Rebellion & outfit post no. 2

Today, I'm having something of a rebellious day. I'm wearing this, and the little details you don't see are red nails, lashings of kohl, white-rimmed wayfarers and having my beloved tattoos on show through this top. Lots of loud music, including "Born to Run" by Bruce Springsteen, "Gold Lion" by the Yeah Yeah Yeah's, "Once and never again" by The Long Blondes, The Clash and The Ramones. It's pretty much awesome.

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Interview: The Trestles

I met Al O’Hare, The Trestles front man in Leaf CafĂ©. He was friendly and open, with that particular cheerful vibe only scouse blokes do. It wasn’t long before my cider was growing warm as we got talking about music, politics and the state of the world. I took the opportunity to find out what’s going on with The Trestles, who are, as I have previously said, “the modern antidote to mediocrity”. I love these guys for the honesty and passion that comes across in their particular brand of pub folk-punk, and there’s no let-up to that when you get talking to them.

So what’s going on with you guys?
We’ve got a new album coming out soon, and it’s nearly done. We’ve got a couple more sessions booked, we’ve got next weekend, all weekend, 12 hour shifts, where we’re planning on doing a couple of things. Then it’ll be one more session after that and we’re done.

At the moment, there’s going to be eleven songs. I’ve written a new one though, about two weeks ago, so I’m not sure. We’re always writing songs, but there’s a hierarchy of songs, and this one has managed to shoot itself up to the top. I’ve rehearsed it with the band, and it’s different. It’s a bit darker, a bit quieter; it’s not as rock and roll. It’s got a mandolin on it, and the drums are completely different to our normal style, so there’s going to have to be quite a lot of rehearsal for that. This weekend we’re recording a song called “Sing On”, and that’s going to be the album’s big pop moment, so it’s quite an important one to record really. That could be the big three-minute pop song, it’s really infectious, and so we’ve got to do that right. At the same time, we’re working on the new one that I’ve just written.

We want to put the record out on iTunes, and sell CDs at gigs, because there’s no point in selling CDs in shops anymore, for a band like us. We’ll get it properly produced, and it will come out on vinyl, that’s part of the ideal behind it. Albums aren’t dead. Just because sales are down, you shouldn’t let business make an artistic decision. We believe, as a band, so much in records. I map my life by records. It means we can be seen as moving backwards, but I’m quite happy to be out of step with this world. I think good songs are going to change all that encourage people to choose to buy the album.

You see a band now, and you go home and you put it on your facebook or your twitter page and say, oh, they were great. That’s fine, and that’s lovely, and that’s what the Internet should be about, instant word of mouth. But you can also go to see a band, and buy the CD at the end of the gig, and then tell your friend, and give him the CD. There’s still a lot to be said for that. It’s about putting your money where your mouth is.

We’re planning on the album having lots of ups and downs, being a journey and telling a story. In my head, I have this vague idea of, well, we’re trying to be the band that makes music important again, and so we’d like to do a side A and a side B. We want side A to be political and side B to be personal. That’s very idealistic, and I could wake up tomorrow and think that’s a pile of shite. At the minute we’ve got the songs. The promo single we sent around, with The Civilised and A Drink of Water show the two sides of the band. The Civilised is completely a full on, finger pointing song, in the spirit of The Clash. On the other hand, A Drink of Water is this sort of Waterboys-esque song with all my needs and my wants in life. I want to present both sides of that on the record, I want it to certainly have a foot in the world we live in. It’s an election year, so you’d better have something to say or put the guitar down. On the other hand, I don’t like to ignore the other side of the band, which is a very joyous thing – playing music and talking about what you feel.

Politically, we’re just knocked sick by everything we see at the minute. At the moment, the song “The Civilised” will open the record, for that reason. I watched the prime ministerial debate, and it made my skin crawl, really. To see the men who you’re supposed to look at as your leaders, the people who are going to take you forwards, to see them reduced to, basically the X Factor…ugh. To see them trying to win people’s opinion by the colour of their tie or the way they said a word…it knocks me sick. I also blame the people for it, as well. Each generation gets the heroes it deserves.

The album will have just one single, but we’re probably going to just put one song on iTunes. We don’t know which yet though. Singles are kind of dead in the water, really. It’s a funny time to be putting a record out, which is part of why it’s taken us so long to do one. No one’s waiting for the next U2 album, taste being what it is, but U2 being a big band; you get what I’m saying. I mean, who’s going to give a shit that the Trestles put an album out? So we want to do it right, in the best way. The Civilised and A Drink of Water have both had radio play; they’re both out there doing their thing, promoting it. We might do a video or something as well, basically to announce the album before you can get hold of it.

