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Francis Edward "Frank" Turner (born 28 December 1981) is an English folk/singer-songwriter from Meonstoke, Hampshire. He began his career as the vocalist of post-hardcore band Million Dead, then embarked upon a primarily acoustic-based solo career following the band's split in 2005. In the studio and during live performances, Turner is accompanied by his backing band, The Sleeping Souls, which consists of Ben Lloyd (guitar, mandolin), Tarrant Anderson (bass), Matt Nasir (piano) and Nigel Powell (drums).
To date, Turner has released six solo albums, three rarities compilation albums, one split album and five EPs. Turner's sixth studio album, Positive Songs for Negative People was released on 7 August 2015.
Turner was born in Bahrain where his father worked as an investment banker. Upon return to England, the family settled first in Winchester before moving to Meonstoke. Turner was educated on a scholarship at Eton College, where he studied alongside Prince William. He attended the London School of Economics where he read History. His father, Roger Turner, is the son of Sir Mark Turner, who was the chairman of high street retailer BHS, and had himself also attended Eton before becoming a City investment banker. Frank's mother, Jane, the daughter of a bishop, is a primary school head teacher.
Beginnings and Million Dead:
The first record he owned was the Killers album from Iron Maiden. Metal was the first musical direction he adored and he still does. Turner's musical career began at school, with the short-lived alternative band Kneejerk. The band released three records and played several shows around the UK. The last record, their only full-length, was entitled The Half Life of Kissing and was released by Yorkshire DIY hardcore label Sakari Empire after the band had broken up.
In 2001, Turner joined London post-hardcore band Million Dead at the invitation of former Kneejerk drummer Ben Dawson. In 2005, after four years and two albums, the band announced that they were parting ways, as "irreconcilable differences within the band mean that it would be impossible to continue." Around that time Turner got a tape with Bruce Springsteen's Nebraska on it - later he claimed that "that was a really big moment for me hearing that record in terms of a turn around in my music career, from hardcore punk bands to what I'm doing now."
Sleep is for the Week and Love Ire & Song (2005-2008):
Turner's first solo shows took place prior to the break-up of Million Dead, with a set at the Smalltown America all-dayer at 93 Feet East in London. After the band's split, Turner felt that "it seemed like the logical thing to do to try my hand at playing these songs more publicly and more concertedly than before". Turner states that "when Million Dead finished, I wanted to stay on tour, but I didn't want the hassle of putting a band together."
After a split EP with rock band Reuben, Turner's first solo EP, Campfire Punkrock, was released in May 2006 on Xtra Mile Recordings, with him being recorded and backed by Oxford band Dive Dive who he had met while out on tour with Reuben. Band members Tarrant Anderson, Ben Lloyd and Nigel Powell would become his backing band from this point on, with most of his subsequent UK headline tours being full band shows. After touring in support of American singer-songwriter Jonah Matranga, the two released a split EP in August 2006. In September, he was the last act to appear on Steve Lamacq's "Lamacq Live" show on BBC Radio 1. Turner's debut full-length studio album, Sleep Is for the Week was released in January 2007, again recorded at Dive Dive's studio, produced by their guitarist Ben Lloyd and featuring drummer Nigel Powell.
After an extensive tour, including dates supporting yourcodenameis:milo and Biffy Clyro, and an appearance at SXSW, Turner released an EP, The Real Damage, in May 2007. After a further tour with Jonah Matranga and Jacob Golden, the "All About The Destination" DVD was released in October, before returning to the studio in Hampshire to record his second album. The album, Love Ire & Song again saw Ben Lloyd from Dive Dive in the producer's seat, and was released on 31 March 2008, followed by an extensive UK tour with Andy Yorke and Chris T-T. T-T also joined the live lineup on keyboards through summer 2008.
During summer 2008, Turner made several festival appearances, including sets at Y Not Festival, Two Thousand Trees Festival, the Cambridge Folk Festival, Truck, Glastonbury, Jam By The Lake (in Durham) and the Reading and Leeds Festivals.
