Fun-loving Nashville act Turbo Fruits has gained national attention for its raucous, straightforward rock sounds and energetic stage presence. The rock 'n' roll lifestyle is ingrained in front man Jonas Stein, who had reached enviable heights at an early age with the now-defunct Be Your Own Pet.
Stein admits the success was too much for such a young group to handle, and his current band seems fixated on the idea of staying young, which is reflected in Turbo Fruits' music and off-stage antics. Yet despite the acts reputation for perpetual partying, Stein and crew are among the most productive players in the regional indie scene.
Turbo Fruits have never been discreet about prolific boozing and marijuana use, and openly broadcast incidents others might folder under the "personal life" category. Its most memorable and publicized episode involved a strip search by border authorities upon discovery of a copious stash of marijuana in the group's van, after the band unintentionally crossed the Canadian border. Contrary to the immediate perception such stories conjure, the industrious Stein maintains an efficiency most sober bands could not rival. In addition to Turbo Fruits' prolific tours and releases, Stein runs his own vinyl-exclusive label, Turbo Time, an outlet for Nashville's major indie players, and is also a key organizer of the Bruise Cruise, a three-day music festival aboard a Bahamas-bound Carnival cruise ship.
"We are definitely a rambunctious group of dudes, and we will likely always be this way," says Stein. "Regardless of whatever new grown-up stages we come to in life, when the four of us are on the road and playing shows, we're bound to get into some trouble.
"I don't think too many mothers would pat their children on the back for promoting — or not hiding — marijuana use," continues Stein, who has used past tunes to address parental disapproval. "We're not going to hide something that we don't think is wrong. Marijuana is a peace-maker and alcohol is more of a party drug. We happen to like both. We're responsible enough with our lifestyles that we can manage to have fun and maintain productivity. We can't afford not to be productive."
While Turbo Fruits has been cranking out splits, singles and the occasional full-length releases under various lineups since 2007, the act's third album, "Butter," is a Turbo Fruits first. With the mid-2010 addition of Kingsley Brock, the Fruits' September release showcases the band's first songs as a quartet, and the broadened range is apparent. Arranging material for this new format caused a brief lag in the band's production, but Stein explains that now that Turbo Fruits is up to speed, fans can expect a return to its former release frequency.
"We wrote 'Butter' in between tours during the first few months," says Stein. "It was the first time that we all wrote an album together. A lot of it was figuring out how we would work together. The timing took long because of lineup changes in the past. I wanted us to become a real band before trying to rush something out. Now that process is over, and it will be much easier to start pumping out more music at a faster rate.
"We're working really fast and efficiently now. It would be great to see the next album drop within a year of 'Butter.' We have written about 12 songs, but we are aiming to have 20 to choose from. The new songs are not just a continuation of 'Butter.' The next album will take on its own personality. That's really important to us."
Another pause in output was the result of label shopping. Dissatisfied with its previous Fat Possum affiliation, Turbo Fruits released "Butter" under the wing of Kings of Leon's Serpents and Snakes (S&S) Records, and the act believes to have found a home with the Nashville-based label.
"Fat Possum was not a good home for the Fruits," Stein says. "S&S is great. It's definitely been the best label experience TF has had. Seth Riddle (general manager) really believes in us ..."
Sunday night Turbo Fruits pay a visit to Knoxville, playing The Pilot Light with Plant Parenthood and The Cracksmen. Music is slated for 10 p.m. and costs $7.
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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