|TURBO FRUITS’ CRUCIAL AUDIO GEAR
Custom SG Guitar
Fender Hot Rod DeVille 212
Turbo Fruits‘ new album ‘No Control’ sees the Nashville quartet tackle more “adult” themes like relationships, break-ups and losses, conveying a full range of not-so-fun emotion without ever giving up their signature, punchy rock’n’roll sound. While on tour with Eternal Summers and Surfer Blood, front man Jonas Stein answered a few questions about the creative process of being in a band:
What comes first: music or lyrics?
For me, music always comes first. I was never one to listen to and remember lyrics. I was always inspired by grooves and melodies. When it comes to writing, I like to have music first and then start chipping away at the lyrics… sometimes we may have a song that musically sounds very happy and jolly but if you listen to the lyrics it might be about a really dark subject.
What’s been inspiring your music lately?
Experiences definitely have the most influence over lyrical content. the older we get, the more life experience we have to pull from. When you’re a teenager, you can really only write rock songs about rock songs. As we age, we get hit in the face with some real life shit and it creates a base for something real to write about.
Is inspiration some kind of random blessing, or is it possible to set it in motion?
I’d say both… Sometimes you just have to write about something and get it off of your chest. For me, it has to go hand in hand with music and lyrics. Or sometimes I will be playing around on an instrument and the way the music sounds will bring up some emotional subject of some kind… it could be anything really… wanting to party and have a good time or maybe it brings up something seeded deep in the soul and in that instant, you gotta dive into it and bring it to the surface.
Tell us about the process of the one song from your repertoire that came together in the most surprising way.
Hmmmm… I guess ‘The Way I Want You’ was pretty interesting because the meat of the song came together really quickly. When we first tried playing it as a band, it’s like it paved a road for itself immediately. We didn’t argue much about the structure, it just fell into place faster than most songs do. It’s kinda funny… it’s like the less you think about a song, the better is comes out, or something like that!!
Where do you look for lyrical inspiration?
Solely on personal experience. Anytime I feel anything about something specific that has happened to me. It’s all I really know. I don’t read often and I don’t watch a whole lot of movies. I just really enjoy living life and seeing what happens to me… that’s what I pull from.
Is there something you look for when writing lyrics, like, say, catharsis, personal expression, topicality, or positivity?
Not particularly. I find that the best lyrical product comes from being in the heat of the moment. When you’re chest is on fire because you can’t be with the person you want, when you’re adrenaline is pumping because you just got off of the race track, when you’re head is spinning in circles because you’ve just done too many drugs, when you’re buzzing off of a really cool experience you just had… times like these are the best times to sit down and put it down on paper… Trying to remember how you felt always seems to dull the experience a little bit
BEING A BAND
What’s the songwriting/arranging process in the band? To what extent is each band member’s role defined?
It’s a pretty mixed bag here at Turbo Fruits. Sometimes one of us comes in with a whole song all ready to go and sometimes we build from just a guitar riff. Sometimes I’ll go into the studio and demo a whole song by myself. Dave is a riff master. he brings some really cool basic riffs the the table. Kingsley has a strong hand in the lyrics with me and has an idea of where a song could go next. Matt thrives on the way something feels behind the drums and his suggestions come from a more objective place. Somehow or another, we all make it work!!
Are bands ever true democracies? What about yours?
Yes, definitely. Ours is democratic to an extent but sometimes I feel in necessary to step up to the plate and make a final decision on something. There is value in both democracy and pure leadership. We tend to have both. We all step up to the plate in different scenarios. Kingsley really took the reigns on getting our last album mixed properly. Matt builds our website and keeps everything up to date on social media. He also does accounting while we’re out on the road. Dave is merchandise master, don’t step into his zone unless you know what you’re doing or you’ll fuck up his system he’s put together. I tend to pay attention to what is going on as a whole and try to make the best decision for the band as a whole. When necessary, I’ll step in to break up band fights, make difficult decisions etc etc. I could go on for days about how we operate as a band. There is always room for improvement.
How do you guys deal with the inevitable conflict of egos?
As difficult as it can be, it’s important to accept your role in the band. Drummer, Matt, just recently told me that he does not envy my role as being lead singer. I thought that was pretty funny to hear but after thinking about it, It makes sense. I recently got to fill in on guitar for our friends Surfer Blood and it was such a refreshing experience to not have to engage the crowd and worry about singing the best I can. I just got to hang to the side and enjoy playing the guitar. It is inevitable that egos are going to get in the way, at times. We have been doing this long enough that we’re all able to keep each other in check, for the most part. It’s only natural to let your ego get the best of you every once in a while. The band would not last if we weren’t able to get a hold on things. Also, you’ll get a nice reality check every so often… like playing in a town where only five people paid to come see you play – that will slap you back to reality really quickly!
