'Turbow Charged Music!'
David Turbow, Ph.D., is a college professor, science researcher, triathlete, surfer, and musician. He is the main songwriter in Supernovice, an indie rock band that formed in 1992.
A proponent of the “Do It Yourself” ethic, he records many of his songs on simple recording set-ups. He grew up in suburban Southern California near the surf/skate/snow scene and punk rock. But his main songwriting influences include ‘80s nu wave, death rock, and heavy metal - the sound is more akin to alternative artists, such as The Flaming Lips, Eels, and Beck.
'Gold Standard' was recorded on a digital 8 track machine at home and features some acoustic guitar work. It has a bigger, bolder, and more electric sound than his previous 2 solo albums. Never a standout vocalist, on 'Gold Standard', Turbow once again demonstrates his ability to craft catchy melodic hooks underneath clever, humorous, and heartfelt lyrics. On “Piso Mojado”, he expresses angst in feeling out of place in the singles scene.
The lyrics read, “a doctorate don’t count for shit, when you’re shoppin’ at the meat market, but some tight fittin’ ‘80s clothes might get you some”. The opening track, “Rock Star Daze”, is equal parts Ramones and Tom Petty and was written about the dilemmas of an aging narcissist. The visual element to his latest album was intended to depict such carefree elements of his youth as pinball machines.
Turbow has opened up for some true rock legends at bigger venues with his band. But as a solo artist he is happy playing in small clubs, at college campuses, and as a featured artist at Surf Theater premieres. Maybe he’ll score it big some day, but for the time being he’s just as happy making music and promoting it on a grass roots level.
Keep an eye open and an ear out for David Turbow.
Chatting recently with David, and I first asked him to take me back
to those early pop-punk days as part of Supernovice and what he remembered as being the highlight of that time of his life? "For me, things happened really quickly after forming my band. It was fun working my tail off as a full-time lecturer at a university at such a young age during the day on top of having fun playing music as a recording artist at night. A highlight was definitely being graced with very talented musicians to work with right off the bat in my band. It was great being able to have the
Supernovice tunes on the soundtrack to surf/skate/snow videos and to play at parties. It was fun to help design flyers, stickers, and t-shirts - the artistic side of things. It was also great getting to play on bills with bands that I really liked, and to get to headline some local shows. Tom Dumont from No Doubt used to promote these all-ages shows in Anaheim, CA at
the Firecracker Lounge that were really fun back in the day. The Aquabats also used to put on shows of their own at the Side by Side skate rink in Huntington Beach. Koo's Cafe in Santa Ana was always a blast."
And now that you finished up your Ph.D. degree is the band in the process of possibly writing songs and recording a new album? ""I finished the Ph.D. degree in 2003 and for a little
while earned my income as an Environmental/Public
Health Consultant in the Bay Area. I've been working
steadily as a College Professor for the past few years
now teaching Health Sciences at an online university
based in Orange County. After many years on hiatus, my
former band members approached me about reuniting the
band for fun without any major goals in mind, so we
did. We had a great time opening one show for Berlin
in 2005. Things started to fall apart because
rehearsing required a time commitment that was tough
to make, especially for a band comprised of members
from geographically disparate places. People also have
careers and some had gotten married and started
families - other priorities."
"We've always been a "Do It Yourself" style band, so
the work and the expenses of playing in a band quickly
got in the way of our fun. Essentially, we were
spending increasing amounts of time on it, and we
couldn't get really good shows without paying to play,
which presented an ethical problem. It would be great
to some day to get together to write music and record
a new album. It may very well happen in the future. I
recently gave up doing my record label, Onset
Your solo album title suggests a high self-accolade for the contained collection of songs. Is this the case or is there another, truer meaning behind it? "A "Gold Standard" is something great, by which all
else is compared. As you know, the term is used in science, but also in financial exchange as a system of currency. But the intended context and truer meaning - I simply named the album "Gold Standard" as a tribute
to my college sweetheart. She was the inspiration for the title track on the CD."
