Last Sunday I had the chance to talk with Jonas Stein from Turbo Fruits. He pretty much lives the true modern rockstar life as it took me forever to get him on the phone. Over the process of obtaining this interview I grew fond of his personality.
The first time I called him, he was asleep. Seriously, who sleeps at 4 in the afternoon? Rockstars do. They go on tour live out of a van and make great noise. Currently you can find their latest album, No Control, streaming on Spin and it drops. As opposed to their previous stuff the album is grown up and deals with the uncool facts of growing up. They kicked off their tour today in Nashville and will make it throughout the USA.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
Jonas: Hey, how are you?
Punchland: It’s going good. How are you?
Jonas: Just starting to feel more normal. We didn’t get back until 10:45 this morning.
Punchland: Oh my god!
Jonas: We left New Jersey yesterday at about 1:30 am and drove until 3 am, pulled over and slept for a few hours in the van, woke up and drove home. See, whenever I get home from these types of things, I just hit the brick wall but I got a few hours of sleep and I’m starting to feel normal.
Punchland: Home as in Tennessee?
Jonas: Yea, we were just up in the North East doing a couple shows and press and radio stuff. It’s good to be home for a couple days before I head out and tour the nation again.
Punchland: Yep, you’re gonna be in my neck of the woods in a week. I think I’m gonna head up and see your show.
Jonas: That’s gonna be another sleep deprived day because we’re gonna play Little Rock, AR the day before and a couple days ago the people wanted us to do a radio thing so we’re also gonna do that. Then we’re gonna drive overnight to Austin and try and sleep in the van again to play that show that night.
That’s part of the deal when you have a new record that comes out.
Punchland: I do wish you’d play in San Antonio.
Jonas: We’ll make it there eventually but for the first time Turbo Fruits is actually being pushed onto some radio stations and we’re getting some feedback, which is unheard of in our careers. So this tour is built around the towns that are actually playing our songs.
The conversation drifted a little bit and I’ll save you the tangent but soon we got back on track.
Jonas: Just to let you know, I’m multitasking right now. I live on a farm, in a small bachelor pad. And it’s like a little zoo, there’s woodchucks living under my house, squirrels living in my walls. I can hear them chewing on my walls, I have to find something to throw at the ceiling to scare them.
Jonas: I have been throwing an empty water bottle at my roof right now.
Punchland: Have you ever considered sampling that and putting it on one of your albums?
Jonas: No, it would just piss me off. It’s just so annoying having squirrels living in your walls. They wake me up really early. I hear them making a nest or something. There’s so many living around here that I don’t even know what to do about them. I’ll catch them every once in a while, you know live trap and release them down the road somewhere but I’ve read that’s not really helpful. I don’t know what to do. Usually when it get hot they’ll all leave and I’ll just patch up the holes.
Punchland: I feel you on that. I don’t live in the country but I live on the outskirts of town and recently one of my neighbors has decided to get some roosters.
Jonas: Oh no!
Punchland: I learned very quickly that roosters don’t only crow in the morning. They crow all the time.
Jonas: Fortunately I don’t have any roosters. That would drive me full crazy.
Punchland: They crow at midnight, they’re crowing right now. They are always crowing.
He suggested I casually venture into their yard to find dinner.
Punchland: I do have a dog and he could casually get into their yard. Only he’s the biggest scary cat ever.
Jonas: I have a dog and he’s quite the opposite.
We had talked over each other at that point and he politely ceded the conversation to me. But guess what, I’d rather learn about his dog.
Punchland: Now, I wanna know about your dog. I’m sure it’s more important than your musical influences.
Jonas: Yea? My dog is an Australian Shepard; I’ve had him for about 12 1/2 years so he’s about 12 ½ years old. He’s slowed down a lot but he’s smart as hell. He’s like the most aggressive playful dog I’ve ever had but at the same time smartest and most tame. He’s an all around great dog. He’s super, super, super understands the English language really well. And he’s like an alpha male. If there’s like a random dog hanging around and he sees the other dogs might start growling at each other. But my dog, his name is Paco by the way—
Punchland: —That’s my cousin’s name.
Jonas: Will see what’s going on and go intervene and divide up the two dogs that don’t like each other. He’ll like puff out his chest almost to say ‘No one’s fighting on my watch.’ He’s a peacekeeper and he’s really big for an Australian Shepard so his knowledge and his size help him. He’s a good leader for a dog.
Punchland: Aww. Why’d you name him Paco?
Jonas: When I was a young teenager, I had this fantasy of having an Australian Shepard named Paco in college, which I didn’t go to college, and around that same time one of my dogs had passed away. After one dog passes I felt it was important to get another to start a new relationship with another dog. That was a good opportunity so I jumped on the gun on my fantasy and got my Paco. He’s definitely is the best dog I’ve ever had.
Punchland: Is there a reason you didn’t go to college?
Jonas: Yea, I was still in high school when I started getting tour opportunities with my whole band. We were getting flown to different parts of the world on my Spring Break. My Spring Break was spent playing in SXSW, playing a bunch of shows and then getting flown to London to play a bunch of shows. I played in a band called Be Your Own Pet when I was younger; we were like a teen punk rock high school band that got lots of record label attention immediately and stuff. Because of all this attention, I felt there was a career path paved before me. So there didn’t seem much reason to go to school and I’m glad I didn’t go to school. Because I really disliked school as a child, I remember being in third grade and realizing I still had to be in school for x amount of years including college and I got really depressed about that. So I graduated high school a year early and started playing rock-n-roll, that’s what I’ve been doing, that is my craft, my trade.
