“If punk was ever to officially die, I’m not sure I’d really give a shit.

SELLOUT finds the real Frank Turner.

Frank Turner is wellspoken, 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 movement, constant 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 knowledgable about almost any subject we bring up , including traditional folk music, punk and politics, though these are clear specialisms. 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-esque 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 setlist every time we do a tour in order to make it interesting, and to give people a reason to

“songs are skeletons, and they can be fleshed out in different ways”
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 peo-

ple 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 traditionalstyle 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 it’s 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

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, 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 Barabra 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

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 couldn’t 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

“why do we have to stop living exciting, adventurous lives just because we hit a certain age?”
also kind of a challenge for me because singing accapela 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 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

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

“punk is an attitude, that comes in many shapes and forms”

INTERVIEW
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’s 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, 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 enourmously, about life, music and everything else. We were having a discussion one day about the

“it might be time to do something radical like take six months off and just kind of… assess.”
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 awe-

some ideas of side projects and collaborations with people, like Beardy Man. There’s also the supergroup. Everybody potentially involved in the supergroup wants to do it, but it’s a question of scheduling. It would be Ben from Million Dead on drums, Jim from At The DriveIn 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 gonna be called “HammerZite”, 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

FRANK TURNER

Tonight Frank Turner broke hearts. From the opening notes of “Live Fast, Die Old” from the new album to the triumphant close of “Photosynthesis”, Turner played tonight’s Manchester show as though it were his last on Earth. Taking to the stage, Frank Turner opened the show as his die-hard fans have never seen before, replete with lights, full band, smoke and an astounding 800 strong crowd. Having seen Turner perform to an audience of 50 people tonight was something of an education. Turner has performed every show I’ve seen with gusto and enthusiasm, despite having been touring almost continuously now for six years. That’s a long time to chase the kind of popularity he is now enjoying. The heady atmosphere in Manchester’s Academy Two was a bizarre combination of longing nostalgia for “the good old days” where Frank (as he is af-

fectionately known by fans) ran his own merchandise stand and would give personalised shout-outs to fans based on conversations they had. The other side to this was the excitement and pride felt at seeing someone who deserves it finally make it. Many of the diehard Turner fans have accused him of “selling out” and being disloyal to those who have watched and listened eagerly since the now sepia-toned days of Million Dead. To all these sceptics, all I have to say is; the boy has done us proud. Turner has, in the 8 years since Million Dead released their first EP, never once become jaded or lost his incredible passion for what he does. He has consistently brought to the stage and to our headphones a sense of righteousness and fervour, coupled with an awesome stage presence. It’s not often that someone can do all that and still stay a nice guy. But back to the gig. Turner

played an interesting and well considered set, with a fairly even ratio of new to old songs, designed to please old fans and acquaint the radio one crowd with his back catalogue. His new album has some belting songs on it, and after hearing them played live, I’ll definitely be giving some of the slower tracks, like “Journey of the Magi” another go. My personal highlight was his rendition of The Postal Service’s “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight”, but he also played “Smiling at Strangers on Trains” – a bittersweet reminder of his Million Dead days. Also on the set list were “The Ballad of Me and My Friends”, “Father’s Day” and a reworked version of “Long Live the Queen”. The new version of the latter was, if possible, even better than the original, yet loses none of its emotional punch. Turner played everything well,

as is to be expected, though the sound quality at the start left much to be desired. This was irritating, as this seemed like an ominous sign of things to come – impressive lights and smoke, huge crowd, but terrible sound? Shiver. However, the sound issues were quickly rectified, and the gig went on to be one of the best I have ever seen Turner play, as though the huge crowd’s energy fed his own. In short, if you haven’t yet seen this amazing performer, get yourself a ticket for the largevenue tour next year. At £15, it isn’t much for the chance to say you saw the Dylan of our times. In Summary: Amazing. Grab a ticket for the next tour before they sell out. But if they do sell out, with Frank Turner, there will always be another tour.

