In 2016, English singer-songwriter Frank Turner was working on what was going to be his next album when, in his words, “the world decided to go collectively nuts”.
“I was on tour in the USA in the [northern hemisphere] summer of 2016, and I love America and I love American people, [but] that was during the presidential election campaign and it was just a very strange and pretty demoralising time to be in the USA because it felt like everyone across the political spectrum was giving in to their worst instincts.”
Witnessing the breakdown of civil discourse between opposing voices across the political spectrum, Frank warehoused his album-in-progress and began work on 'Be More Kind'. His seventh studio album, 'Be More Kind' (released in May 2018) was written as a non-partisan political record, as Frank explains.
“It sounds contradictory, but what I mean by that is it's not really a record about the content of the arguments we have but the manner in which we conduct them,” he says.
“I got really fired up about wanting to talk about the idea I have that we seem to have forgotten how to conduct disagreements in a meaningful and adult way.
"It can really surprise younger people by telling them the purpose of political argument used to be to win people over to your side and not just find creative ways to insult them in 140 characters. I think we need to get some of that back. The record was about trying to get everyone to calm down a little bit.”
For all the politically-charged songs and albums that have wormed their way into our ears recently, perhaps 'Be More Kind' has the most pertinent message to impart: that it's not what we argue about, but how we argue that makes us better people.
“We have two ways of disagreeing with each other, one of which is through words and the other is through violence,” Frank says.
“I think certainly in the West we've had a good run of using words rather than violence and I think that we should hold on to that, value it and try to remember how rare and amazing it is.”
Once a regular visitor to Australia, it's been a few years since Frank has been back for a tour and says he has some lost time to catch up with his loyal Australian fan base. “We've always been well-received down there,” Frank says.
“The first time I came down there was with Chuck Ragan in 2010 [after] he spent ages telling me Australia was the 'promised land of touring' and then I eventually said, 'well, why don't you take me down there and prove it?'.
“We came to Australia once a year for about four or five years in a row and then for reasons I can't really remember we haven't been back Down Under in a while, and I feel really bad about it. So I'm glad we are finally getting ourselves back into your part of the world again.”
Frank Turner Australia Tour DatesSat 1 Dec - The Triffid (Brisbane)
Sun 2 Dec - Forum Melbourne
Tue 4 Dec - The Basement (Canberra)
Thu 6 Dec - The Cambridge Hotel (Newcastle)
Fri 7 Dec - Metro Theatre (Sydney)
Sat 8 Dec - Amplifier Capitol (Perth)
Sun 9 Dec - The Gov (Adelaide)