IT'S GOOD TO BE BACK !!
author: Tom Jaded of Mohawk Distribution, Austria
Tom's interview with Euroboy was done on the 8th of may, 2003 right before Turbonegro's show at The Garage in Glasgow, Scotland.
The original english language version was later published in issue # 26 of German fanzine 3rd Generation Nation. A german translation of this interview can found on the Mohawk Distribution site right here !!
Tom MD: How went the shows in the States? I read in LA you had to play two gigs at one evening because the tickets sold out in 5 minutes !!
Euroboy: Yeah, that's right, the US-tour was amazing. We opened up for the "Queens of the Stone Age" which is probably the best rock'n'roll band in the world right now. It's a lot like being on tour with Led Zeppelin or the Rolling Stones in the early 70's. You know, that's the first tour after years. So, everyone was really hungry and there was a great party every night.
Tom MD: Have you played mainly for the headliner fans or were Turbonegro fans also there?
Euroboy: I was surprised so many Turbo fans showed up. It was not like we have to win over the "Queens" crowd every night, because, there was Turbojugend coming from everywhere. From Mexico, from Canada, from the Westcoast to the Eastcoast, from the Eastcoast to the Westcoast and so on. The Turbonegro fans a very faithful, they are really supporting. And we, ya know, also won over the "Queens" audience every night. We were like kind of even.
Tom MD: What's your definition of "tour-rage"? You prefer blasting hotel rooms like Keith Moon or other experiments?
Euroboy: On the Queens tour we partied a lot. We had a lot of fun. It's really no problem. I have nothing to watch all about. Well, I mean, so far I've been on tour for like 6 weeks and I wake up in a different city every day and all I have to do is like promote our album, do interviews like this, play for 1.5 hours every night and I love playing the guitar, that's what I'm best at. Finally we actually getting paid.
I mean, Keith Moon & The Who, they were like crazy working-class kids from England, suddenly becoming multi-millionaires, but still touring and touring years for years, playing "Tommy", playing "Rock-like-Rock", criss-crossing the states. They probably letting up some steam.
Tom MD: Not like Turbonegro?
Euroboy: Well y'know, we can also be pretty wild. But we don't destroy the hotelroom, we destroy ourselves.
Tom MD: Different towns, same stupid questions, yeah? Let's get to the point: What for, you are in Turbonegro again? Money, girls, boys (??), fun, fame,...?
Euroboy: We broke up by accident. We had to put down the band because over Hank's mental health. He was an heroin-addict, he was really depressed and he was schizophrenic. So we didn't see the point of finding a new singer, because he was such a strong frontman. We couldn't replace him. We also had a really bad record contract with Boomba Records. They didn't support us at all. I mean we were struggling for a long time and we were really tired and then in Milano, in Italy 1998, Turbonegro pretty much ended in the waiting room of a psychiatric ward. We have to got home in the middle of a sold-out tour and we lost a lot of money. And then Hank went away to northern Norway for 4 years. And during this time the band just grew. Without a hit-song, without a video on MTV or without a record-company pushing us, it was just a word-on-mouth thing. It was all about because the "Apocalypse Dudes" was such a good album. It became a classic and it's still selling. It's been slowly selling for years.
So, we just realized that we have so many new fans, younger fans, who never got the chance to see us, because they were too young. And there were Turbonegro chapters starting up all around the globe. So we got an offer to play some really nice festivals in Scandinavia last year and we decided, it would be a fun-thing to do. Just play for the new fans, who didn't get the chance to see us in the first place. Then we did the shows and it was a lot of fun.
It sounded really good, it sounded even better than it did in 1998 when we quit. We listened to the radio-broadcast of the show and compared to 1998, it was so much better. So it was like "being away from the band for 4 years" gave us a really strong focus on what was good about Turbonegro. And what was bad about Turbonegro. and we really just purified our art. And then we got offers from all the major-labels in the whole world. There are not many of them, I guess it's just four. It's still like that, like last year every Scandinavian guitar-band got signed to a major-label. We really didn't believe in that, so we decided to go for Swedish Indie "Burning Heart" because those guys have the same musical background and they have been Turbo fans for years, some of them have Turbonegro tattoos and stuff. So, I mean if you sign to a major and the A&R guy who signs you loses his job or get a new job after 6 months. Then there is nobody to look after you anymore.
Tom MD: How did it happen that you came together again? Was it like a telephone call like "wanna play again"?
