Frank Turner Talks "Tape Deck Heart"
Mon, 01 Apr 2013 12:39:23
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"Every interview I do, I get a different theory about what the album title means," smiles Frank Turner. "I love that. I tell everyone that they're spot on."
That's the most magical thing about his new album, Tape Deck Heart, available April 23. It's going to resonate differently with everybody who hears it. A profound, poetic, and powerful collection, Turner pens a record that's equally immersive and infectious. You'll definitely find your own meaning in it…
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Frank Turner opens up about Tape Deck Heart and more.
What was your vision for Tape Deck Heart as a whole?
I don't really sit down and start writing towards a vision. It's more of a constant buzzing in my head [Laughs]. It's a question of writing music down in a certain period of time. Afterwards, one can massage it and try to make it more of a cohesive whole. To your point, I think it definitely has a cohesion, but it's born of a fact that comes from a time and place in my life. The other thing I should say about this record is the one conscious thing I did do is try to be as raw, personal, and exposed as I possibly could be. That seemed like the counterintuitive thing to me. A lot of bands at this point of the career have a tendency to retreat a little bit, get somewhat generic, bland, and defensive in terms of things they say on their records. That's why they become less interesting.
That honesty resounds in the lyrics.
Yeah, it was about England for the most part, which is fine, but in part, it's quite an abstract concept to write about. Of course, it dovetails neatly with events in my personal life I wanted to write more deeply about. The material is more personal this time around.
What encouraged that?
To me, the most bizarre accusation that gets thrown around in the music industry when it comes to bands is, "You've changed". To which the answer is, "Obviously, that's what I'm trying to do! I had no intention of repeating myself" [Laughs]. It's partly that. I also ended a long relationship between the end of the last record and the beginning of this one. I think that comes through on the record.
What's the story behind "Polaroid Picture"?
This is the specific genesis of that song. There was a venue in London called The Astoria, which was there for years. It was the 2,000-capacity venue that every medium-sized punk band played at. I grew up going there. It was a real hub of the music scene in London. It was demolished a few years ago and turned into a railway station, which is nice [Laughs]. I played the last show there ever. I was invited to do a whole bunch of press around that show to talk about the venue. At the start of the day, I was very much onboard with the idea that "this is a tragedy, a great loss, and the end of an era". After talking about it for a few years, I felt sort of uneasy about that. I think this is the point of the song. Rock 'n' roll is an ethereal art form. It's about moments. It's about snapshots rather than oil paintings. It's about wild nights out rather than museums. What I try to do in my life, rather than try to make everything some massive mausoleum to the past and build nostalgia into some concrete moment, is to enjoy each moment as it happens.
Where did "Oh Brother" come from?
Lyrically, I felt like there weren't many songs in the popular canon about platonic male affection. It's one dude saying to another dude, "Hey man, I love you!" It's about a guy called Ben who was the drummer in Million Dead, my old hardcore band. He and I toured together for ten years. We grew up together. I don't see him as much as I used to so I wrote the song.
Has he heard the song?
Yes, he has. He cried, and I laughed at him [Laughs].
Is it important for you to tell stories and paint pictures with the songs?
Let's put it this way. I come from a family of yarn spinners. If we have a family gathering, there are a lot of people sitting around and telling complete bollocks and stories questionable in their authenticity at great lengths [Laughs]. Then, they swear blind that they're true. I think that influences my songwriting.
What else influences you outside of music?
I watch a lot of movies and read a bit. I read a fair amount of poetry. There's an English poet called Philip Larkin who's a huge influence on my attitude towards words and the things one can do with them. At the same time, I don't want to come across like Yngwie Malmsteen thanking Mozart in his liner notes [Laughs]. Most of my influences definitely are rock 'n' roll bands.
What's the best place to start with Larkin?
There's a collection of his poems called The Whitsun Weddings. It's very parochially English, but it's also heartbreaking. I actually have some of his words tattooed on my arms.
If Tape Deck Heart were a movie, what would it be?
That's a good question! It might very well be a Wes Anderson film of some kind. Hold on, that's me flattering myself. I'd like to think that because I'm a huge Wes Anderson fan [Laughs]. It would probably be a reasonably, relentlessly depressing film. It might be in black and white, and it might very well be in French [Laughs]. It might be about crushing alienation. Maybe Moonrise Kingdom? There you go. That's the film right there but with an unhappy ending.
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