We’ll be touring soon, as well. We’ve got gigs booked in Nottingham, London and Wales, so we’ve got irons in the fire. We’re waiting for the record to come out. I want to playing gigs like the recent one at the Zanzibar in Liverpool, to a hundred people who love it, and everyone gets stuck in, and we love it, it’s what we do live. I want the gigs behind the album to matter, to be important. I love going to see a band, and the album is out, and you know what’s going on and yet something is at stake. Also, we have no bass player at the moment.

We’ve rehearsed a few bassists, but no one has been quite right. Tom (Carroll, The Trestle’s lead guitarist) or I can play in the studio. We’ve just not found anyone to be a permanent member, we’re all about playing live, and I don’t want someone to come in and just be. They’ll have to fit in with our whole idea. I mean, the song “A Drink of Water” never ends the same way, and we need someone who would be able to go with that. When the song has been going for ten minutes, and I’m just screaming Van Morrison lyrics down the mic, they have to be able to go with it. It wouldn’t necessarily be a musician who’s fantastic, just someone with the same spirit as us, has the same reference points, who loves the same bands as us. Musicians are overrated; forget that, we just want someone who fits in.

We don’t set out to be a boy’s band though. When I’m looking out from the stage, I see a lot more boys than girls, and a lot more middle aged men. I think that the music we make, though it isn’t this, it’s intrinsically linked with what people call your classic “Uncut” and “Mojo” generation. Your Paul Weller, Bruce Springsteen, Van Morrison fans. I’ve got nothing against them; I’m one of them myself. I just don’t get too concerned with who comes to see us, whether it’s a 21 year old girl or a 45 year old man, for me, it’s about communicating with people. I don’t write with a market in mind. People do, and it’s a big business. I can’t write with someone in mind, I don’t care who buys the record, as long as it’s someone. That’s all this band is, communicating with other humans.

Tonight I’m doing an acoustic set in Liverpool, and that’s massively different from what we normally do. I never used to like doing acoustic sets, because I love a band, and I love communicating with people, taking people onstage with me and communicating with them, and that’s totally what we’re about. I’ve grown to love acoustic because, I don’t know, you’re kind of freer to try stuff that even your own band members haven’t heard yet. I’ve got three or four songs that haven’t been heard outside of my living room and it gives me ideas. Tomorrow I could wake up and go “Shit, that went well, that can go on the record.” The new song is called “Everything I Know”, and that’s forced its way to the top of the recording pile, that I was talking about earlier, was played to about fifteen people a couple of weeks ago, and I just saw the reaction it had. Acoustic performances are, for me, about trying out new things. Plus, I just love to play live. If someone said to me tomorrow, all you’re going to do for the rest of your life is play in front of people, I’d say yeah.

Both Tom and myself write the songs, and I write all the lyrics except for “The Civilised”, which Tom brought to me fully formed. As a band, although our individual tastes are quite different, it works well because all our musical preferences are rooted in good songs. Our drummer loves early 80s stuff, like Michael Jackson, rhythmic stuff. Tom, the guitarist, loves Neil Young and Elliot Smith; Tom loves his introspective rock, to put a label on it. I love the everyman, Springsteen, Dylan, and Weller. I love Van Morrison more than anyone. People who aren’t afraid of big audiences and want to invite them in. How it comes together is, all the artists I’ve just mentioned are rooted in great songs, so it doesn’t matter how they present them. The song comes first, and as a band, that’s where our references meet. How we all consider our heroes to approach a song.

I used to listen to Bruce Springsteen every day, though I don’t anymore. He has a song for every occasion, the bastard, and in some of the darkest times of my life, it’s Springsteen I’ll put on. The ones I go back to the most are Van Morrison, I listen to him a lot, he’s been writing the same song for thirty years and that’s a compliment. I listen to music that touches me, it could be a pop song from ten years ago. Everyone knows I like Springsteen, The Waterboys, classic boy songwriters. But I’ll put on Kate Bush and cry my eyes out. There’s a song called “This Woman’s Work” by Kate Bush, and it’s the most emotional music ever put on tape. So although I’ve got the boyish ‘let’s ‘ave it’ side of things, it’s not what I’m listening to all the time.

