Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls

Neptune Theatre
1303 N.E. 45th St
Seattle, WA 98105
United States

Event Description:

STG Presents Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls at The Neptune in Seattle on Thursday, October 15, 2015.

When is an underdog no longer an underdog? Is it when he’s the act who begins the Olympics Opening Ceremony? Maybe it’s when he has headlined both Wembley Arena and O2 Arena, two of the UK capital’s biggest venues? Or perhaps it’s when each of his records is bigger and more successful than the last: selling more, playing more, infiltrating the nation’s consciousness more? Or maybe it’s simpler than that: maybe an underdog is no longer an underdog when he connects in the way that Frank Turner connects, writing songs that inspire their crowd to reflect, to singalong, to holler along, to hold their arms aloft, all at once.

It is almost a decade since Frank Turner went solo following the demise of Million Dead, the hardcore quartet he fronted. In that time, he has been on a constant upward curve, its momentum propelled forward by a mixture of Turner’s force of will and his effortless craft of song. Each record now brings with it new landmarks for the 32-year-old from Hampshire. His fourth album, 2011’s England Keep My Bones, sold more than 100,000 copies and entered the UK Charts at number 12. Its success raised questions for the singer. “It made me think about where I’m starting and where I’m heading,” he says. “It made me wonder if I could continue as a musician with integrity influenced by punk rock whilst doing arena tours. The answer I concluded is yes, obviously.”

Its follow-up, last year’s Tape Deck Heart, brought more questions, if only because it has ushered in a new level of success. The album was recorded in LA – he was nervous about recording his first album outside the UK because his sound is so English, but “it didn’t make any difference” – with producer Rich Costey and Turner’s long-term backing band The Sleeping Souls. Costey was chosen because of his connection with the Weezer record Pinkerton. Its blend of “pop with a dark, evil soul” was something Turner wanted to emulate.

Many of Tape Deck Heart’s songs were born out of a painful split (“the album is about unexpected change and a big part of it is relationships ending,” he says), but conversely it has proved to be the most triumphant release of his career. So far, it has sold 200,000 copies. It entered the UK Charts at Number 2 and the iTunes Charts at Number 1. Five singles have been released from the record, each underlining Turner’s arrival as a crossover DIY star: the break-up vignette Recovery, the stirring, mandolin-flecked singalong of The Way I Tend To Be, the rousing, anthemic Oh Brother, Losing Days and the recent Polaroid Picture EP all showcase Turner’s increasingly daring dynamism as a solo artist.

Everything you could possibly wish to tick off on a Successful Album Campaign checklist has been struck: a high billing on the main stage at the Reading and Leeds festivals, the Radio 1 A-List, the Radio 1 Live Lounge, a sold-out UK arena tour. “Playing an arena tour of the UK was a strange, bold, terrifying and ultimately beautiful thing,” Turner says. “I never expected to find myself playing in rooms of that size, and I was concerned about making the shows as good as they could be, about making sure that the connection with the audience wasn't lost. In the event it was a massive rush and a resounding success."

During the non-stop activity that has followed the release of Tape Deck Heart, he has also found new ways of connecting. He has given talks at the Oxford and Cambridge Unions and visited countries he’s never been to before, such as South Africa, Vietnam, Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovenia. In a first for the punk-rock fraternity, he also won Celebrity Mastermind. "Being on Mastermind was a huge deal for me,” he says. “I was a nerd as a kid and always wanted to have the opportunity to flex my brain in public. I always knew that Iron Maiden would be my specialist subject - they were the first band I loved, and it was awesome to win the contest through them."

The closing track on Tape Deck Heart, Broken Piano, is about a significant breakthrough in his life. “The rest of the songs are about being caught up in the middle of the maelstrom. On Broken Piano, I realize I’ve made it to the other side.” It could be considered a flash forward to how Turner’s life a year on has turned out: he inhabits bold new territory, an ambitious artist unrestricted by rules or expectations. “Since the release of Tape Deck Heart everything has been pretty frantic,” he says. “The band and I have been around the world more times than I can count, played hundreds of shows and worked our arses off.” Not even an injury to his back could derail Turner and his band’s tireless work ethic: he played 73 shows with two slipped discs. This is the only way he knows how to work. As always, he is looking forward, planning his next move. “It’s been exhausting, but everything has notched up a gear,” he says. “I’m excited to get to work on the next record.”