence on your music?
More recently, yes. I have been a late comer to Dylan, but in recent years I’ve developed something of an obsession.
What can we expect from England Keep My Bones, and what will make it different from your previous albums?
It’s not a radical departure, just maybe a little deeper ploughed into the same furrow. I’m proud of it, I can’t wait for it to come out for people to hear.
From England Keep My Bones, ‘Glory Hallelujah’ is obviously a very controversial song, what made you decide to write it?
It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long while. I have played many Christian songs on stage in my time, and have no issue with that; but one time I was singing “May the circle be unbroken” onstage in Atlanta, GA, with Chuck Ragan, and it occurred to me that it’d be nice if there was a concomitant atheist song, with the same feel, to put the other side of the argument. Hence the song.
What can we expect from you after England Keep My Bones?
Much touring. At least a couple of years on the road, I think. After that, who knows? More music, certainly, but I have some ideas for side-projects which might come to fruition sooner or later, as well as wanting to do more stuff in the way I am now.
Lastly, Team Reading or Team Leeds?
I have to say Reading, I’m a southerner.
Frank Turner will be playing the main stage at Reading on the Sunday, and at Leeds on the Friday.