He’s traveled the world, playing to sold out crowds everywhere from bars and nightclubs like the Paradise Rock Club to full-fledged stadiums like Wembley in London. And for Frank Turner, who visits Boston’s House of Blues on September 25 and 26, it doesn’t look like he’s slowing down anytime soon.
From very early on, the folk-punk rocker found himself engulfed in music. This is quite evident to this day, as the heart he pours into each song flows directly from the stereo into our ears.
“My parents listen to classical and church music; rock and roll, in any form, wasn’t a part of my early childhood,” says Turner. “When I was about 10 years old a friend of mine’s older brother turned me onto Iron Maiden. I got a copy of Killers on cassette. I can still remember the riff kicking in at the start. The world turned upside down. Shortly after that I watched the Freddie Mercury tribute concert on TV and that opened me up to a whole other load of bands. I never really looked back after that,” Turner recollects. “I was lost in music.”
When you listen to his folk-rock infusion, you hear those influences. Not only in the instrumentals and in the homage he pays in his lyrics (i.e., I Still Believe from 2011’s England Keep My Bones), but in his heart, his energy and his passion for doing what he loves and creating a community among his fans, with a crowd chemistry reminiscent of a local music scene.
With each album, his audience grows. Turner’s most recent release, Positive Songs For Negative People, continues that growth and gives listeners another look into the creative wheelhouse that is Turner’s mind. But, while his songs are relatable to his audience, he doesn’t try to target anyone or over-think the meaning of each tune. He just lets the music do the talking.
“I don’t really aim to do anything other than write songs that I think are good. I don’t like to analyze further than that, especially not while writing,” says Turner of his writing process. “They come out how they come out.”
One characteristic Turner’s fans have identified in him, besides his immense talent and the passion he has for making music, is how very vocal he is about his feelings when it comes to certain topics. While he labels himself a “classical liberal” and rejects the notion that he is a political or protest singer, that doesn’t mean he isn’t critical of the idea of nationalism.
“I’m not sure I’d describe myself as ‘proud’ of being English as such,” said Turner. “Pride in nationality seems slightly nonsensical to me. That said, I am undoubtedly a product of the culture I was raised in, in part, and that interests me,” he continues. “No one chooses where they’re born, so celebrating something over which you have no agency doesn’t add up to me.”
In addition to his views and disdain for nationalistic ideals, he’s also been a bit of a philanthropist during his continuously sky-rocketing career, working with a myriad of charities and causes that help people in various capacities.
“I work with Shelter, a homelessness charity, here and there. I think Shelter does good work,” he emotes. “They got in touch about doing some stuff for them, it seemed like a good idea.”
Turner continues: “I do charity stuff for various people when I can, like everyone I suppose. Shelter is the largest homelessness charity in the U.K., and they asked. I’ve also worked with Breast Cancer Campaign, the Teenage Cancer Trust and the Campaign Against Living Miserably,” the latter being a campaign devoted to preventing suicide among males.
Turner also took time to express his appreciation for the city of Boston, having played numerous shows at various clubs, concert halls and arenas around the region, while making friends with the Hub’s adopted theme-writers, Dropkick Murphys.
“I love Boston,” says Turner. “The city has been very good to me, mostly through the kind auspices of the Dropkicks. I’m excited to be coming back.”
So, does all of this fame go to Turner’s head? Despite his numerous achievements—a career spanning 14 years, playing thousands of shows throughout 38 countries to hundreds of thousands of fans, writing a book chronicling those travels and encounters (The Road Beneath My Feet), touring with some of the biggest names in punk rock (Dropkick Murphys, Green Day and many others) and creating a catalog full of high-energy, uplifting, thought-provoking music—Turner is as humble as they come.
When asked if he is still surprised by the increasingly positive reception he receives in response to his music, his one-word answer speaks volumes: “Constantly.”