INTERVIEW

SELLOUT catches up with Crazy Arm - lovely blokes they were too. Lead singer Darren Johns talks here about their new album, punk rock radio and how it feels to be sponsored by Frank Turner.
You’ve recently had a new album out that has been very well received. How are you feeling about how the album is doing? I’m not really sure how it’s doing to be honest! We know how it’s been received – the reviews have mostly been great. To be honest, I’m not really sure how to guage how an album is received – I daren’t ask how many have been sold because I just don’t want to know in case it’s such a small number that it brings us all down! I think a lot of people are either downloading it or listening to it on spotify, which is great – we don’t mind how people listen to it, but how it reflects in the sales I’m not sure. It’s worked wonders for us as far as the band getting to the next level.

about. What do you think it takes to make it as a new band in the digital era? I think you just have to believe in music, and not give a shit about how many sales there are. All the bands that I care about never did it for the money, and if I found that they did I would boycott them, you know? We come from an underground punk scene which was never about and will never be abot shifting units – it’s about the music, and the scene and the community that it evolves from. I think the era we live in is good in a way, because it seeds out all those money-makers, because they all think “Oh, well there’s no money in music, so I’m going to go and become an estate agent or something” – it’s getting rid of all those idiots. I think it’s going to be harder for kids to get where they want to get, but it does mean that only the music lovers will be making music, so hopefully in twenty years time we’ll only have the best bands, and the best songs ever heard….possibly! At least, people will be striving to do that, and that’s what we care How did you come to be touring with Frank Turner? We got signed to Xtra Mile last year, which is that same label as Frank Turner is on, and he heard one of our songs, when he was travelling in a convertible in LA and he just got blown away by the song, and he’s been fighting our corner ever since. He always raves about us, if anyone asks him who his favourite new band are, he always says us. We’re pretty flattered by that! Then, I guess because of the label connection, he offered to take us out on tour, which we just jumped at, and now the European section of it as well… To say we were happy was an understatement. Both Frank and the label have done a lot for us, got us playing to a crowd of people that we might not have seen for another five years. I’m still gobsmacked by it all, to be honest. Your music is a great spin on the idea of traditional punk – with lyrics that have meaning, and a very individual vocal style. Where

does that come from? We understand, Like Frank Turner does, that punk music, and folk music are about words and storytelling. That tradition will never disappear, through all the incarnations of punk, and the folk music that’s coming through with punk music. People will always want to continue that tradition of writing meaningful words, rather than just…garbage that you’ll hear from about 80% of punk rock bands these days. It’s a shame, because the underground punk scene is rife with bands that have something to say, but those bands will never get aired. Who are your favourite new band? I’m obsessed with the Skints at the moment. They’re nothing like us, they’re a reggae punk band, and I just think they’re amazing. They’re awesome, they’re going to outstrip all of us in about three years. There are other bands, local Cornish bands near us, like the Bangers, who we play with a lot. They’re happy to stay where they are, everyone on

