What are “Rock’n’Roll Vegetables”? Frank Turner Explains
The folk singer-songwriter on the gruesome dangers of performing on stage and how to survive it
From post-hardcore to folk, Frank Turner has run the gamut of musical genres during his hefty time as a musician, but regardless of his favoured musical output, the word “hardcore” certainly rings true when talking about the toll touring has on his body.
How would you rate your fitness on a scale of one to 10?
I’ll say a seven or an eight. It’s weird, my cardio is pretty intense because the shows we do are physical – I spend essentially two hours jogging on the spot and shouting almost every day.
How important is health and fitness to you?
As a performer, it’s pretty athletic what I do. I slipped two discs in my back about three years ago after a particularly awkward jump off a drum riser. I went to see doctors and physios – it wasn’t until I’d seen them that it really occurred to me the athleticism of what it is that I do. It would be possible to do my job and just stand still on stage, but I wouldn’t feel like I was doing the show properly.
Do you do any physical pre-show preparation?
I do an hour of stretching before the show – I have to, otherwise I wouldn’t last. It all came from my back injury, and although my back is mostly fine these days, I still have a stretching routine that my physio gave me – it takes about 45 minutes to an hour every day.
Apart from your back, have you had any other on-stage mishaps?
I nearly cut one of my fingers off during a handstand on some broken glass – not on purpose, obviously, but there was glass all over the stage at a punk show in Texas; I’ve still got a bit of glass in my hand. I’ve cracked my teeth, I broke my kneecap on stage and my shins are an absolute disaster zone. I’ve been touring for 18 years now, so it bangs you up after a while.
How is your fitness fingerprint unique to you and your career?
Touring is a lifestyle and a thing that most people do in their twenties for a short period of time. I’m 34 now and committed to this lifestyle – I don’t see myself stopping this ever. With everybody that tours to this kind of age, you have a moment of truth when you turn about 30, and you have to make some changes to sustain your health. You have to start watching what you eat, start stretching, stop drinking and partying quite as much. I’m fortunate enough to be touring at a level now where I have a little bit of control over what I eat, but I spent a good decade where every day the healthiest option was Subway. I’m currently drinking a water with Berocca in it, or as it’s also known, “rock’n’roll vegetables…”
Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls will play at Leeds Festival, August 26–28 leedsfestival.com/tickets
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Gary Ogden wrote for the print edition of Coach between 2015 and 2016, writing features, interviewing celebrities and covering entertainment. He has also written for ShortList.