Frank Turner Extends Hand, Pulls Bands to the Stage: How Turner Helps Fellow Indie Musicians
Recently, I’ve been researching a lot about indie music and Frank Turner for my capstone (aka senior thesis) involving both of those subjects. Through this research, I have stumbled upon the fact that Turner has a habit of helping indie bands struggling to get some amount of visibility. How Turner treats bands today could possibly be traced back to his beginnings as he struggled to make a name for himself.
Turner is a current indie folk/punk artist from Winchester, England. If you read any article about him, authors almost always mention his background as a member of the now-deceased post-hardcore band Million Dead. It’s a useful background to mention in order to give context, but he’s definitely come a long way since then, and he’s managed to pull some seriously talented musicians with him on that journey.
In 2015, the folk/punk band Ducking Punches joined the label that Turner is a part of, Xtra Mile Recordings. I suspect their signing to Xtra Mile had a lot to do with Turner’s advocacy for them. Before they were signed to Xtra Mile, I found out about them through Turner’s tweets. If Turner had never tweeted about them, I don’t know if I would’ve heard of them through any other source.
But it goes further than just tweets. Turner actually sang vocals on their latest album, Fizzy Brain, which as an album seems to be a lyrical reflection steeped in themes like death and loss set to instrumentation that speaks to the idea that we may still rebel against such themes – the perfect folk/punk mixture. The first song is Greedy Bones, and it’s the song that Turner lent his vocals to.
Turner singing guest vocals might not seem like a huge deal, but with such a strong following, usually fans (like me) will listen to whatever he throws their way. It’s a win-win because fans get new music that is usually within their preferences, and the musician/band Turner is advocating for gets increased visibility.
So where does this all come from? It’s a chain reaction started by Turner’s past – one that mirrors the musicians he advocates for because of his similar struggle to get visibility. Bands like The Automatic helped Turner by bringing him on tour with them. He writes about this in his book, The Road Beneath My Feet:
“The tour I did opening for The Automatic in autumn 2006 was, I suppose, one of my breaks… this tour did me enormous favours and definitely advanced me along my path a fair distance… Against the wishes of their booking agent and management, they managed to get me a small opening slot on a bill that already had two other bands on it and gave me a bunk on their tour bus as well. I remain eternally grateful.”
The fact that Turner remembers acts of kindness from a band that could’ve just left him to his own devices as a struggling musician might infer that these experiences were like a lesson for him – a lesson that he continues to carry out today, regardless of how established he is in the music scene.
I often hear people talking about how some of the most talented musicians get left by the wayside, and I certainly don’t disagree with this statement. However, Frank Turner lending a helping hand to indie musicians is one way that that claim is being challenged. Of course, Turner can’t scout out all the new talent; he has his own career as a musician, but the hope is that other musicians will follow his example so that talent won’t go unchecked.