Euroboy: I mean, we are friends outside the band as well. We spend a lot of time together socially in Oslo and we go on vacation together and work together. Our lifes seem to meet on so many levels. Tom and Chris used to play with the "Oslo Motherfuckers" for a short time, I have a studio in Oslo, where I record and produce local bands. I just did an album with a band called Amulet. It's a good album, you can detect some Turbo influences but it's a bit more Hardcore and more emotional.
Tom MD: Are there all of the "Dudes" members on board or has anything changed in the line-up?
Euroboy: Yeah, same line-up. That was one of the premises. If it wasn't the same line-up, we wouldn't have done it.
Tom MD: Do you know the funny story about that Turbonegro reunion where Robbie Williams was at the casting rehearsal? It had been some kind of fake in a german fanzine. Do you think Robbie would do a good job?
Euroboy: I never heard about it, but I mean, he's a gay rock'n'roller, so why not?
Tom MD: What have all the members been doing since you split up? Other bands, jobs?
Euroboy: We got some really intelligent people in the band. Some of us have really good jobs, like Tom used to work for National TV and he has a humour-site on the Web, which is like the norwegian version of the "Onion", a famous American humour-site and then he works as a market-analyst. And Rune, the oldest member in the band, he has his own Independent label with which he works for Universal Music. Chris used to work at his dad's record company and he was working in bars for a while and he's playing with me in The Euroboys. I was in The Euroboys the whole time and did a lot of studio and production work. Pål shut down "Pamparius Pizza" to get a film and TV education. Hank was in the north of course and just recovering.
And actually I have to mention the "Oslo Motherfuckers" which is Tom's and Chris' sideproject. They just recorded some songs for fun and when I heard the "Oslo Motherfuckers" songs, it was like: Tom invited me down to his kitchen in his apartment. So we sat there in his kitchen and had a few beers and he played me the songs and I said "hey, these are really cool songs but it's not very well played or arranged and produced". So I said, if those songs are Turbo songs we have enough for half an album. I clearly heard what it would have been if Turbo played these songs…. And then we got drunk and went out in the town and talked a lot about getting the band together again. It's been in our minds on and on and last year the time was right.
Tom MD: What do you feel on stage after that break? Is it like you've never walked off or do you feel more nostalgic?
Euroboy: I know it's a cliché but it's a kind of like you never walked off. It's like what Pål, the guitarplayer said "it's like put down the guitar for a couple of years and then pick it up again". Everybody who had ever been in the band had probably the same feeling. It's a very exiting chemistry, because Turbonegro has got a really good sound and I played the Turbo songs with other bands and sometimes a band invites me up on the stage to do a Turbo song, but nothing sounds like Turbo. There's something about our sound, we sound bigger, heavier, louder, more powerful.
Tom MD: How have you come together? Have you grown up together in the same town?
Euroboy: Actually it was Pål, Tom and Chris, they are from the same Oslo suburb, the region where all the original Norwegian Black Metal comes from. Very dark, very tough area.
Tom MD: What was it like, growing up in oslo? Actually, are you from Oslo too?
Euroboy: No, I'm far from an hour from Oslo. I actually grew up in the country side close to the woods.
Tom MD: What's the best thing living in Norway? What's the worst?
Euroboy: I just enjoy Oslo very much, because it's kind of a small scene. Everybody knows each other. That could be sometimes frustrating but also it's kind of cool. I've been living in Oslo since 1993. That's almost 10 years and the city is not big, alright, I know it inside out. What I like most about Norway is that it is my home. But Oslo is a bit different from Norway. The worst thing about it is basic things like eating and drinking are very expensive. It's like even going to McDonalds is considered to going to a restaurant.
Tom MD: Who came up with the name Turbonegro and what's its deeper meaning? (if there is one anyhow)
Euroboy: I think Pål saw it spray-painted on a brick wall in a tube-station in a suburb of Oslo back in the day. It's actually two latin words, it means fast and black and we thought that was a cool name for a band. Because our music is very fast and very dark. And also, it's a name for a colour. In the car-industry, it's the name for the paint, for the darkest paint. If you want to paint your car black, the most black colour of all is "Turbonegro".
Tom MD: Who created the style? I mean the jeans, the sailor cap, the german sheperd, make-up, the homosexual attitude?
