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Rosy Moorhead catches up with Frank Turner ahead of his pre-Reading Festival warm-up show at The Forum in Hatfield
Have you ever been to The Forum before? What did you think?
I played this venue as support for The Holloways in May 2008. I remember having a good time there. I think it’s a cool place to be doing the warm-up show!
What was your student union bar like when you were at uni?
The bar at the LSE was OK – the barman there is still a friend of mine actually, he’s a comedian, Jonny Awsum – but I didn’t do masses of university socialising, to be honest. I was already touring in bands at the time.
Did you have bands or artists as big as you are now performing there?
They didn’t really do much in the way of shows at my uni. I actually put on some gigs in the basement myself, for my old punk band, Million Dead. They were chaotic but fun, as I remember it.
You’ve played Reading and Leeds a couple of times before – what do you like about the festivals?
Reading was my festival growing up in Winchester, I went many times and it has a firm place in my heart. Reading and Leeds have a cool, slightly geeky vibe about them – people go to see specific bands at specific times, not to just wallow in ’the vibe’ or whatever.
Who else’s set are you going to try and catch while you’re there?
Long experience has taught me not to get too excited about who else is on the bill as I’m invariably playing a different day or doing press or something. That said, we’re on right before the Deftones, which is great, I love that band.
What’s the best festival moment you’ve ever had, either as a fan or performing at one?
Playing guest guitar for NOFX at Reading was a special moment for me, I grew up on that band.
In recent interviews you describe Tapedeck Heart as being a break-up album and about your politics – tell us something about yourself, or the album, that we won’t have read elsewhere.
Tape Deck Heart is, pretty self-consciously, a difficult record. It’s a dark record, and I think it’s quite dense in terms of ideas. Hopefully it’ll be a record that keeps giving over time, if you see what I mean. It was borne of a pretty dark time in my life.
What’s your favourite song on the album? And your favourite of all your songs?
It’s difficult to pick favourites. On the new record I guess Broken Piano stands out to me, as probably the most leftfield song I’ve written to date. Beyond that, well, I guess I Still Believe has been good to me as a song, but it’s impossible to pick one as a favourite really, each song has so much invested in it.
You’ve spoken at length before about people branding you a sell-out for playing Wembley and the like – did those arguments ever surface in your mind when you were offered the gig at the Olympics opening ceremony?
Sure, but they don’t trouble me deeply because I’m confident in my method and my motives. If you come from the punk scene, and do anything other than just play basement shows, you’re going to get criticised by someone sometime. It’s part of life. I’ve long since dealt with it.
How was that night for you?
Very surreal, but certainly a unique experience, which was, for me, the point of doing it.
What’s coming up next for you?
A lot of touring around the world. I’m also working on new songs, a side project (Mongol Horde) and a big UK tour announcement. No rest for the wicked.
- Frank Turner plays The Forum, University of Hertfordshire, College Lane Campus, Hatfield on Thursday, August 22. Details: forumhertfordshire.co.uk. He plays Reading Festival Main Stage on Friday, August 23, and the Leeds Festival Main Stage on Saturday, August 24. Details: readingfestival.com