The contrast in tastes and in different sides to our tastes is partly what inspires the A and B side idea for the album. Tom is a massive Rage Against The Machine fan, and he’s always brought their political ideals to it, as well as their strength, their force. That’s something I’ve never been interested in before I met Tom, force in how you play. There’s a spirit to what Tom does that I’ve never had from a guitarist in Liverpool before. I definitely think he’s the best guitarist under 30 in this city. That’s because he brings such force and power, and such finesse as well. It’s not just hundred mile an hour playing all the time, though he can do that, and I’ll have to rein him in or catch him. Tom brings a power that a lot of Liverpool band don’t have. They fall into the ‘lets be like The La’s, or The Coral, let’s be The Beatles’ trap. Now, all those bands are really good, and I like them all, but Tom brings something different, he’s a force of nature really. It’s a good thing, Tom’s RATM to my Van Morrison. Those artists all come from the same cloud, as I said before, Tom Morello and Van Morrison aren’t as far apart as they seem at first, they’re just born in different places.

Music is very much rooted in where you’re from, and all the current band members are Liverpool rooted. We try not to sound like most Liverpool bands. That comes from not wanting to be rooted in any insular ideals, or be a part of any scene. When I was first getting into music, there was a scene going round here. The Coral, The Zutons and The Stands all got signed, and there was a real scouse vibe going on. That looked really insular to me, and when you see a Liverpool band out of their hometown, it’s a different vibe. I’ve never wanted that. I don’t think a band should be defined by the sounds of where they are, even if as a person you are deeply rooted there. I think people take the bad things from the scene. For instance, lots of Liverpool bands want to sounds like The La’s and The Coral, but they don’t want to have their ideas about songs, they just sound like them. I think you should take the best from it, all that Liverpool has to offer and make it your own. I don’t want to be defined by my city.

My direction comes from being around the other band members, I couldn’t be in a band with someone who was in the BNP, well, obviously because they’d be a cunt. We have the same sort of politics, but there are things pushing and pulling, which is a good thing. I get questioned on my lyrics by the other band members a lot of the time, especially by Howard (The Trestle’s drummer). That’s good because I have to prove it, and I have to mean it, because otherwise my band will find me out, never mind anyone who’s listening.

I write about what’s in the air, what’s around. What’s happening right now. A lot of my favourite songwriters write in character, and I don’t buy it sometimes. There’s always got to be something of yourself in there. You can do it, and I’ve done it myself, but eventually if you look deep enough you’ll find the mirror in there. That sounds incredibly pretentious, but it’s true. We write about what’s in the air; it’s joy, it’s love, it’s horrible things too.

Pretty Prehistoric.

Today I thought I'd start the day with some nice photos of the things in my room that are pretty.

also, my first ever outfit post! It's inspired by the children in the book "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe". I love that 20s schoolgirl look, and because I team it with modern touches and grown-up make up, I think I just about get away with it!

Things I want.

I would like these things.

Also, I would like it to be May 7th so I can go see Hole.

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I FINALLY worked out how to compress this so it would go on scribd.

I'd really appreciate feedback, as it's a work in progress for the next few weeks, especially if you think something is rubbish (that's important - I don't want it to be rubbish when I hand it in!)

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Frank Turner interview

Basically, what it says on the tin. He was one of the most interesting and lovely people I've ever met.

ROSANNA HYNES interviews Frank Turner.

Frank Turner is well spoken, polite and terribly friendly. He is also skilled in the art of interviews, as he should be after nearly ten years of tireless self-promotion. He was also filled with a restless energy that comes through in the form of constant movement, making our photographer, JAMES WILBY frustrated in his attempts to catch Turner still long enough to get a decent photograph. Turner fidgets and interrupts himself, as though there is so much to tell he can’t wait to finish the previous sentence. Articulate and sharp, Turner seems knowledgeable about almost any subject we bring up, including traditional folk music, punk and politics, though these are clear specialist topics. He is very self-aware; always bringing the subject round to selling his future and current projects, but to catch glimpses of what really gets to him is a rare joy worth chasing. When Turner talks about being onstage and his fans, his face lights up with a broad smile that shows how far he has come from the days of struggling in tiny venues to make a name for himself away from the stigma of Million Dead’s mysterious break-up. Tonight is Turner’s biggest headline show yet – nearly 2,500 adoring fans wait for his peculiar blend of hardcore punk ethics and Springsteen style delivery. We caught him backstage at Manchester’s Academy for fifteen relentless minutes.

Your 2008 single, Long Live The Queen, was in aid of Cancer research and you have supported many other fundraising events, such as relief in Haiti. Do you feel that this is something that you have to do alongside your music?
I don’t ever feel that it’s something I have to do particularly; it’s something I like to do. At the end of the day, an awful lot of my job is self-promotion, and that’s fine, but it’s just kind of refreshing for me to be promoting something other than me. Doing the whole breast cancer thing, obviously there was a personal level on that for me as well, because my friend Lex was deeply involved in that kind of fundraising… Anyway, so I’ve been getting involved with more political groups recently as well. We had no to ID doing stuff on the last tour, and I think we’ve got the UK libertarian party doing some bits and bobs on this tour as well, which is my political bent. I feel like I’ve got a platform, so I’m going to talk about it.

