Features Interviews Frank Turner

Interviews: Frank Turner

Scene Point Blank: You've always expressed political ideas in your music. What are your thoughts on the Occupy movement?

frankturner2_quote.jpgFrank Turner: I've been inundated by people in London, New York, Portland, even occupy Edmonton. There are a lot of people who want me to be involved in it. They say they've been playing my songs around the campfire and that's fine. It's very flattering and it's nice. I very strongly believe in the primacy of interpretation . If someone takes my songs and that's what they mean to them then I would never want to try and take that away from somebody. I have to say that well the intention of the Occupy movement may be good, I think their target is hilariously wrong. I might also add that the older I get the more I realize that being earnest doesn't mean you're right or what you're doing is worthwhile. And people tell me that they really believe it…but who gives a fuck, man? All the people in the Russian revolution believed it as well but they gave the world eight years of genocide, slavery, and death. So that's not a point in and of itself. Obviously bailing out corrupt and inept banks is a bad idea and should be opposed, but you have to ask who bailed those people out. Gordon Brown did. I'd rather go and occupy his house, the stupid scottish cunt. The hilarious thing about the London one is that they went to protest the London stock exchange but showed up to find that the London stock exchange closed thirty years ago and the entire thing was computerized. And they were like "Oh". You could at least have a vague idea of what you're talking about. It mortifies me that people might not come to shows because of political stances that I've made. I don't want to be Billy Bragg. I respect Billy Bragg immensely and he has to have a lot of guts and a lot of energy to do what he does. That's admirable. I want to be a musician. I want to play rock and roll songs and I want to have all walks of life at my shows. I'm not carrying the flag for anything. There are people who want to do that. That's good. It's not for me. There are people in this world who are extremely fucked off with me because I don't want to be Billy Bragg. To which I say form your own fucking band dick head. I have political ideas but I don't want that to overshadow my music. It's my life. It's my music. Go fuck yourselves…not you, obviously. (laughs)

Scene Point Blank: I think that people want your opinion because the political songs you've written have resonated with them personally. It's like: Well why not ask Frank?

Frank Turner: This is the thing: I don't like the idea of me figure heading anything. It seems terribly ill advised. The punk scene is full of people saying that they're longing for political bands, but they're not really. They're longing for political bands that they agree with. If you have the temerity to show up with a political opinion that wasn't the one they were expecting than the vitriol and the acid that comes your way is really quite remarkable. Sorry, I'm just not a socialist. I might of been when I was seventeen, but do you believe all the things you believed when you were seventeen? Do you know what I mean? I do have some ideas about the things i would change in the world and the things that I would do differently but the problem of it is that quite a lot of the time the people who want me to come down to the Occupy movement want me to come down and repeat the things that they want to hear to them with an acoustic guitar. If I came down and said that I think you picked the wrong target, and I think you're misguided, and personally I'd like to move towards a more individualistic society than they're going to lose their shit and start throwing rocks at me. I don't want to be a part of that. Scenepointblnk: You've described yourself as a Cranky Libertarian.

Frank Turner: (laughs) Ranches in Texas. Homeschooling my kids. Shooting at Federal agents. That's my future. I used to be a leftist when I was younger. I've written songs about being one in my past and people read that and think that I'm obviously into the international workers of the world…and I'm like hold on a minute. The song Love Ire and song, and again people can read it however they want, but it just makes me laugh because there are a lot of lyrics in that song that people will raise a fist to. Well, to me, that song is a bitterly sarcastic, sneering lyrics. Lets divide de up the world into the damned and the saved…that's what dick-heads do. That's not something to advocate. That's my problem with the wide eyed ideologist: they want to paint the world into the good guys and the bad guys. I think that's an appalling thing to do. That type of ideology always leads to people getting killed, sooner or later. But when I sing that song people will raise the red flag to it.

Scene Point Blank: Do you think that us against them mentality is an extension of punk rock ideology?

Frank Turner: That's the fucking pay-dirt right there. The reason I've developed into a libertarian over time is because of punk rock. Punk rock is about small independent producers making their own way and not relying on other people. I can't think of a better example of the free market than punk distros and yet all of them are handing out Marx stickers. I grew up in a scene that was all about being yourself, being an individual, and to me, when you put that into a political context that leads to an idea of individualism.

Scene Point Blank: We could talk about this for a long time. Let's lighten it up a bit: did you really want to be a palaeontologist as a kid?

Frank Turner (laughs) Briefly! There is a Jeffery Lewis song that opens up with "Back when I was four and knew the name of every dinosaur" and I was like YES! And I knew where they lived and what colour they were. Those days are unfortunately far behind me.

Scene Point Blank: Does your mom really have a poster of you in her downstairs bathroom?

Frank Turner: Yes she does. It's slightly larger than life which is disconcerting because it's a small bathroom. My mom is cool. She was very skeptical about what I did for a living but then she decide to get on board. She came down to a show, ended up getting hammered, and shouted at people at the merch booth to buy more stuff. It worked quite well. Maybe I'll take her on tour.

Scene Point Blank: Thanks so much, Frank.


Images courtesy of Nicole Kibert / Fred Rockwood

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Words by Graham Isador on Nov. 16, 2011, 7:15 a.m.

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Frank Turner

Posted by Graham Isador on Nov. 16, 2011, 7:15 a.m.

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