Fast approaching show number 2000, Frank Turner tackled the turmoil of 2016 , by bringing people together in Leeds for a night of Yorkshire-fuelled bedlam.
“We have toured hard this year, we’ve really put graft in and covered some honest ground.” Frank Turner and his band The Sleeping Souls are notorious hard-core road riders, and this year they have proven it once again.
2016 has also been a bitter pill to swallow for most of us, including the folk-punk rocker: “We’ve lost a lot of famous people, I am particularly gutted about Leonard Cohen’s passing. The politics has been fucked as well, to choose a word.”
Unlike in the past (see the 2006 EP ‘Campfire Punkrock’) Turner says, “I’ve consciously not been a current affairs writer for quite a long time now”. That is not to say however, that he his jaded by it all, “I am a human existing in the world and 2016 has been so mental, it is difficult not to react to it creatively. It’s a scary time to be a human.”
Playing to The Refectory in Leeds, Turner does not avoid the political elephant in the room, and actively promotes union, slamming recent politics and calling for a ‘wall of hugs’. Unsurprisingly after almost two thousand shows, the man is confident, seemingly more comfortable on stage than off it.
It is an extreme talent to bring the whole crowd out of their shyness, but Turner insists, and has a knack of playing with the audience until they feel at ease. Not only do his songs connect with spectators, but his character does as well. Despite having performed at the opening ceremony to the 2012 Olympics, he could still play comfortably in an English pub. On the other hand this is not to say that the man has not changed over the years.
“I’m older, I have more tattoos, more bits of me that are broken, a better haircut, more songs, and I like to think I am better at what I do” Turner says as he recalls what has changed since show 1000.
Obviously things have transformed for the now 34 year old, but Turner says he is “constantly disappointed” by people who say they don’t like something new he writes, because it is different. “Yes it is different, that is the fucking point! To remain the same without changing is not only boring, but is a betrayal of my responsibilities as an artist.”
“Songwriting is the thing I am in interested in life, not punk, not folk or politics, song-writing is the thing I care about” Turner states.
For 2017 he aims to be true to his word: “I have written a tonne of songs, and I am keen to do something out of my comfort zone.”
Appearing on the big screen in wake of the 2000th show is a recent experiment of his, but Turner makes it clear, he won’t be heading for the Hollywood hills anytime soon. “It’s not my piece of art, it’s just about me, which is fine… if a little bit weird for me.”
Ben Morse, tour photographer, director, and friend to Frank, is the creative brain behind ‘Get Better – A Film about Frank Turner’.
“What was originally going to be a tour documentary, turned into a piece on my life falling apart and coming back together, because Ben never stopped filming.”
The film is to be shown in cinemas across the country for one night only on the 13th of December. There will also be a live stream of an acoustic performance and a Q&A session upon the film release.