It’s the same story you hear from touring musicians coming through Utah during the winter: the traumatic drive through blizzard conditions just to play a show where no one shows up. Frank Turner’s story one-ups all others: He had to play two shows.
“After Boise, we set out through the mountains for Salt Lake City with the intention of stopping at a motel,” Turner reminisces. “We hit a blizzard soon enough and basically couldn’t pull off the road, so we drove constantly at 15 mph through near-zero visibility. I remember pulling up in a parking lot at midday the next day without having stopped, getting ready for two shows that day … and feeling truly, profoundly tired. It was also very hard to get properly drunk that night.”
Turner cut his teeth touring with legendary U.K. hardcore band Million Dead. After the band broke up, he started out on his own, playing his brand of punk-folk anywhere and everywhere—including the aforementioned 2009 SLC gigs—at a manic pace. Turner’s insane work ethic turned him into a star in the U.K., landing him sold-out stints at the renowned Wembley Stadium, a slot in the London 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremonies and a major label deal—as well as, unfortunately, debilitating back issues that resulted in an epidural and three canceled European shows in August.
Oddly enough, his excellent new album, Tape Deck Heart, released in April, seems to have foretold his physical issues, with songs about his body failing him (“Losing Days”) and musings of losing love and friendships (“Recovery,” “Polaroid Picture”). As one could guess, his blistering schedule and health issues have left Turner reconsidering his pace.
“I’m not interested in driving myself into the ground,” Turner says. “The pace of my career to date has been my own choice. It’s the way I like to do things. Obviously, back problems lately haven’t been much fun, and they’ve given me some pause for thought about how I go about my business. … Backstage is more a physiotherapy area now than anything,” he jokes.
Despite his success and back problems, Turner remains as hard-working and down to earth as ever, gaining him a cult following in the United States, something he attributes to his musical tastes. “I always preferred the American punk-rock ideal—Black Flag, Minor Threat, that kind of thing,” he says. “It made more sense to me; the iconoclasm of it, and the almost Puritan work ethic.”
FRANK TURNER & THE SLEEPING SOULS
w/ The Smith Street Band, Koo Koo Kanga Roo
The Urban Lounge
241 S. 500 East
Friday, Oct. 11, 7:30 p.m.
$15 in advance, $17 day of show