Fifty years ago, Bob Dylan created a firestorm by going electric. About 10 years ago, British singer-songwriter Frank Turner created a stir among his own fans by doing exactly the opposite. After four years in the punk band Million Dead, Turner went acoustic in 2006. While some fans have never forgiven him, he has earned plenty of new ones along the way.
Over the years, Turner has written booming anthemic rock songs to complement his acoustic music, becoming a star in England and earning comparisons to Billy Bragg and Bruce Springsteen.
amNewYork spoke with Turner as he prepared to release his sixth solo album, “Positive Songs for Negative People.”
People saw 2013’s “Tape Deck Heart” as a breakup album. What do you see as the theme of this one?
I don’t generally write towards themes as such, but the record is very much a follow on from the previous one. That was a difficult time in my life. This new album is about pulling through that and dusting yourself off after a fall.
Why did you record the album mostly live?
I wanted the record to sound fresh and aggressive, more raw than the preceding one. I also wanted to try and capture the vibe of my live shows, with [my band] The Sleeping Souls, which I don’t think we’d managed to do just yet.
You’re a big star in England. What’s different about trying to break through in the U.S.?
The U.S. is bigger, and further away from my house.
Is it important to you to have that same kind of success here?
I’m not sure “important” is the word I’d use. I’m ambitious, and I’m keen to see how far we can push things in every country. If it works and people appreciate what I do, that’s great. But I’m not going to cry myself to sleep if it doesn’t work out either.
Your first EP was called “Campfire Punkrock.” Do you still feel like that’s an apt description of your music?
To some extent, yes, though I suspect I’m slightly less ramshackle than I used to be. But then again, it’s not really for me to say. I leave the description and criticism of my music to other people.
Does it bother you that after all these years, you still get criticized by some fans for “going acoustic”?
I stopped paying attention to that kind of [expletive] a long, long time ago.
Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls
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