MUSICAL TOYS AND RECORDING
What’s your guitar + amp set up?
Currently been playing through a personally customized Gibson SG through a Fender Deville amp. Kingsley played through a customized vintage Fender Deluxe reverb amplifier
Are there any instruments, pieces of equipment or musical toys that lately made you rediscover the playful side of creating?
I want to start fucking around on the keys more often… we’ve only created a couple of songs around the keys and it is so refreshing and fun. I’m not a great key player but it makes for an interesting sound. After being a guitar band for so long, it’s nice to mix it up
How much of your recording is done at home versus in the studio?
For me, it’s usually all done in the studio. Jeremy at Battle Tapes is always really cool about letting me come in for a few hours to get an idea down. I’ve been working with him for 10 years. I tried to get into recording a while back but I got overwhelmed and decided to leave it up to the pros. That said, I will eventually get good enough at it to demo a fucking song!!
Do you have a particular recording style that you aim for?
Not really…. I just want people to be able to hear everything that is recorded… otherwise, what’s the point???
Do you/your guitarist use rack effects or guitar pedals to forge your own guitar sound? If you do, please list the ones you use the most and let us know why you love them.
Ehhhh I just got my first wah pedal, the thing is pretty sweet!!! If you haven’t noticed, I’m pretty behind on gear and pedals etc. Kingsley is the pedal master but I do not envy him because it seems like a constant headache. I think I have enough pedals now where I should consider getting my first pedal board ever!
What do you find to be the most challenging aspects of the recording process? On the flipside, what aspects are the most rewarding?
Finding the right tempo for each song can be difficult. It has to feel right but when you think about it too much it’s easy to make the wrong decision. Also, getting good vocal takes down can be very difficult and frustrating, especially for me as I am very self aware of how my vocal sounds… I’m getting more and more comfortable with it everyday. Sometimes you just gotta accept the way your voice sounds.
Is there a person outside the band that’s been important in perfecting your recorded and/or live sound?
Jeremy Ferguson of Battle Tapes Recording is like an invisible band member. I’ve been working with him for 10 years so he knows exactly what I like without me having to say anything anymore. That dude has done so much for us. He knows us all like brothers and knows how to handle us while we’re in the studio.
THE LIVE SHOW
Would you say that your live show informs your recording process? Or that your recording process informs your live show?
We are really tight live and in the studio. we’re pretty hard on ourselves about playing together and getting into the pocket so It’s nice to hear from live sound engineers and studio engineers. a lot of the times they say things like “thanks for making it easy for me. you guys are really tight as a band”. We kinda take a step back from the situation and think “man, I guess we are pretty tight as a band. we have been doing this for a long time together.”
What equipment do you find particularly useful on stage? (Please mention the brand and model name and say why you like it)
Dave has this badass little Ampeg flip top bass amp. it’s light, loud, and audible. Kingsley used a customized Fender Deluxe reverb from the 70s and I use ol’ faithful Fender Deville Hotrod 2×12. I used to take boutique amps out on the road but they would always break down and be expensive to fix. My recommendation would be to find something that works every time you use it!!!
Are there any vintage formats that you’re interested in pursuing for the band, like, say, vinyl or cassette? If so, why?
We’ve been releasing vinyl for years… it’s so much more fun to have a vinyl album vs just a digital format. It’s crazy how fast vinyl has caught on the past couple of years. I used to be able to get a record turned around in 6 weeks. Now it’s like 6 months… Christ.
With bands doing more of everything themselves these days (recording, performing, self-promoting, etc.) and the evermore multimedia nature of the world, how much effort do you put into the visual component of your band: fashion, styling, photography, graphic/web design, etc.?
It seems that a working band can’t really just play music anymore… web content, social media, website, webstore, photos, instagram, twitter, vine, etc… it’s fucking crazy… we just want to play music!!! but I guess you gotta play ball.
Any comments about the current state of music and art in Nashville?
Nashville, you’re doing a great job. Keep up the hard work. My mind is constantly blown by how fast Nashville is growing in the arts and music world. With more content comes more bullshit but that’s okay. LET IT BLOOM