On the last tour, you played a harder, more rock version of “Long Live The Queen” – do you think that this was to, in a way, make the song easier to play live, as it is so personal?
No not really, I like to try and do something different with the set list every time we do a tour in order to make it interesting, and to give people a reason to come back again. It’s fun. I believe that songs are skeletons, and they can be fleshed out in different ways. There was a moment in time when that song was going to be like that anyway, when I was writing it, and then it changed. We’re playing it the old way on this tour, but it was kind of fun to do something different.

You recently released a DVD; do you think you play differently when you know you are being videoed?
No not really, actually. One of the things about the shoot on that tour was that something I really didn’t want was for people at the show to have their experiences spoiled by some dickhead with a camera wandering all over the stage… so the crew was all quite discreet. Once I am up there, onstage, I’m quite kind of focused on the crowd, so I didn’t really notice to be honest.

Do you find it strange that a lot of the music that espouses the punk ethics nowadays is not traditional-style punk music, it is more melodic? How do you think this reflects the supposed death of punk?
Ugh. People have been calling punk dead since about six months after it started. So much like Mark Twain, I think it is, reports of its demise are greatly exaggerated. To me punk is an attitude that comes in many shapes and forms and I think if you only look for punk rock in skinny angry white boys playing guitar you’ll probably get bored really quickly. Right, not like I want to make out like I think it’s a movement like some people think it is, but this whole punk-folk kind of thing that seems to be going on which I get lumped in with a lot, which is…. Fine, because it’s fair cop to a degree, but that’s a really good example. It’s a really cool thing where, if I’m thinking positively about it, a lot of people, particularly American punks, are reminding themselves what they liked about punk in the first place. The first time you hear Jawbreaker it’s amazing, but when you hear the hundredth band that sound like Jawbreaker it’s kind of like… Eeeh. By taking the same attitude and ethos and ideals, and quite a lot of the time some melodic structures and stuff, and developing them in a new format, it shocks you out of the haze in a way. If punk was ever to officially die, I’m not sure I’d really give a shit. By which I mean that I just like music. For me, I grew up listening to a type of music called punk rock, and if people aren’t making any new punk rock records, then I’m still going to go home and listen to the “First Four Years” by Black Flag.

You just covered Barbara Allen, a traditional folk song. How does that side of music affect what you do?
Well, one of the things about that is that I’ve recently gotten very heavily into finding out about traditional English music. It kind of combines my two passions in life, which are history and music. So I’m working on doing a traditional album at some point, hopefully releasing at some point next year, as well as writing another album, and a book, and being on tour until the middle of next year. Barbara Allen was fun to do, and also kind of a challenge for me because singing acapella is not really something I’ve done before, so I was kind of bricking it the first time I did it, but it turned out alright. I really like the whole notion of kind of traditional music, such as found songs, where people don’t really know who wrote them and they have hundreds of years of history. And loads of different versions, I mean I have six different versions of Barbara Allen, and they’re all based around the same kind of riff. To be honest with you, the version that I sung is my version, - I tinkered about with the lyrics, and the tune a little bit, but that’s the idea, that’s the whole point, and it’s a living tradition.

How many instruments can you play?
A few. Drums, badly, bass reasonably well. I can play guitar, well, rhythm guitar, I can’t solo to save my fucking life. I can play mandolin, lap steel banjo, but they’re all kind of variations on a theme really. Not that many, but I’m lucky that the band I work with includes some serious virtuoso players. They’re all fucking great but particularly Matt, my keyboard player, is just one of the most disgustingly talented people in the whole world ever. I’m doing an Australian and Chinese tour on my own, and Matt was just like “pick an instrument for me to learn while you’re away” and I chose accordion and he said “I’m on it”, so I think we might have an accordion in the future.

