Turbonegro Party Animals

Turbonegro Party Animals
A lot has been said about Norwegian rock gods Turbonegro. Once they were one of the craziest bands going, with a hardcore denim-clad fan base unlike any other — and then came Hank Von Helvete’s drug problem and their four-year hiatus. When they returned, Turbonegro were the same crazy band, but with a much more accessible, balls-to-the-wall rock’n’roll sound that abandoned the speedy "death punk” sound they had honed. Party Animals, their sixth album proper, moves even further away from death punk and into full-on, glam-tinged, arena rock. With a slick sheen covering the crisp ’70s era metallic riffs (courtesy of producer Steven McDonald of Redd Kross fame), Turbonegro have moved one step closer to their ultimate rock’n’roll destiny. Every song, from "Blow Me (Like the Wind)” to "Hot Stuff/Hot Shit,” is packed with enough pompous T&A tomfoolery and irrepressible pop hooks it’s hard not to laugh at how good they are at what they do. No doubt, a good number of their original fans will question their pursuit of commercial success and lose interest in the cock-rock direction they traded in death punk for. But one look at this band and one listen to this album should be enough to know that world domination is in their sights and they now have the tunes to move ahead with their plans.

What happened to your deal with Epitaph in North America? Bassist Happy Tom: They said that they believe in helping bands that help themselves, so they didn’t really want to put an effort into our band. They just don’t know what to do with a great band, such as ours. We’re not in band to please record label moguls in Los Angeles.

Abacus seems like an unlikely choice for Turbonegro. Our fanclub president advised us to do it, so we did.

What made you decide to use a producer and why did you choose Steven McDonald? We’ve always produced ourselves and figured if you need a producer you need someone to wipe your ass. But we sat down and we thought we should try one for the hell of it. We were playing a festival and then this skinny guy with glasses came into our dressing room and said, "You don’t know who I am, but I’m Steven McDonald and I’d like to produce your next record.” And we said, "We know very well who you are.” And since the guy had the nerve to ask we just thought we’d do it. We wanted this record to be the unholy trinity of bubblegum rock, punk rock and hard rock and that’s basically Steve’s background.

Did you have any preconceptions as to what this album should sound like? We thought Party Animals should sound like a guy with really bad skin, really high on Quaaludes stabbing another guy with a switchblade and blowing bubblegum bubbles at the same time in some Southern Californian suburb in 1979.

Do you still consider your sound to be death punk? Death punk is our own genre, but when you tell people it’s death punk it sounds almost gothic and we don’t want anything to do with something that’s gothic. We now call our music super rock.

Euroboy stated that the band wrote this album’s 11 songs all as hits… A lot of bands record an album and there are only two songs that are gonna be great and the rest is filler. It’s sort of like an environmentalist saying, "If you’re gonna cut down all the trees for the record sleeve, it just has to be really good.”

How do you react to the reviews and those who feel you guys aren’t the same band you were before your hiatus? I don’t know what they expect. I’ve seen a couple of reviews where they say we’re trying to be arena rock and we always wanted to be arena rock.

Do you still view the band as a parody like you did when you formed? It’s like this joke at being true. We never really took ourselves seriously but we take rock’n’roll seriously and I think that’s kind of the key to our magic. A lot of other bands are really pretentious in an unpretentious way. We’re just pretentious. Period. We’re just dicks. We’re just cocks. (Abacus)