It’s likely that, if you’re a lover of those small, value-for-money gigs in sweaty bars and cosy clubs, seeing artists which your divergent-minded friends have never heard of, you’ll have either seen or heard of Frank Turner. It is also likely that you’ll have initially been introduced to him as the ‘ex-Million Dead front man’. His non-stop touring schedule has brought him to Leicester’s Firebug, where he’ll be supported by two fresh, exciting bands by the names of Public Relations Exercise and Score One For Safety. This seemed an appropriate time to take a breather and delve a little under the surface to see what’s going on in the world of Frank Turner.

“It's been a blast. I'm friends with and a fan of Public Relations Exercise, so that's cool. I'd sort of known of Score One For Safety before the tour, but didn't know them personally or know their music. They're a really cool band as well. I don't want to sound patronising or anything, but you know they're quite young and I think, for their age, I think they're doing fucking well basically for where they're at. So yeah, it's been a laugh. It's nice to tour with the same group of people, because a lot of the touring I do is show, show, show, show. To be in a van and have a kind of tour is nice, because I don't get that quite a lot of the time.”

But before looking to the future, it’s best to clear up a few questions from the past. There will always be the relation to Turner’s time in Million Dead and the need some people still have to find out why things ended when they did, but despite the importance of the band, he seems adamant that he’s moved on, adding “A couple of people keep asking me if any of my songs are about Million Dead, or anyone in Million Dead. For the record they're not. That is not something I need to discuss publicly in songs. I think my decision to start playing more folk-based music after Million Dead was influenced by the fall out from that band. I didn't particularly want to walk straight into another band who play the same kind of music. Even in regards to the fact that I'm moving away from that type of thing anyway, the idea of just getting another band together and doing the same shit straight away is a little too much. It's bound to have some sort of impact.”

Million Dead is in the past. It’s pointless asking for any reformation because it isn’t going to happen. It doesn’t so much anger Frank, as “Anger’s probably too strong a word.” Though, when people keep requesting for the band to reform, he just wishes that, “People would pay a little bit more attention to the things that were said publicly about Million Dead. We wouldn't have called it a day if we weren't one hundred percent sure that it wasn't ever going to work. To be honest the only time I really get pissed off about it, is there are some kids who crack jokes repeatedly and go on and on about like, ‘ha, get back together’ kind of thing and it is actually a slightly emotionally touchy subject for me. It's just like, alright shut up. It's no secret that I was very pissed off when Million Dead broke up before I wanted and I don't particularly need lots of people coming up to me telling me that we should get back together.” And to dispel any misconceptions about rifts between former band mates, Frank confirms that him and Ben are tight. “Me and Ben will always be tight because we were in a band together for about a hundred thousand years. Relations with the others - there was a lot of stress and a lot of emotion and a lot of that invested in Million Dead and it's inevitable that there was some fall out when we broke up. We didn't see eye to eye and we do have different opinions about what happened, but life's too short to hold grudges and shit and at the end of the day we were friends for a lot longer than we weren't, within Million Dead. I'm still speaking to everybody, every now and again, I'm hoping that one day we will all be friends again. That would make me happy.”

As mentioned earlier, gig rosters and advertisements can often state the obvious and detail Frank as ‘ex-Million Dead’. But comparing his solo material to them seems daft as “It's such a different style of music that I think it's hard to sit there and do a direct comparison - that doesn't really make very much sense. Some people say they prefer it, some people say they prefer Million Dead. A lot of the time people come down to shows and to be honest, they're waiting for me to play a Million Dead song. Whether that's because they prefer Million Dead or because that's the only stuff they know, is open to debate. People do (compare material) but it's different and it's a different period of time. Million Dead was Million Dead and it was great and it was fun and now it's done, so whoopy-shit.”

