Interview: Frank Turner – Independent Venue Week [January 2015]

By Lais

Hi Frank! How are you doing? Hope you’ve had a great Christmas and New Year!

I’m good thanks, had a hectic festive season: my birthday is around then and a couple of friends got married, so it wasn’t very sober or sensible. But fun.

You’re the ambassador for Independent Venue Week this year, which started earlier this week on January 26th. Tell us some more about what IVW entails.

It’s a celebration of independent venues, the places where the culture that we all love and share takes place, and without which we’d be screwed. So there are shows happening all up and down the country in independent small venues, to remind people how awesome those kinds of shows are, and to hopefully get a new generation of people involved in enjoying and supporting this corner of our culture.

You’ve taken over from Radiohead’s Colin Greenwood. How did you get involved in working with Independent Venue Week?

I’ve been working with the Music Venue Trust to present a petition to Sajid David MP, the Culture Secretary, to help protect small venues, so it’s a campaign I’m generally publicly supportive of anyway. The people from IVW got in touch and asked if I’d be interested in fronting this year, and I was very flattered and naturally said yes.

You’ll be playing a gig at the first place you ever performed. How are you feeling about that?

Well, it’s the first place I did a “registered” solo show, not the first place I performed. That’d be my older sister’s birthday party when I was a little kid, haha. But it’s nice to be heading back to 93, I’ve played there solo and with Million Dead so there are a lot of cool memories for me there. It’s also a place that has had some problems lately, so it’s good to see it back on its feet.

What do independent venues mean to you personally as an artist? Do you have a personal favourite small venue to play at?

They’re the place where I learned about music, and where I honed my craft, such as it is. I started out going to see small shows at indie venues as a kid – the Joiners and the Railway – and, years later, also started out playing places like the Red Eye (RIP), the Barfly, the Garage and so on. Nambucca also deserves a special mention. These are the stages on which I have seen my favourite bands and learned how to play music, they’re the centre piece of my culture. I’m desperately passionate about them. It’d be hard to pick a favourite really. Recently, maybe the Monarch in Camden, that place rules.

You’ve progressed hugely from the days of Million Dead – you now play huge venues as a solo artist. How do you find playing solo compared to being in a band? And how do you find playing in big venues compared to smaller, more intimate ones?

Being solo is looser, more exposed: it has its pluses and its minuses. I usually play with the Sleeping Souls these days, but it’s nice to get back to the old school format, me and a guitar. It remains the backbone of what I do. Venue size, well, again, each has its attractions and its drawbacks. It’s nice to get up close and personal, but I don’t like excluding people from the shows – these two IVW shows sold out in like a minute – so often I’ll play the bigger rooms.

What have you got coming up in 2015?

I’m putting the finishing touches to a new record right now, which should be out before the summer, and my book of tour diaries is coming out soon as well.


Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]