“I’ve had a really strange run in my life with death. I’ve known it from a very early age. It must have been at the age of 9, when my best friend died. I had to deal with that. I come from a really big family and out of 8, I’m the 7th kid born. So I think from the time I was born, I was almost completely ignored which led to me doing bad things. Like breaking into places and burning things and I didn’t really know why. I guess looking back on it now, I must have been doing it for some kind of attention or something. Then again, that’s probably why I’m sat here now as a singer in a band.”
The singer in question is Ollie Cole. The band he fronts is TURN and that name probably means nothing to a lot of people. One day soon drownedinsound hypotheses it’ll be the name you will hear several times and even a whisper will be proceeded by hordes of people running to see them. Not that I’d wish that kind of torture by a mass people on anyone.
Turn, are one of them nu-skool rock bands. They don’t re-wrap what now seems like a sludge of grunge. They don’t borrow big beats and twist them into metal. They don’t even sound like Radiohead. What Turn are, is something that is quite simply, hard to pigeonhole. People are already brandishing words like ‘classic’ and ‘emotion players’ around them. Frankly, Turn are an honest three-piece with a guitar, somes drums and a bass plus meaningful vocals about love, life and other strife. The only info you really need to know is they come from Dublin and sometimes, there is a little bitter pinch of darkness in the atmosphere surrounding them – but we can’t all be happy all the time and who doesn’t have issues. As you'll find from the rest of this article, there is a lot more to Turn than three lads who go around getting drunk and banging out a few tunes.
“Anyway a few years later on a bus coming home to Dublin and I was the only person on the bus and the bus driver knocked down two people and killed them in the middle of nowhere. The driver, he was freaking out, he was balling and crying and collapsing on the ground and everything. I was only 15 and there was two people just lying on the ground; dead. It was pouring with rain and it was the middle of nowhere. And then at 19, I was walking across the road and this old man walked out in front of a car and got killed right in front of me, I saw it all happen, right under my nose,” continues Ollie, recalling moments that changed his life.
“Then a few years ago, I got this tremendous electric shock and that changed me forever. Tha' was around the beginning of Turn as well. I’d kinda thought about putting together a band and all that. I was rehearsing, just meself and Gavin from Turn, so we must of just started or something like that. Anyway, something had happened with my amp, the earth wire had come out. I didn’t really know that anything was wrong, so I carried on playing the guitar and then I put of my hand to pull the microphone stand closer to me and I was holding the guitar at the same time and it just fucking stuck to me! I could not let go of it. It was absolutely terrifying. It burnt all my fingers and they’re still scarred. It was so mad, I could see all the electricity leaving the tips of my fingers. I couldn’t talk. I looked at Gavin and he thought I was joking, so he was laughing. What’s really strange tho’ is I can see it like I was watching from another place in the room, like I can see the expression on me face. I ended up being rushed to hospital. I must have been in shock [laughs], but I went to see a gig the next night and everything. People kept asking me if I was alright and I felt really fine. But the next day, I was walking along and I had a breakdown. I sat down on the pavement and I was crying my eyes out, without really knowing what was going on. Then I sorta lost it.”
From these three snapshots, I hope you’re inside of the mind of Mr.Cole. I guess you think he’s walking on the darkside and by listening to their music, you could get that impression too. But with Turn it seems like there is never a dull moment and they’re certainly not shoegazers. Plus Ollie sure can tell a story, must be that folky Irish blood running through his veins. The tale continues like this: “I’d been going out with the same girl for five years and we knew it wasn’t going anywhere and I ended up splitting up with her. I then quit me job and grabbed Gavin and Ian and said, 'let’s just do it!' Then we started really working as a band, wearing suits and playing really hard. The strange thing was, Gavin and Ian had just come out of a relationship as well. There was just this sense that the three of us had absolutely nothing and that was about all we had in common. We didn’t have any friends, we didn’t have any commitment, we had Turn and that was it. But it’s a good thing, it’s one of the reasons we’ve got such a strong bond,” and that is why Turn exist. Collective nothingness, is what has created this currently unknown quantity!
