How did the The Pogues show happen?
It was an invite from the band, which was fantastic. I hadn’t met them but we have connections through [Joe Strummer Foundation for new music] Strummerville.
You played Wembley Arena earlier this year, was it a tough decision taking on such a big venue?
I was concerned with retaining the things that are important to my music – community and inclusivity.
It’s easy to lose those in an arena. It took six months planning it and everyone came away from it with that feeling, so we succeeded. In many ways, it was an experiment to see whether I can function on that level and interesting to see that I can.
Is that why you’re playing a more regional tour now?
It was an attempt to reassure people who thought I might withdraw from regional tours for short, big city arena runs.
I wanted to send the message that that’s not my intention.
We’ve just done Cork, Bangor, the Isle of Man, all over the British Isles.
And you’re playing a fundraising show at Southampton’s The Joiners Arms…
It was the first venue I went to and played at.Small venues are a part of the music scene so when I heard they’re having financial troubles,I wanted to help.
I’m flying in from another show for an ailing venue in Zurich the day before, so it will just be me and my guitar. I’m playing two shows now as when they put the first one on sale the system crashed so they added another one.
How’s the tour’s ‘dance off’ been going?
It’s a bit of fun, the winners have been in Truro.
You’ve sustained a few injuries, too…
That’s par for the course, but I get a lot less now than when I played in hardcore bands so it’s fine.
Do you ever want to go back to your hardcore roots?
Doing those shows this summer with [hardcore side project] Mongol Horde was fun – I will find time to make a record and tour but it’s not what I want to spend the majority of my time doing.
Last year’s album England Keep My Bones was a massive success – how has that result shaped the follow-up?
It’s unlikely for me to be doing what I’m doing; releasing my fifth record and my most anticipated yet – that in and of itself is unusual. I have done the whole thing on an independent label and will continue to do so – and that’s unusual.
I have been thinking about why a lot of bands get boring with age – not that many bands’ fifth albums are that interesting.
Part of the reason is they start second-guessing themselves and calculating for their audience.
So in writing for this record, I’ve pushed myself to ignore those things and release my most raw and exposed record – which is what I would have done if I was still writing songs in my bedroom.
What’s the album going to be about?
It is basically a break-up record, to be honest. It is about personal life catastrophes.
Do you enjoy being a solo star or do you miss being in bands?
I’ve spent a lot of time in bands and it has its advantages. When it’s going well, it’s like a gang, but I felt liberated by being able to write what I want. There’s a degree of megalomania in that but there’s a degree of megalomania in art.
Now I have my cake and eat it – I have my backing band and I can write what I want.
What tempted you to play Danny Boyle’s Olympics Opening Ceremony?
We just got a call asking us to meet with Danny – it turns out he’s a big fan of my music.
He asked if I’d like to be part of it and I said yes. There are people who backlashed in a tediously punk-rock way, but it would be a boring yarn to spin in the pub in 40 years that I’m the guy who almost played the Olympic Ceremony.
Life is short. If you have the opportunity to do something interesting you should. And to all the people who’ve had a go at me for doing it, I can only say next time you are asked to the Olympics Opening Ceremony, you turn it down, mate!
Are you looking forward to heading out to Australia next year?
I’m excited about going back. We’re doing the Byron Bay Blues Festival, which is exciting, and the rest of the currently announced shows are opening for the Dropkick Murphys.
I love those guys and we have shared a lot of road together. We are going to be announcing some headline shows of my own soon, too.
Many musicians, myself included, describe Australia as the promised land of touring and it is great being out there.
Frank Turner plays The O2 supporting The Pogues. Dec 20. £41.75
Peninsula Square, SE10 0DX
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