Frank Turner has published a tour very extensive tour diary The Road Beneath My Feet about the 1216 shows that took him from his solo debut following his stint in hardcore band Million Dead on the toilet circuit to a sold out gig at Wembley Arena. In an exclusive extract he recalls a particularly unique date along the way involving, love, loss, loneliness and crashing someone’s Valetines Day, all in the name of finding somewhere to sleep in Ipswich…
Show #52 – Steamboat Tavern, Ipswich, UK, 14 February 2006
I’ve always meant to write a song about this show. There’s a bleak, failed romanticism to the idea of Valentine’s Day alone in Ipswich.
I had a particularly long stretch of solo shows around this time and the experience was starting to wear me down. The run had included a series of shows in houses, university halls of residence and squats. When you’re on your own and in someone else’s home you have to be quite aggressively gregarious if you’re to survive – you’re on away territory, you need to be friendly and accommodating. But it takes a fair amount out of you being surrounded by strangers all the time and if the shows are small and often quite sparsely attended, it gets a little trying. I had a particular low point after a house show in Wigan.
The show itself was OK, but I had a tiny, hard-sided sofa to sleep on which didn’t even begin to fit me. On top of that, some weirdo kid who’d clearly done a lot of speed was bouncing up and down on one arm of my useless attempt at a bed and telling me, rapidly and incessantly, that he wasn’t a thief. That hardly gave me the confidence to nod off with my bag and guitar in the room – not that I could sleep through his inane chattering. No sleep, no friends, no money – a bad but familiar combination.
Being single at the time, the significance of the date, 14 February, had escaped me when I was booking this show. It was only as the day approached that it occurred to me that this could present a problem. I’ve never been one for staying at the houses of people I don’t know if I can find someone I do know. But during this time I would often end up asking the crowd, just before I played my last song, if anyone would let me sleep on their sofa or floor (if I found someone with a spare bed I was doing well). That night, not really knowing too many people in Ipswich, I’d planned to do the same, but because of the auspicious date, pretty much everyone at the show was coupled-up and had plans for a private evening in that were not best added to by some vagrant occupying the front room.
I spent some time before my set asking around to see if I could pin anything down, but it was really starting to seem like everyone was hooked up. A particularly ambitious attempt to chat up the barmaid yielded only the offer of sleeping on the floor in the bar once the show was done if I really couldn’t find anywhere else.
In the end I think it was one of the guys from Secondsmile, a band on the bill that I’d played with before, who took pity on me and let me throw a spanner in his romantic works by holing up at his house. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself that night, though I think I could see the funny side of it too. Great material for a song – I’ll get round to it one day.
For more head to Pledgemusic.com/projects/frankturner.