Frank Turner got MPs singing at ‘weird’ Houses of Parliament gig

Frank Turner reflects on weird gigs, his next album and his place in the music industry (Picture: Ben Morse)

It’s hard to top the Olympics, but Frank Turner may have just played his strangest gig to date in the Houses of Parliament.

Over a decade after playing, at director Danny Boyle’s request, on an artificial hill in the Olympic Stadium to mark the opening of London 2012, the folk-punk troubadour treated MPs to a unique set on Thursday to promote the vital work of the Music Venue Trust at its Annual Report launch at the House of Commons.

Reflecting on the show, Frank exclusively told ‘Oh, it was weird of f**k, but I’ve played weird, uncomfortable shows. But we got a singalong, I got MPs singing I Still Believe – with some help from the MVT crew as well.

‘But yeah, we got them doing that. I said “f**k” by accident. To be honest, no one cared at all, but it was cool. It was good.’

It was a surreal moment for Frank, who proved his longevity last year when he topped the charts with his 10th studio album FTHC, as he reflected on getting into some trouble outside parliament when he was just 17.

Now 41, he chuckled: ‘It’s funny, I almost got arrested outside Parliament at an anarchist demonstration. It’s difficult to call it a protest because I’m not quite sure what we were calling for other than the total destruction of all political – it was an RTS demo, I’ll have you know, a long, long time ago.’

He noted by supporting the MVT, he’s ‘already made the decision’ to play some strange shows, and while there’s also the benefit of supporting Mark Davyd with his work, there’s also a more simple reason behind his attitude to gigs.

‘I’ve always been of the opinion that it’s cooler to tell a story about a cool thing you did than bore people with a store about how you didn’t,’ he pointed out. ‘It’s like the Olympics – what, are you be some old guy in the corner of a bar telling the of how you didn’t play the Olympics? Like, f**k off!’

On his ongoing Neverending Tour of Everywhere – aptly named, although Frank’s curbed his previous schedule which once saw him on the road without a break for 13 months in a row – he has continued his support act trends by bringing stellar acts The Lottery Winners and Wilswood Buoys along for the ride.

He’s produced records for both bands after setting up his own home studio during lockdown, and while he could use it for his own new record given it’s already paid for, he might opt for somewhere bigger.

Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls

Frank Turner will make sure the Sleeping Souls are involved in the arrangement of his next album (Picture: Clair McAllister)

‘I am overflowing with ideas for songs. I demoed 20 in December, and I’m gonna do more,’ he said about the upcoming collection, while teasing some details about what’s to come.

‘One of the things that I can say in quite a meta way, which is in a contrast to FTHC,’ he paused. ‘My band right now is the best it’s ever been, and we all get along really well and everything’s cooking with gas. I’m really excited to just arrange songs collectively again.’

Due to circumstance and various reasons, it’s not been that way since 2017’s Positive Songs For Negative People, so Frank has been consciously demoing ‘just vocals and guitar’ to give the Sleeping Souls room to do their thing as writing continues.

‘It’ll be what it’ll be at that point,’ he said, before offering a bit more of a tease about the sound. ‘I will say that I liked the direction and where FTHC landed sonically was pleasing to me, and I quite often, if something is pleasing to me, end up going, “Right! I immediately must do it differently next time!” ‘

Frank won’t force himself to take his music in another direction (Picture: Ferdy Damman/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

He added: ‘I’m not going to do that. I think it’ll be in a similar ballpark, I would say.’

Frank is feeling liberated at the moment, whilst acknowledging his ‘pretty weird place in the industry’, with fourth LP Tape Deck Heart – which celebrates 10 years this month – providing the peak of his success before he topped the charts with FTHC.

‘I’m not f***ing Neil Diamond, I’m not Elton John, but I’m also not – I don’t know. It’s weird, there’s not that many role models, there’s a certain point when you’re making album 10 and you’re still selling tickets and records,’ he said.

He added with a laugh: ‘I’m very pleased we got a number one on album nine, probably because it means I’m not going to try for that again because it was a f***ing nightmare.’

As it stands, Frank namedropped the likes of Elvis Costello, Nick Cave, Billy Bragg and poet John Cooper Clark as potential role models at this stage in his career, and took the chance to reflect on how he is perceived.

‘There’s a certain point I feel like you break through to this winner’s enclosure- or you become inarguable, at a certain point. I’m wary of saying I’ve got to that point just yet, but at the same time, I just got a f**king number one on my ninth record, f**k off,’ he laughed.

‘People may not like what I do but it’s very hard to argue that it’s content-less. At a certain point, there has to be something going on here! I’m almost just about allowing myself to accept that and, dare I say it, actually enjoy it.’

For Frank Turner tickets, click here. Frank will play Tape Deck Heart in full at London’s Shepherd Bush Empire on February 9 as part of BRITs Week presented by Mastercard for War Child.

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