It's easy enough - if a little reductive - to compare current players to those of yesteryear. Rancid feels like the Clash, Alkaline Trio feels like The Damned and so forth.
By that logic, it would be easy to dismiss English bard Frank Turner as the next Billy Bragg. And sure, Turner writes heart-felt folk ballads with punk chops and has an adorable British accent. But he is not retracing anyone's footsteps.
With three full-lengths and various splits and 7-inches under his belt, Turner has quickly built up a strong following and attracted critical attention, especially in Europe. His latest album, Poetry of the Deed
, was recently released by American punk rock juggernaut, Epitaph.
The success of the record has brought with it a massive spike in popularity, but not overnight.
"Things have happened pretty organically and gradually for me", Turner said via email. "Especially in the UK... it's not like there was a morning where I woke up and everything was different."
Before going solo and folk, Turner had made a name for himself in British punk circles with his hardcore punk band A Million Dead.
"My time in A Million Dead made it a little easier to get (solo) shows at the start, and there was an audience of people curious about what I was doing next."
With the release of Poetry of the Deed
, Turner has landed an opening spot for the Celt-punk establishment Flogging Molly on their annual "Green 17" St. Patrick's Day tour. For many, it will be their first taste of Turner, but it will not be his first taste of Indianapolis.
Turner, armed with just an acoustic guitar and a bottle of whiskey, played a drunken basement show in 2008 to a crowd of about 50. "My time in Indianapolis was brief and a bit hazy in my mind," Turner said.
For his first two albums, Turner wrote and recorded the majority of songs by himself, although some tracks featured additional musicians on drums and fiddle. On Poetry Of The Deed
, Turner enlisted a full-time band and wrote songs in a more collaborative manner.
The album explodes with the high-charged posi-anthem "Live Fast, Die Old", a nod to the Circle Jerks nihlistic hardcore cri-de-coeur "Live Fast, Die Young". "Try This At Home" is a fast-paced folk rock DIY call-to-arms that includes the wonderful line, "There's no such thing as rockstars/ there's just people who play music/ and some of them are just like us/ and some of them are dicks."
Turner distances himself from Bragg on the song "Sons of Liberty". Bragg's Socialist battle-cries were sung at coal miner strikes, but" Sons of Liberty" wouldn't be out of place blaring at a Teabagger rally, with lyrics like "a government will only work for its own benefit."
Even though he's moved from the basement to the Egyptian Room for this show, Turner says that big labels and big venues haven't changed his outlook on life and music.
"Sure, big shows and big audiences feel rewarding, but I try to focus on the fact that I need to write good songs and play good shows, and the context of labels and money is less important."