All Photos Courtesy of Pooneh Ghana.
You’re a little overwhelmed right now. It’s probably because work has been tough, the air conditioner at home is about to give up the ghost, your Nana is mad because you don’t call enough or maybe it’s that money is dumb, but you need it to live and the back window of your car is being held up with a plastic fork. Whatever the reason, there are moments in life where it seems like everything is breaking down at once. In these situations, the only thing you can control is how you react. It seems like the guys from Turbo Fruits had heard this same advice before they recorded their latest album No Control. The album deals with some heavy themes (lost love, addiction, and death) but Instead of allowing the difficulty of being a human here on Earth to crush them like a meteorite from outer space…they stood up, instruments in hand and shouted into the darkness “SHOW ME SOMETHING REAL!”
Nashville’s Turbo Fruits have released their fourth album No Control. I loved the band’s 2012 release Butter for guitar-hook-driven tracks like “Harley Dollar Bill$” That song is about jumping on a motorcycle and leaving your problems behind. Nearly every track on No Control is about staying put & dealing with your problems in the most rocking way possible. Recently, I was able to get ahold of the band to answer a few questions about dealing with difficult subject matter in songwriting, getting some help from Pat Carney of The Black Keys for a couple tracks, Zydeco bands, and Tom Petty.
A: Getting older is strange. Not that I feel old at 27 but I started touring at age 17. It’s easy to write about having a good time at a young age.. It’s your job to have a good time. It’s your job to have a good time all of the time. That said, as we age, we get hit with more real life experience. Being in a band gives us an outlet to write about shit that may be uncomfortable to talk about in person. It’s therapeutic. We are real people with real problems. Fortunately and unfortunately, having problems in life helps inspire people to create. We created No Control under the influence of heartache, death, sadness, and other general growing pains.
Q: So many of the songs on No Control deal with love and relationships…When I was in fourth grade, I chased Missy Baron through a swingset and ended up with a broken front tooth. Lesson learned. Did you learn anything about love or relationships while writing this album?
A: Yes. I learned that life goes on and everything is going to be okay. Pain passes with time and good friends. We can’t totally create our own destiny.. Take what you got and make the best out of it. There are plenty of other compatible significant others out there for you. In the meantime, enjoy life to the fullest.
Q: I’ve never had to endure the loss of a sibling, and so I cannot even imagine. Would you be willing to share a little bit more about the song “Brother” or your brother in particular? What was he like?
A: My brother passed away just before my 12th birthday. He was at basketball practice at Warren Wilson College in North Carolina. He was running the last sprints of the day and his heart gave out instantly. He was doing what he loved. He was 8.5 years older than me. Always super protective and pretty inclusive, given my age. He taught me how to curse, he taught me how to fight, and he turned me on to good music at a young age.
Q: Some people have referred to No Control as more “real” or “mature” than previous releases. Personally it just shows me that you write about real life. Any thoughts on that?
A: That’s pretty spot on. We kinda let go and we let whatever was really happening rise up to the surface. It’s pretty exhausting writing about real life shit but in the end it feels good. It feels refreshing.. Like you got somethin off your chest.
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A: Not sure about total closure but it definitely helps ease the pain. As I said earlier, it’s therapeutic to write about issues you’re dealing with.
Q: I really love the bands you’ve toured with…Such a great one-two punch for audiences. Have you ever considered touring with groups that may be WAY outside of your genre? I mean, why aren’t more people touring with Zydeco bands?
A: We’ve recently had the pleasure of touring with a band that is outside of our genre. Hard Working Americans. (Attention! The amazing Todd Snider is apart of this band) They are amazing people and an amazing band. It’s a blast touring with a band who has a different audience than we do… it’s kind of a challenge to win the audience over. After a couple of nights you start to figure out what works and doesn’t work. I’m up for playing with whomever (to an extent) and rolling with the punches.
Q: You guys obviously have a very do it your dang self approach (self-releasing music, organizing shows on a cruise ship, teaching people how to forage for food on YouTube) Where did that entrepreneurial spirit come from?
A: I started playing live shows at age 14.. We always had to do everything ourselves.. Go to shows, meet promoters, tell promoters I had a band, convince them to let me open a show, write songs, make fliers, burn CDs, make covers, etc etc etc etc. It feels only natural to pay attention to everything we are involved with. Creating lots of content is important. People have short attention spans these days and it’s nice to have something else to look at or listen to as often as possible. The entrepreneurial spirit comes from years of embracing the attitude of ‘oh, I can do that… I’m going to figure it out and do it’.
A: Kingsley (Brock) and Pat (Carney) became friends over the past couple of years.. Pat was aware of Turbo Fruits and had Kingsley show him some tracks of the album we were working on. At some point, before we got our album mastered, he asked about re-recording two tracks off of the album. We told him we didn’t have any money to fund it and so he was kind enough to pay for the studio time. It was truly a blast to work with him. We really look up to him.. He has had one hell of a career from beginning-present. He has our utmost respect.
Q: Did having someone else enter the studio so late in the process change the tone of the album at all?
A: Not so much. We were able to keep everything in line. It had been a while since we had played together before we went to re-record two songs but we were able to get it together and pull it off. Everything with Pat kinda happened very suddenly so we had to jump on the opportunity and make it work regardless of how much practice we had. Although, Kingsley and Jeremy Ferguson (producer) went back and remixed the other 9 songs to help everything match up, sonically.
Q: Finally, and most importantly…Do you have a favorite Tom Petty album?
A: I’m a sucker for Damn the Torpedoes!!!!!
You can find Turbo Fruits all over the Internet
Photographer, writer and music evangelist from Houston, TX. I work directly with a 10PC soul band as their social media consultant, photographer and digital promotions dude.