Turbo Fruits' Kingsley Brock Talks Nashville's Intimidating Rock Scene.
As strong as Fort Worth's quote-unquote punk scene is at the moment, it doesn't hold a candle to the trove of talent Nashville's scene is currently boasting.
Look no farther than bands like JEFF the Brotherhood, Pujol, Natural Child, Diarrhea Planet and The Features, all of which from the area.
To be sure, much of this is thanks, at least in part, to the attention that Nashville brats Be Your Own Pet received for their 2008 sophomore album Get Awkward, which found its way onto a handful of year end best-of lists that year.
But when that band decided to call things quits following a European tour at the end of that same year, the band's members each shifted their focus to their various side projects at the time.
And, for guitarist Jonas Stein and drummer John Eatherly, that meant turning their attention full-time to the garage rock outfit Turbo Fruits. In the time since, that once-side project has gone through several members — including, at one time, Wes Traylor and Zack Martin who eventually left to form Natural Child. And, just prior to recording their third album, the recently released Butter, Stein (Turbo Fruits' lone remaining original member) slid touring guitarist Kingsley Brock into a full-time role.
This weekend, Brock and the rest of Turbo Fruits will be participating in Bryan Street Tavern's massive four-year anniversary show alongside touring bands such as El Paso Hot Button, Rayon Beach, White Mystery, Royal Bangs and Those Darlins, plus local acts Black Dotz, Hormones, Spookeasy, Fungi Girls and more. Appropriately, the free event is being billed as “Bryan Street Tavern's Big Fucking Anniversary Show.”
In advance of his band's appearance in this Saturday's festivities, we caught up with Brock to discuss why people from Nashville are better musicians and what it would be like to work with The Strokes.
When you hear the word Nashville, country music comes to mind first for most people. But it arguably has the best punk scene in the country right now. Can you describe what's going on out there right now? Why are so many good punk bands coming out of Nashville?
All the kids that are in the bands that are kind of doing well right now, we kind of all grew up in Nashville. The rock scene wasn't that great back then.
We're kind of known for the country thing, and everybody starts playing in bands when they're pretty young. It's this really tight-knit scene that's kind of unique to Nashville. I haven't really seen anything like it. I mean, there are great rock scenes in other cities, but we're kind of close-knit like a family. All the bands are friends. We all work together and play together and help promote each other.
Punk is kind of an underground thing, but it seems to be becoming more of the mainstream as more people are becoming interested in it. Everybody kind of puts their own spin on the different styles, whether its more punk or garage or straightforward rock 'n' roll. It just kind of makes us stand out — at least it has the last couple of years. I definitely agree that Nashville's rock scene is pretty awesome.
Did a lot of you guys grow up listening to country music? Is that what you were kind of raised on?
I can't speak for the other guys. I don't think Jonas did. I don't think anybody was raised that much on country music. I kind of was, though. My dad had a publishing company and he moved to Nashville to be a songwriter. So I grew up listening to a lot of country until I got into third or fourth grade and got into stuff like In Utero and Smashing Pumpkins' Melancholy. I think everybody probably has similar stories about how they were introduced to rock 'n' roll and how they figured out they wanted to do what we're doing. I appreciate country music. I definitely like a lot of the old stuff. It's definitely something we all grew up being surrounded by, but I'm not sure how much that affected what we're doing.
Another interview I read said you guys sent emails to Jim Eno, Julian Casablancas and Albert Hammond Jr., asking them to produce your record and that Eno kind of won out by being the first to respond. How do you think the record would have come out differently if one of the other two were the first to get back to you?
I have no idea. I've never met Julian or Albert. We're obviously huge fans of The Strokes. Jim responded back and we went with him. He came to Nashville and met with us and [he] sat in on a couple of practices for a day or two at a time and [worked] with our stuff song-wise and in structure. He really captured the rawness of our band. We all tracked it live.
Julian or Albert probably would have probably gone for the same thing. It might have been more poppy, maybe. There might have been more stuff changed from the initial way that we wrote stuff — which we were totally open to as well. That's why we wanted a producer for this record, because we felt like we needed to branch out from other stuff that we'd done on the first two records. It kind of combined that feeling but kind of expanded and evolved into a four-piece thing and textured it more and added more dynamics. We don't always play full-blast. Sometimes we hold back and then we let it all go. I think we sort of captured that with Jim.
As far as Julian and Albert, we're working on our next record right now and we're about half-way done with that — if not more. As far as who we hope to produce the next record? I don't know. We haven't decided anything about it. So if we had a chance to work with them in the future, that would be interesting.
Were you guys big Spoon fans before? How did Jim Eno's name come to mind initially?
Dave [McCowen], our bass player, is a big Spoon fan. I know Spoon. Our manager knew Jim. We found out he was responsible for a lot of the production and engineering stuff and we thought he did a really great job on a lot of their stuff. He was actually one of the first people to respond and we were on a time crunch. Y'know, we never had a producer before. We didn't even know if anybody was going to respond. It was great that [our manager] knew Jim. He was a nice guy, down to earth and super easy to work with.
When I was in Nashville, someone told me, with regards to the abundance of world-class musicians who've relocated there, that the guy washing dishes at the restaurant down the street was a more talented musician than the biggest musician from most towns. What's it like being in a band and trying to stand out while everyone else around you is just as good as you are, if not better?
I grew up in Nashville, so it's funny. I can understand why someone who would move here might have a hard time with it. I love the fact that everybody in Nashville is so great at music. It pushes you to really raise the bar and do something that you can be proud of. When you play in Nashville as a guitar player or drummer, you can believe there's 15 other guitar players and drummers in the crowd watching you. The standard of what people come to expect when they're watching a show in Nashville, it really makes you play your best and really push yourself to be as awesome as you can. If anything, I don't look at it as much as an inconvenience that makes things difficult to cope with; it's more of a motivational thing. It's like, “Man, we've got to bring it, we're playing in Nashville.”
Growing up in Nashville makes you a better musician because you see all these guys and girls that are just so talented. It just makes you a better player, I think. And a better writer.
Turbo Fruits perform Saturday, October 6, at Bryan Street Tavern's Big Fucking Anniversary Show.