Produced by Charlie Hugall (Florence And The Machine, Halsey) and White Denim's Austin Jenkins and Joshua Block, Be More Kind represents a thematic and sonic line in the sand for Frank Turner. The new album combines raw political and personal universal anthems with the intricate folk and punk roar trademarks of Turner's sound imbued with new, bold experimental shades. "I wanted to try and get out of my comfort zone and do something different," says Turner.
Originally, he contacted Jenkins and Block at their Niles City Sound studio in Fort Worth, TX with the idea of recording a soul album in the vein of Dexys Midnight Runners. He found they were equally enthusiastic when he changed his mind and decided he wanted to record a more rock-led album with tints of electronic pop. "I have an obscure corner of my music taste where I'm into glitch electronic music and Warp Records," says Turner. "It's not an electronic record but I got into arpeggiator synths." While 2015's Positive Songs for Negative People was cut in nine intense days, Be More Kind was made over a period of seven months giving Turner the opportunity to turn songs on their head, try different versions, and shake up the dynamics within his band.
Turner and his band, The Sleeping Souls, were touring America in 2016 "when the world decided to go collectively nuts" and the songs that make up Be More Kind started to come together. "Somewhere in the record, there's a convergence of the ideas of personal and political, which is a central theme of the album," Turner says. One of the other driving themes of the album is empathy, even for your enemy. "You should at least be able to inhabit the mental universe of the people you disagree with. If you can't do that, then how do you communicate with people other than through force of arms, which is something we all agree is a bad idea."
Lead track "1933" is a clattering, state-of-the-nation anthem. Furious and direct, it's inspired by articles Turner saw that suggested the alt-right was punk rock. "That filled me with a mixture of incredulity and anger," says Turner. "The idea that Breitbart or Steve Bannon think they have anything to do with punk rock makes me extremely angry." The other theme in the track is summed up by the line, "If I was one of the greatest generation / I'd be pissed / I'd be screaming at my grandkids / that we already did this." "These ideas are surfacing again that collectively as a species we've already shot down," says Turner.