Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls

Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls

The recurring theme throughout Tape Deck Heart, Frank Turner’s fifth album, is change. Those who have followed Turner’s career since he went solo in 2005 won’t be surprised. After 1,400 incendiary live shows and four acclaimed albums, last year saw the musician previously known as a punk poet become (whisper it) a sort of pop star.
From a fake Glastonbury Tor, Turner performed at the Olympics Opening Ceremony. He headlined Wembley Arena. He sold more than 100,000 copies of his fourth album, England Keep My Bones, which entered the UK charts at No 12 on its release in 2011. Turner, of course, would never describe himself as a pop star. He prefers the word ‘entertainer’, with its tradition of vaudeville, theatre and music hall. His emergence from the underground he still adores – and still regards himself as part of – was tinged with trepidation. “Insane things have happened since England Keep My Bones came out,” he says. “The success I’ve experienced was entirely unexpected. It made me think about where I started and where I’m heading. It made me wonder if I could continue as a musician with integrity influenced by punk rock while doing arena tours. The answer I concluded is yes, obviously, or I wouldn’t be here.” From Tape Deck Heart’s sublime opening track (and first single) Recovery, however, it’s clear that the changes in Turner’s life have been personal as well as professional. One of several break-up songs on the album, Recovery sets tales of cider-fuelled nights in strange flats to joyous, jubilant, singalong rock. “I like that contrast between upbeat music and dark lyrics,” says Turner. “It sounds like a happy song, but it’s clearly not. The album is about unexpected change and a big part of it is relationships ending. I was in a long term relationship with someone and it was a huge shock for me when we split up last year. Because I write in a reactive way, I knew it would come out in the songs. As you can tell from the record, I’m still not sure the spilt was for the best. That’s something else I’m conflicted about!” Tape Deck Heart was recorded last October in LA, which gave the 31-year-old more cause for concern. “It’s such a cliché – bands reach a certain level of success, go to LA to record an album,” laughs Turner. “I was nervous about recording outside the UK because my music sounds English and I like that, but in fact, it didn’t make any difference. We stayed at the Holiday Inn next door and didn’t finish until dark every day, so I scarcely saw the sun shine.” The reason for relocating to LA with long-time backing band The Sleeping Souls was producer Rich Costey (Muse, My Chemical Romance and Nine Inch Nails). “Rich has worked on Springsteen and Johnny Cash records. I really love what he’s done with Weezer. If any record fired the spirit of this album it is Pinkerton, which is dark and emotional album with an incredible standard of songwriting. It’s pop with a dark, evil soul – a great combination.” Before recording began, Turner tried out several of the songs on tour. One in particular became an instant fan favourite. A toast to punk rock, Four Simple Words is a fun, ferocious, celebratory stomp with an intro inspired by Noel Coward, which was given to fans as a free download on Christmas Day last year. “Lyrically, it’s a love song to punk,” explains Turner. “The music I make has only ever been partly punk, but it remains the cornerstone of my music, as it has been since I was 15. I was aiming for a song that crashes Noel Coward in to Bad Religion. It’s one of quite a few songs on the album Rich said reminded him of Queen. My sister introduced me to Queen as a kid and while I’ll never make music as ambitious as theirs, the song’s stylistic schizophrenia is a nod in their direction.” On Tape Deck Heart, Turner exposes his soul as never before. His most personal album, it is packed with songs he found difficult to record and now worries about releasing in to the world. It’s also the album on which Turner pushed himself hardest and allowed himself to be pushed. The reward is in the rich detail, in unusual turns of phrase you’ll hear once and never forget, in the raw emotion with which Turner tells of a turbulent 12 months. “We spent 30 days recording – the most for any previous album was 10,” he says. “Rich made me do 42 vocal takes for Tell Tale Signs. That pissed me off, but he was convinced there was more I could bring to the performance and he was right. It’s the darkest song on the album, with a vocal that’s both delicate and powerful. It sounds absolutely vicious.” Tell Tale Signs is a farewell – or rather, a fuck-off – to a mythical character called Amy, who first surfaced on Reasons Not To Be An Idiot (from 2008’s Love Ire & Song) and resurfaced on England Keep My Bones’ I Am Disappeared. “Amy is a cypher,” says Turner. “More than one person contributes to that character, that awful person I want out of my life.” Equally difficult for Turner to sing was the barely-accompanied ballad Anymore, on which he describes the ‘three short steps’ from his lover’s bed to the door – the final, painful moments of a relationship that went out with a whimper. “It took a lot of persuading for me to record it,” he admits. “It’s still really raw. But if I wanted to make the best album I could, Anymore had to be on it. I played it to a friend and she said it sounded heavier than Slayer.” Tape Deck Heart also portrays the positives of love and the benefits of change. The Way I Tend to Be is a gloriously sunny pop-rock song about a lover who brings out the best in you. Oh Brother is a midtempo track with a tinge of REM to it that describes Turner’s relationship with his best friend Ben, the drummer in Turner’s previous band Million Dead. “We spent 10 years in each other’s pockets and now we don’t,” says Turner. “I feel bad about that, but Ben will definitely be best man at my wedding, if I ever make the mistake of getting married. I played the song to him the other day and he cried and I laughed at him.” Fisher King Blues is pretty country-pop with a hefty sense of humour. Losing Days is charming, chiming rock on which Turner addresses the changes that come with age (“I used to think that I / Wouldn’t live past 25,” he sings, as though surprised that he has). Sonically, Tape Deck Heart’s most surprising song is closer Broken Piano, a majestic, five-and-a-half minute ballad boasting military drums and electronic loops. “It’s the most progressive song I’ve ever written,” says Turner. “Musically, I don’t really deal in originality – I’m no Bjork or Aphex Twin. It has something of a traditional English melody, but juxtaposed with lots of weird, electronic stuff. It’s the song that pulls the album together. The rest are about being caught up in the middle of the maelstrom. On Broken Piano, I realise I’ve made it to the other side and that chapter of my life is closed.”

