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England’s Frank Turner urges: ‘Make America great again’

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Frank Turner’s 2018 release “Be More Kind” takes on political themes. (Courtesy Ben Morse)

British folk-punker Frank Turner could feel the change creeping up on him. After two records revolving around affairs of the heart, he was painted into a familiar thematic corner. On his seventh disc, 2018’s “Be More Kind,” he became a protest singer again, easily coming up with songs such as “Don’t Worry,” “Little Changes,” “Common Ground” and “Make America Great Again.” He says, “The world just required some comment, it seemed to me, his time around, so I got stuck in again.”

So your hand got forced by the Donald Trump era?

Well, for me, a lot of the genesis of this record came when we were touring the United States in August of 2016, which was when the election campaign was really heating up. And I’m a huge fan and admirer of America, but it was quite a dismaying thing, because there was a lot of division, a lot of anger, and people taking a lot of pride in actually finding their opponents unintelligible, which is a disastrous approach for political discourse. So I didn’t want to write a political record like, say, Rage Against the Machine. I wanted to write about how people interact with each other as humans in the midst of all this. Because a central fact of human society is disagreement, and we can either conduct our disagreement through words or through violence, essentially. And I’d rather we stick with Option A.

A lot of your personal philosophy surfaces in the sings.

Yeah, I think that’s probably true. And also, I don’t think that this is a record that I could have written 10 years ago, on a personal level. As I get older, it seems that you com to understand a bit more about the hot take and the sarcastic putdown, both trying to rhetorically best your opponents. Which, again, isn’t necessarily the best approach to politics. So the long view is arguably an ambitious thing, since one of the biggest communication problems we have has to do with social media, because through it we’ve actually built this machine for dehumanizing our political opponents, which can be quite dangerous.

The comic Sarah Silverman had an entire TV series wherein she spoke exclusively to folks she disagreed with.

I think that is an excellent start. A little trick that was recommended to me by a friend a few years ago — which I try to do, not so successfully every time — is, when I’m having an argument with somebody, I always try and entertain the possibility that I’m the a–hole, I’m the one who’s got it wrong. And it’s always interesting just to consider that concept.

Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls
Where: Warfield, 982 Market St., S.F.
When: 7 p.m. June 17
Tickets: $39.50 to $50
Contact: (415) 345-0900, www.axs.com

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