CRAZY ARM
the DIY punk scene loves them and they’re ok with that, they don’t want to lift up, it’s good enough for them. It would have been good enough for us, until things changed When and how did you form? About five years ago. We were a three-piece formed out of two different bands, a post hardcore band and No Comply, who were a ska-punk band. We lost the ska bit… When those bands fell apart we got together, because we were all good friends, and then about a year later we got another guy in. We had no idea what style of music we wanted to do. We drew from every source then, and people say we’re quite a hotch-potch of sounds anyway, but it was far more so then. Then we lost our fourth member, and along came Tim, and it’s never been better. We’re the band it always should have been. Five years in the making. When you are writing songs, do the lyrics or the tune come first? I write most of the songs, both musically and lyrically. I write all the lyrics, and most of the music, and it all comes together through jams in the practice room. If it’s great, then it goes into a song somewhere. Songs kind of get thrown around in the practice room; certain parts get dropped, or cut off or questioned. That’s not to say that people couldn’t bring things to the table… Tim: I’ve still got things to learn, before I can even start thinking about making something… You say on your facebook that you feel that it’s important to talk about your vegetarianism, your atheist beliefs and your support of human and animal rights. This is all obviously imporbut to tiny amounts of people. After this, we’ll definitely be out – we have to strike when the iron’s hot, really, and just get out there. We’re doing a lot of festivals through summer, and that’s the aim really. We’ve got about seven at the moment, and we’re trying for Reading and Leeds, and apparently we’re in the running for it We’re still out there, but some of us are still working, so we can’t tour all the time. I’m doing a solo tour in May, because the rest of the band can’t do it. The next band tour will probably be October, with the Skints Do you prefer support slots in large venues, like tonight, or headlining smaller venues? They both have their virtues. It’s much easier, in our comfort zone, to play small venues, on the floor with the crowd, right in people’s faces. I love that kind of action. I do like the vastness of these shows, though, and everyone has been really nice to us. This tour is dreamlike, it doesn’t feel real to us, and it’s odd. I’m sure I’ll look back and ask “What did we just do?! That was insane!” We still feel a bit out of our depth. Do you all have similar music taste, or is there a lot of variety? Absolutely. We have the same taste in music, we’re like clones of each other! We always have the same albums on rotation in the van. Baroness, for instance, is everyone’s favourite band, and if it’s not that it’s Sheerwater’s new album, which is amazing or First Aid Kit’s new album, which is amazing as well. Obviously we don’t have exactly the same taste in music, but of all the things that are put on, no one doesn’t want to hear it. We all hang out together at home. I know it’s a realy cliché, but we are a real family band, we’re like a family.

tant, but do you ever worry that by confronting issues like this in your music, you might stop yourself from becoming as famous as someone who just wrote songs about lighter issues? We never worry about it, no. Our label said that to us before, “Do you really want us to put that on the band biography?” We were like, yes, we do. There are far more important things wrong with the world to worry about. I’m not going to compromise talking about things just because it might stop us getting played on daytime radio. Most people agree, they’re not extreme politics, they’re seen as common sense ideas. Vegetarianism for instance. Twenty five years ago we were called “Cranks”, and now it’s completely accepted as the most most viable and wholesome lifestyle. Veganism is maybe not so much acceoted, but another twenty years and it will be. These aren’t extreme views, they’re just common sense. It’s less popular to talk about this stuff though. It’s true. For instance, we did a

show with Mike Davie’s punk rock show, which was a cover of an anti-fascist song, which was written in the sixties. I wrote one of the verses myself, where I updated the song to include a verse about the BNP. That was one of our main songs for the show, but for some mysterious reason it didn’t appear on this late-night so called punk rock show… I don’t mean any disrespect, because I think the show is awesome, but I just wonder who decided the song couldn’t be aired. We definitely said, this is one of our main three songs, but it wasn’t even included as an internet download. It was just kind of conveniently lost. We were told that it would be played on the show later in the year, but nothing. I think they were scared of the libel attached to it and backed off. Which is a shame, because the song shows a different side to us, it’s an acoustic song. So yeah. it annoys me, but I won’t stop doing it for popularity reasons. Will you be doing a headline tour soon? We headline tour all the time,

INTERVIEW
P
ROSANNA HYNES meets the journalist with a reputation to die for.
meet. To be honest, the ones that are pleasant encounters I tend to forget, because you just walk out with a sense of relief, thinking, thank god nothing went wrong! The most memorable ones for me are when I meet the people who were stars before I became a journalist, so when I get to meet Paul McCartney or David Bowie, that’s quite a thrill, because it reawakens the childfan in me, you know, and I would say it was more exciting for me to interview Dusty Springfield than it was to meet Madonna, she was the first pop star I knew of as a child, because Madonna wasn’t a pop star when I was a kid, she wasn’t even invented, so to speak. You have been involved in the creation of a vast number of magazines in your time in the industry, which one would you be most likely to read now? The one that I currently write for now is The Word magazine, and because it’s tailored to my interests, my age, it’s the one I would be most likely to read, were I not also writing for them. I’ve been fortunate in that usually I was able to work for a magazine that I would have been a reader of anyway. I worked for NME at a time when I was an NME reader, Q I started for people of my age and outlook, and the same with Mojo. The one that I didn’t have any personal involvement with was HEAT I suppose, and once I walked out the door after the launch, I never picked up a copy again! What’s on your spotify playlist? It’s never just one thing in particular. It’s generally things that are drawn from a hundred dif-

