Thursday, 7 May 2015

The Road Beneath My Feet by Frank Turner

Hardcover, 272 pages
Published March 26th 2015 by Headline

Blurb: "On 23 September, 2005, at the Joiners Arms in Southampton, Frank Turner played his last gig with his hardcore band Million Dead. On the laminantes that listed the tour dates, the entry for 24 September simply read: 'Get a job.'

Deflated, jaded and hungover, Frank returned to his hometown of Winchester without a plan for the future. All he knew was that he wanted to keep playing music.

Cut to 13 April 2012, a thousand shows later (show 1,216 to be precise), and he was headlining a sold-out gig at Wembley Arena with his band The Sleeping Souls. That summer, they played to 200,000 people at the Olympics opening ceremony warm-up by personal invitation of Danny Boyle.

Told through his tour reminiscences, this is a blisteringly honest story of Frank's career from the grimy pub scene where sweat drips from the ceiling, to filling out arenas with fans roaring every word. But more than that, it is an intimate account of what it's like to spend your life constantly on the road; sleeping on floors, invariably jetlagged, all for the love of playing live music."

This is a book where Frank charts his time from leaving his old (post-hardcore) band Million Dead to taking a new route through music playing a really great blend of folk-rock music, much to the doubt of some of his friends and family. It's a great read to find out about what life can be like on the road for a musician, making friends in every town you visit and asking the crowd if they would let you sleep on someone's floor because you don't have anywhere to stay. From selling tour merchandise before and after shows, even at massive venues to getting lost in fields trying to find the venue.

This is also in many ways a travel memoir and it's amazing the number of countries he has played music in; and the number of people in those countries who promote musicians and show them around strange countries. There are so many people devoted to music and to helping musicians along the way. It was really interesting to learn about different cultures from a musician's perspective - it's not often you read about someone touring China or Israel! I was amazed to find out about the number of well known bands he has supported too; from Biffy Clyro to Green Day and many more.

There are times when I hoped for Frank to write more explicitly about relationships between him and his band the Sleeping Souls but I can completely understand that while writing this book it was meant to be a touring memoir and not a close look at his personal life. However, it is definitely clear from the book that it hasn't always been an easy journey and Frank has worked extremely hard to achieve success. As mentioned previously, he is also very appreciative of the help he has received along the way.

As a fan, it was really interesting to read about the random times and places that Frank wrote some of his songs.

So if you hadn't heard of Frank Turner before, go listen to one of my favourite songs of his here and maybe see if you can go to a show.

I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in music. It's funny, interesting and a stark, often emotional look at life on the road.

Ten out of ten for his book, looking forward to the next thousand shows.

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