How did you meet your band?
When Million Dead were still together and not on tour I didn't want to not be on tour, so I was crewing for other bands. I was out on tour with Reuben, who are good old friends of mine, who were supported by a band called Dive Dive. Dive Dive featured a guy called Tarrant Anderson (who is now Frank’s bassist) and they are fucking amazing, and very nice people to boot. Then when Million Dead broke up, those guys had their own studio at the time in Oxford. They offered to let me use it to record some stuff, and also offered to play on it. So I went and recorded the Campfire Punkrock EP with them, and it just sort of ballooned from there. We had about a million different keyboard players, most of whom were shit, or annoying, or both. Apart from Chris TT, who was in the band for a while, which was great, but he has his own stuff to do. In the end, Nigel (Powell, Frank’s drummer) met Matt in a poker game, which sounds fucking rock and roll, ad found out that Matt was a musician and a keys player, and we trialled him out, and he was insanely good. When Matt joined the band it really felt like my shows and the band hit a totally different pitch to where they were before, and it’s really come together now. I’ll still do things in my own name, but I want the band to be kind of like the E Street Band where they are a backing band, but people know who they are. It’s important to me that people know that I play with the same people, and people know that they are a band. We’ve been trying to come up with a band name, and haven’t really succeeded. Apart from, and they are, they fucking are, joking with this one, but they like Lazer Child. So maybe, Frank Turner and Lazer Child, but I think not, somehow.

Do you prefer to headline small venues or play support slots in larger venues?
I actually don’t really care. I don’t think shows are made by made by that part, or at least that’s only a really small part of what makes a good show. For me, a good show is about atmosphere, and I’ve seen Springsteen create a good live atmosphere with sixty thousand people, and similarly I’ve seen that it’s possible to play to a huge number of people and have no atmosphere at all, and I’ve done shows where there’s been five people there and it’s been amazing. It’s something a lot less tangible than the size of the venue that you’re in.

What’s been your favourite ever performance you have played so far?
There are a few, here and there. I do so many gigs that it’s hard to pick one. The show last night in Edinburgh last night was great. One was when we were in St Louis, Missouri with Flogging Molly. We had a great tour with them generally, but there was something about that show that was just really… I don’t know, we just came on and killed it, straight away. I really felt like we owned that show, and it was a really good feeling, and the crowd seemed to agree. Everyone was coming up to us telling us it was amazing, and I just had to say, “Yeah, it was, wasn’t it”.

What inspired your newest album, considering how quickly it arrived on the tail of the previous one?
I’ve been writing quickly recently. One thing was, Jay, who is also known as Beans on Toast, is a very old friend of mine, and someone whose opinion I value enormously, about life, music and everything else. We were having a discussion one day about the song “The Ballad of Me and My Friends” (from Turner’s first album, Sleep is for the Week), and he was basically having a go about that song, saying that it was overly pessimistic and saying that he isn’t giving up. I won’t tell you how old he is, but he’s in his early thirties and he’s a club promoter and a folk singer, and he said, “I’m not planning on doing anything else with my life.” His question, essentially, was why do we have to stop living exciting, adventurous lives just because we hit a certain age? I was kind of stumped, basically. So I thought about it a lot, and that whole conversation turned into the song “Live Fast, Die Old”. That’s the first track I wrote for the album, and it really felt like it had to be the first track on the album as well. Things kind of went from there for me. Generally speaking though, I tend to write about what’s going on in my head at any moment.

You’ve been touring almost non-stop for nearly seven years – do you plan on slowing down any time soon?
Not any time immediately soon, I had three weeks off at Christmas, and it drove me out of my fucking mind. I feel like I’m going to record another album this year, and get it out next year, and do another promotional tour. After that, I feel like it might be time to do something radical like take six months off and just kind of… assess. Although, I say that, the other thing I’m thinking of doing is setting aside a year, probably 2013 off the top of my head, to be the year of the side project. I’ve had so many awesome ideas of side projects and collaborations with people, like Beardy Man. There’s also the super group. Everybody potentially involved in the super group wants to do it, but it’s a question of scheduling. It would be Ben from Million Dead on drums, Jim from At The Drive-In on bass, Jim from Jimmy Eat World on guitar and me on guitar. It came about when me and Jim and Jim were hanging out in Arizona, and having one of those conversations where everyone is agreeing with each other over a pint. We were talking about how Hot Snakes are the single best punk band that have ever lived, and we decided to form a band that sounds like Hot Snakes. We’re going to be called “Hammer Zeit”, which is German for “Hammer Time” and the album is going to be called “Halt”. It’s going to be fucking amazing, but when on earth we’re all going to find the time to do that is beyond me.

You once said in a song that “the only thing I’m offering is me” – how true do you think that is today?
I hope it’s still one hundred percent true. There’s no fiction in my songs, not because I disagree with fiction, I think it’s possible to be very artistically honest with fiction, but because I’m really rubbish at it. I feel like I write good lyrics when I tell the truth, so it’s all still pretty straight up.