aul du Noyer is quiet, reserved and polite. It is hard to put together the calm man before you with the illustrious career he has behind him – one cannot help but expect the stereotypical editor – but then again, Du Noyer is anything but average. He has written for or created almost every major UK music magazine, interviewed the biggest names in the industry and written several acclaimed books. SELLOUT hunts down the man behind the deeds. You have been in the magazine industry for over 30 years now, what would you say is your proudest moment in journalism? In journalism, it was probably launching Mojo, which when it started, was quite a difficult magazine to persuade the publishers to do – they couldn’t quite see the point of it. But I’m pleased to say that although I don’t have any involvement in it anymore it’s survived, in a pretty hard market It still survives – I think it’s still the kind of magazine that I thought it was going to be when it started. Who was your favourite interview with? Well, some interviews are nice just because it’s a pleasant encounter, and some are a great thrill because it’s somebody that you’ve always wanted to

“It was more exciting for me to interview Dusty Springfield than it was to meet Madonna.”

ferent directions. A couple of things at random are Kings of Leon; seventy different versions of a jazz song called I Cover the Waterfront. I liked the song, and I was just wondering how many people had covered it. That’s the great thing about Spotify; I just keyed in the title and up popped seventy different covers, from Frank Sinatra to Billie Holliday.

What song would you choose to sum up Liverpool? I’d pick “The Killing Moon” by Echo and The Bunnymen. What song do you think best represents London? For London I would nominate “Up the Junction” by Squeeze. Who was your most difficult interviewee? Either Lou Reed or Van Morrison. I’d say they were joint top.

PAUL DU NOYER
I don’t see any reason why not. I don’t see why the foundation of musical talent should either grow or decline, and I don’t see why the supply of genius should be any less than it used to be. However, whom those people will be, when we look

Du Noyers leading interview with Souxise and the Banshees on the cover of NME.

“I don’t see why the supply of genius should be any less than it used to.”
back on them in 20 years time, I really couldn’t say. The only difference is that nobody could ever really make the kind of breakthrough The Beatles made, I mean, once you discover the North Pole, nobody else can ever do it, because it’s already been done. A lot of what The Beatles did, apart from being very good, musically, they kind of invented an industry in a way, because everybody else is obliged to do something like it. That doesn’t mean that nobody can be as good as The Beatles. What bands/ artists are your biggest guilty pleasures? The Moody Blues – 60s & 70s prog rock. They’re the most pretentious; fantasy, pompous songs ever written, and they look like poncey hairdressers! They were everything that punk rock set itself up to destroy, but secretly I love them.

Paul Du Noyer presents Paul McCartney with a Lifetime Achievement trophy at the first Q Awards.

Do you think the rise of the blogosphere means that the standard of journalism will drop drastically? I think the standard of the blogoshpere is going to have to rise. We’re still at the early stage of that game, and what will happen is that reader’s ways of evaluating different blogs will become more sophisticated, and gradually, instead of stumbling blindly

around the Internet, we will find ways of being steered towards things we like, possibly through a very good system of reader recommendation. And once bloggers have built up an audience, they will have to work hard to keep that audience, because the great cliché of the Internet that your nearest rival is only a click away – it’s very hard to keep hold of your readers on the Internet. Bloggers will really have to work

hard, to standard.

meet

a

certain

Over the course of your career, you have interviewed some of the biggest names in music. Do you think that the current generation of musicians has what it takes to live on in the memories of their audiences in the way The Beatles, Bowie or The Rolling Stones have?

