“It’s kind of liberating”: Frank Turner Is ‘Undefeated’ on His Enthralling Tenth Studio Album

Frank Turner © Shannon Shumaker
Frank Turner © Shannon Shumaker
Frank Turner’s aptly titled tenth album ‘Undefeated’ proves to be a testament to the artist’s prolific career and long-standing tradition of raucous, high-energy songs with cheeky, thought-provoking lyrics and in-your-face guitars.
Stream: “Do One” – Frank Turner

A musical career that spans twenty-plus years and an astonishing ten albums isn’t just impressive.

It’s honestly a mathematical miracle when you think about the number of artists who are still touring on their second album after ten or so years.

Simply put, it would be easy for Frank Turner to rest on the laurels of tried-and-true favorites like “Four Simple Words” or as Turner paraphrases from the late Jimmy Buffet, his “play them or get killed” songs, but Turner remains diligent and meticulous about staying current and in some cases even reopening old wounds.

Undefeated - Frank Turner
Undefeated – Frank Turner
Some people are just going to hate you,
No matter what you do.
So don’t waste your time
trying to change their minds –

Just be a better you.
It took me years to learn this,
(More than I’d like to admit)
But through my ups and downs
I figured one thing out:

Don’t take anyone’s shit.
– “Do One,” Frank Turner

At 14 songs, Undefeated (out May 3, 2024 via Turner’s longtime label Xtra Mile Recordings) takes listeners through a myriad of thought-provoking topics and their accompanying emotions. From the world’s ongoing healing process after a global pandemic in the song Pandemic PTSD to the idea of packing it all in and running away to assume a new identity in “International Hide and Seek Champions,” it’s apparent that this punk aficionado continues to keep a finger firmly on the proverbial pulse.

Turner muses, “Ultimately, I sat in a room with a guitar and thought, ‘What’s a cool song?’ – and that is still an incredibly simplified version of my writing process.”

That bare-bones, scaled-down songwriting sentiment is so apparent in a song like “Girl From The Record Shop.” With its time-tested components (a guy, a girl) and a cadence that defies even the staunchest of wallflowers to stand still at a Frank Turner show, it’s an instant classic.

I’m in love with the girl from the record shop,
Sat behind the counter in her Riot Grrl top.
And every time she looks at me my heart just stops.
I’m in love with the girl from the record shop.
I’m in love with the girl from the record shop.
She’s been playing the Supremes and the Four Tops.
She still says her favourite record is Everything Sucks.
I’m in love with the girl from the record shop.
I’ve been in every day buying so much vinyl,
Don’t even own my own turntable.
Something in her smile makes me so unstable.
Round and round like my heart got scratched,
Day after day flicking through the racks,
I’m going to find my groove, I’ll be Back to Black,
Amnesiac – Sheer Heart Attack!
I’m in love.

Frank Turner © Xtra Mile Recordings
Frank Turner © Xtra Mile Recordings

As if the songs themselves weren’t enough to carry the album on their own, Turner turns the knob to eleven even more with a detail often left as innocuous – the arrangement and order of the tunes.

Undefeated starts with a sort of happy-go-lucky reminder of life’s curve balls and our human capacity to lean into those pitches with the song “Do One.”

And then, all at once, “Never Mind the Back Problems,” this drive-by shooting of a song in all its 87-second glory, comes crashing in. If I were ever going to trash a hotel room like a rockstar, that’s the song I want playing at full blast.

Atwood Magazine caught up with Frank Turner during an exhausting touring schedule that has him in an intercontinental tennis match between Europe and the U.S. traversing the Atlantic four times during the summer and fall of 2024.

When it feels like the work was for nothing,
And you’re wrecked and in retreat,
Survival adds up to something:
Independent, undefeated.
– “Undefeated,” Frank Turner

— —

:: stream/purchase Undefeated here ::
:: connect with Frank Turner here ::
Frank Turner © Shannon Shumaker
Frank Turner © Shannon Shumaker


Undefeated - Frank Turner

Atwood Magazine: You’ve been quoted as saying “42 isn’t a sexy age for rock n' roll.” Do you feel like in 2024 music and social norms are skewed much more towards youth today and that anything north of 30 is considered decrepit?

Frank Turner: There’s a certain moment in the lifecycle of a rock musician where you buy a leather jacket and start announcing that music has run out of ideas. And it’s always horse shit. What you’re doing is you’ve confused yourself with rock music.

Undefeated marks the first time doing an end-to-end producing process completely on your own. What (if any) hurdles did that present for you? What advantages did it present?

Frank Turner: Being in the room on the other side of the glass is so reinvigorating. First of all, I really love it. That’s been so restorative for me as a writer, a producer and arranger. I don’t really need to pay someone to sit in the corner and clap when I get it right.

I’m also not saying I should have produced all my records in the past or that I’ll never work with another producer again. A great role a producer can play is to take the artist out of their comfort zone. With this record I thought, I don’t want to be taken out of my comfort zone, I want to make the record that’s in my head.

My band were all here and we were getting up in the morning and going for a swim and then going into the studio and cutting stuff. It was a pretty idyllic process and I wouldn’t have described it as hard at all. I just felt like I knew what I was doing. It was a joyful process. My wife listened to the early cuts of the record and said it sounded like we were having fun, which I thought was a very telling comment. It felt like there was a more joyful sense of musicianship on this record than some records I’ve made in recent years.

Frank Turner © Shannon Shumaker
Frank Turner © Shannon Shumaker

Frank Turner: A little from column A and a little from column B. I made a record during the pandemic that doesn’t mention the pandemic, because it was a bit too on the f**in nose. All of the damage in terms of mental health hasn’t gone away simply because we’re now talking about something else. I certainly feel (in terms of the UK) that there’s a sense of national decline over here right now and of crumbling infrastructure and I think a lot of that was perhaps stuff that was already in the mail.

My wife took issue with my colloquial use of the term PTSD, so I got her dictionary of psychotherapy and looked up the definition of PTSD and managed to get it word-for-word into the f**ing song! And it was great, because I was kind of stuck at that moment in the song.

Frank Turner: It’s kind of liberating being ten albums in, because there aren’t cliches about the “difficult tenth album.” (laughs) I would like to think by this point in my career that the people who’ve bought the ticket have a degree of trust in me as a writer and that I’m doing it integrally and following my muse.

I don’t care and I think it’s important that I don’t care, because the words “sell out” are ones that got thrown around when you and I were younger. There are times when I think about the “sell out wars” of the ’90s and I feel a bit like I’m talking about the first World War. To me, if the term “sell out” means anything at all, it means making music for dishonest reasons or for an audience other than your own best judgment.

Frank Turner © Shannon Shumaker
Frank Turner © Shannon Shumaker

Frank Turner: The design to kind of set everything on fire and run away and adopt a new identity has been a reasonable constant in my life. I’d be surprised if there’s anyone who’s never had that thought in life. It’s a fun song, it’s a love song.

Frank Turner: I spend a monumentally tedious amount of time thinking about setlists. At this point in my career, there is a sort of accumulated weight that you can bring to a show.

— —

:: stream/purchase Undefeated here ::
:: connect with Frank Turner here ::

— — — —

Undefeated - Frank Turner

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? © Shannon Shumaker

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