Folk-punk artist Frank Turner comes to Calvin Theater

By Sarah Robertson

Courtesy of freeloosedirt/Flickr

United Kingdom singer-songwriter Frank Turner will be playing in Northampton this Sunday with The Smith Street Band and Koo Koo Kanga Roo.

A sensation in the UK, Turner has established roots in the United States with singles such as “Photosynthesis,” “If Ever I Stray,” and most recently “Recovery.” Following the release of his latest album “Tape Deck Heart,” Turner has been touring in the U.S., Canada and Europe to promote his fifth album.

Turner tours with his band, The Sleeping Souls, which consists of guitarist Ben Lloyd, bassist Tarrant Anderson, pianist Matt Nasir and drummer Nigel Powell. Together they have produced five full-length albums, two EPs, two compilation albums and several collaborative projects in his nearly decade-long musical career.

Having sold out the Pearl Street venue last year, Turner will be playing the Calvin Theater on Sunday to what is expected to be a much larger audience. Turner’s following in the U.S. has grown considerably in the past few years since his days in the small post-hardcore band Million Dead. He joined the band in 2001 and remained a member for four years until its split in 2005. Million Dead released two albums during its time, all while Turner was already getting started on his solo career.

As a solo artist, Turner ventured far from his hardcore and alternative roots. Turner adopted the genre of acoustic folk-punk and made it his own in his first solo EP “Campfire Punkrock,” which he released in 2006. Without slowing down, Turner released his first solo album in January 2007 titled “Sleep Is For the Week,” which featured his first single “Vital Signs.”

His following two albums, “Life, Ire & Song” and “Poetry of the Deed” were released over a year apart and were met with much success in England but fell short of the popularity he needed to get into the American mainstream.

In June 2011, Turner released “England Keep My Bones” featuring tracks “I Still Believe” and “If I Ever Stray,” which peaked at No. 12 on the UK’s Top 100. The release gave Turner the popularity he needed to make it onto the American airwaves, and ever since he has been gaining a steady cult following in the U.S.  Turner’s latest album, “Tape Deck Heart” was released this past April with the popular singles “Recovery” and “The Way I Tend to Be.”

Touring in the UK’s alternative and hardcore scene had a significant influence on Turner’s style of music style early on, but at his core he remains a punk-rock artist. He also is a fan of Bruce Springsteen and Billy Bragg, from whom he draws much of his American rock and roll and folk-rock influences. His music takes British punk rock and softens it with acoustic hooks and folk influences that can make his edgiest songs sound like melodies.

As lighthearted as his music may sound, Turner makes many bold political statements, some of which have earned him some enemies.  An ardent libertarian, he sings songs that preach individuality, distrust of power and, above all, freedom. Following an erroneous interview with The Guardian in 2011 in which he claimed he was “right-wing,” Turner received hundreds of death threats and hate mail from punk fans everywhere. Still, Turner is not afraid to openly criticize English government in songs such as “Thatcher F**ked the Kids” and “Love, Ire, & Song.”

Turner’s show at the Calvin Theater will mark his second time in Northampton. Tickets are on sale for $23.50 and doors open at 7 p.m. Seating is available in the venue but floor space for standing audiences will also be open in front of the stage.

Sarah Robertson can be reached at [email protected]