So why this name? “There’s no story behind the name unfortunately. We just never had a name and the first gig we did was in a prison where we didn’t really need a name to play. And then the next gig, we got offered was support to Teenage Fanclub. The people who were doing the posters, said they needed a name. So we were just standing in the room looking at each other. I wanted to call the band Evil Ken Evil and millions of things, but everything I thought of Ian and Gavin didn’t like. Turn was the only thing everybody could agree on. I’m still not mad about it, it’s got a bit of a life of its own now really tho’, it doesn’t really mean anything, it’s just means us.”
“Now” is two years down the line from the original inception of singer/guitar Ollie, bassist Gavin Fox and drummer Ian Melady. Ollie is sat backstage, in a room vacated by the Hundred Reasons crew, in Exeter University. This is the second night of Turn's tour in support to noise kings iDLEWiLD. The band are riding high. Their debut album ‘Anti-social’ hit the shops this week and it’s one of those cds that I can’t keep out of my cd player. Their mini album ‘Check my ears’ was the bands first major release after a few limited edition 7”s. The debut wax was a real exertion of emotion. ‘Facedown’ was the the title and if that doesn’t link back to this death stuff, I don’t know what metaphorical world you live in. Ollie expands, “Facedown is more about the electric shock thing because when that happened to me, my shoulder got really badly dislocated. I couldn’t sleep and as I said, that girl left me,” hence the line “I sleep though my arms broken”. Facedown however, is “about that particular week. It just kinda flowed when I wrote it. I seem to write most songs like this, I’m either really, really tired or I’m in kind of a bad way. Or if you smoke grass or something, it really helps to get you to a state where you’re just playing your guitar and you’re singing but not necessarily thinking about what’s coming out of your mouth. If you can do it right you completely separate yourself from your conscious or really from yourself. This is how I write most songs. Like with Facedown we were at practice and I was just singing without any thought. I went home and listened to the tape and wrote down the lyrics. It’s like I almost need a drama or a tragedy going on to write.”
…and like all good tragedies, Ollie’s songs play with your thoughts and help to put that ‘why does this only happen to me’ state of mind to rest. This is not an accident. “I hope that you can read the lyrics, listen to the songs and think of little snapshots of your life. Hopefully, it’ll trigger a something in your mind. Probably not something you’ll normally talk about, cus y’know there are loads of things we never talk about and I believe our music channels into that. I hope if someone is feeling really bad or whatever, they can hear one of our songs and they know they’re not the only one who has ever felt like that.” This is so true. If you’ve ever had your heart torn from your chest and felt the hyperbolic metaphorical tearing of it, then you can feel that pain reflected on the Turn CD. If you’ve ever felt totally lost, you can see the same confusing map escalating from the Turn stage too. There are many other things that they seem to mirror but seek and you shall see what I mean.
Oh, hang on Ollie wasn’t finished. “Also, I hope it’s really honest and easy to relate to.” Although honesty is something we’re short of in this society. Take Rupert Murdoch, he’s got his finger in just about everything, including the Mushroom record group. Mushroom own Infectious that signed Turn. “I’m not a big fan of Capitalists,” laughs Ollie. “I don’t really know enough about him to totally run him into the ground. I realise he makes a lot of his money it from media based things. When we signed to Infectious, he took over the company a week or maybe two weeks later. He bought if off Korda. You have to admire Korda Marshall, he owns Infectious and still runs it now. He started Infectious records and signed Ash for £6,000 or something. That was all he had. He sold it to Mr.Murdoch for ten million or something, so he did alright for himself.” Ollie sighs and pauses for a few seconds, this is the first time in about half an hour this conversation has slowed. It is such a rare thing to speak to someone in a band who actually wants to talk and express themselves - it’s also much easier for me :o)
Anyway, re-composed the Irish tones continue to flow, “…but y’know you have to have your principles. Like there’s no point refusing to put out a record or something stupid. Gain some power and stuff; then think more about principles because if we talk out about something now, nobody's gonna listen, so it doesn’t really matter. I hope that we will do things, it’s very important for us to do some good. This is such a stupid job to be in for yourself. To want to be a rock star or to want to be famous or something like that, seems just bad, like you need to do well by making great records. I’d like to do much more, do some good somewhere.”