As for the album artwork of a pinball machine and its layout therein, is this a youthful leftover memory from better days gone by? "Yes, absolutely. The artwork was designed to bring the viewer back to the days of my youth. As a boy of about 10, I was definitely into jukebox and playing pinball machine after school down at the ice cream store on the corner at the end of my street. This was just before the days of the modern video arcade of course. In the early '80s, I got into video games too (e.g. Space Invaders, Asteroids, Missile Command). For the artwork for this disc, I asked my friend David Salmassian (who did the graphic design) to give the album a really 1979-1980 type look to it. The pinball
machine was his idea. But everything from the lime green and light blue pinball machine colors to the post roller disco era side-striping were a combination of our efforts. David really did an amazing job on the
And why choose the score number of '004570000' to add to the display? Does it have some personal meaning to you, perhaps? "David just arbitrarily picked that number as a hi-score. I suppose that it separated the multi-digit scores on the more modern pinball machines from the
six digit scores on earlier pinball machines (that only went up to 999,999."
Out of the 8 songs on this new album which one truly stands out to be your go-to favorite when recommending it to first time listeners ... and
why? " "Piso Mojado". I like the Run DMC style drum beat that my buddy, Mark Fiori, helped me put to the song. It's a funny song and it's one of my favorites because some people can probably identify with it.
Plus, it has a punchy guitar riff, and my buddy Pasquale Talarico (the bass player in Supernovice) added a cool bass riff."
For fun, and taking the titles of a few of your album tracks, please let us know:
'Rock Star Daze' - What has been your own biggest
'Rock Star Daze' that you have thankfully awoken safely from?! "My biggest 'Rock Star Daze' was in overestimating my musical abilities in my own mind, and getting too caught up in wanting my band to be more widely
recognized. Now I view writing music as a precious gift given to few. It doesn't matter to me now whether I'm playing in front of zero people or 100. It feels like such a blessing when every once a blue moon a melody for a new song pops into my head."
'Define Me' - Please define yourself in three words - using only elements found in a Zoo!! "Nocturnal, communal, aquatic."
'How Moving Backwards Sounds' - OK, so now we know how moving backwards sounds, just what does moving sideways sound like?! "It's about two people trying to find a reason to make up after saying things
to one another that they shouldn't have. Once the hurtful words have been uttered it is almost too late. The last verse is about trying to write a tender song as a way to apologize. Hmmm, moving sideways might sound like a beckoning call instead of a reckoning one."
In the song 'Piso Mojado' you express a sardonic angst in feeling out of
place in the singles scene. Aside from just being a written lyric, is this
also a true feeling for you in real life?! "Yeah, the song is very much a true feeling for me in real life. It's about not having any plans late on a Friday night and choosing to go to some lame place to go dancing for something to do but then realizing that you're overqualified for the meat market. It's a humorous song about getting shut down, flat out. It
happens to me frequently. The lyrics in Spanish go "Cuidado, Piso Mojado, yeah you wanna watch me slip and fall". Literally it means, "Be careful, wet floor". I wrote it the day after I was at some cheesy bar/nightclub where they had been blasting the top 40/hip hop/R&B on CD (of course) and I had been unsuccessful at trying get girls to dance with me."
"One of the lines goes, "Yeah, you look like a punker girl, but you listen to top 40". I guess that I was thinking that I may have had musical tastes in common with someone because she had a pierced tongue or something - that was a mistake. Anyway, there was one of those yellow signs in the hallway in the line to the bathroom. The little stick figure cartoon of the guy falling down the stairs and cracking his head
inspired the song about rejection."
What '80s (and possibly cheesy!) song would you love to cover today if asked ... and why?! "I love the '80s and so just about any song would be cool. Unfortunately, I personally SUCK at covers big
time, and that's one of the reasons why I write my own tunes. The only one that I sort of know how to play is "Borderline" from Madonna. Supernovice drummer, Stefan Veselko, is huge into Duran Duran, and he can play just about anything. I used to be able to play some of their tunes on guitar. That stuff is hard to play guitar and sing at the same time, so it'd be a
challenge, but if asked, I'd love to try "Girls on Film" or "Save a Prayer". For a brief time, we actually covered "Don't Change" from INXS. I love that tune. Oh, Johnna Corbett, our vocalist in Supernovice, she can rock the Pat Benatar! We were playing "Love Is a Battlefield" once over at Pasquale's house. That'd be fun."
Lastly, I like Penguins ... do you?! "Yes, I love penguins. I did a report on them in fourth grade!"
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
If you would like to win an AUTOGRAPHED copy of David's brand new CD, just answer this easy question: Turbow worked with which producer to achieve the recorded sound of 'Gold Standard' on tape?
Send me your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these great new and AUTOGRAPHED CDs! Just send us an e:mail here before July 1st with your answer and the subject title 'DAVID TURBOW SIGNED CDs' to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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