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If Brian Fallon is punk’s Springsteen, Frank Turner is its Loudon Wainwright. Marrying self-effacing humor with bracingly honest lyrics, the 29-year-old Englishman has been touring extensively as a solo artist since the 2005 dissolution of his old hardcore band, Million Dead. In that time, he’s managed to play more shows than many bands play in 15 years and has become one of punk rock’s most beloved artists. One YouTube commenter called him “the best friend you’ve never had,” and listening to his body of work, it’s more like throwing back beers with one of your buddies than listening to a record.
The A.V. Club caught Turner before his show tonight at (heh) Turner Hall to ask a few questions.
The A.V. Club: You’ve only been playing solo for a few years, but you’ve already played well over 1000 shows. Do you want to continue on the same pace or do you see yourself slowing down with time?
Frank Turner: Well, for the moment, I’m happy continuing at this pace; I get bored pretty easily. [Laughs.] But then, never say never, and I certainly have to take things a little easier on the road these days than I used to five years ago. So we shall see.
AVC: You’ve spoken of writing a tour diary, much like Henry Rollins. Do you have any crazy stories to share, or will the world have to wait for Frank Turner’s Tales From The Road?
FT: I’m working on a book of diaries for sure. It turns out, writing a book takes a fuck of a lot longer than I thought it would. [Laughs.] I think one of the problems is that I’m not so good at working without a deadline... There’s always other things to be getting on with. But I’m getting it together. Touring is adventuring, for me, so there’s always good stories to share.
AVC: Like you, many former punk singers have turned to folk revivalism. Is this the shape of punk to come?
FT: I think it’s the shape of some punk for the time being. I always thought of punk as being more an ethos than a sound anyway, so I’m sure it’ll continue to resurface in different guises here and there. It’s funny, it seems like what I’m doing right now has ended up being a little zeitgeist-y for the punk scene at the moment, but it really didn’t feel like that in 2005 and it wasn’t an intention of mine or anything like that. I just made the music that felt right to me, and still do.
AVC: Along with bands like The Gaslight Anthem and The Hold Steady, you seem to be a part of what Craig Finn calls the “unified scene.” You yourself have said, “There’s no such thing as rock stars, there’s just people who play music.” Is the line between musician and fan beginning to blur?
FT: I sure hope so. One of the things that attracted me to punk in the first place was the iconoclasm, the idea that the people making the music and the people enjoying it were on a level. If the person playing is socially removed from their audience, I find it hard to see why that audience should give too much of a shit about what that person has to say. The Internet is actually pretty useful in this respect; it breaks down a lot of barriers, or at least can be used to do that.
AVC: You’ve said Loudon Wainwright III is a role model of yours. Can we look forward to you transitioning into comedy acting in the future?
FT: [Laughs.] I doubt it. My acting skills are... not amazing.