When I enter his hotel room, Frank Turner is sitting at his computer composing emails to fans who took the time to write to him. He motions over to an unmade bed and groggily states, “I’m sorry for the order of that, I drank a little harder than I planned last night. Ended up sleeping through the maid’s call.”
Turner has spent the past 15 years of his life touring, 10 of which he’s been spent traveling and performing as a soloist with his backing band The Sleeping Souls. To date, they’ve played 1000 shows together, a milestone they commemorated with a special show on Halloween.
“I didn’t want to do anything for the 1000th show because it seems like a stupid milestone to me,” said Turner, smiling. “[It’s] good excuse for a party, though!”
His 2000th show celebration will be different. But first, he has to get there. And until he does, Turner is trying to focus on his other passion: charity work. Turner’s philanthropy has earned him praise from fans and charities alike, and with good reason. Recently, he was named as a Patron of the British Humanist Association, an organization that works “on behalf of non-religious people” seeking to live “ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity.”
Turner’s face radiates when I bring this up.
“That was a mad thing that made my Mum quite happy!” he proclaims. “I chose a career path that my parents don’t quite understand, so the little things that please them also please me.”
They should also be proud that he’s sold Toronto’s Massey Hall out on back-to-back nights, but Turner will take the small victories.
“I chose a career path that my parents don’t quite understand, so the little things that please them also please me.”
“The charity work is going to continue; I sort of try to do what I can, and I think I do just as much as anybody really,” says Turner. “I try to focus on one group at a time; I did a few years for Shelter, which is a homeless charity in the U.K.
“I did some stuff for a teenage cancer charity where I visited these hospital wards that they had set up. It’s a sad place to be,” he says, adding that it taught him “a little grace.”
“It was humbling for me, though, because a lot of them didn’t care who the fuck I was or what I do,” he says. “They would ask if I could play any Taylor Swift songs, and I’d have to tell them no!”
Turner says that his focus on tour is War Child, adding that $1/£1 from every ticket sold will benefit the charity directly.
“It’s no effort for me and my fans, but it raises a lot of money,” he explains.
He’s also working on something very close to his heart – making his shows a safe space for everyone, especially women.
“We’ve got a group called Safe Gigs for Women coming along with us on this next tour,” he explains.
“Men are still fucking animals at shows! It was upsetting to see that this is still an issue, even at my shows,” he continues with a hint of shock and disgust in his voice. “It saddens me that a man thinks he can come to one of my shows and sexually harass anyone, but more particularly women.”