Frank Turner hosts a fun, acoustic set at Zia Camelback

Frank Turner is one of the nicest guys in rock and roll today.

“He’s really personable,” journalism student Nicole Tyau said as she waited for to meet Turner. Dressed in a Frank Turner shirt and holding his tour flag, she had nothing but nice things to say.

“We’re here at Zia (Records) doing a meet and greet with him, and he stays the whole time just to hug every single person, sign everything they have to bring him and to talk to them and get to know his fans. He doesn’t take himself too seriously,” she said.

The evidence was strong. At a signing in the Camelback Zia Records, Turner didn't hurry along any fans. The smile etched onto his face never faded.

British rock singer Turner made a stop at the popular record store Sunday to play a few choice tracks to a crowd that packed a center space as part of his tour promoting his new album "Positive Songs for Negative People." 

With just a guitar and his voice, Turner played a few songs for the store crowd, saving others for his show at The Pressroom in Phoenix later that evening.

@frankturner here at @ziarecords Camelback. @statepress

A photo posted by Damion Julien-Rohman (@legendpenguin) on

During his set, he showed a natural talent for connecting with the crowd between songs, telling humorous stories about heartbreak and cracking jokes about guitar tuning and life on the road. One unfortunate tale had him crossing countries, guitar in hand, to tell a girl that he loved her.

“When I got to her door,” he said to the crowd, “She opened it and said, ‘It’s over.’ So I got back on the train and went home,” he said.

In an email interview, Turner said he grew up with a certain music selection in his home – something different than what he plays today.

“I grew up in a house that only had classical and church music,” he said. “Rock and roll wasn’t a thing. When I was about 10 years old I stumbled cross Iron Maiden and fell utterly, totally in love – much to my parent’s dismay.”

From there, Turner’s range spread to metal, grunge and eventually punk rock and hardcore rock.

“I was always a participant – I asked my folks for a guitar for Christmas straight away and was playing shitty covers and bad originals in a band within a year or so of finding my calling,” he said.

After joining and playing with former punk band Million Dead from 2001 until their breakup in 2005, Turner said he felt burned by the experience and wanted to take a, “stylistic left-hand-turn of sorts.” He began playing solo in 2005 and put out his first EP, “Campfire PunkRock,” in 2006 under UK label Xtra Mile Recordings.

From there, Turner released his first full-length album “Sleep is For the Weak,” in 2007, accruing his backing band that same year. The band would go on to be named The Sleeping Souls in 2011.

“Positive Songs for Negative People” officially released on Aug. 7.

“The previous record was a break-up album of sorts,” he said. “It was about a difficult and unpleasant time in my life. This album is reactive to that, to a degree. It’s an album about surviving the rough patch, about moving forward.”

ASU alum Jeff Conkey had his vinyl copy of “Positive Songs” signed by Turner. He said that he first heard the singer’s music through a clip of the song “I Still Believe” that was posted by a cousin living in Bristol.

“I love singer-songwriters,” he said. “I’m an old-school punk fan and I definitely think he’s got that folky, punk vibe to him and he’s a fantastic performer. And his lyrics are just awesome.”

He counts “Tape Deck Heart” as his favorite album, with “Photosynthesis,” off of the “Love Ire & Song” album being his favorite track. That said, he was happy to hear “Love 40 Down” performed in the store as well.

“Just because I know it and I could sing along with it,” he said.

Conkey said that “I Still Believe” had a personal impact on him.

“I still believe that music is something that can touch people’s souls and change their lives,” he said.

Tyau said the current album has motivated her.

“As a person who has struggled with anxiety and depression, it’s been a really great album to hear the lyrics -- especially the song ‘Get Better.’ It talks about how your life isn’t over and no matter what you do, there’s always going to be another day to try and do whatever you can.”

“He doesn’t just create music,” she said. “He creates something that you can relate to. And that’s the best part of him.”

Related Links:

Frank Turner shares stories, gives energetic concert

ZIA Record Exchange opens largest store in central Phoenix

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