Frank Turner isn’t one to stick to convention.
Just as at home pouring his heart out as a solo singer with an acoustic guitar as he is screaming his lungs out in his hardcore metal band Mongol Hoard, versatility is certainly one of his strong points.
In the same vein, you get the impression that a solo gig at Lancaster library in 2011 in front of 200 is just as important to the 32-year-old Londoner as performing in front of millions for the Olympics opening ceremony in 2012.
“I remember the Lancaster show well”, he says, “but it’s been a while since I’ve had to sleep on people’s sofas I can say that much.”
Since I saw his show at Kendal Calling three years ago, I’ve become very interested in his music, in particular the albums Love, Ire and Song, and England Keep My Bones.
This year, Frank is back to headline the Cumbrian festival with his band The Sleeping Souls (named after a line from the track I Am Disappeared) and I called him up on Tuesday to find out more.
“One thing you can’t download is the feeling you get at a festival,” says Frank as he heads back to London for a brief pit stop inbetween a summer of festivals in the UK and abroad.
“Festivals give a sense of community, particularly in an age where people go to church less. People need to feel some togetherness and festivals do that. It’s also one of the few aspects of music that isn’t downloadable.
“I love Kendal Calling. It’s such a beautiful place, the vibe is really good and the line-up is great. I confess to be pretty friendly with Andy who runs the festival as well.
“It’s unpretentious and seems to be focused on good music and that’s what it’s all about for me. I’m playing the headline show and I always feel like I should play the hits, but at the same time I’ve got a bit more time to play with too.”
Following the release of his fifth album Tape Deck Heart last year, Frank has already started work on a new album. “Maybe I’ll drop some new stuff in, I’m not sure yet, it’s still at very early stages,” he said. “We’ll see.”
I asked Frank about his sense of pride in his country, which is particularly noticeable in England Keep My Bones, and the question was met with caution.
“It’s quite a delicate statement to make,” he said. “There’s a weird idea that I’m a raving nationalist, which is not the case.
“There’s definitely within the last 50 years a strong sense of being denigrative to our country, but there’s some really great things happening here.”
The grandson of Sir Mark Turner, former chairman of high street retailer BHS, and Eton educated, Frank received flack for being “right wing” in his views, despite the “folk-punk” attitude and style of his music.
But for me, his music runs much deeper than politics.
It has become a topic of conversation with friends and family, a late night singalong, a point of historical reference, and one or two tears shed along the way too.
In short it’s exactly what music should do, so I asked Frank what he thought about his music bringing people together in a good way.
“I feel like I’m the wrong person to ask about that. I try not to spend too much time considering which parts of my music apply to who and why. I feel like there’s quite a broad demographic of people who come to my shows, people from different tribes, and I’m proud of that.”
Frank performs on the Saturday night at the sold-out Kendal Calling Festival on August 2.
A whole host of other acts, alongside loads of bands and artists from the Lancaster district, perform at the festival too, and Frank said he might watch a few on Saturday.
“If there are any acts on the same day I’m on I’ll give them a try. I know that Will Varley is playing, and Felix Hagan and the Family – and I very much recommend them.”
As well as the new album and the new Mongol Horde album, Frank is also releasing a book of tour diaries which will be out next year.