It was a lovely opportunity to have a catch up with one of our Room Thirteen favourites, Frank Turner on the Friday at Leeds Festival 2010. It was a pleasant and surprisingly sunny afternoon as we sat down outside for a chat a few hours before he was due on stage for his slot in the NME/Radio1 Tent. It was great to have the ever-busy man pleased to see us too; 'I love!' he exclaimed as I introduced myself to him. For fear of the miracle weather showing its true damp colours, I cracked on to find out what's been occurring in the relentlessly hectic life of Frank Turner:

R13: So, Mr Turner, I've been looking at your website... and the first line in your biography talks of the 'long and often lonely years of life'. Then you've also got songs like 'Substitute' and 'The Road' that talk about a life of solitude. Quite frankly Frank, we're worried about you. Are you okay??
FT: (Laughs) I am fine thankyou, that's very kind of you being concerned for my welfare! No really what that's referring to is ... when I first went solo I just did a lot of shows on my own with just a guitar and a rucksack on a train most of the time. And it was just me... I didn't have a tour manager or anything. And it was fine, it worked, but it was a bit shit at times. But no, I'm fine! Thankyou though!

R13: It aint all loneliness though is it, because when you're not making us fret about you, there are many other songs that draw inspiration from love and friendship- where does the magic come from?
FT: I always find it hard to answer this question and not sound boring...I write about... stuff that happens in life? What a yawnfest of an answer...It's true though, things happen and they inspire me to want to say something about it in song...(laughs) like the 'Fiddler on the Roof'... so I just write about the shit that goes down that I want to sing about and continue to sing about for some time. It's a natural reaction for me.

R13: Well, your lyrics are, pretty ruddy gorgeous. Were you one of those cool kids that shut themselves away scribbling poetry?
FT: Thankyou very much...Did you just say 'ruddy'??
R13: Yes I did.
FT: I like that. I also like 'wizard'. But erm no, I thought those two definitions were mutually exclusive?! I was not a cool kid in school. At all. I did used to sit in my room and play guitar and write songs about how 'terribly different and awesome I was'...and how troubled I was....being aged sixteen and not being able to get laid. So I wasn't a cool kid. What happened was that there were three people at my school who knew what hardcore was, as in hardcore punk. Out of about 1500 kids. So we formed a band, and the drummer from that band was also in Million Dead.

R13: Speaking of which.... you were with Million Dead on the Lock Up stage 2005; and you were there in 2007 and 2008 as a solo artist. And this year you are on the NME/Radio 1 stage. Who do you think is going to win out of the trendy hipsters in that tent, or the sweaty moshfest at Lock Up?
FT: Are we having a fight?
R13:Yeah we're having a fight! Bring it on!
FT: Ah, well the punk kids will win. Yeah of course they will! Well, whoever is where I am I'd like to think they're there to see me play so they'll be a great crowd whatever.... but in a hypothetical situation where your average Lock Up crowd and your average NME crowd might have a fight? The Lock Up crowd's gonna win!
R13: We should organise it.
FT: Yeah it can be one wall of death versus a wall of fay. It'll be fucking amazing! One half of hardcore kids going 'raaaaaar!' and the other half being 'ahhh I'm too cool to be here...' I'm buying tickets.

R13: Going off the track a little bit... but bear with us... have you ever seen Disney's 'Aladdin'?
FT: Yes. (breaks into 'A Whole New World') I actually know how to play that.
R13: You should release it! Maybe if Jordan hadn't got in there first... but anyway, you know that scene where Princess Jasmine dresses up and mingles amongst the people in disguise? Have you ever fancied doing that at Leeds Festival and if so, what would you do?
FT: I might be a princess some of the time...(laughs) Ok here's the thing, one of my big philosophical bug bears is that I despise and reject the division between people that make music and people that listen to music. I think that people that try and foster that division are called 'dickheads' and I don't like them. So yeah, I will happily be going for a wander around site later, I've got loads of friends out there who haven't got backstage passes so I'll be going to find them anyway. I'll be spending most of my time at the Lock Up Stage this evening.

