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Turbonegro: Tony Sylvester Speaks!
The Quietus , October 20th, 2011 07:24

New frontman praises Turbojugend & discusses his look

This weekend, Nordic pomp rock beasts and friends of Döröthy Turbonegro will unveil their new front man to the UK at Supersonic. Tony Sylvester, friend of the Quietus and former member of The Dukes Of Nothing, is the English gentleman now fronting the Oslo-based heavy rockers. Later today, we're printing the first in a new series wherein Tony discusses style and youth culture with London dandy Dickon Edwards. But first, we asked him how he was settling into Turbonegro. The group have already played one gig with Sylvester on vocals at the Welt Turbojugend in Hamburg. A debut in front of the Jugend might have floored a lesser soul, but not Sylvester - and by the end, he tells us, the crowd were shouting, "Tony, Tony."

"The Turbojugend phenomenon is entirely unique, I can't think of another like it," Sylvester says. "It's part cult, part biker gang, but also really self-sufficient and almost separate. A lot them don't really like the band, which is brilliant. They complain, 'This last record wasn't very good', 'They were much better before', 'I don't think I'm going to see them'. The devotion is to the Turbojugend as a concept rather than the actual band they're following. Not that they don't love the band, they do, but also there's a cynicism and a lot of levels to Turbonegro, so they've almost got the fanclub they deserve in that, in that they haven't got this group of people who follow them and pick up their tissues after they drop them.

"It's more of a dialogue, and you feel more like contemporaries, like you're more on a level with them as well. They feel responsible for your position, which is all well and good, and there should be more like that."

That perhaps sounds like the hardcore scene where your roots are? "Well that's the thing. It's because they're hardcore kids anyway, and that's their background," Sylvester explains. "It's funny because the height of their popularity was the height of that garage Hives revival thing. They didn't fit in with that, but it was convenient at the time. Of course now the audience is different, it's now rockabillies and metal kids and hardcore kids, glam kids - that's a big part of it, especially when Euroboy came in, he brought in that glam, glitter kind of thing, which I always loved. So that's basically what they are, a basic American hardcore, Ramones type band who basically got into glitter. That's their weird position... I keep saying 'they', 'OUR'..."

Obviously Turbonegro have a very distinctive visual style. How did you develop your look for the band - as shown in the picture above. "We spent less time discussing me actually joining the band and whether that was going to be suitable as what I was going to wear," says Sylvester. "That was a more important decision. After a couple of songs in rehearsal it was like, 'You're going to join the band. Now, what are you going to wear?'

"What we've done with that is made me look like a gamekeeper from DH Lawrence meets Alex from Clockwork Orange. There's a bowler hat, a bit of make-up, and then plus fours that have been made for me by a very talented seamstress called Roisin Dunne. Very English sort of things. But of course the Alice Cooper make-up that Hank used to wear, I think Man U fans from the 70s used to wear that, and the Kubrick thing as well, soccer hooligans used to wear make-up and have bowler hats because of Alex."

Turbonegro headline Supersonic on Sunday night.