In October/November, during his 2008 UK Tour for the Love, Ire and Song album, he became ill with gastroenteritis, and was forced to leave the stage in Nottingham halfway through his set. All remaining shows, which included Nottingham, Liverpool and Ireland, were cancelled - the first time that Turner as a solo artist had cancelled any show in ten years. He went on to reschedule all cancelled shows in January 2009.
Poetry of the Deed (2008-2010):
In December 2008 Turner released The First Three Years, a compilation of demos, b-sides and covers that are not featured on either of his studio albums. In January 2009, he released a combined package of The First Three Years and Love Ire & Song, and supported The Gaslight Anthem on their tour of the UK and Europe, demoing several new songs and announcing his plans to record a new album in May. The album was produced by Alex Newport, as previously suggested in interview by Turner. His band at the time still consisted of Ben Lloyd, Tarrant Anderson and Nigel Powell from Dive Dive, with keyboardist Matt Nasir having been added on the Love, Ire and Song tour.
Prior to recording Poetry of the Deed, Turner stated that:
The new album is about 75% written - in the sense that the songs, as skeletons, are done, but this time round I'm rehearsing the material with my band before we record, so I'm sure that some things will change in terms of structure and arrangement as we settle into them. We're recording the album as a band this time round, I'm really excited about it, the guys I play with are phenomenal musicians, and hopefully this way I'll be able to close the gap a little between live and studio. Material-wise I'm really happy about where I am at the moment, though not complacent; there's a fair amount of pressure for this record, from me more than anyone else. The album is going to be called Poetry Of The Deed.
Turner was announced as the support act on The Offspring's summer tour, during which he documented his travels with a blog on British music website NME. Regarding the support slot, Turner stated: "Smash was one of the first punk records I ever bought, and I'm blown away to even be considered for the shows. From a "career" point of view, it's also great - playing to many thousands of people a night across the States is an opportunity not to be sniffed at."
On 28 April, Turner signed with Epitaph Records for releases outside the UK.
Preceded by the single "The Road", Turner's third studio album, Poetry of the Deed, was released on 7 September 2009 and reached #36 in the UK album chart. The following month he embarked upon a UK tour with his band in support of the album (with singer/songwriter Beans On Toast and US band Fake Problems as support acts), culminating in a sell-out show at the O2 Shepherds Bush Empire on 29 October 2009. A live DVD/CD, entitled Take to the Road, documenting two shows from the tour - Shepherds Bush Empire and the Union Chapel - was released in the UK in March 2010. In November 2009, Turner toured the US alongside Chuck Ragan, Jim Ward, Tim Barry, Joey Cape, Dave Hause, and others, as part of the 2009 Revival Tour. Turner returned to Europe on 28 November and to the UK on 19 December. He completed the year with a New Year's Eve show at The Spiegeltent in Gloucester.
In early 2010, Turner played several more UK gigs, with Chuck Ragan and Crazy Arm supporting. He also accompanied Flogging Molly and The Architects on the 2010 Green 17 Tour, and announced via his Twitter that he was working on new songs. From 22 April to 1 May the same year, Turner toured Australia with Chuck Ragan, Tim Barry, and Ben Nichols of Lucero for the 2010 Revival Tour. In May 2010 Turner travelled to China to play a six city tour with promoters Split Works.
In June he supported Green Day on their stadium shows, and also featured as the cover star of Kerrang! magazine for the first time, with an article inside documenting his solo career up to that point.
Rock & Roll EP, England Keep My Bones and Möngöl Hörde (2010-2012):
Turner played at many festivals throughout the summer, including his headlining appearance at the Two Thousand Trees Festival, playing his new song "I Still Believe". The song was released first as a single and then appeared on his Rock & Roll EP. Turner also contributed one song, a cover of "Build Me Up Buttercup", to Centrepoint's 2010 charity cover album 1969 Key to Change. On 25 January 2011, he was nominated for two Shockwaves NME Awards, for best Solo Artist and best Band Blog or Twitter.
