Frank Turner Shares His Favourite Australian Tour Memories & His Essential Mixtape For The Road

9 November 2023 | 4:02 pm | Frank Turner

'F*cking hell, Tasmania': To celebrate Frank Turner's upcoming tour, The Music caught up with the UK punk troubadour for some brilliant stories about his experiences in Australia.

Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls

Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls (Credit: Clair McAllister)

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Frank Turner’s favourite Australian tour memories

First Ever Aussie Show

My first favourite Australian memory, the number one, is going to be the first show I played in Australia. It was at The Zoo in Brisbane in 2010. I was crazy jet-lagged, and I was in a new country. I was also suffering because Ben Nichols from Lucero had told me that the best way to get through jet lag was to drink - which turns out to be completely not true, so I was not feeling great. And I remember just being a little bit like: ‘Well, nobody knows who I am in this country’. But then a guy came up to me outside The Zoo when I was just out getting some food before the show and showed me a tattoo of a song, my lyrics - and it completely blew my mind that that was a thing.

The Arthouse Final Moments

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Secondly, I think I'm right in saying I played the second last show at The Arthouse in Melbourne before it closed down. They actually asked me to play a second night, which would've been the last ever show, but I was on show number 999, and I had a party plan for show #1000, and I told them no. And they were like: ‘What the fuck is wrong with you?!’ Nevertheless, that show was really, really magic. I played The Arthouse twice in my life, and I feel very fortunate to have been a very minor footnote in that venue's history.

Quintessential Cherry Bar (Lack Of) Memories

Number three is something I can't really remember, if I'm being honest with you, but basically, Cherry Bar in Melbourne… holy fuck. I've DJ-ed there a few times in various tours, which always seems like a brilliant idea until about halfway through when it's like: ‘What the fuck am I doing?!’ But I had a night there where my friend Noel Fielding showed up, who I vaguely know, and he came down to my DJ set, and awful, awful things transpired. I can't really remember the end of the night, but you can probably piece things together from there.

Sydney Airport Origins

I’m going to share two more Australian memories, a sad one and a happy one. The sad one is: It was around 2011, 2012, somewhere like that. I was in Sydney Airport, and it was like three in the morning, and I think I was bouncing around between New Zealand, Australia and China. I did a tour in China as well, and I was startlingly jet-lagged and confused and just didn't really know what was going on.

I was sitting in an airport and didn't really know what time it was, where I was, and didn't really know what time was back in the UK and decided that this would be the ideal moment… I’d had a few drinks as well, and I decided that this would be the ideal moment to call my ex-girlfriend and tell her I missed her. And she basically went: “not cool” and sort of hung up. It was a bad moment in my life, but I sat down the following day when I'd had some sleep, and I wrote a song called The Way I Tend To Be, which was sort of inspired by that phone call. Sydney Airport gave me that song. So, thanks, Sydney.

Unforgettable Tasmania

For my final one, I have played Tasmania twice in my life, and it's been amazing both times. But the first time I played Tasmania was on my first tour in 2010, and I think it was at the venue called the Brisbane Hotel, confusingly enough. And just everything about that day was demented in the best possible way. Pretty much everyone who was coming to the show was in the bar drinking while we were sound-checking, and no one really seemed to care. And everybody, sometimes when a crowd's really, really drunk, it can be really annoying because they're basically not really paying attention. But this was a super drunk crowd who also knew all the words to every song and were going nuts.

And then this is the bit that I'm choosing as my memory: after the show, there was a girl at the bar who ordered a round of shots in proper bar shot glasses, quite thick glass, and we did the shots of Jameson Whiskey. And she then ate her shot glass, like crunched it up and fucking swallowed it. And me and Chuck Ragan [Hot Water Music] and Tim Barry [Avail] and Ben Nichols, who between us have probably a century of road collectively and through the punk world, through some pretty wild venues and people and countries and all the rest of it… the four of us stood there in complete aghast silence.

And I promise you this is 100% true: we just watched a woman eat a shot glass and then kind of wink and wander off. And we were all just like: fucking hell, Tasmania. My theory, of which I have no proof of any kind, is that she was sort of like a circus performer or something like that who knew what she was doing. I don't think this was a spur-of-the-moment decision that she'd never done before. But I will never, ever forget that.

Frank Turner’s touring mixtape

Willie Nelson - On The Road Again

Road songs are a tried and trusted part of the armoury when you’re out on the road, and I’ve gotta start with On The Road Again by Willie Nelson because - you have to!

Mclusky - To Hell With Good Intentions

There's a song called To Hell With Good Intentions by the band Mcluskey, which, for my old band, Million Dead, was our “start of tour” anthem. Every single time we got in the van, we put on To Hell With Good Intentions by Mcluskey!

Curtis Mayfield - Move On Up

Then I'm going to choose Move On Up by Curtis Mayfield because I just love that song, and it makes me think of moving forward and driving and all the rest of it.

Tom Petty - Free Fallin’

Next, I'm going to choose Tom Petty. Probably Free Fallin’, but I mean, basically anything by Tom Petty. Tom Petty is music that is designed to be listened to in a moving vehicle. In fact, I was lucky enough to be introduced to the music of Tom Petty in a car driving through Texas. I was driving with a friend of mine, and he was like: I'll put some Tom Petty on. And I was like: I don't really know Tom Petty. And he was like: ‘What the fuck?!’ And then we went through the greatest hits.

Loudon Wainwright III - Road Ode

And then my final choice, which is related to my first choice, there's a song called Road Ode by Loudon Wainwright III. Loudon Wainwright III is one of my all-time favourite songwriters. I actually own his old guitar, which is a lovely thing. We've done a handful of shows together, and I just think he's the greatest. And Road Ode is sort of a reply to On The Road Again by Willie Nelson anyway, but it's the most on-point song about touring ever written. Full stop.

Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls are touring in Australia in support of Frank’s latest album, FTHC. You can buy tickets here.




Friday 17th November - Hunter Lounge, Wellington

Saturday 18th November - Studio The Venue, Auckland

Tuesday 21st November - The Basement, Canberra

Wednesday 22nd November - Enmore Theatre, Sydney

Friday 24th November - The Tivoli, Brisbane

Saturday 25th November - Queenscliff Music Festival, Victoria

Sunday 26th November - The Forum, Melbourne

Tuesday 28th November - Astor Theatre, Perth

Wednesday 29th November - Hindley St Music Hall, Adelaide