Frank Turner: Pulling punk rock from an acoustic guitar

Although Frank Turner stops short of embracing the term “folk-punk” as a genre, he admits that playing in punk bands since he was 16 has certainly guided the acoustic music he’s making now.

“Punk rock is kind of like Catholicism,” the British singer-songwriter says. “It’s either in your life or it isn’t, and if it is, you’re probably going to spend a ridiculous amount of time thinking about it. And you’ll spend half of that time loving it and half of that time hating it.

Turner, who spent four years fronting hardcore punk band Million Dead, will soon release his fourth solo album, “England Keep my Bones” and just played a show at Bottom of the Hill yesterday (May 4th).

“The thing I took away from punk was the fierce independence and self-reliance,” he says. “Like, ‘We don’t need to be told what to do and we’re going to make our own space culturally.’ People did that before punk came along and people have done it since.”

While such socially driven messages are weaved deeply into his songs, they’re almost never delivered as complaints aimed at specific political issues in the style of, say, Anti Flag or Rage Against the Machine.

“If I wanted to do that I’d be a politician,” he says, describing his views as more libertarian than anything. “And as much as I grew up with [Rage] – I think they make a great noise – I certainly don’t agree with their politics. For example, Che Guavara was a murderous, homophobic thug and I wouldn’t want him on my t-shirt.”

On “England Keep my Bones,” Turner is accompanied on most tracks by a full band, just as he was on his previous release, “Poetry of the Deed.” That wasn’t the case on his first two albums, “Sleep is for the Week” and “Love Ire & Song,” both of which lean heavily on his thickly strummed lonesome acoustic guitar.

He’s been accompanied by his band on tour in the U.K. for the past few years, but could never afford to get them across the pond until he signed with Epitaph Records last year. The full band then went on tour in support of Flogging Molly.

Turner is a nonstop globetrotter, so if you missed him at Bottom of the Hill yesterday, you’ll have another chance in October. And this time he’ll have his band in tow, so don’t blow it.

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