R13: We were going to ask actually- is there anyone at the festival this year who you think we should go and listen to?
FT: THE GET UP KIDS. Get Up Kids, Get Up Kids, Get Up Kids. The Get Up Kids changed my fucking life when I was sixteen. Their first album 'Four Minute Mile' came out in 1998 and it blew my mind apart. I even woke up singing 'Stay Gold, Ponyboy' this morning. (Laughing) another favourite for the morning is 'Everything Sucks' by Descendents (breaks into an impromptu rendition)

R13: You are a very busy boy indeed; after this weekend, it looks like the rest of 2010 is all touring. What does a Frank Turner day off entail?
FT:Errm.... generally travel towards the next show?? Well the things I would do on a day off at home is, cook some food for yourself, because you never get to do that on tour. And, have a bath. I do shower obviously! But to bathe is a luxury I don't often get.
R13:Do you use a bath bomb?
FT:Ermmmm, I don't know... do I?? What's a bath bomb?
R13:It's one of them fizzy things that you chuck into the water to make it all nice!
FT:Oh yes! Well yes, if there's one lying around! Why not! I'm free and fucking open minded when it comes to my bathing options.

R13:You are one of the masters of the old singalong. You have also just recorded a classic singalong tune, 'Build Me Up Buttercup' for as a single for homeless charity 'Centre Point'. So, if you found yourself in a karaoke bar, what would you choose to sing?
FT:You know funnily enough, this happened, in real life, just the other day. I was in Ottowa, with my Canadian Tour Manager Casey, and we ended up in a karaoke bar. And his expression is, that we were 'buck faced'. Piss drunk. First of all me and him got up and did a duet on 'Born To Run' by Springsteen, then I did both sides of the duet for 'Anything For Love' by Meatloaf. It was awesome. (He demonstrates how this can be done. It is awesome.)

R13: You've also, of course, covered Dancing Queen by Abba.
FT: Yes. Abba are a phenomenal group of songwriters. It isn't actually my favourite Abba song though, and part of me wishes I could have much rather done a cover of 'Winner Takes It All' because that is one of the best songs ever written. If you take away the disco and seventies production of it, its a fucking achingly sad song.
R13:But the question is, are you yourself a dancing queen??
FT:(Laughs) Wow, erm no. I'm more of a standing in a corner looking cool queen.

R13:What's the most cliched question you get asked in interviews?
FT:(In a disinterested monotone) 'You used to be in Million Dead, now you're a solo artist...why did you change.' I want to get the answer to that printed on a t-shirt so when people ask the question I can just unbutton my shirt. It's a fair enough question but I've been a solo artist for longer.
R13:Sort of tempted to ask you that now....
FT:Don't! You're doing so well!

R13:Your music is based very much in two camps.... we've got your punky side, and you've got your folk side...
FT:Sort of like that character from He-Man. (Later research suggests it's 'Man-E-Faces' which he's referring to...lovely stuff!)
R13:Yes! So, is your soul more dressed up in tartan, safety pins and mohawk... or in farmer-style dungarees, straw in mouth, cowboy hat get up?
FT:Well, definitely not dungarees!! I hate dungarees...they're children's clothes! Might as well wear a fucking nappy! But I dunno...I grew up with punk. I don't listen to as much punk any more but if you want to get drunk and punch people in the head I will put it on. But generally all the new music I listen to is more folk music.

R13:A slightly grim question. Have you heard of the legend of the 'Pop Up Pirate' at Leeds festival?
R13:Well sorry to have to tell you about it, but apparently there was once a chap that lurked beneath the toilets in the poo pit... and would pop up out of the toilets to scare people....
FT:See my problem with that story is that that person would die of dysentery. I'm actually not even joking... they would get cholera. And die.
R13:(Trying to stifle a giggle) But it is named after a family favourite game, so what is your family favourite game?
FT:Are you saying that somebody popping up out of toilets is a family favourite game??? I come from a card playing family. So we'd play things like Whist, Racing Demon. It's what stops us from wanting to stab each other in the head twenty-four hours a day... we just sit down and chill out and play cards.

R13:On a more civilised closing point, 'Poetry of the Deed'.... It's a fantastic album. And has been greatly received by critics and fans alike. Would you like to take this opportunity to tell any twerps who are yet to hear it why they should?
FT:I don't operate on the principle that people should care about my music, I think you should have a listen to it, and if you like it, you like it... if you don't, you don't!

Thankyou once again to Frank Turner for taking the time to talk to us. You will be pleased to know that the horrifying image of the 'Pop Up Pirate' did not affect his set which you can find reviewed on this site. You can catch the very lovely chap live as he embarks on a headlining tour around the UK this December.