Sat comfortably on his velour teal couch in his Meonstoke, Hamsphire home, folk-punk singer and songwriter Frank Turner opens up about his journey with music in the latest episode of Unearthed — a series highlighting the explorations of today’s most inspiring songwriters. In this episode, Turner discusses his first introduction to music, his love for American songwriters, and much more.
Surrounded by his parent’s affection for classical and church music, Turner never felt connected to these sounds in a meaningful way. It wasn’t until he stumbled across Iron Maiden’s 1981 album Killers that he realized his unwavering desire to play heavy music. In 2001, he joined the post-hardcore band, Million Dead and spent years writing most of the band’s riffs. Four years and two albums later, the band announced their split, and Turner has been riding the wave of success from his solo career ever since.
Yearning for something new, Turner focused his attention to more folkier, acoustic sounds after the demise of Million Dead. Getting a deal with Xtra Mile Recording, he was able to release his first EP, Campfire Punkrock, in 2006. Well-received by critics and fans alike, the EP led to a full length album in January 2007 titled, Sleep Is For The Week.
The Journey of Sound
The acoustic guitar is so easily accessible… you can pass the guitar around a room full of people quite happily and I’ve spent a lot of my time doing that. It really removes a lot of not any mystique but kind of aristocracy about music making. It becomes something that’s very public property.
Over the next decade, Turner continued writing and releasing his poetic music to the world, finding success in Love Ire & Song, Poetry of the Deed, and making his American breakthrough in 2012 with, Last Minutes & Lost Evenings. Covering topics like atheism, excessive drinking, and the power of rock music, Turner has been compared to successors Bill Bragg and Bruce Springsteen, among others. Nonetheless, Turner occupies a niche of his own in British popular music and finds his sounds seeping into every corner of the world.
Acoustic Guitar is a ‘great democratic instrument’
Wrestling with the political climate in 2017, Turner returned to the studio to record his seventh and most recent studio album, Be More Kind. The title is inspired by Clive James poem called Leçons de Ténèbres: “I should have been more kind. It was my fate. To find this out, but find it out too late.“
The sound that the actual strings make is more important for an acoustic player than an electric player, in my opinion, and that means that you can spend more time thinking about your alloy or, indeed, just your gauge generally and that kind of thing.
Because of his background playing heavy music, Turner found himself breaking strings show after show. It took him years to discover that heavy gauges didn’t necessarily result in a heavier sound. He experimented with an array of Ernie Ball strings, from Skinny Top Heavy Bottom Slinky’s to Super Slinky’s, before settling on Earthwood 80/20 Bronze Light, Aluminum Bronze, and Earthwood Phospor Bronze Alloy strings.