In The Studio: Frank Turner

February 2, 2011 by Annie Zaleski

In The Studio: Frank Turner

(Photo: Dan Griffiths)
 

EXPECT IT: Summer via Epitaph

For most of January, Frank Turner was holed up at the Church Studios in north London—“It's where they did ‘Do They Know It's Christmas?’” he notes. “Awesome.”—working on the full-length follow-up to 2009’s Poetry Of The Deed. (On his blog, Turner notes that the album has a title, but he’s “not yet allowed to share it.”) The recording process has been moving rather fast, mainly because the folk-punk troubadour really planned things out before entering the studio. “We did more pre-production this time around than I've ever done for a record before,” he says. “I demoed three separate times, working through the songs, the arrangements, the lyrics and so on. So I felt more prepared when we started, which was a good feeling.”

Produced by Tristan Ivemy, who mixed 2008’s Love Ire & Song, the collection should have “more variance” than Poetry Of The Deed, Turner says. “I think Poetry is a good album, but it's a little monochromatic, looking back on it. This time around, the record goes to many more interesting places.” That’s no exaggeration: So far, the album includes a string section, a song which recalls Turner’s post-hardcore band Million Dead, and contributions from ex-Hold Steady keyboardist Franz Nicolay, folk singers Emily Barker and Chris T-T, and Unbelievable Truth’s Andy Yorke. (You may have heard of his brother, Thom, who’s in a little band called Radiohead.

“Having made a rock album [Poetry Of The Deed], I feel more comfortable heading back towards something that, on balance, is a little folkier,” Turner says. “There are more songs without drums or electric guitar, based around the acoustic. Having said that, there are a couple of balls-out rock songs on there, but then there are finger-picking numbers too and even an a cappella song done in traditional English style. I am, as ever, trying to make an English-sounding record, and I think it's going well.”

Lyrically, Turner’s new work is also all over the map. “There's a lot of material about mortality, death, faith and belief,” he says. “That seems to be the overriding theme. There's other stuff in the mix, too—English folk tales, a song about being a godfather, my grandmother, relationships.

“I'm not entirely sure why belief and death have been preoccupying me of late, but they evidently have,” he adds. “I've been listening to a lot of Nick Cave, and also mewithoutYou's latest album, which I think have pushed me down certain lines of thought.”

The coming months will find Turner hitting the road with Social Distortion in Europe, and also trekking back to the U.S. for more shows. It’s clear that 2011 is shaping up to be a very good year for Frank Turner. “I'm genuinely excited about the [new] material,” he says. “I feel like I'm ready to make an album that definitively sounds like me.” alt

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