Euroboy: In the early days there was no image. The band just jumped from concept to concept, from show to show. One day they painted their faces with shoe-crème and put afros on the head. I also saw them in black fascist uniforms once…. They had no image in the early days. A lot of the guys are really straight, they look almost like civil cops. I think what happened was that they were allowed to play some squats in Germany, but they didn't have the dread locks and the chains and the bullshit punk fashion. They just came out of the tourbus or the van, wearing the goretex and oilskin-jackets, sailor-shoes and trainees and the owners of the clubs were like "no way, you can't play here, you're too straight". So they just sat down and said "okay, we're too straight, we'll give you something else! We'll give you gay!"
And also, the band is from the same region of the Black Metal bands. And at that time the Black Metal bands were burning down churches and stuff. So, we thought "how the hell can we be tougher than those guys? What's the only thing that those guys are afraid of? That is of course HOMOS!" It's like "oh no, Rob Halford from Judas Priest is gay! Oh I cry!" And also all rock bands in general, there's something homo-erotic about the idea of a rock band. Guys playing together, sleeping on top of each other in the bus, being sweat in the backstage, wearing almost nothing at all… not wearing nothing at all. It's a very stupid image, but it's also kind of genius.
Tom MD: What have been the main influences in music and style? I mean, on the Apocalypse Dudes LP I am looking in a beared Alice Cooper makeup and hear tunes from Dictators ...
Euroboy: The main influence is probably early American punkrock and hardcore. Especially bands like Circle Jerks and Black Flag. Happy Tom has been playing in punk bands for 22 years and that was the kind of music he listened to when he was in his early teens. He had two Black Flag t-shirts, so he can wear one every day.
For me, I was more like a Ramones-kid, with the haircut, the sneakers, the torn jeans. I was a big fan of 60's garage-rock and later on classic rock like The Who, Rolling Stones. And we're of course huge Stooges fans like everybody who loves music. There is a lot of influences in there I guess, Ramones, Black Flag, Alice Cooper and The Stooges, that's the main influences.
Tom MD: What do you tell someone who says "you're a boring band who plays music like it had been played a thousand times before"?
Euroboy: I just think that a lot of bands these days, guitar-bands, they have the same influences. Yeah, like I said, we're influenced by Stooges and Black Flag. That's one thing to say! It's easy to say that. And a lot of those bands, they try very hard to sound like these bands. But you know, they don't get it quite right. They don't get the same magic.
I think Turbo is a kind of different band, because there's a lot of music-lovers in this band. A couple of the guys played punkrock for a very long time. Chris is a DJ. I'm a bit of a record collector and I work as producer in the studio. And I just feel like, we know a lot about music, we love music, we've heard a lot of good music and we're a kind of sucked into it. So, we can come up with something that is as good as our influences. With Turbo it is like, you don't have to talk about being retro or not, because songs like "Get it on" or " I've got erection" are like modern folkmusic. Ther're instant rock-classics. It's as good as a Ramones-tune or a Dictators-tune.
Tom MD: Who does the songwriting job? Who the lyrics?
Euroboy: Usually it all starts with riffs. We're just playing around at rehearsals with new riffs and have a new riff and we play it and than we just leave it and check over the next one. And suddenly everybody look after each other and say "yeah, this is the shit, this is really great". And than we just record and leave it and there we got same basic song ideas on the tapes. And then we take it into the studios and make songs out of it. Usually, Tom is the poet. He writes most of the lyrics.
Tom MD: Not Hank?
Euroboy: No, he fills in and he writes something, but Tom is the main lyricist in the band. I am usually more like the arranger, the producer. It's a very cool process.
Tom MD: What had caused your musical change from lo-fi fuckpunk to those high-produced rockin' tunes?
Euroboy: I don't know, I think the intention was never to be lo-fi at all it was just that in the early days, they had no money and so they have to record the songs very quick and with bad recording equipment. When I joined I was interested in recording and producing and I built up my own studio for the last couple of years. I think I know how to get the right sound from Turbonegro now.
Tom MD: Have you produced the new album?
Euroboy: Yeah, me and the band !!
Tom MD: How would you describe the new album to someone who hasn't listened? The same vein as Apocalypse Dudes or ... ???
Euroboy: I would call it the "most destructive party-record you've ever heard". It makes you wanna destroy with a smile on your face..…That's a good description, isn't it?
Tom MD: And what about the others? Can you give me a short personal review to them? I know you've joined later but tell me your point of view about them.
