FLICKY HARRISON chats to the rock and blues guitar man Frank Turner about his new musical direction

ROCK and blues guitar man Frank Turner is about to change direction, so to pave the way his latest album has a retro feel, a consolidation of his back catalogue.

He was inspired to create the album, entitled Songbook, during his four-night festival at Camden in London where he was determined not to repeat any of his material at each gig.

He organised the festival to celebrate the decade since his debut album, Sleep Is For The Week, was released. Across five venues there were 40 acts and the festival won the AIM Best Festival of the Year Award.

Frank said: “My next studio album, coming out in the spring, is a radical departure, so this is the story so far, a reinterpretation of old songs before moving on to something new.’’

Along with the new album, Frank has released a new single, There She Is, which he wrote for his partner, Jess.

“It is for my wonderful partner Jess, who changed by life around. It is a song about affairs of the heart and pointing the way forward to a new route,’’ he said.

He will no doubt be singing There She Is when he comes to perform at a sell-out gig in Swindon’s Level lll, Commercial Road, on Saturday, January 20.

Growing up in Hampshire, Frank felt he was out of step musically with many of his peers until at the age of 13 he went to Reading Festival.

“My first experience of Reading was that I had found my tribe, before that I was very insular, sitting alone listening to tapes. Now I had found my people,’’ he said.

So it was to prove, as for 10 years on the trot Frank has performed at Reading and Leeds until he had a break this summer.

“I have a lot of love for Reading it was instrumental in helping my career in many ways.’’

Trying out new things has never been an obstacle to Frank. For example he immediately agreed when his friend, a videographer, suggested bringing in the wrestler, CM Punk on one of the musicians’s videos. He had a go at creating his own brand of beer and was the cover star on Kerrang magazine. Although he frequently said no to writing his autobiography.

“You need to be near the end of your life or have received an award,’’ he said. But the guitarist was persuaded to write a book, The Road Beneath My Feet, of what he calls his ‘memoirs’ which was a number one best seller.

“I am thinking about doing a new book,’’ he said.

Frank has worked with a number of famous names including Green Day and Biffy Clyro, but his all time music heroes are Iron Maiden, and when he appeared on Celebrity Mastermind he picked the heavy metal band as his specialist subject.

“I was pleased to have won,’’ he said. “There was a lot of pressure under the spotlight, it seems easy when you are sitting at home shouting at the telly. I have still got my trophy.’’

The singer won a scholarship to Eton College at the same time as Prince William and went on to attend the London School of Economics but music was always his first passion and in 2001 he joined the post hardcore band Million Dead.

Two albums and four years later Frank made the decision to carve out a new sound and formed his own backing band, The Sleeping Souls.

In 2012 they were asked to play at the London Olympics.

“It was surreal, a vast production,’’ he said.

For details of other gigs coming to Level lll in Swindon visit http://leveliii.co.uk/ - Flicky Harrison