The Road Beneath His Feet: Frank Turner’s Life of Music and Travel (Video Interview)

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Frank Turner has been described musically in many ways: punk, folk, country, acoustic-hardcore (okay, I made that one up.) Over his decade career of playing music as a solo artist who now tours with a permanent band his stylistic range has been great. There is something for everyone in his oeuvre, and those fans come together to dance and sing along each time he passes through a city that’s remotely close to them–and that is quite often. However you’d like to describe the music of Frank Turner, one thing is undeniable: he is a traveler.

He has been touring all over the world for the past decade or so, bringing his music to people in basements, bars, and stadiums. Although his touring has become much more regimented over the last few years, his beginnings were anything but. Taking shows any chance he could get, he often traveled on short notice and without the support of a bus or even a van just for the opportunity to go to a new place. His determination is quite evident, and his music has only gotten better for it.

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I had the opportunity to sit down with Frank at his stop at World Cafe Live at the Queen in Wilmington, Delaware (his first show in the state!) It’s hard to believe this show was over a month ago! To give you an idea of his touring dedication, this was show number 1,971 since he started touring as a solo act in 2005, and the 2000th show is scheduled for December 15 at Nottingham Rock City in the UK. We talked about traveling, life on the road, maintaining relationships with such a manic tour schedule, and finding time to be creative along the way. We also touched on Brexit and Thanksgiving with Sick of it All. While Frank admitted to slowing down a bit with age (he takes a day off every few days on tours instead of scheduling multiple gigs in a day) he certainly has no intention of stopping.

Frank was very generous with his time, and never shy with a smile during our chat. The full video interview is below, and I have transcribed some of my favorite bits here:

“The experience of going from being medium-popular in a very underground way to back to zero again was, I think, quite useful for me on a personal level and it made me quite self-reliant and kind of determined and hopefully humble and grateful for what I have.”

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On getting to 2,000 shows: “A couple people have asked ‘what number do you think you’ll get to?’ And that’s a really, really sort of existentialist question because it’s essentially asking me how long I think I’m gonna live.”

“The thing I love about the idea punk rock is the idea of self-creation; the idea that you can consciously decide what kind of person you are rather than just accepting what the universe throws at you.”

“I took a sort of conscious decision that I was going to do something interesting with my life and not just kind of sleepwalk into the kind of person my parents wanted me to be.”

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“One of the major misconceptions that pisses me off is people who think that what I do is easy. That’s different than saying what I do isn’t fortunate; what I do is incredibly fortunate. I love what I do, I’m incredibly grateful, and I’m lucky to do what I do, and I thank the fates every morning that I get to do what I do for a living. But, for the record, it’s fucking hard.”

“I’m furiously pro-immigration everywhere and at all times. We’re a nation of immigrants as much as anybody else.”

On the best travel advice he’s been given: “In terms of appreciating a city you’re in: Look up! If you want to learn about the history and the architecture of a city, look up. Look at the tops of the buildings. And drink a lot of water.”

HERE IS THE FULL VIDEO INTERVIEW:

Where would you recommend anyone travel to: “Anyone from Europe I’d say America. I’d say ‘stop having fucking opinions about America without having been here.’ As much as much as I love them, don’t just go to San Francisco and New York. Go to Texas, go to Ohio, go to the South, go to Memphis. See the states; it’s a wonderful and unique and interesting thing. Other than that, just try and go somewhere you haven’t been! I try and do that as much as I can.”

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I want to thank Frank Turner, Xtra Mile Records, Epitaph Records, Hillary, Tre, and everyone at World Cafe Live who helped make this happen!

You can catch Frank’s 2,000th show this Thursday, December 15th at Nottingham Rock City (if you happen to have tickets. It’s been sold out for some time now!) or you can catch him at one of his many upcoming other dates for shows 2,001 and beyond!

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Note: It’s been a busy month since this interview! I have a lot of new content that I’m preparing to upload and some exciting interviews coming up that I can’t wait to share!

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