Frank Turner has a lot of appeal. Heís got this simple enigmatic personality thatís intensely enjoyable. It comes out when he speaks, and of course, it comes out in his songs. Heís like a mysterious everyman. His lyrics are simple, but theyíre complicated too. His songs are easy to sing along to, but they also take some practice. Heís a punk rocker whose dad is an investment banker. That doesnít seem implausible, itís just hard to wrap your head around. Like a lot of us, Frankís life has been based on hard work but itís also been contradictory and serendipitous. He went from being in one of Europeís best hardcore bands in Million Dead to being an acoustic guitar armed folk rocker. What Iím trying to get at is that Turner is like a lot of people out there. We think heís easy to explain, but heís not. The latest example of that comes with his new album, Tape Deck Heart.
ďOne of the funny things is, because the record is out now and so many people and their dog have their opinion about the thing,Ē said Turner during a recent phone conversation with Alternative Addiction. ďOne of the things that makes me laugh is how much people hear what it is they want to hear rather than whatís on the record. For example, the vocal takes on this record are much more raw than the vocal takes on the previous record I did. With England Keep My Bones I micro-managed the vocals into being technically perfect but perhaps not as characterful as they could be. I get wound up about my own vocals once I start and the sound about my voice on the record. One of the great things that Rich (Costey) did was he got me to just relax about that s___. He said, ĎLook, just leave that stuff in. It sounds like youíre performing the song.' On a purely factual level there are a lot more rough edges to the vocals on the new album. Because itís a big album and because the record is being discussed and all of that, people are saying that Ďoh the vocals are really polished.í Itís like, Ďwell theyíre not, actually.íĒ
Itís interesting to me the way that people read in to what they want to hear. At the end of the day, I donít want to sit here and micro-manage every single personís reaction to the album. You make a record and then you spend all this time promoting it or sitting on it, and thatís the way music should work; Itís a release. Itís out there now and people can think about it whatever they want.
Over the years, Turnerís music has earned him a lot of recognition. Playing at the Olympics, festivals, opening for Green Day... Turner went to that from touring by himself and performing for a meal and a place to sleep. Now with making an album Turner has something he never thought heíd have; a budget. That budget is a big reason why this new album sounds the way it does, itís because Turner chose to go and get Rich Costey to produce.
ďPart of it was just the question of having the resources really. To call up someone like Rich Costey you have to have some cash in your pocket, you know what I mean? In the past I just havenít had that opportunity to even consider that route with making a record. This time, because of where things are at I was able to think about working with somebody on that kind of level and the horizons kind of expanded. Iíve always been a fan. Rich has made a million records, and Iím a big fan of a lot of the records he made. I like big sounding rock records and heís the guy to go to for these. I spoke to a bunch of other people too and had some long conversations. In the end, Rich and I connected on what I wanted out of the record and how he could go about it. We made the record, and personally Iím over the moon with how it sounds.Ē
Working with a budget and a producer like Costey was huge for Turner but he was skeptical going into recording. So many new things were going on, one of them was that Turner was going to take a decent amount of time to record the album.
ďIíve never spent more than ten days tracking a record before,Ē said Turner. ďThis one, we had thirty days. Part of me was wondering what the f___ we were going to do. It seemed like such a long time to me. Then in the end, we very nearly ran out of time. Rich wasnít exactly a stickler for details, but he made us do everything again and again in such a way that he was looking for it to sound like a real performance. He made me sing one song 42 times in a row. By the end of that I wanted to kill him, but I was happy when the record was done that he did.Ē
Frank Turnerís new album, Tape Deck Heart is out now. He will be touring this summer with U.S. dates in June, then Europe to follow. Expect a bigger U.S. tour in the fall or the early part of next year.