So you dudes just released a new album, Sexual Harassment. It sounded like you kept it true to Turbo. All Denim Blue Jeans Norwegian Deathpunk Party! Was that your plan?
After Hank quit to start a goth band, we took a long break. We were exhausted after years of drug-related bullshit. After a while Knut Euroboy and I got together with drummer Tommy Manboy, who's more or less grown up on the road as Turbo's guitar tech, and Nick Oliveri (Queens Of The Stone-Age, Kyuss, Dwarves) in a small project we called The Germans. We wrote a bunch of songs that sounded suspiciously like classic Turbo tunes. Several of these songs ended up on Sexual Harassment and basically set the standard for that whole album. Turbo actually have our own musical genre called Deathpunk--which is a kinda hypnotic blend of classic rock, hard rock, and classic punk, with a touch of old-school hardcore. And I'm thrilled to say that Sexual Harassment is Deathpunk at its finest.
How did Tony Sylvester, AKA The Duke Of Nothing, end up as Turbo's frontman?
Tony is a legend in his own right, as a central figure in the London hardcore scene for two decades and as singer of the legendary Dukes Of Nothing. He started the first UK chapter of Turbojugend--Turbonegro's enormous fan club, with more than 3,000 chapters worldwide--and at one point even was our press manager in the UK. So he's been deep Turbo family for more than 15 years. What happened was some guys in Turbojugend asked us to come down to Hamburg and play a small party show, just to do a bunch of Deathpunk classics with some different people singing. We knew we for sure could get Jello Biafra, Damian from Fucked Up, Keith Morris, possibly Mike Patton, and so on, but we wanted to make a complete list of possible candidates. So I sent Tony a mail, since he knows the band better than we do ourselves. Then, out of the blue a few days later, it struck me: "Tony should sing!" We flew him in to try out, and a minute into the first song I saw Knut rocking out with a big grin on his face. I later asked Knut why he was smiling. "Because I've never heard the band sound this good," he said. So that was that.
Were you guys worried the fans wouldn't embrace the Duke of Nothing's rule? How has the public reacted so far?
It's been almost creepy how well the fans have taken to Tony. Changing a frontman is a pretty big deal, and we expected a shit storm. But after that first song that night in Hamburg, it was insane. People were screaming and crying, chanting, "Tony! Tony!" We expected a 50-50 division between pro and anti, but just looking at the response online, there are just traces of negative comments every now and then, which is fully understandable. But the essence is very much the same. Basically we're just overwhelmed. It's been awesome.
Do you feel Tony's brought an even harder presence to Turbo?
Tony comes from the school of bad-ass hardcore frontmen like John Brannon of Negative Approach, but at the same time has a foot firmly planted in old Cockney music-hall vaudeville stuff. He's also a Northern Soul DJ, so he encapsulates all those traditions in a beautiful way. But yes, he is a big boy.
Turbo's been going on and off since 1989, with two original members and one long-standing member. That is a long time to be doing this schtick. How's everybody getting along these days?
To put it like this: For the first time in a long, long time, it's been fun recording and playing shows again. Being in a band over many years is like being in a dead homo marriage. Sometimes you gotta break up and get your wheels back in motion, and that's exactly what we've done.