Published Jan 01, 2006Anyone who pays attention to popular music knows that there is no real blueprint for success in rock'n'roll. The fact that a group of denim-clad, sexually anarchic Norwegians is currently one of the hottest bands on the planet just drives this point home all the harder.
Broken up for almost four years, Turbonegro were drawn back into action by the still exponentially growing buzz of their 1998 album Apocalypse Dudes, their crushing punk rock symphony to ass-play. Their fanatical following has spread worldwide and their elite fan club, the Turbojugend (Turbo Youth), have claimed that not even the band themselves can stop them now. Bassist and founder Happy Tom, on tour in Sweden in support of their new Scandinavian Leather album, comments on the almost unprecedented loyalty of their following.
"It's great! Kiss had the Kiss Army the TurboJugend is our Navy." Playing to crowds who've likely never seen them, due to their ill-timed post-Dudes break-up, the band is headlining bigger venues than ever. "Now we're getting spoiled. We're playing the big halls in central Europe and the sports halls in Sweden and Norway. In the U.S. we got to play a bunch of shows with Queens of the Stone Age and people like [Circles Jerks founder] Keith Morris brought all our old records to be signed. There were also tons of people really into the band who never have seen the actual records, friends just had burned them copies. I don't know where it all came from, this huge interest from the underground. It just keeps growing."
Armed with a dynamite new record with the sonic bite they're finally getting famous for, Scandinavian Leather also offers more depth and variety than any previous outing. A string section and flute help add an 80s vibe to such instant classics as "Wipe It Till It Bleeds" and "FTW." "It's beautiful fanfares of negativity, destruction and freedom," Happy Tom says. "We knew that the new record was due to come out in 2003, so we thought it should be a combination of Detroit 1973, Los Angeles 1983 and Stalingrad 1943. The theme of three all connecting."
With the world seemingly eager for Turbonegro's plundering, what could possibly stop these dungaree-sporting anti-heroes? Well, perhaps death or dismemberment on the set of a new video.
"On the one that's out now, FTW,' which was shot in Romania, the raven that [guitarist] Rune Rebellion throws into the air died because it couldn't actually fly and it just hit the ground. Also, our singer Hank had a stunt double for a big fall who had to do it twice. He hit his head pretty bad on the second one and he had to go to the hospital. All the ballerinas from the video started crying and everything. It was a very death-punk moment." Things almost took a nasty turn on the shoot for "Sell Your Body (To The Night)," directed by Spike Jonze and featuring the cast of Jackass. "There was a grizzly bear in it who was very irritated and hungry. I think he was in the mood for some Scandinavian leather after a while. They kept feeding him marshmallows and I don't think he was too pleased with that."
What can Canada, a country virginal to Turbonegro's concert experiences, expect from the band? "It's all about health and fitness right now. It's kind of like Flashdance, but we call it Fleshdance. And we don't need any leg warmers, cause we already have hot legs."