Singer Frank Turner talks about the women who inspired his latest album

Frank Turner
Frank Turner

From astronauts to Resusci Anne and his mum, Frank Turner’s eight album No Man’s Land focuses on the life and stories of historical women.

“I have been thinking of combining my two passions of history and music for a while and there is a history of storytelling in folk music so it was something I wanted to look at,” the singer originally from Hampshire says.

“It didn’t start as a gendered thing but the more I did, I realised the stories I wanted to tell were about women that you didn’t hear about.

“I read about history all the time so there were stories I had come across and then I asked friends for cool stories and was inundated.

“I read about lots of people who were fascinating but in terms of writing a song about them it just didn’t work.”

The album was released in August and was accompanied by a podcast entitled ‘Tales from No Man’s Land’.

“For one of the podcasts it was me and my mum talking about the songs,” he says.

“But she took it really seriously and did lots of research. She was a teacher for 38 years, it was a little odd at first but we talked about things we never had it was really good to just sit down with my mum and chat.”

Women featured on the album include Christa McAuliffe an astronaut and teacher who was killed in the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster, rock and roll pioneer Sister Rosetta Tharpe, dance hall singer Dora Hand and Frank’s mum.

“Although my mum did comment that she was in some unscrupulous company as there are witches and dance hall girls in there but I said to her that she is the happy conclusion to the album.

“It was a nice way of finishing the album.”

Prior to writing the album Frank did lots of research for the songs.

“There were so many interesting people it was fascinating,” he explains

“No Man’s Land was actually finished after Positive Songs for Negative People in 2015, however the world went crazy in 2016 so I decided to respond to that with Be More Kind.”

From this month Frank is heading on the road to America, Canada and the UK, and includes a date at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill on Sea in November.

“The tour will be a little different as there will be two sets,” reveals Frank,

“The first part will be me talking about the women featured and singing the songs, then the second part of the show will be with my band The Sleeping Souls playing old songs.

“It will be a bit different from what we usually do but I’m looking forward to it. I wanted to do seated venues which we don’t really do and create a different feel to my previous tours.”

The writing experience for the album was also a change from what he is used to.

“It has been interesting usually you sit with a blank piece of paper and write about your emotions and feelings and experiences but it is very different writing about someone who existed and with their own story to tell.

“No Man’s Land is my eighth album, as an artist I want to push myself to do different things to challenge myself and the people that listen to my music. To keep moving forward with what I am doing.

“It is also about proving to myself and the audience that I can do something else.”

Franks admits to getting bored quite easily and explains that he likes to keep busy.

“There are 24 hours in a day so you can get a lot done,” he adds.

As for his spare time alongside doing historical walking tours of London his latest past time is gardening.

“It is a little of a new thing for me,” he smiles. “I just have to keep reminding myself to water the plants.”

Looking to the next album will he look to history again?

“I’m not going to keep writing history albums about real people,” he says. “For me if a song has been written from top to bottom it will get released, I have lots of half songs but if it is completed I will release it.

“I was also told I have an aptitude for podcasts so who knows I may even do more of those.”

Frank plays De La Warr Pavilion on November 29.

For tickets, visit cor call the box office 01424 229 111

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