Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls / Shovels & Rope

First Fleet Concerts Presents:

Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls / Shovels & Rope

Trapper Schoepp

Sat, May 4, 2019

Doors: 6:00 pm / Show: 7:00 pm

Hoyt Sherman Place

Des Moines, IA

$29.50 - $47.50

This event is all ages

Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls
Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls
In 2016, Frank Turner was reading a collection of poetry by Clive James when one line
stopped him in his tracks. It was from a poem titled Leçons Des Ténèbres: “I should have
been more kind. It is my fate. To find this out, but find it out too late.” Turner was in the
middle of writing an esoteric concept record about women from the historical record who
had been ignored, but this single line mapped out a new direction in his mind. “It
devastated me the first time I read it,” says Turner. “A lot of older, wiser people tend to say
things like that, that the things that come out in the wash at the end of a human life are the
way you treated people around you, your kindness and consideration.”
At the time, Turner was on tour with his band The Sleeping Souls in the US just as the
election was entering its unrelenting endgame, and the Hampshire-born singer-songwriter
realised his seventh solo studio album needed to be a very different record to the one he
originally had in mind. “The world decided to go collectively nuts in 2016 and after that it
became increasingly difficult as a writer to ignore what was going on, and the changes that
seemed to be taking place in the political and social culture of the West,” he says.
Turner is one of the UK’s most successful solo artists of the past decade. He has carved out a
career as a hard-touring, punk-folk troubadour with a diehard fanbase drawn to a singer-
songwriter who refuses to play the game and does things on his own terms. But in contrast
to his career trajectory, Turner’s personal life has not been without its troubles. His last two
records, 2013’s Tape Deck Heart and 2015’s Positive Songs For Negative People, dealt with
the fallout from a break-up as the singer struggling to cover the cracks from broken
relationships.
Now happily living with his girlfriend and their cat, he sets his sights to the bigger picture. Be
More Kind bridges the personal and the political, the intimate and the universal. These are
songs that could be whispered in your ear, or hollered along with from the middle of a
sweaty festival crowd.
One of the driving ideas behind Be More Kind is understanding the person you’re fighting
against. “You should at least be able to inhabit the mental universe of the people you
disagree with,” he says. “I think Donald Trump is awful but I think if you wish to see Donald
Trump not be elected for a second term then there is a need to figure out how to talk to
Donald Trump supporters that is something else other than screaming at them.” Be More
Kind is a political album, but more about the rules of the game than it is about a specific
event. “To me, that’s the essence of liberalism,” says Turner, “because to me liberalism is
about the rules of interaction more than it is about the content of that interaction.”
After a period spent looking back that culminated with last year’s career retrospective set
Songbook, here Turner boldly recalibrates his trademark sound, the thematic line in the
sand echoed by a new sonic beginning. There have been enough Frank Turner albums that
sound how people expect Frank Turner albums to sound, he reasons, so it was time to try

something new. “I wanted to try and get out of my comfort zone and do something
different,” he says. “Positive Songs… was a bit of a retrenchment, I wanted to make a
stripped-down punk-feeling live-sounding album where me and the band rehearsed the
songs to within an inch of their lives and cut the album in nine days.” This time around, his
approach was the polar opposite. Many of the songs were demoed on his laptop, with
Turner incorporating his love of glitch electronica and Warp-style ambient albums and
experimenting with drum loops and arpeggiator synths. These songs have the unmistakable
melodic intricacy of Frank Turner, but with a dynamic gear change to the instrumentation.
The album was produced by Austin Jenkins and Joshua Block, formerly of psychedelic-rock
Texans White Denim, at their Niles City Sound Studios in Fort Worth, Texas, recorded over
two blocks in June and October. Some extra recording took place in London with Florence
And The Machine and Halsey collaborator Charlie Hugall. “This is the longest I’ve ever
worked on a record in my life,” says Turner. “It was creatively a very different experience
from the previous record I made and that was by design. It was nice to be able to take time
on things and have the opportunity to try a few different approaches to songs. At no point
was I thinking about how the Sleeping Souls and I would play these songs live. It was more
thinking, “what do these songs need?”” At some points during recording, only two members
of the band would be called upon, at others, there would be 19 extra parts being laid down.
After reading James’ poem, the title track led the way. It’s a song that captures the spirit of
adventure on the album. In an earlier incarnation, it was a stark folk song but here is
blossoms into new, electronica-flecked territory. “It really lit the way sonically for the rest of
the record,” says Turner, “that combination of what is expected of me and what I do usually
and new elements.” At the other end of the process, stirring opener Don’t Worry was the
last song written for the record. “I felt there was a bit of a conceptual gap,” he says. “There
needed to be a mission statement track.” Turner had been listening to lots of Bill Withers,
and you can hear the influence of Lean On Me in the song’s warm embrace.
From its title alone, you can tell the anthemic Make America Great Again is supposed to be
provocative. “I’m old enough and calloused enough from my exposure to public attention to
not really give a fuck about the backlash that song is going to generate,” says Turner. It’s an
un-ironically pro-American song, he says. Turner has spent much of the last decade of his
life on the road in the US and he loves the country. “What I find so depressing about the
nativist populist movement is that they’ve mis-identified what is great about America.” But
he still enjoys having a song that he knows will get some people’s backs up. Old punks die
hard. “I think about The Clash and the Pistols and the punk bands I fell in love with and they
didn’t shy away from controversial things,” he says. “Nowadays, as an individual I have to
put my money down somewhere.”
Similarly, 1933 is a clattering, state-of-the-nation anthem inspired by articles Turner saw
that suggested the alt-right was punk rock. “That filled me with a mixture of incredulity and
anger,” says Turner. “The idea that Breitbart or Steve Bannon think they have anything to
do with punk rock makes me extremely angry.” The pulsating rock groove of Blackout is
inspired by the New York blackout riots in 1978, Turner intrigued by the idea of the
machinery that powers a modern society breaking down. The summery guitar-pop of Little
Changes, meanwhile, taps into the idea that if you want to achieve meaningful political and