Upon returning to his hometown of Toronto from a final European tour with his band, Peter Dreimanis sat sweaty and half-drunk in a candlelit basement bar, nursing a drink, debating his next musical pursuit. Lulled in lethargy, he paid little attention to the beat-up acoustic guitar being passed from patron to patron around him; that was until it found its home in the hands of Leah Fay.

It took only seconds of strumming and dreamy, dulcet singing for Dreimanis to realize he'd met his muse. He sat listening, dumfounded, dreaming up ideas for what could come to be between the two of them. Clear-headed the next day, he started his search for the stranger from the bar with whom he seemingly shared a soul. He found her; they founded July Talk.

Despite their relatively young union, the primary pair behind July Talk has already established its own sonancy: a sound rooted in roots and Americana with the dual-voice charm of Johnny and June, the creepy quirkiness of Tom Waits, and the hooks of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. It's a very unique blend that borrows from different decades and domains, though where those influences begin and end is cleverly disguised.

Most special about a July Talk experience, though, is the foiling of Dreimanis and Fay as personas; who they are inside or outside of the public eye and just what it is that exists between them. Lyrically, the pair plays with the juxtaposition of gender roles and perspectives, distorting social preconceptions. It's often a war waged between clashing personalities in a frame that shares two perspectives of the same relationship – at times conflicted, at times chaotic, most times just downright bewildering.

The opposition between the two forces is only heightened when the band brings its buzz-building show to the stage as both Fay and Dreimanis physically exercise their interpersonal demons via everything from bite marks to blown kisses. Even the line between spectator and spectacle blurs as some crowd members in themselves become a canvas for the art being produced onstage.

It's a relationship full of extremes, both poetic and musical. The lyrics seem to skew an onlooker's perspective of the ever-morphing relationship these two share. The sonic dynamics, on the other hand, are equally polarizing, from whiskey-whetted lyrics at the forefront of a few softly-strummed chords to a flurry of frantic shouting, overdriven guitars, and pulsating rhythms. The loudest louds, the most haunting quiets.
July Talk is currently at work on their debut LP, eyeing a fall 2012 release on White Girl Records. Should it contain even a fraction of the passion and in-your-face frenzy of one of the band's performances, there's no question it'll capture ears and propel them to new plateaus in new places.

In the meantime, see them soon, because as their audience continues to expand, so too does the likelihood that they won't remain a secret much longer. As the story of their origins only exemplifies, you really never know who might be listening at any given time.

Billy The Kid

Billy The Kid is a Canadian singer/songwriter who has collaborated with such artists as Garth Hudson (The Band/Bob Dylan), Randy Cooke (Ringo Starr/Dave Stewart) Stan Behrens (Willie Dixon/Ruth Brown/the Four Tops) and just recently, producer Jamie Candiloro.

Candiloro is best known for his work with Ryan Adams, R.E.M. and Willie Nelson. Pettinger on the other hand, is best known for her creative crowd-sourcing campaigns.

Her debut EP was produced with Raine Maida (P!nk/Our Lady Peace), but her first full length was funded entirely by fans. She traveled across the continent to play fundraisers, anniversaries, birthday parties and private concerts, as well as go camping, white water rafting and rock climbing with fans. The result was the appropriately titled album “Ours”.

One year later, Pettinger was back at it again, with a new album ready to be recorded with her dream producer, Jamie Candiloro. Surprise bundles, birthday presents, and fan-requested cover songs helped fund this latest effort, recorded in LA and complete with a chance encounter with the Kid’s favourite songwriter, Ryan Adams.

Billy the Kid’s songs have appeared in A&E’s Biography, Miami Ink, American Idol, My 600 LB Life, Gene Simmons’ The Family Jewels, Chelsea Settles, Sweet Home Alabama, 16 and Pregnant, Exes and Ohs, One Angry Juror, Alienated and Canada In The Rough. Most recently her music has been featured in the Showcase science fiction series Continuum and the movie Foreverland featuring Juliette Lewis.

Billy’s new album “Stars, Exploding” in now available on iTunes and www.billythekidonline.com. Catch her live at the UK and Europe on her “Long Way From Home” Tour in January and February of 2013.
- See more at: http://billythekidonline.com/site/about/#sthash.EQkVgqfU.dpuf

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Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls with July Talk, Billy The Kid

Tuesday, December 3 · Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM at Sound Academy