With a new collaborative album with Jon Snodgrass set to be released November 13th – Frank Turner talks about adjusting to recording in isolation from one another and playing socially distanced gigs throughout the summer. We also get the lowdown on his first steps into production and how he got the shout to feature on Beans On Toast’s new single ‘The Village Disco‘.
Read what he had to say below…
So you have a new record with Jon Snodgrass, how was the experience of putting it together isolated from one another?
It was pretty strange, but so has everything been this year, and I’m getting used to zoom and Facetime and so on as methods of communication. Once we got over that initial hurdle, it was great fun and surprisingly smooth. As with the last time we wrote an entire album in a day, I was nervous beforehand about how we’d possibly come up with enough material in one go. In the end it was fine.
I see you are credited with producing Beans On Toast’s latest track ‘The Village Disco’. A catchy little number if I do say so. Have you worked with many artists on this level before?
Not really. My pet project during the depths of the first lockdown was to learn how to produce, mix and engineer properly. I’ve been knocking out half decent demos on Logic for years but decided to get into the details. It’s been really fun and enormously rewarding. It was serendipitous that Jay then asked me to work on his next record. I’ve been arranging my own records for years of course but it was a new challenge to take his basic ideas and come up with everything to go around them. I’m really proud of the end result.
You’ve been out on the circuit doing a number of socially distanced shows, including at the Virgin Arena in Newcastle. I attended The Libertines show and although finding it a little subdued and odd initially it turned out a great day. I wondered what, as an artist, that experience was like for yourself?
It was unusual, of course, but then you take the stage with that very much at the forefront of your mind. The weirdness, in the event, was easily counterbalanced by the sheer joy of playing for a real audience again for the first time in however long. It was euphoric. I also have the added benefit of being able to do my shows solo (or duo), as acoustic affairs, which fits the vibe better and makes you miss the moshpit less!
I read that you have now played over 2500 gigs, incredible numbers! What have been your standout memories over the years?
It’d be hard to pick individual ones from the list (which is on my website, incidentally). There have been so many wonderful moments, it’s a huge privilege. In a way the fact that I’ve been able to continue doing it for so long in so many places is the highlight itself.
We at The Music Files are huge fans of Frightened Rabbit. You performed a very emotional rendition of ‘The Modern Leper‘ in memory of Scott at the Roundhouse back in 2018 which must’ve been tough for yourself. He came across to fans as having a very infectious nature, what was he like to know personally?
Oh Scott was a diamond, a truly lovely person. As with many people I’ve known, his own struggles were weirdly counterbalanced by an incredible warmth and sense of care for others. He was a great person to know, and I miss him dearly.
I seen lately that you hosted a raffle for one of your guitars in order to raise funds for a young artist ‘Mash P’ from Sierra Leone so he could study in the UK. How did you both come to know one another?
I’ve been visiting Sierra Leone under the auspices of the charity WayOut Arts since 2017. It’s an amazing project, working with some of the most marginalised people in the world, and bringing them skills, hope, self-expression and more. Mash is one of the main artists at the project, we met on my first visit and became friends. The fact that he’s now in the UK to study music is mind-blowing, I’m so excited for him.
What advise would you give to young musicians starting out in the industry?
It’s a tough time for the entire industry right now, but that won’t last forever. I’d say educate yourself about how the industry works, but don’t be afraid to break some rules once you understand them – now more than ever the field is open for new ideas. And be your own harshest critic; make your music as good as it can be, but never rest on your laurels, always push yourself to do more.
What else do you have planned over the next few months?
Right now I’m in lockdown again, which is a pain. But I have a series of other production projects on the go right now, plus I’m figuring out ways to press ahead with my own next album proper.
Check out the video for Frank & Jon’s latest track ‘The Fleas’:
You can also pre-order the album on the following link: Frank Turner and Jon Snodgrass – Buddies II: Still Buddies
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