U.K. songwriter Frank Turner is no stranger to performing live. According to his website, the musician has undertaken well over 1,800 shows since his first performance in 2004, performing in far-flung places like his native U.K., India, China, Israel and Vietnam, among dozens of others.
Turner’s upcoming Canadian tour, which includes a stop at Moncton’s Tide & Boar Ballroom on Friday evening, is not only notable for the impressive amount of shows he will be performing across the country, both solo and with his band The Sleeping Souls, it also stands out for the time of year that the musician is choosing to undertake such an endeavour: The middle of a Canadian winter.
Has Turner gone mad? No. It’s quite the opposite, he reassures us.
“You certainly aren’t the first to be asking about why I’d choose this time of year to travel your great country,” he begins. “I’ve travelled Finland in January. I bought some long johns and got through it. Canada has been a country I’ve wanted to travel for quite some time so, to me, it’s definitely worth perhaps being occasionally cold.”
Over the course of Turner’s many studio records, the most recent of which is last year’s Positive Songs for Negative People, he has crafted tight, energetic and anthemic songs. While this in itself may not be remarkable in one sense, it is the manner which Turner executes his material that is likely to stick with the listener, an uncommon blend of Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band-inspired rock along with an obvious affinity for punk and protest music.
With each successive release, Turner has concocted a unique stew of music that, like a fine wine, just gets better with age.
“Rock and roll just wasn’t a part of my life when I was younger, but that all changed when I saw a poster for [U.K. heavy metal band] Iron Maiden. It’s like that was the catalyst for setting me on this path, which was further cemented when I saw the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert at Wembley Stadium. After that, I really started bugging my parents to get me a guitar.”
As Turner restlessly explored the various groups of the grunge era of the early 90’s, his tastes began leaning upon punk groups like NOFX and Black Flag through hardcore bands like Minor Threat, a sound relatively evident in one of his first successful musical projects, Million Dead.
It was when that group went their separate ways in 2005 that Turner began exploring a side of music that was completely new to him as a music fan: The world of the singer-songwriter.
“Because of the way I got into music that when Million Dead fell apart, I knew that I wanted to keep touring and creating. I had started listening to Johnny Cash’s American Recordings, Bob Dylan and Neil Young. It was music that I immediately found interesting and intriguing, if only because playing a show with just an acoustic guitar and no band was a challenge,” Turner says.
Asked if he felt vulnerable the first time he performed solo, without the safety net of a group behind him, Turner says he felt as though it was the best possible way to shake his world up.
“I felt vulnerable, but I also wanted to take myself out of my comfort zone. You’re more exposed in a way, but you also become more engaged with both yourself as a writer as well as with your audience.
Turner acknowledges that while his musical journey has proven to be unique thus far, the success he has been afforded, including performing sold-out shows throughout the world, has also been somewhat anomalous compared to many of his peers.
“I’m always weary about making too many statements about my career, but absolutely have to admit that the way things have evolved for me has been unusual. The music industry is predicated on immediate success, but if you look back to the greats like Bob Dylan, it took the world four or five records before they really ‘got’ him.
“If you look at success as being able to be artistically independent and travel the world, I’m incredibly successful. Not a day passes by where I don’t realize how rather fortunate I am that this is what I get to do for a living.”
What: Frank Turner with special guest Northcote
When: Friday Feb. 19, 9 p.m.
Where: Tide & Boar Ballroom, 700 Main St., Moncton
Tickets are $23, available online at www.tideandboar.com/music