February 22, 2011 | 8:00am
Jonas Stein is a very busy guy. Not only does his band Turbo Fruits tour regularly, but he's also co-organizing the Bruise Cruise, leaving from the Port of Miami this Friday.
The Nashvillian was first introduced to an international audience as the fresh-from-high-school guitarist for Be Your Own Pet (formerly signed to Thurston Moore's Ecstatic Peace label). Stein and bandmate Matt Hearn also work on their own label Turbo Time Records, putting out music by Nashville bands.
Recently, Crossfade asked Stein what to expect from the rock extravaganza taking place at sea. Among other things, Vince Neil and the joy of free socks came up in conversation.
Crossfade: It's an interesting idea for a bunch of rock bands to play on a cruise ship. I wouldn't associate the Bruise Cruise audience with the people I might see hanging out at Port Everglades. What made this idea seem right?
Jonas Stein: I had been on a couple of music cruises in the past, not cruises I chose to pay to go on but one's I had the chance to go on for free. Specifically, Vince Neil's Motley Cruise. Anyway, a bunch of over-the-hill hair metal rockers is not in my scene. But I still had a blast being on the cruise. It got me thinking, "This would be so much more fun if I had all my own people on this thing." A couple years later [April 2010], I brought the idea up to our booking agent and friend, Michelle. We got really excited about the idea and did not stop talking about it from the minute we brought it up. Ten months later, here we are in Miami getting ready and taking care of the last few details. Can't wait!
Where's your favorite place to perform?
Japan was really fun because they seem to be obsessive over American rock bands. All the shows I've played there have been insanely fun. My favorite venue in America is a place called the Bottle Tree in Birmingham, Alabama. It's run by someone who used to play in touring rock bands so he knows exactly what bands want/need. They have drink holders on the mic stands, towels, and guitar racks on the walls of the stage, free video games, unlimited beer, and Airstream trailers for back stage. Also, they give away free socks to all the bands!
You've performed with many of the bands on the Bruise Cruise roster. Can you play favorites for a second, who do you most enjoy playing shows with?
I have a blast playing with Jacuzzi Boys, Quintron and Miss Pussycat, and Ty Segall. They are all so down to earth and genuine. Surfer Blood are also good friends of ours. We toured 10 weeks together. We've made a bond that will never be broken!
With your record label Turbo Time Records, you're only putting out vinyl and digital singles by other artists from Nashville? Do you still live in Nashville?
Yes, I still live in Nashville! I am currently releasing local artists. But that's only because most of the best bands in the country are from Nashville right now. This will not be an exclusive local only label. As time goes on, we will be releasing anything good that comes our way. My drummer, Matt Hearn, and I run the label and plan to keep it going as long as possible!
Which bands should we be looking out for from Nashville?
Turbo Fruits, Natural Child, D. Watusi, Jeff the Brotherhood, Heavy Cream, Hans Condor, Cy Barkley and The Way Outsiders.
I went to a Be Your Own Pet show at Bowery Ballroom in 2006 and the guy from Demon's Claws sprayed the room with a fire extinguisher. It was a crazy night. Do you remember that show?
Yeah, It was a strange night. I broke my first guitar that night, on stage. I still have it to this day. I like Demon's Claws' music and energy. But that was some bullshit. It killed some of the vibe for our show. But I don't want to complain. I was 19 years old playing to a sold out venue in New York!
Should Bruise Cruisers be expecting anything at that level of intensity on the high seas?
No, everyone will be having a hell of a time. But do not expect anything disrespectful to happen. If someone does anything too stupid, Carnival won't hesitate to leave them in the Bahamas.
After Bruise Cruise, what's up next for Turbo Fruits?