Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Matt Oliver, Mastered by Sam Patlove
There is that phrase of mythical proportions, the idea of catching lightning in a bottle. People use it to describe what it would be like to corral magic, or unattainable energy and then lock it away so that it could be yours whenever the fuck you'd like it. It's a selfish plot and one that is as stupid as it is unattainable, because dammit if that lightning would do you any good cracking and bucking in that glass container with that lid or cork stoppering it up. What would anyone do with it then? You'd just get sad looking at it and you'd let it out to rage on its own again, rumbling off through the night, splitting trees and dinging weathervane roosters. What the fellas in the Nashville band Turbo Fruits do with their lightning is they chase it, pink belly it, taunt it, get it hammered and then they swallow it. You can look at them and see it as it travels down the throat and into the digestive tract, shooting off its tantrums and going berserk as it's being consumed. Once it gets into them, all hell breaks loose and the music that gets created is equal parts human and that natural powerhouse of energy that was just gulped down as if it were a shot of tequila, not a burning hot comet. It affects them in all kinds of ways, but so do other substances. We tend to believe that Turbo Fruits have discovered their fair share of narcotics and various means to getting messed up. It's woven into the fabric of the band's music and still, even when lead singer Jonas Stein is commenting on a mother/his mother being mad cause her boy fried his brain on drugs, it's mostly for dramatic effect, the kind of story that's all bluster and comedy (like the Ramones singing about lobotomies) rather than a telltale sign of the kind of people they are.
Turbo Fruits provide mayhem and recreational drug use and abuse, craziness and forced euphoria under the guise of good clean fun or as an understandable pastime. The songs are sonic rip-snorters, peelings out of tires and have the feel of classic garage rock meets the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Stein sings about the doctor warning that he's having too much fun (we hear it as tongue-in-cheek - all this fun) and the singer commenting that if he's having all kinds of fun, he's not the only one. And if he's not the only one - if there are hundreds of thousands more like him - maybe he's not having fun at all. It's an illusion of fun. It's a preoccupation with trying to have something that resembles fun and it's just better to fake the enjoyment part than to really be without it. There seems to be a measure of good intention throughout the songs on the band's latest, "Echo Kid," as well as the unreleased songs played in this session, that bring to mind the misguided, but healthy rebelliousness that arrives and then - after so long - passes. Stein sings about not knowing what he wants to be yet and follows the thought with a sequitur that he does know that he wants to be free. We see that as honorable or noble, though it's the same idea that led all those teenagers to flock to San Francisco and the Haight-Ashbury district in the 1960s, finding their own trips and getting away from parents who made them go to church, cut their hair, not wear boots and do weekly chores. Maybe it is just a matter of finding your own personal trip, hippie or not, 60s or not, and just putting that in a bottle.