Soundsphere spoke to Frank Turner for the first time in a while. Frank is, of course the former lead singer of post-hardcore band Million Dead, who has since become a solo artist releasing eight studio albums to much success. During the lockdown he has been doing various live streams, fundraising for grassroots music venues and also talking about mental health. We spoke to him about how he is coping with the current lockdown situation, methods he finds useful to cope with stress and how he defines success.
The current lockdown is a strange time for everyone, in terms of how he is coping Frank says: “Some people are finding it much harder than others, depending on your situation in life, I’m fortunate that enough to live in a house that I like where there is a little bit of outdoor space with my wife and with my cat and you know things could be a lot worse.”
Frank has been keeping busy listening to music as well. “I’ve been reading a lot, I’ve been trying to keep busy with projects around the place.” He also comments that it is okay to have a lack of activity during the lockdown: “A lot of people have been saying it’s time to get stuff done and to do little projects and be creative and write music or whatever it might be, I think it’s okay to have days where you don’t feel productive, I have good days and bad days and some, I get a lot done and some days I don’t, and at the beginning, I was really hard on myself on days where I didn’t get stuff done and I’m trying to remember it’s okay to have days where you don’t.”
Success is a difficult area to define usually but Turner manages to talk us through his attitude: “I pay my rent by playing music that’s fucking mad and then the other thing is, more importantly, I can stand behind all the music I’ve put out in the world, do you know what I mean?” He goes onto talk about how he challenges himself still as an artist saying, “I’m eight records in but I’d like to think that I’m still pushing myself, challenging myself, trying to say new things trying to make new sounds and I’m not repeating myself and I’m not like marking time or just going through the motions or anything like that, as long as I can say that to myself honestly then I feel good about what I do.”
Another thing that is all too common during this difficult period is mental health, and how people are trying to cope. Frank comments: “Try to remember to be as gentle with yourself as you would be with somebody else you love, is an important thing and that in a roundabout way of telling you you’ve got to love yourself.” In terms of self-motivation, he continues: “If you just have a day for every now and again where it doesn’t come together for you, where you don’t get out of bed properly or achieve anything, particularly in lockdown now, I think that’s something that we need to be forgiving of ourselves for doing.”
Turner also discusses his own struggles with mental health and drug addiction openly: “Anyone that has had addiction issues knows that it’s a constant daily thing, it’s not a thing that you switch on and you deal with and you park and it’s over, every day is a day where you contemplate the issues that have troubled you in the past and you have to sort of talk to yourself and talk to those issues and that is a thing I deal with a lot on a daily basis.”
On a final positive note, Frank also shares what makes him happy, which (obviously) includes playing shows: “I absolutely fucking love being on a stage in front of an audience trying my best to entertain a room full of people,” he says: “Aside from that, I’ve been incredibly lucky to have found my wife, who is the love of my life.”
Frank’s new album Live in Newcastle is out now, check it out if you can!
Interview: Dom Smith / Words: Brett Herlingshaw