Punchland: That seems really cool. I bet a bajillion people would like that lifestyle. I myself went to college and it’s hard to find a job, so sometimes I kinda regret it.
Jonas: It’s a fun lifestyle but it’s definitely a style choice. Different people in bands, including us, we go on the road and as you know from this weekend end and falling asleep and forgetting about shit. It’s exhausting but it’s also some of the most fun you’re gonna have but it’s also hard. Unless your band is pulling in x amount of dollars for every show and record you’re gonna likely have a job back home. Which most of us still have alternative sources of income to keep doing what we like to do. I’ve met people at shows that comment on how they trade stocks and make lots of money and would like to trade spots. But I love it and the trade-off is definitely worth it. You’re your own boss for the most part.
The goal is to make it a full time gig but the reality is that most bands the other sources of income. Until they reach a certain point and once they reach that certain point then they can do it full time. The important thing is to hope for the best.
Punchland: When you get back home from touring do you completely shut off music or do you get back to working on it?
Jonas: It’s kinda all over the place. We haven’t been doing much lately as a band since we’ve finshed the album. We’ve just been focusing on preparing for touring on this one. That being said everyone’s probably working on stuff indiviudually to bring to the table. I got a couple jams in my back pocket that I’ll bring out when the time is right.
It’s definitely good to take a break from anything you’re doing full-time. I personally like to not think about music and stay away from it for a few weeks at a time every once in a while then come back to it and get excited again. It’s easy to take it for granted and it’s also good to have fresh ears for anytime you’re in the middle of a recording process or rather after it. Sometimes you’re around your own songs for so long you can sometimes overlook some of the best songs.
There were these two songs that almost didn’t make it onto this record because I think I had been around them for so long that I just got burnt out on them. I just really lost what was really cool about the song but it took a bunch of people listening to it to hear them saying, ‘why the fuck are you not putting it on the album’ or me personally staying away from everything and coming back to it two or three months later. Maybe driving around, smoking a little weed and just listening to everything as it was fresh again. When you do that, you get a smile on your face and you know you’ve done a good job.
Punchland: What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not doing music?
Jonas: Probably riding and racing motorcycles. It’s one of my hobbies. I’ve been pretty fascinated with them since around the time I could talk. My dad used to take me and my little brother on the backroads. I started riding when I was six or seven. So, the hobby of mine, is vintage motorcycle riding, it’s very affordable and it’s a whole ‘nother world. Different people I’d never meet anywhere else, it’s very addicting.
Punchland: What kinda motorcycles do you race?
Jonas: Anything I do race has to be built before 1984, that’s the regulations of the organization that sanctions all the races. There are vintage dirt bike races through the woods or there’s also another style called dirt track racing or flat track racing those are interchangeable terms that is the oldest form of American motorcycle racing before there were paved roads all around there was just a giant dirt oval. People fishtailing and that’s lots and lots of fun.
Punchland: Do you have a place in the world that’s your thinking spot or is riding a motorcycle that?
Jonas: Definitely being on a motorcycle is that, especially when you’re racing. It helps clear your mind. You’re not thinking about anything expect for the fact that you’re racing. You’re trying to do well and stay alive and not fall. So that’s pretty therapeutic. Other thoughts aren’t there because you’re only racing. I also really like coming home to the farm I live on, that is always nice. It’s fun and refreshing, so this is my safety spot.
Punchland: I guess I could ask a music question now, if not I’ll talk about unicorns. I mean I really like unicorns. We can talk unicorns later. How was it working on this album? It’s being pressed on as being mature and more put together that the prior?
Jonas: This one is different than the ones we put out. We spent more time and energy as a whole. Like one obvious example is that in the past we may have had 15, 16 or 17 songs to choose the best from to make up the album and we may or may have not demo’d them. This time we made a point of writing and demoing around 30 songs or so. The reasoning for this is because we wanted to flush out the ideas that we had instead of trying to nip them in the butt. Regardless if the song was shitty or what or most of us didn’t like it. Let’s just finish it and record it and be able to spend time with it before we actually record a real album. Having 30 songs to play around with, we’re able to play around with the order and how the album is going to sound as opposed to the past when our albums we’re the most cohesive.
You can stream the album at Spin and make sure to check them out on tour. I know I will.
No Control Tracklisting
(April 20th, 2015 | Melvin Records/Thirty Tigers
Show Me Something Real
The Way I Want You
Don’t Let Me Break Your Heart Again
Need To Know
No Reason To Stay
Blow These Clouds
Worry About You
April 18 (5pm)
1604 8th Ave S
In-Store Performance TIX
1604 8th Ave S
No Control Album Release Show
Little Rock, AR
107 River Market Ave
617 E 7th St
Los Angeles, CA
9009 Sunset Blvd
San Diego, CA
1271 University Ave
San Francisco, CA
Brick + Mortar
1710 Mission St
3939 N Mississippi Ave
5433 Ballard Ave NW
2609 Stevens Ave
2496 S Wentworth Ave
1572 N Milwaukee ave
4265 Woodward Ave
2507 Summit St
5801 Detroit Ave
1306 E Carson St
5 Lansdowne St
Free To Ticket Winners
Rock & Roll Hotel
1353 H St NE
Music Hall of Williamsburg
66 N 6th St
2639 Route 9
Boot & Saddle
1131 S Broad St
Asbury Park, NJ
601 Main St
223 N Water St
Good People Brewing Company
114 14th St S
with The Black LipsTIX