Last February when U.K. folk-punk troubadour Frank Turner pulled through the province of for shows in Moncton and Fredericton, residents were delighted and humbled to see a social media post from the singer showing off his then new tattoo: a map of the province of New Brunswick.
Asked if audiences at his shows here last year had left that much of an impression on him that he felt compelled to get a tattoo to permanently commemorate the occasion, he laughs.
“I did have a good time in the province, but how this is how the tattoo came about,” he shares. “I was performing two shows in Fredericton, an early show and a later show. At the early show, I played a song about getting tattoos, and I had a guy in the front row say that he had never done a tattoo of the province so it just made sense that I should step up and volunteer my body for the purpose.”
While Turner is no stranger to the world of tattoos, the addition of New Brunswick doesn’t only represent just one of three maps the singer has wilfully been tattooed with – the others being Texas and Ohio – it also happens to serve as a badge of honour.
“I’d much rather have a tattoo of New Brunswick than Ontario,” he deadpans.
Although it’s a rarity for well-known Canadian acts to perform in the Maritimes more than once in any given 12-month period, Turner’s imminent return to the New Brunswick is not only remarkable because the U.K. is his home, but also because he has seemingly had little time to catch his breath over the last year.
Since his last performance in New Brunswick last February, Turner has performed more than 185 shows throughout North America and Europe. His dedication to performing live is virtually unrivalled among medium-sized acts in the business that are fortunate enough to play the myriad of territories in which Turner finds himself.
“I haven’t been off the road for any huge amount of time since I was last through New Brunswick. Being on tour is hard, but I don’t necessarily think I work any harder than people working at other types of jobs. The only aspect of being on tour that feels like work is the travel part of the business. Other than that, I’m quite content with how busy I am because it’s a measure of success. Unlike so many other musicians, I don’t have to pick up part-time work or find a job when I am not on the road. It is a wonderful position to be in; we are very lucky. To have any amount of people show up to see us play anywhere in the world is a privilege,” Turner says.
It has been a long, winding road that has brought Turner to this point in his career. After having immersed himself in the grunge music which emanated from the northwest U.S. in the early to mid 90’s, Turner’s tastes branched out to American punk and hardcore bands like Black Flag and Minor Threat, the latter of which was so influential, it largely informed one of his first successful bands, Million Dead.
Once that group dissolved in 2005, however, Turner’s tastes mellowed considerably. He immersed himself in Johnny Cash’s American Recordings series of records, picking up Bob Dylan and Neil Young albums along the way.
Over the course of numerous EP’s and six studio albums, the most recent of which is 2015’s Positive Songs For Negative People, Turner has crafted a catalogue of work that is energetic and anthemic in much the same way that Bruce Springsteen’s music resonates with the public.
Once Turner’s current spate of North American shows have wrapped up next week, he will return to Europe where in March, he will play a series of solo shows throughout France. In May, Turner will host his own music festival at London’s famed Roundhouse venue, while later in the year, he will perform alongside Blink 182 on their European tour.
Also on tap, he says, is a new studio effort, which he acknowledges can’t help but be informed by the state of today’s world. While he shies away from estimating when the project will be released, he does say the album’s subject matter won’t necessarily be pretty.
“I think the present state of the world is crying out for artist commentary. It’s a bizarre time to be alive,” he says.
Please be advised that due to extreme weather conditions impeding travel, the Arkells concert with special guests Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls scheduled for tomorrow, Feb. 14, at Casino New Brunswick in Moncton is cancelled.
Tickets purchased by phone and online will be automatically refunded and those purchased at the Casino Gift Shop must be returned to point of purchase.
“We are so bummed we had to cancel this show due to Mother Nature. We’ve been very lucky on this Canadian tour so far with the weather, but the law of averages were bound to kick in at some point. We love playing the Maritimes and are already working on finding a new date to come back and play for the good people of New Brunswick. In the meantime, stay safe out there!” – Max Kerman/ARKELLS
The Halifax concert at Scotiabank Centre on Wednesday, Feb. 15 will go ahead as planned. All information is available at www.sonicconcerts.com.