Euroboy: I only played the last two albums, but I was a huge Turbo fan before. I was 8th grade in school, when I got their first 7", the "Route zero" single. And during the lunch break we ran home to one of the guys in class who lived nearby the school and we listened to it during the lunch break. And the rest of the day, I was really influenced. I had a lot of music in my head, walking home from school was like, I walk there, 5 meters behind there've been my friends! I was thinking about music all the time and trying to memorize that turbo-track.
Then we bought their records and kept a close eye on Turbo for a couple of years. And then we were old enough to go to Oslo to see them live. At that time they were a really nasty band, kind of dangerous. It was the most dangerous rock band I could think of in those days. It was like GG Allin, but kind of intellectual GG Allin. There was something very scary about it because both, the chain punks and the university professors were on their shows "going bananas"… sometimes I was up front and the old singer caught my face. Tom was playing drums at that time and he was like throwing his drum-sticks at the audience, sometimes hitting in the face. It was really wild in those days, and the music was very aggressive, that's where the term death-punk comes from. It was punkrock with a lot of a death-metal-thing about it.
Then the singer got cancer and he had to leave. He's alive and well now, don't worry. So they got Hank because Hank was quite a cool Oslo character at that point. He had a radio show called "Nihilistic one-man front". He was on the death-list of the neonazis in Norway. He used to be when he had that radio show cause he made so much fun of them. When Hank joined, they become a bit more melodic and started to write more dynamic songs. Like "Time bomb" and that "Never Is Forever" stuff. And the band started to put in some classic rock influences. You know, on "Never Is Forever" there's a lot of acoustic guitar. I think they were trying to sound a lot like "Don't fear the reaper", that song by Blue Oyster Cult. The "Never Is Forerver" album sounds like 12 re-writes of that song. For that scene, that really didn't work, that emotional, kind of emotional and desperate, folky punkrock of "Never Is Forever".
They became more the change to more classical hard-punk again with "Ass Cobra". That was a really smart move. But when the album came out, the band went to pieces again. They were in the early to mid-20's, and in that age somebody has to go abroad studying, somebody don't wanna be in a band for the rest of his life, people going in an alcohol-time, so the band went to pieces again but the record was gaining some popularity. They were offered to play some really good festival shows then. So Tom came to me and asked me if I would join as a substitute for Pål for a couple of shows.
Tom MD: Have you known each other?
Euroboy: Yeah, we used to play in a band at the same time called "The Vikings" with Steve Baise, bass player of New York band The Devil Dogs. Me and Tom, we knew each other very well. We also wrote "Good head" together, when we were in The Vikings. That was the first time we combined Turbonegro sound with some classic rock elements like a guitar-solo and "ohohoho-o", that sing-a-long stuff. And, you know, that song was just dynamite. It worked very well when we played it live and we used to end the shows with it. So, when I joined Turbo, we decided to bring that song into the set-list. That was like the starting point for where Turbo are today.
Tom MD: What do you think of those tribute album "Alpha Motherfuckers" released on Bitzcore Records?
Euroboy: I listened to it a couple of times. I think it's cool, when I hear in the bar or something. I don't really listen to it much at home anymore. One thing is, that too many of the songs are too straight covers. So there is not really anything interesting about them. But I think there are a couple of good ones like the Satyricon cover version of "Erection". I like that. I think the Queens of the Stone Age version is good, because their singers style is so crazy. I love his voice. And than Bela B and Blümchen, and I also think Him is pretty cool. I'm not a big goth-fan, but there's something about, I like… I don't know.
Tom MD: Are you in touch with the Hell's Angels or is the simple HA-philosophy "Fuck the world" the only conformity you have with them?
Euroboy: We don't have any connections to Hell's Angels. Like FTW, that's Hell's Angels brand. But "Fuck the world" that's a common think. I think it's been strange enough with Hell's Angels in Hamburg, because they just wondered what the jackets are all about with the Turbojugend logo. I don't really want that much attention around this issue, because it's kind of dangerous stuff, so if you can leave it out, that's really cool.
Tom MD: What's all about this Turbojugend thing? Some kind of a rock'n'roll sect?
Euroboy: Turbojugend started out as a joke. They just put Turbojugend Fanclub on an early record, that was more like a joke. Kiss have the Kiss Army and so Turbo should have the Turbo Navy. Some people sent in some money and said "I wanna be member". And then we met those guys in Hamburg who wanted to take over the fanclub and we said "go ahead, it's yours". It's to their credit. I don't know how they did it.