When you’re a fan of a genre, it’s generally because you found one band you fell head over heels in love with and you try desperately to find similar bands in order to discover new areas the sound can be brought to. My love for Irish music started with a truly legendary three piece from Kell’s, Co. Meath called, TURN.
The first time I saw Turn was in 2002 while the band were on a promotional tour for their latest single Another Year Over / Summer Song single. They were playing Rag Week with The Australian Nirvana as support. I remember having a week long debate with my friend Bob about who was supporting. How could some crappy little band no one’s ever heard off headline above Nirvana I wondered? Jesus, I was thick back then, hopefully I’ve lost that over the years. Well, it turned out Bob was right, Turn were headlining and I’ll never forget the last sight of the Nirvana tribute singer leaving the stage and three hundred people suddenly disappearing from the venue. What had been an over crowed grunge indulgence fest, turned into an empty, sweat smelling room as the nights headliners started setting up their equipment. Bob filled me in on the few new facts he’d acquired about the band and you could see the excitement build in him. Never one to write something off before I see it for myself, I caught the buzz.
Oliver Cole’s small, thin frame is hardly imposing, even in a suit, but the man’s power as a lead singer is astonishing. Physically, Turn all looked about the same height and weight, leading many first time viewers with a few laughs up their sleeves (you have to remember Lord of the Rings was still everywhere). There’s nothing as frustrating of realizing you’re watching a truly incredible band and not knowing any of their songs, Turns music pulled me in so fast, it was hard to stop it. Songs like Beeswax, Antisocial, Beretta, Too Much Makeup, Queen of My Heart and In Position are greatest songs any Irish band of the last twenty / thirty years. Turn embodied the raw, brute force of rock n roll, while still maintaining a powerful grasp of melody and beauty. Everything flowed so well and around every corner there was a surprise. I instantly became a dedicated fan, very rare for me to latch onto new bands….up until that point anyway.
Turn quickly became the number band of my college years. I stayed with them over four years going to ever show possible, buying every single album, single, ep or vinyl I could get my hands on. I saw them play with Bell X1, Mundy, Paddy Casey, Weezer, The Frank and Waters and .many, many more I saw them play Oxegen, Merion Square, The Village, The Temple Bar Music Centre, McGarrigles Pub, Collera House, Whelan’s, Vicar Street, The Point Depot, The Sligo Rocks Festival, NUI Maynooth and the Left Bank. I think I got to about 20/30+ shows all together, sometimes to going to three a week. I managed to get to two album launches and get to know each member and their tour manager well enough to have a drink with. I watched them lose Gavin and get Alan, only to lose Alan and replace him with Ciaran before Gavin rejoined the group again. I got to see them play some of the best songs I’ve ever heard in my life countless times.
Am I bragging with all that info? Nope, I’m listing all the truly thrilling things I got to do for the last four years of Turn’s existence. My previous favourites included Guns N’ Roses, Def Leppard, Oasis, Nirvana, Blur, Meat Loaf, Megadeth, Slayer, Cradle of Filth, Sepultura and Metallica. Not exactly touchable bands. But here was this amazing band, that were Irish and easy to go and see. Not touring once every ten years or past their prime. More bands fell into my heart after Turn, including The Future Kings of Spain, Bell X1, The Frames, Berkeley, Indigo Fury, Paddy Casey, Wilt and many more. I couldn’t believe that I’d been so unaware of the Irish talent that swarms this country. There were so many unique acts that all formulated their own defining sound. They could make you mosh / pogo / sleep / dance or rock out, all on the same album at times.
2006 marked the end for Turn. The lack of success, internal issues and record company fuck up’s that hounded the band all the way through their career, finally caught up with the members and over-whelmed them. The band simply disappeared after initially hinting at a final tour before the split, something that sadly, never materialized.
Three years on(well, 2 and a bit), and the members have all moved on. Ian moved home to raise a family, Ollie has recorded enough material for over three solo albums which he’s hoping to have out this year while Gavin Fox has gone on to form another exciting band in the heart of its prime, Concerto For Constantine. Things look grim for any hopes of revival in the near future and honestly, there are good things to come from the individual projects that should be heard before they ever consider a reunion.
Tickets There generally doesn’t condone reunions and objects to any legendary band cashing in their legacy’s and artist integrity for a few easy bucks and hamper any chance of a respectful future or musical advancement, but if Turn did reunite for a jaunt, I’d be there.