Punk Rocker and Writer Frank Turner on His Favorite Trip and Why You Should Never Break up on the Road
Frank Turner, 34, isn’t just out behind his latest album, ‘Positive Songs for Negative People,’ the prolific singer-songwriter also just crafted his first book, ‘The Road Beneath My Feet,' essentially a best-selling tour diary since the punk-folkie travels have taken him all over the world. Here, the London-based recording artist — who went to the London School of Economics with Prince William — reveals why it’s a bad idea to break up during an exotic trip far from home and why the brainy bard said ‘F*ck no’ to a publisher when he asked first Turner to write his memoir.
Got any packing tips?
I have a team handle my packing. They have it down to a fine art. My advice is that you need less than you think. You can find a place to do laundry and you’ll get towels on the road. I should be an expert at packing since I literally didn’t have my own place for nine years. I was always on the road. I remember when I finally got a flat and shared it with a mate, he said, ‘You know you should put something in a drawer, you’re staying here now.’
What’s the best trip you’ve ever taken?
Traveling around the world as a musician takes you to so many great places, but my favorite was when I went to Africa as a teenager. Backpacking through Africa was amazing. In the early years, playing squats around the world was fun. It was more adventurous than what I do now, but it was about survival.
How often do you use your points?
I use them when I can but sometimes it costs more than I would have thought. They raise the bar in terms of what the trip costs. Instead of it being 40,000 points, it’ll be 60,000 points, which I’m not crazy about, especially when the price of cashing in rewards just keeps going up.
What’s your biggest travel horror story?
The worst was when I went on vacation to Hanoi with my girlfriend and we broke up. We didn’t want to be in each other’s company. There was a money issue and I just had to come home rather quickly. My flight itinerary had me boarding six different planes, including a stop in Russia in order to get home. Considering all of the stuff I experienced on the road as a musician, this still was the worst travel experience for me by far.
Window or aisle seat?
Window. It’s easy to fall asleep when you have the window. I have the ability to fall asleep anywhere, which is significant since I travel so much.
Any luxury hotel where I have the room to myself is great.
Daytime flight or red-eye?
Daytime flight is better for me.
You’ve written a travel memoir as a touring musician. Is there a similar book out there that inspired your project or your life as a musician?
Absolutely. Henry Rollins’ ‘Get in the Van,’ was my Bible as a teenager. I read that again and again and that punk world appealed to me so much. I got in the van and made the best of it. I was touring around with no money and was wasted much of the time. My parents were justifiably concerned.
They should have been. You come from a great deal of means and you chose to lead an alternative lifestyle. Did this completely throw your parents for a loop?
Yes. Music was not what I was supposed to do. My parents were not expecting me to become a musician. Rock music was a different world for my family. When I was a kid, my father had never heard of Jimi Hendrix.
What inspired you to leave a safe, conventional life behind?
I heard punk rock and that was it for me. I know it’s a familiar tale, but it led me out of a childhood that was socially stifling. I didn’t want to be part of that world. I became a musician.
It’s quite an accomplishment for a travel memoir to become a best-seller. Were you surprised?
I was surprised that anyone wanted a book from me at all. I remember when a book publisher got in touch with me about writing this and my initial answer was 'F*ck no!" I always thought you had to be pretty old to write a book. I thought you needed experience. But I have a lot of experience on the road, so it worked out.