Inside Lost Evenings
You certainly couldn’t accuse Frank Turner of doing things by half measures when it comes to his Lost Evenings festival.
Not only has Turner curated the four-day event, held at the Roundhouse from 12 to 15 May, but he’s also topping the bill each night.
“I wanted to do a festival, and to be honest the direct inspiration was that Wolf Alice did four nights at the Forum rather than one night at Ally Pally, and they had different supports every day,” he explains.
“I was in the crowd with a friend of mine who turned around to me and said, ‘It’s like a festival.’ I went, ‘Yeah, it fucking is, isn’t it?’ Hence the idea was born.”
And this isn’t just four Frank Turner shows bolted together. For starters, there’s what Turner describe as a feel of ‘community outreach and talking about mental health and issues’. That much is evident from the scope of events taking place throughout each day, ranging from talks on woman in the music industry and getting gigs to discussions on mental health.
The festival has also given Turner the opportunity to indulge in booking some of his favourite acts.
“We’ve got some great bands playing,” he says. “I hesitate to pick favourites, but if I had to pick a band on the main stage that I’m most excited about it would be AJJ because they’re one of my favourite bands of all time.
“The second stage is called the Nick Alexander Stage in memory of my friend Nick who was killed at the Bataclan in 2015, that stage I booked with John Kennedy from Radio X. I picked a load of up-and-coming bands that I love and John turned me onto a load of new stuff as well like Louise Distras, who is amazing.”
As for his own shows, Turner reveals that he was eager to make each performance different.
“I wanted to do a different set every day. My solo career started at an open mic night called Sensible Sundays, so for the Sunday we have brought that back. We’re doing Sleep Is For The Week [on 13 May] and then the other two are regular headline sets. We were rehearsing yesterday and got through 60 songs, so will be mixing it up a lot.”
Somehow, amongst all of that lot, Turner found time to chat with MusicRadar, as he shares with us the 10 records that changed his life.
Lost Evenings kicks off on 12 May. For more details head over to Roundhouse.
1. Iron Maiden - Killers (1981)
“I was 10 years old and I didn’t listen to rock ‘n’ roll. I was at a friend’s house and we were playing Warhammer, because I’m cool, and his older brother had an Iron Maiden poster and I thought it was very cool.
“It grabbed me and I didn’t realise it was for a band. I mentioned it to my parents and about a week later my dad brought me a copy of Killers on cassette from the Our Price at Waterloo Station.
“I can still remember hearing the opening track. It was like a switch flipping in my head. It was immediately apparent that this was my thing. Rock ‘n’ roll arrived very suddenly and forcefully in my life.
“You can take a lot of my records away from me, but I’ve got a lot of collector’s edition boxsets of Maiden and I would fight for them harder than most things in my possession.
“One of the things I love about Maiden still is that they are resolutely impervious to fashion. They’re just Maiden, they have always been Maiden and they don’t give a fuck. There’s something punk about that. They weren’t cool in 1980, they weren’t cool in 1990, they weren’t cool in 2000 and they weren’t cool in 2010, but they still go about what they do selling out arenas all over the world.”
2. Nirvana - In Utero (1993)
“I had a copy of Nevermind on cassette, but In Utero is one of the first records I can remember being released and it meaning something to me. The production is what I loved; it remains one of my favourite records.
“At this point I was playing in a bedroom band and we were trying to play AC/DC and Iron Maiden and it was really hard; we had neither the skills nor the equipment to play that music. Then In Utero came out and within two days we were covering Rape Me.
“The guitar on that album sounded like the guitar coming out of our amps, and the drums sounded like the drums that we had. It was hugely empowering for me. It meant that the music I loved was within reach in a way it had never been before. That blew my mind.”
3. Counting Crows - August And Everything After (1993)
“My older sister was obsessed with this record and played it to death.
“I had a guitar and was in the middle of struggling my way through Iron Maiden tab books. I figured out that I could work out the chords on the Counting Crows records by a process of trial and error. I did that mainly to please my sister.
“We had a guitar at home, and you can’t really sit around the campfire playing Megadeth songs. So I started playing Counting Crows. In the process, I got into it.
“Looking back now, I think it’s one of the most important records in my own musical development. It taught me pretty much everything I know about songwriting, song structuring and arrangement.
“I vaguely know Adam [Duritz, vocals], and he was wearing one of my t-shirts at a gig the other day. That was my life coming full circle right there.”