personal change, it’s the small transformations that accrue into a large change.
“Somewhere in the record, there’s a convergence of the ideas of personal and political,
which I think is quite strong and it’s a central theme,” he says.
Pockmarked throughout the album’s political themes and societal observations are some of
the most personal songs of his career. Previous records have dealt with turmoil but here he
sends missives from the middle of a cherished relationship. The Southern rock-style twang
of Going Nowhere started as a love song and grew into a reflection on the modern world,
and the widescreen Americana of There She Is was written whilst Turner was holidaying
with his girlfriend in Italy. “We’d been driving and listening to a bunch of Motown songs,”
he says. “When I was younger I was impressed by complexity but I’ve realised that a simple
song can be more powerful.” Gospel-tinged rocker Brave Face, meanwhile, was inspired by
a tour with Jason Isbell and is about the idea that “if you’ve got someone to lean on back-to-
back, you can project to the world.”
21 st Century Survival Blues was inspired by a conversation Turner had with an Australian
businessman on a commuter flight, who told him that he’d spent all the money he made on
weapons. “When I asked him why, he said it was cos “when the shit goes down, you can’t
eat gold.” The line prompted a lyric about survivalists preparing for the end of the world.
The hypnotic Common Ground matches Turner’s love of TS Eliot’s writing (“I love his use of
repetition of simple words, to the extent it almost becomes a chant”) to a sound that evokes
Thom Yorke’s The Eraser, whilst The Lifeboat started life as finger-picked folk song before
being retooled and ending up with a bombastic orchestral outro.
The album’s most organic moment comes at the end. Get It Right sounds like a drunken
singalong at the conclusion of a great night, the sound of Turner and his band, in a room,
playing a song in a way that couldn’t be tinkered with afterwards. It sums up the human
warmth at the heart of Be More Kind, an album that’s an ambitious leap forward for one of
the most important artists working today. Frank Turner is ready to begin a new chapter in
his career. He’s done his looking back, now it’s time to march forwards.
Shovels & Rope
Shovels & Rope
As the Brontë sister wrote, “The ties that bind us to life are tougher than you imagine.” Shovels & Rope, the musical duo of Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst, embody that bond. Married for a decade, their covenant extends to blood and beyond: as parents, bandmates, and creative collaborators who can now add the pursuits of festival curators, film subjects, and children’s book authors to that mighty list. Having released four studio albums and two collaborative projects (Busted Jukebox, Vol. 1 & 2) since 2008, Trent and Hearst have built their reputation on skill, sweat, and, yes, blood. Now, with the tough and elegant new record By Blood, as well as their High Water Festival in their hometown of Charleston, South Carolina, “Shovels & Rope: The Movie”, and the picture book “C’mon Utah!”, Shovels & Rope are primed for their biggest year yet.
Venue Information:
Hoyt Sherman Place
1501 Woodland Street
Des Moines, IA, 50309
http://www.hoytsherman.org/