Presently being solo, “There are plus sides and down sides. It's nice not having to consult other people about shows or about set lists or artwork and song titles. Fucking song titles man, god damnit! But at the same time it's lonely touring. There are moments when I've been on the road for three months and haven't seen anybody for more than one day. What's nice about touring with a band, you just have a crew, you have a team and you all stick together.” There’s also an important equality between Frank and his ‘fans’, giving his music more of an impact. Although Frank is keen to add, “Personally that's not the way I choose to phrase it - using the 'f' word. I know that, especially once you reach a certain level of success as a musician, it's unrealistic to think that you can be friends with everybody who is into what you do, but I'd always much rather regard the people who come to my shows as equals. I don't like the word 'fans' because it implies separation and to me, if there's separation between the people who make music and the people who listen to it, it defeats the entire point of the process. Music should be art. Art per se should be about people communicating with each other about shit that matters. Okay fine, maybe some people are better at communicating their ideas than others. I try and write honest songs about shit that happens to me in the hope that it happens to other people too and I'm pleased to say it seems to, which means I'm not that much of a loser. I feel uncomfortable in conversations that are unequal. I feel awkward, I'd much rather just be on a level with them.”
The tragic death of a boy who was very fond of Frank and attended both his solo shows and Million dead shows, saw ‘Romantic Fatigue’ and ‘Living The Dream’ being played at his funeral. This meant a lot and when asked if this is the sort of thing that inspires him to keep going, Frank reiterated, “That whole thing with Robb Maunoury really tripped me out. It's kind of difficult to know how to react to that, because it was awesome but I didn't particularly want to go 'fuck yeah!' because it's a tragedy that someone died. But then also, at the same time, it's not my tragedy - I didn't know the guy, he wasn't a friend of mine or anything. To hear that somebody values songs that I've written in my bedroom or whatever that much means a great deal to me. I guess it does make me want to keep going. It gives me confidence in that I'm achieving some kind of emotional accord with my audiences. I told my mum about that and my mum was just like 'holy shit!' Obviously not those exact words, but she was impressed.”

Without beating about the bush, Frank is a very well-educated musician, having attended Eton and also having gained a first degree from the London School of Economics while being in Million Dead. In regards to his schooling having an influence on the person he is today, “It would be ridiculous to say it didn't. I'm not really sure if it's possible to say whether it was in a positive or negative way because it's such an integral part of who I am. It's something that can cause me problems at times, because some people have got a stick up their arse. I've never really understood, what's the fucking point in having a go at kids? Hate their parents if you really want to, but kids are just kids. Fuck it, I got an amazing education, I got a world class education and I'm extremely grateful for that.” Due to this there may have been a certain pressure to get a supposed highly respected job, but upon being asked if he felt such pressure, Frank joked, “My parents would answer this question differently to me. I think the problem is more that being a musician is outside of my parents' frame of preference. They don't really understand it and they probably would prefer me to be earning any real amount of money rather than scraping by, but at the same time I was quite sternly told as I was raised that the important thing in life is to be true to yourself and your ideals and your beliefs. This is what I wanted to do and I think my parents do respect that. The other thing is that, even before it looked like I might make a living out of being a musician, I was being an anarchist anyway. Living in squats and shit.”

So as his increasingly successful and eventful life as a solo artist rolls on, there’s just one other aspect I’d like to cover. After the music takes its toll, if that is even possible, what could the future hold for Frank? “If I sit down and try and analyse it, which I think is actually is a complete waste of time, I think my skill in life is probably more in my lyrics and in my music. I like playing with words, I used to write short stories when I was younger and it would be fun to fuck around with that kind of thing some day, but at the same time I don't really want to be one of these fucking pricks who makes it as a musician and thinks that qualifies to do any fucking job in the world. The idea of actually writing poetry scares the shit out of me but I'd quite like to try it one day, just because I feel justified in coming out with words. Just sitting down with a sheet of paper scares me a bit, but yeah it'd be fun to do that kind of thing. To be honest I love playing music, it's my favourite thing in the whole world, ever and I'm hoping that I will keep doing that for as long as I can. Hopefully if I made it as it is now, that’d be fucking great. But even when I'm a fucking old pensioner in a council flat, cursing the world, I'll still have a guitar lying around the house somewhere.”