4. The Descendents - Everything Sucks (1996)
“Kurt Cobain talked about punk a lot even though everyone spoke about Nirvana being a grunge band, which I found quite confusing at the time.
“So I asked a friend of mine’s uncle about what punk was and I went out and got the first Clash record and the Sex Pistols. I was kind of into that, and then the '90s American skate punk thing arrived in my life.
“Green Day and The Offspring were the gateway bands and I got heavily into NOFX, Pennywise and all that stuff, but the record that really sticks with me is Everything Sucks.
“It’s fast, it’s hard, it’s heavy but it’s also melodic as well. It’s a complex record, but it’s a really fun, poppy record at the same time. I listened to it yesterday. It’s a masterpiece of punk rock. It was my gateway into underground punk rock.”
5. Black Flag - The First Four Years (1983)
“I was aware of who Black Flag were and I had heard people talking about them.
“I was in Exeter at a family funeral. I would have been about 14. I nipped out to a record store which was near to where the cathedral where the funeral was and I walked in as a nerdy little dickhead in my suit that I was wearing for the church service. The guy gave me a bit of a look and I asked him if he had anything by Black Flag and he pretty much fell off his chair.
“He sold me this album and I kind of knew I was looking for something that sounded like that at that point. It was becoming apparent to me that hardcore was the area of punk that I was particularly interested in.
“I loved that album to death. The beginning to Revenge is still the best start to any song written ever.
“I think about Black Flag a lot when I’m writing, in the sense of brevity is the soul of wit. Fix Me is my favourite Black Flag song and it's 42 seconds long. Every time I write a song that is longer than 42 seconds, which is all of my songs, there’s part of me that thinks I’m wasting my time or dawdling.”
6. Refused - The Shape of Punk To Come (1998)
“This is a record that shaped my musical path as a musician for a long time.
“My hardcore trump card in life is that I saw them in 1998 in front of about 100 people. They were fucking amazing.
“When I went to that gig I had the record and I was a little bit confused by it. It was a very divisive record in the scene because of the electro elements. Over time I came to adore it.
“I can play this entire record in my sleep. Everything I did with Million Dead was informed by this album.
“I wasn’t really a fan of the new record, but I did once fly to Sweden to buy a Dennis Lyxzén solo album because I couldn’t find it anywhere. The guy in the record store thought I was out of my fucking mind, which arguably I was.”
7. Johnny Cash - American IV (2002)
“At this point I was playing in a hardcore band, I was listening to hardcore, I was going to hardcore shows, and at a certain point it started get a bit old for me.
“This album showed me a way of being intense and meaningful and indeed heavy without distorted guitars and taking your shirt off and screaming at the front row.
“There was also a simplicity to it, because I had got into the complicated end of hardcore and bands like Dillinger Escape Plan and Botch, and there was something about simple chords on an acoustic guitar that reminded me of listening to Counting Crows.
“It was powerful to me. It planted a seed which, when Million Dead broke up, flourished into what I do now.”
8. The Weakerthans - Reconstruction Site (2003)
“I was a huge Propagandhi fan, and then John K Sampson from Propagandhi left and made a country album and everyone thought it was a bit weird.
“As I started getting more into the country/folk scene, I went back and revisited them and now they are my favourite band, unquestionably. I will listen to them at any time - I think I might put them on at the end of this interview.
“I can pick any one of their records, but this is the one that came out when I really started engaging with this scene.”
9. MewithoutYou - It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All A Dream! (2009)
“MewithoutYou are a post-hardcore band who suddenly released this weird folk concept album.
“This was after I released Poetry Of The Deed in 2009 and I started to feel slightly like I had run into a brick wall as a songwriter. I was thinking maybe my road was run.
“My American tour manager played me that record and I lost my mind. It is one of the most brilliantly written, composed and arranged records I’ve ever heard. It almost shamed me into not giving up.
“There’s that tendency that some people have that, because they’re not feeling inspired, then music is over in some way. We’ve just had Kasabian talking about it recently. I was guilty of it. I heard that record and instantly went, 'Oh fuck, there’s so much more to do.'”
10. Homeless Gospel Choir - Normal (2017)
“This is kind of cheating because it’s a record that isn’t out yet. I think the first single comes out this week.
“This is the second record. I enjoyed the first record. It was okay, I’m not sure that it devastated me.
“But I was sent the new record and it absolutely fucked my mind. It is so good. Every generation has a punk record that is epochal, whether it be Dookie or The '59 Sound or whatever. If there’s any justice, this will be one of those records.”