Turner announced on his Twitter on 24 February 2011 that his fourth studio album would be called England Keep My Bones and that it would be released in the UK on 6 June 2011 and worldwide on 7 June 2011. He also announced details of solo tours in Australia, Germany, UK, and the US & Canada. Turner started recording of this album on 10 January 2011 and finished recording on 20 January 2011, with mixing completed in February 2011. In March 2011, Turner stated that:
I wanted this album to feel more like a solo record made with a band, whereas the last record was more of a band album overall. There's still a fair bit of 'rock' material on the record, but there's a lot more folky, acoustic material this time around than last time. I'm not taking any drastic stylistic turns here, but there are little forays into new territory at the edges. 'Poetry' was definitely off to one side of the spectrum for me. This record is a bit more down the middle. There's even an acappella tune on there. But then there's a pretty full-on hardcore song as well.
Turner leaked new song, "I Am Disappeared" to YouTube on 29 March 2011, later making it available for free download through Xtra Mile. He also announced that he would soon be releasing "Peggy Sang the Blues" as the first single from the album.
On 21 March 2011, it was announced that Turner would be making the step up to the main stage at Reading and Leeds in August 2011. He spoke about the "perks" of playing Reading in a recent interview with 6 Towns Radio. He also played Download, Blissfields and Cambridge Folk festivals, as well as many other festivals across Europe, and as a headliner at Blissfields Festival. On 21 April 2011, Turner played his 1000th solo show at the Strummerville festival in Shoreditch, London.
Several songs from England Keep My Bones were debuted at Playfest (a new music festival in Norfolk) on 28 May. During his May 2011 tour, Turner played a new song, tentatively titled "Rod Stewart". This song later became retitled as "Sailor's Boots" and features as the B-side to "If Ever I Stray".
England Keep My Bones entered the UK chart at number 12 on its week of release, Turner's highest charting album to date.
Turner later released a rarities compilation, titled The Second Three Years, on 18 November 2011 through Xtra Mile Recordings and 16 January 2012 through Epitaph Records. The album compiles material recorded after the release of Turner's first compilation, The First Three Years, that does not appear on either of Turner's two successive studio albums, including tracks from EPs, singles, covers and unreleased material.
In spring 2012, he played several dates in Canada as an opening act for Joel Plaskett. On 13 April 2012, Turner headlined Wembley Arena to a sold out crowd of 12,000. Support for the show came from Beans On Toast, dan le sac vs Scroobius Pip and Billy Bragg.
On 27 July 2012, Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls performed at the pre-show for the London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony. The band played "Sailor's Boots", "Wessex Boy", and "I Still Believe".
In August 2012, Turner unveiled his new side project, Möngöl Hörde. The hardcore band includes drummer Ben Dawson (formerly of Million Dead) and Sleeping Souls keyboardist Matt Nasir on guitar. The group played their first shows in London and Leeds shortly before playing at the Reading and Leeds Festivals, where they debuted some new material and covered the likes of The Streets and Nirvana. Three demos have been released by Möngöl Hörde so far: "Casual Threats From Weekend Hardmen", "How the Communists Ruined Christmas" and "Tapeworm Uprising".
In October 2012, 'Believe', Frank Turner's own beer, was announced. A 4.8% modern wheat beer brewed with Signature Brew. Turner opened for the Dropkick Murphys on their European tour, also headlining a tour in November and December, 2012.
