Returning for the second time to raise their deathpunk monarch, Scandinavian rockers, Turbonegro are poised to re-claim their rightful thrown. Easily the most dangerous band in Rock 'n Roll today, the five-piece return after a four-year hiatus with a new record, "Scandinavian Leather" slatted for an April release. Preparing the way for the new album is the re-release of "Ass Cobra" (1996) and "Apocalypse Dudes," (1998) quintessential platters hailing the return of the denim clad heroes. High on the priority list for Epitaph's spring quarter, the records remind punk upstarts were their allegiance should lie.
Re-igniting interest won't be all that hard as the band have never strayed to far from the public's eye. 2001's release of the tribute "Alpha Motherfucker" proved that the quintet had reached cult status among their peers. Featuring bands like Nashville Pussy, Supersuckers, Queens Of The Stone Age, Zeke and Motorpsycho, the record dedicated its raw edge to the kings of the genre. Precursors to the Hellacopters, Gluecifer, Backyard Babies and many of today's Scandinavian bands, Turbonegro's trashy, hedonistic, decadent fun was the focus of their punk-metal assault.
The flame burned bright for the Olso, Norway natives through the '90s becoming an underground favorite after relentless tours across the US and Europe. They released “Hot Cars And Spent Contraceptives” (1992) and “Never Is Forever” (1994) before sticking critical fame with “Ass Cobra” and “Apocalypse Dudes.” Blending traces of punk with such influences as Alice Cooper, Quiet Riot, Motley Crue and Judas Priest,. Turbonegro's recordings were irreverent and over-the-top. Makeup stained singer extraordinaire Hank von Helvete lead guitarist Euroboy, bassist Happy-Tom, rhythm guitarist Rune Rebellion, keyboardist/percussionist Pal Pot Pamparius, and drummer Chris Summers were the reckless nomads that accosted every club along the way to fame.
Recorded between 1995 and 1996, “Ass Cobra” was Turbonegro's breakthrough to the American underground. The record marked a label change from Bitzcore to Sympathy For The Record Industry and paved the way for articulate riffs and harsh, loud guitars to be fused with a sinister wash of cymbals and bombastic rhythms all complementing a stellar, mature brand of songwriting. It is here, also, where Turbonegro developed their signature look (via the album’s cover). Taking on an almost Village People-like approach the five-piece adopted sailor caps, denim from head to toe, mustaches and a decidedly butch look to complete their image.
The song titles reflected said image in the bass-driven "The Midnight NAMBLA," the feedback fury of "I Got Erection," and the riff-heavy "Sailor Man." Securing a leather-whipped fury is the continuation of all things Motherfucker ‘Hobbit Motherfucker’, ‘Raggare Is A Bunch Of Motherfuckers’- the list goes on. Part humor, part truth, the dichotomy is left for the listener to wade through. Unrelenting is the crisp onslaught of adrenaline rock ‘Deathtime’, ‘Black Rabbit’, ‘Bad Mongo’ and the stellar ‘Denim Demon.’ The reissue comes with two MPEG videos for ‘Denim Demon’ and ‘The Midnight NAMBLA.’
Unbeknownst to the band, “Apocalypse Dudes” would be their masterpiece. From the acoustic to rage anthem ‘The Age Of Pamparius’ to the leveling ‘Don’t Say Motherfucker, Motherfucker,’ the record explodes with in-your-face aggression that thrives on wild, rowdy, black humor-filled angst. From the production to the song titles the band create a blinding caricature of pop metal, hard rock and punk. The pounding "Get It On," the electric ‘Selfdestructo Bust’ and blazing ‘Prince Of The Rodeo’ end up turning this CD into a catchy, infectious bag of mind numbing sing-a-longs.
It is also during this period that singer Hank von Helvete created his own persona based on his hero Alice Cooper. Painting his eyes with a black mascara sunbust and growing a full beard he created a far more sinister image. Backed by a churning melting pot of thick guitars and thundering bass-lines songs like ‘Are You Ready For Some Darkness’, ‘Humiliation Street’ and ‘Monkey On Your Back’ show a band reaching their finest hour.
Then there was that fateful night when singer Hank von Helvete, consumed by his dabbling in underworld temptations, collapsed at a psychiatric intensive care unit in Milan, Italy in 1998. The band disintegrated into ruins and all went silent. Guitarist Euroboy continued a steady solo career with a more pop direction but the fever and intensity of Turbonergo was all but gone. “Darkness Forever!” a selection of live performances from the band's final year, was released in early 2001.
Turbonegro never played the game. They never had an agenda, no long term plans. Looking back, breaking up might have been the best thing the band ever did it made them legendary. Says Bent Saether of Motorpsycho, “Our first gig was supporting Turbonegro 12 years ago. Now they are legendary, and we are still just Motorpsycho.” The legend returns April 28th with a new record “ Scandinavian Leather” featuring cover art by renowned artist Klaus Voormann, the mastermind behind The Beatles "Revolver" cover (widely recognized as one of pop history's most unique covers) and part of The Beatles inner circle since their early Hamburg days.
Check out their web site at www.turbonegro.com or www.epitaph.com