INTERVIEW LIAM FROST
It’s been three years since your last album, why did you leave such a long gap between your first and second albums? That’s a long story…I needed to clear my head on a few things after having a funny couple of years, to get away from things a little. I got an opportunity to go to the Arctic with this group called Cape Farewell; I took them up on their offer. The writing began in earnest on that trip. Shortly after that, I went to record the album in New York. Then a few months after I’d finished recording, I lost my old record deal. Fortunately I left with my album still belonging to me! It took a year to find a way to release and finally get it out there. What is different about the new album? I feel like the songs are a little more rounded and realized. I had plenty of time to refine the album, and make it exactly what I wanted it to be. There’s a lot more pop songs on this album, and by pop I mean proper pop…rather than The Saturdays or something! You have changed record label since your first album, how has this affected you and your music? I wouldn’t say that it’s changed all that much since I’ve left…the change itself occurred while I was still a part of the Columbia label. I think there was an expectation placed upon me to write something that would sell hundreds of thousands of albums. Now I’m not so concerned about that, and I’m writing more of the songs that I want to again. So I guess there has been a change of sorts, but it feels like it’s for the best. What is your favourite track on the new album? Skylark Avenue. It was the last song I wrote for the album, and that song, along with Two Hearts, was recorded over here. In fact, those two songs are my favourites…the album didn’t feel finished until those were recorded. Your music often has an orchestral element, how many instruments can you play? That’s a really nice thing to say… thank you! I honestly can’t play all that many instruments though you know. Other than guitar, I can play a little bit of piano, the ukulele. Not that much else! Why did you reduce your name to “Liam Frost”, are you with a different band now? The thing is, I signed my first deal as a solo singer/songwriter, and ‘The Slowdown Family’ thing was just a name for the backing group really. Undoubtedly they added an awful lot to the live show on the first album, but the name confused an awful lot of people into thinking we were a band, so I decided to just go out as myself for this one. I have one of the Slowdown guys in the band still, the rest are all new musicians. After all that…I want to be in a band again! ☺ Did you take a gap from touring between the two albums, or have you been touring this whole time? I wasn’t really touring as such…but I played a lot of shows kind of dotted round the country. Most of it was Manchester and London though. Do you prefer to headline small venues or play support slots in larger venues? Smaller venues definitely…I find both equally terrifying though! What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened onstage? We played Sheffield on the tour around the release of the first album, at the Leadmill in the small room. We were getting onstage, and I came on last in line. Anyways, I tripped on the way up and fell face first…this was in plain view of the first few rows. I felt pretty stupid… What’s been your favourite ever performance you have played so far? There’s been so many, the entire tour I played in support to Stephen Fretwell just before I signed a deal was great. There have been loads of really fun shows since the release of the first EP, right up until just this month I played at the birthday party of this ace night in Manchester. The band got up with me too…loads of people singing along to the all the songs. It’s just nice to know that people haven’t forgotten me! What has been the best concert you have ever attended? I went to a Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds show at Manchester Apollo

recently. That was pretty astonishing. Two drummers and an awful lot of noise! They’ve been playing together for years and it shows. The same could be said of Wilco, who I saw at the Green Man festival this year. That was brilliant. Bon Iver, at the same festival, was beautiful as well. Who are your main influences? Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan, Nick Cave, The Clash…not just in terms of song writing ability, but also what they mean to people. I like a lot of newish stuff as well, like M Ward, Ron Sexsmith. What inspires your music? I guess all the people I just mentioned, but then some writers as well. I like a lot of Charles Bukowski’s books. John Fante as well, who I’ve always kind of put in the same place as Bukowski. Milan Kundera is great. Then all the obvious stuff, personal experiences and whatnot…I think without those I wouldn’t really have all that much

to say in my songs. You have been described as “the UK’s answer to Bright Eyes”; do you think you would enjoy that kind of international recognition? I’ve always really appreciated that comparison, as I admire Conor Oberst a great deal. I’m not really sure about the international recognition…I mean to be known and appreciated by all those people would be a great thing obviously. But I’d have to have it on my own terms if you know what I mean…I wouldn’t want to con a bunch of people into listening to my songs in any way. It always feels like there had to be a bit of a catch with it. There are exceptions though I guess, Conor being one them. Have you ever toured abroad? Not really. I played at South By Southwest in 2006. Other than that it’s all been over here…wait, does Ireland count as abroad? ☺