Frank Turner on depression, drugs and his new film ‘Get Better’

'Drinking, drugs, self-destruction and recovery'

Frank Turner has announced the release of a new film, ‘Get Better’ – dealing with ‘drinking, drugs and self-destruction’ during a ‘difficult’ year of his life.  See the trailer and our candid Q&A with Frank Turner below.

‘Get Better – A Film About Frank Turner’ was directed by friend Ben Morse, and follows Frank Turner and his band The Sleeping Souls for a year on the road, but the band swiftly came off the road – and Frank came off the rails before recovery.

The new documentary will be in UK cinemas for one night only on 13 December, with a screening and Live Q&A with Turner taking place in London’s Leicester Square. . Tickets go on sale from 21 November and available here.


So I understand it started off as something completely different?

“Ben sent me an email a long time ago saying ‘I take photos and I’m interested in trying to make a music video and would you let me do that’. This was in 2006 or 2007, at a period of time when I had very little going on in my career and I was feeling directive and I just went ‘Yeah OK why not?’ We made a music video together and it was just terrible, but we got on really well and Ben’s been on tour with me on and off and been making music videos of increasing quality since then. He put together this idea of essentially making a tour film about me and I think his essential pitch was ‘the band that never stops’. We started filming and then the first thing we do is stop touring. Because I had a massive falling out with my record label, I had a bunch of personal issues going on, and so things got quite close to breaking point – but Ben had the intelligence to keep the cameras filming and it’s ended up being a film about things almost collapsing, but not quite.”

Were you comfortable with it being so candid, or did you sort of forget the cameras were there?

“The decision on that for me was taken at the beginning of the project in a way. I said to Ben that I wasn’t really interested in hackneyed biographic films about bands. If I think about the music documentaries that I find interesting, like ‘Dig!’ for example, which is extremely literal and about the shortcomings of the people and the musicians involved in it – that’s much more interesting. Plus Ben is a friend and I trust him. I said to him ‘I’m not going to censor you in this’ having said that, he sent me a first cut of the film and it put the fear of God in me. But I stuck to my guns, I said I was going to make this and it be candid and that’s exactly what it is.”

What was remarkable about this year in your life? Would you call it a turning point?


“Yeah, definitely. The birth of the last record between my book  ‘The Road Beneath My Feet’ and ‘Positive Songs for Negative People’ was an extremely difficult one. That was the first time it’s happened to me in my career. It’s a weird place to be on album six. That’s not a thing that usually happens with bands these days, particularly to be a mid-level artist at that time. Bands are usually Mumford and Sons by that point or cease to exist. And then I had this commercial problem that clashed with personal things in my life, so I guess it’s just about dealing with crisis and growing up in the middle of it.”

What would you say you’ve learned about yourself from it after watching it back?

“That’s a profound question! I don’t know I’ve come up with a new slogan: ‘may you live long and never have to watch a documentary about yourself’. It’s a very weird process; watching my mum talk about me in the third person is a really gruelling process to go through. Something I learned about myself is I swear too much when I talk.”

The film deals with you coming to terms with your demons. What would you say those demons are and how does it feel to have them exposed now?

“A lot of it is to do with drinking and drugs and stuff like that – and my own capacity with self-destruction, particularly my own way of dealing with my frustrations. My reactions to my frustration haven’t been particularly healthy, shall we say. And seeing that laid bare on the screen was not the most comfortable thing. I think a lot of it has to do with I live quite a weird life, when I go to work there’s lots of people screaming at me. If I go to a bar in Camden or a gig near where I’ve been playing people know who I am, and it’s sort of like how do you live that life and try to maintain a degree a level of sanity, if not normality?”

There was a study recently that said musicians are three times more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression and addiction – is that because the music gives you that vessel to escape but also the reason for it?

“I read that study, and I wondered about the direction of causality, it may be a two way street. It could be people who suffer from that are more likely to become musicians; in the sense that to be somebody who can express themselves artistically you need to be able to have a slightly cockeyed view of the world and have a slightly outsider status. I think it runs both ways on that.”

I’ve never heard a good album that says ‘Everything is fine, I don’t have an opinion on anything’

“I can never remember, was it Feeder who did a song about his car? That sort of struck me as ‘You’ve got nothing to say’. Who knows?”

Andy Willsher/NME

Meanwhile, Frank Turner’s remaining UK tour dates are below.

Salisbury, City Hall (18)
Liverpool, O2 Academy (21)
Carlisle, Sands Centre (22)
Doncaster, Doncaster Dome (23)
Coventry, Empire (25)
Cardiff, University Great Hall (26)
Oxford, New Theatre (27)
Exeter, Great Hall (28)
Reading, Hexagon (30)
Leeds, University Refectory (December 1)
Aberdeen, Garage (2)
Edinburgh, Usher Hall (3)
Scunthorpe, Baths Hall (5)
Warrington, Parr Hall (6)
Newcastle Upon Tyne, Northumbria University (7)
Nottingham, Rock City (9)
Bexhill, De La Warr Pavilion (10)
Norwich, Uea (11)
Guilford, G Live (12)
Portsmouth, Guildhall (14)


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