He opened the London Olympics and has sold out Wembley Arena, now folk-rock troubadour Frank Turner can add another feather to his cap – he’s performing for a record-breaking 10th consecutive year at Reading Festival this summer.
WOW247 spoke with Winchester-native Frank shortly after the news was announced.
‘I feel really good about it. My first real gig experience was Reading ’95, I’d been to a couple of other shows before then, but nothing major.
‘I’d been a few times as a punter before I ever got anywhere near a stage.’
That first time on a Reading stage was with his hardcore punk band Million Dead in 2005, and he recalls: ‘I remember thinking at the time that this was the pinnacle of my achievement and I would never do anything greater in my life.
‘Then Million Dead broke up and there was a dip in my fortunes around then. We got things together in 2007 and it’s been every year since.
I remember walking through the gates at Reading ’95 and feeling like I had stumbled across my tribe – everyone was wearing a band T-shirt – and I was like: “Yes! this is where I’m meant to be”, and it’s never lost that feeling for meFrank Turner
‘Every year we go back and they’ve been really supportive.
‘It feels like a save game point in a video game – all the work and the shows we do in between, we do 200 shows in a year and then it’s Reading, it’s like a consolidation of what we’ve done, and it feels good.
‘I must admit, there’s a tiny bit of cheating in that a couple of years it’s been Mongol Horde, my side project, but it is still me playing at the festival.’
So now he’s hit 10, does he ever worry that he won’t get the call next year?
‘I don’t know what’s going to happen next year. I think both Reading and me would be fine after 10 years in a row if we had a breather next year.
‘It’s a cool number – 10 years – and I think they wanted to make it happen too.’
Casting his mind back, he lists the acts he saw at Reading ’95, when he was just 13 years old.
‘Green Day, Hole, Beck, Smashing Pumpkins – and I saw Menswear as well, believe it or not.
‘I was very, very excited. Growing up in a small city, I had two mates who were into bands, and everyone else was into dance music. I had all these band T-shirts that I got from this mail order thing I found in Kerrang!
‘I didn’t really know many others who were into what I was, and I remember walking through the gates at Reading and feeling like I had stumbled across my tribe – everyone was wearing a band T-shirt – and I was like: “Yes! this is where I’m meant to be”, and it’s never lost that feeling for me.
‘I say this as a positive thing – Reading isn’t trendy, it isn’t cool, it’s not kind of hip.
‘There’s something I like about that because my music isn’t hip and has never been hip and I’ve never been fashionable with people who hang out in Shoreditch, and that’s fine with me.
‘Kids go to Reading to see bands. Some festivals, people go to get messed up in a field, or take in the vibe and wander around. People go to Reading because they want to see this band at 3pm, this band at 3.45, this band at... and that’s how I think and feel about music myself.
‘I don’t give a toss or not whether it’s fashionable.’
While he’s been busy racking up major festival appearances, last summer he also finally honoured a long-standing promise to his mother to play at the comparatively tiny Meonfest in Bereleigh Park, East Meon.
Explaining how it came about, he says: ‘My mum hates tattoos, and every time I see her, which isn’t that often these days, she gives me a once over to see what else I’ve had done, and when I got the back of my hands done she was incensed.
‘My mum helps out with Meonfest, she’s a governor of the local school, and she’s been asking me for years to do a set, and I’d been knocking it off as too much hassle. But last year, she said: “Right, now you’ve got your hands tattooed, you’ve got do Meonfest, or I’m never speaking to you again”.
I said I’d do it, and it was Glastonbury weekend, which was like: “Really?” so I played two shows at Glastonbury, got done there at 4pm and drove to Meonfest and played that.
‘My mum introduced me which went down well with the locals and it was fun, there was a good vibe.’
His most recent album Positive Songs For Negative People came out last August, and although he’s committed to touring to support it for two years, he’s already thinking ahead.
‘This Reading will be the one year,’ he says, ‘so there’s a lot more miles to go.
‘But saying that, I’m writing like crazy at the moment – I’ve got two albums mapped out in my head already.
‘I haven’t actually told the record label yet, so we’ll have to see what they say about that.
‘I don’t want to talk to much about that, but I do feel like I’m ready and able to take quite a radical departure from what I’ve been doing, but I will say no more on that subject for the moment.’
Despite all of his musical achievements, it was his win on BBC TV’s Celebrity Mastermind that Frank describes as ‘his finest hour.’
‘I was a nerd when I was a kid, I was a scholarship kid at school. The one thing we always talked about was what would your Mastermind subject be? And ever since I was 13 I always said it would be Iron Maiden.
‘I got the offer to do it, and I said: “Yes, this has to happen”. I actually flew in from The States to do the filming.
‘I was way more bothered about it than everyone else who was on the show. They were all like: “This is a bit of fun, isn’t it?” And I was going: “No, I have to win!”
‘Thankfully I did. The trophy is on my mantelpiece and it’s one of the things I’m proudest of.’
Win a pair of tickets to Reading Festival, worth £410, by answering this question: Who headlined the Friday night at Reading when Frank first played solo in 2007?
Send your answer on a postcard, with your full name, address and daytime telephone number, to:
Reading Festival Competition, The News, 1000 Lakeside, North Harbour, Western Road, Portsmouth, PO6 3EN.
Or email firstname.lastname@example.org with the same information.
Entry closes at 5pm, Thursday, May 26.
Normal Johnston Press competition rules apply.