What sort of good? “Well, we were going to put some info inside our album and stuff like that, but we were having trouble agreeing. I plan to use the website to do it in the future though because I feel really strongly about food and western medicines. I read up a lot on stuff like that. Like that Genetically Modified food where they’ve made margarine with chemicals. It actually damage your DNA and it’s proved it’s damaging to you. It’s clear that we’re not supposed to take this stuff in. I hate the fact that people make so much money off stuff like this and they know it’s wrong but because it’s such a big business they feel that they can’t change or compromise. Things are slowly starting to change but people need more information. The only reason I know stuff like that is because I went out and tried to find it on the Internet and in books and stuff. It wasn’t easy. There’s this guy called Doctor Wild who writes books and he’s really good.” Drownedinsound is hoping to speak to Ollie again to do a feature on this.
If by now you don’t want to run out and buy the album, here’s a bit more about the band…
DiS: Musical Influences?
"Er, wide and varied, I suppose. Starting when I was young it was like AC/DC, Black Sabbath all those kinds of things and then I had a really cheesy stage of listening to terrible music like Bon Jovi, that kinda thing and I got into Guns’n’roses, who I still think are amazing. Then I met someone with some sense who gave me, proper records like the Pixies and that just changed everything I knew about music. When I first heard the Pixies, I was like, ‘ok, so you can do that’. I can remember where I was when I heard the Pixies, it was on the tv as well ‘this monkey has gone to heaven’ and I was like, ‘what the fuck is that, that is just brilliant.’ I suppose it was kinda the same with Nirvana ‘smells like teen spirit’ and can remember the first time I heard that, I was like ‘oh my god, that’s fucking genius’. After that I stage I started listening to really classic songwriters like Neil Young, Tom Waits, Elvis Costello and people like that. At the moment I really like Elliot Smith, he’s just a genius, he’s the best songwriter alive at the moment, so I aspire to that these days."
DiS: Non-musical influences?
"Lots of things. I’m big into architecture and design. I don’t read up on it or anything . Definitely I’m some kind of design freak. If I wasn’t doing music I’d be doing some kind of design thing. For some reason, I really admire good furniture and things that are designed well. I really appreciate things like that. And Books, I read as much as I can, but in all fairness I’ve been quite lazy, I’ve not read properly in about a year. I like books like Ian Banks and John Irvine, I read quite a few of their books. John Irvines stuff was the first major thing I’d read that that wasn’t a Stephen King or something like that, cus I read all them. I guess Clothes as well, I can’t ever afford anything like that. I was never into Cars or Soccer or anything like that. I guess I just like really well designed practical things, even with our album and our singles, we always try and do different things with design. Like on one our singles, the CD went in backwards so you could read turn through the back of the CD. I do all that. I do all the artwork too, I really enjoy doing stuff like that."
DiS: Is too much make-up about hatred of goths?
[laughter] "No, it’s definitely not. That was another song that I just wrote that completely flew from the top of my head. I don’t really have a clue what it’s all about. I think it’s about this girl I’d seen and she was really gorgeous and I was mad about her and we never anything, she wasn’t up for it really. Like she did actually look too good but she was trying all the time and I think that annoyed me as much as I thought she looked good and I was thinking don’t try so hard and you’ll seem a nicer person. I suppose it’s really about beauty, which is hidden. I guess I was saying that make-up is a facade that made her so sexy or pretty or whatever..."
So they may not know exactly what their songs are about, which therefore makes it your challenge to work them it out. And we all love fun and games.
In conclusion, I think you’ll be hearing a lot more about Turn, so get in there early and be the smart arse who talks endlessly about seeing the band before they started playing stadiums, world tours, etc... I can see that as the future for Turn, maybe we’ll see the world flipped upside down too?
Turns debut album 'Anti-social' is OUT NOW.
Visit their website @ www.turn.ie