Tape Deck Heart, Möngöl Hörde and The Third Three Years (2013-2014):
Turner recorded his fifth studio album in Burbank, California, in October 2012. The reason for recording abroad the first time in California was that producer Rich Costey wouldn't come to England with all his equipment so he convinced Turner to record it in Burbank. Frank Turner announced via Twitter on 28 October 2012 that recording was completed, and mixing and mastering would be done in time for a March 2013 release date. During the November and December UK tour a free CD titled Good Hangs from Xtra Mile Recordings was distributed for free at Frank Turner shows, this included a yet-to-be-released Turner song titled "Tattoos" plus the Möngöl Hörde song "Casual Threats From Weekend Hardmen". On Christmas Day 2012, the song "Four Simple Words" was released on Xtra Mile Recordings' website as a free download along with the b-side "Cowboy Chords". On 4 January 2013, a video was shot for what would be the first single. On the same day Frank announced on Twitter that the single was the song "Recovery". On 9 January, Frank uploaded a photo to his Instagram page showing the names of all 13 songs that would feature on his new album. This included songs played during the UK and US tours of 2012 such as "Anymore", "Plain Sailing Weather", "We Shall Not Overcome" and "Tell Tale Signs". Frank also posted on his fan forum that an extended edition of his new album would be released that includes an extra 5 or 6 songs. On 19 February 2013, it was announced that Turner had signed a licensing deal with Interscope Records in the US for Tape Deck Heart. Following the release of the album Frank Turner embarked on a short UK tour. He has also been confirmed as the headline act for the Two Thousand Trees Festival and main stage slots at the Reading and Leeds festivals. Following the success of the album, Turner embarked on a UK arena tour, including a date at London's O2 arena. On 3 January 2014, Turner appeared on the BBC's Celebrity Mastermind answering questions on Iron Maiden, scoring 20 points in total (7 on his specialist subject), and coming first.
In Q2 2014, Turner announced that he was currently in the process of making a sixth studio album. Turner said that it would most likely be out early 2015, although actual dates are uncertain at this time.
In 2014 Turner and Möngöl Hörde released a full-length self-titled studio album, and toured in support of that album in late June, playing a run of smaller venues. In July of that year, Turner also announced a 15 Date UK tour, playing places that wouldn't normally feature live music such as local town halls.
On 25 July 2014, Turner announced on his Twitter page that he was collating The Third Three Years. It was released on November 24, 2014.
The Road Beneath My Feet and Positive Songs for Negative People (2014-present):
In 2014, Turner announced that he was in the process of writing a book, consisting of tour diaries and travel memoirs, asking fans to contribute to the book by sending in stories and pictures they shared with Turner. The book, titled 'The Road Beneath My Feet', named after lyrics from Turner's song 'The Road', was released on the 26th March 2015, being published by Headline Publishing Group. Following the book release, Turner embarked on a 2015 book tour, which included signings, question-and-answer sessions and live solo performances from Turner. The book went straight into the bestseller charts.
On 20 March 2015, Turner released a lyric video promoting a new song called "Get Better" to be on his 6th album. Alongside it, he offered a free download of the song from his website.
On 29 April 2015, following several posts of a similar nature on social media, a picture was posted of the mastered 6th album with no artwork. This was followed by an Instagram post on 11 May 2015, in which Turner shared the album's cover and its title, Positive Songs for Negative People.
On 1 June 2015, it was announced that Frank Tuner will be playing a set at Glastonbury 2015 on the Other Stage.
On 15 June 2015 Turner released the music video for "The Next Storm," the second single from Positive Songs.... The video features mixed martial artist and former professional wrestler CM Punk. Turner then released a three song acoustic session on the website PunksInVegas.com, premiering "Josephine," "Love Forty Down" and "Glorious You."
Turner describes himself as a "classical liberal" in the original sense of the word and his views align with many modern libertarians. He has a tattoo of ama-gi, Sumerian cuneiform for "freedom", on his left forearm. Turner has experienced death threats following a news article from the Guardian newspaper that drew attention to his political outlook.
In 2013, Turner became a Patron of the assisted dying campaign group Dignity in Dying.
Turner used to be straight edge, having been vegetarian for eleven years and teetotal for five.
Turner's band, The Sleeping Souls, (named after a lyric from "I Am Disappeared") consists of:
Ben Lloyd - guitar, harmonica, mandolin,
Tarrant Anderson - bass,
Matt Nasir - piano, organ, guitar, backing vocals,
Nigel Powell - drums, percussion, backing vocals,
Cahir O'Doherty - guitar, backing vocals (while Turner was rehabilitating a severe back injury, unable to play guitar on stage),
Dan Allen - guest guitarist, backing vocals (2013 European Tour)
Other performers at this event: