Darkness Forever! On the threshold of their breakthrough Turbonegro had said goodbye to the circus and it seemt like they would never return. The reasons were diverse, the decisive one being Hank's drug addiction that made it impossible for him to continue.
Hank: "I had to return to my roots and family. I've been obsessed with demons!"
But there were several other contributing factors as well - the band was stuck in an oppressive record deal with their then label Boomba that basically didn't allow them to make money at all. A relentless touring schedule and the tour with Nashville Pussy cancelled half way just added to the disaster.
In retrospect Happy Tom comprised: "We'd rather quit than becoming a bad band."
In 1999 Bitzcore Records out of Hamburg bought the contracts from Boomba and began to reissue Turbonegro's entire back-catalogue of albums. Their early works "Hot Cars & Spent Contraceptives" from 1992 with former vocalist Harry Fossberg and "Never Is Forever" from 1994 that introduced Hank Von Helvete as the new Turbo singer & frontman - both had scarcely been accessible to the public before and were the first opportunity for many fans to discover the bands buried repertoire from the first half of the nineties.
1999 also saw the release of a posthumous live album entitled Darkness Forever. It captures selections from two shows in Hamburg and Oslo - and a great documentation of Turbonegro's exceptional larger-than-live stage antics it is.
Darkness Forever - between the lines in Hamburg & Oslo !
The critics agreed: "It's just like MC5's Kick Out The Jams, except the girls in the audience have shaved arm pits, and the band is much better-looking."
Happy Tom, Euroboy and Chris briefly returned as Tom Lund Band with a hooligan remake of the immortal Turbo classic "I got erection" which was suggested as a possible choice for the official anthem of the Norwegian soccer team for the European championships held in 2000. Unfortunately their song entitled "Europas juvel" was rejected by the NFF committee.
However, half of the band was leaving the rock world behind after their decease in december 1998. Happy Tom operated as trend analyst and writer for a series on Norwegian TV channel NRK, Pål went to film school in New Zealand, and Hank disappeared to recover at home in Lofoten. Euroboy & Chris continued with The Euroboys with Rune as the bands manager, released a new album and embarked on a successful tour in spring 2001 with Soundtrack Of Our Lives, the new band of former Union Carbide Productions frontman Ebbot Lundberg, one of the true founders of scandi rock.
While the Scandinavian Rock wave of the late 90's - with which Turbonegro were associated but considered too smart to be an actual part of - was running dry into mediocrity, Turbonegro's shimmering rock legacy transcended beyond the latest trends.
Their appreciation among contemporary artists from diverse musical genres as rock, pop, punk and even black metal is utterly well displayed on Alpha Motherfuckers, a tribute album to Turbonegro that was compiled and in the works over a span of two years and finally released by Bitzcore in may 2001. The impressive line-up includes among others Queens of the Stone Age, Nashville Pussy, Therapy?, Him, Bela B. & Denim Girl aka German technopop star Blümchen.
Alpha Motherfuckers - a tribute to Turbonegro !
The release party held in Hamburg in early june also saw a last glance of Turbo when Euroboy, Tom, Pål, Rune & Chris entered the stage to play "Get it on" with Amulet singer Torgny. Hank was missing but present by way of a telephone conference call from Lofoten Islands.
Turbojugend turned out to be another remarkable phenomenon.
Turbo Youth [sic] - originally a moniker that described their Oslo based fan club (beside t-shirts it offered a nifty Turbo diploma!) - and its famous logo that sports a black leather cap inspired by the "Scandinavian Leathermen" homo clubs - were soon to be adopted by the rising & loyal fan army - or "navy" for that matter - who organised in local Turbojugend chapters.
The early ones established in the epicentres of turbomania such as Norway, Sweden, Germany & USA but soon popped up in virtually every part of the rock'n'roll concerned world.
Turbojugend with Euroboy at the Quart Festival, Norway in july 2002
"The most insane fans in Rock" stated English Q Magazine obviously impressed by the unique display of fan devotion. Even the band is left speechless - and quite proud about the fact that the jugend movement developed and grew without their own intervention at all.
Solely Japan still misses out. Happy Tom: "Of all popcultural things the japs have ripped off and played with from the West, Turbomania they just couldn't handle. I'm proud, hehe!"
In fact the immense following and the tribute album revealed a huge interest that was certainly never received back in the day when they had quit. When Turbonegro were approached by the organizers of the Norwegian Quart Festival about a possible participation in 2002, Turbonegro agreed !!
Happy Tom: "They offered us too much money, we couldn't say no. JUST SAY YES."
Two further shows were confirmed for the Hultsfred Festival in Sweden and the Bizarre Festival in Germany and Turbo kicked off with the Res-Erection tour in the summer of 2002.
In fact what was initially meant to be a one-off affair to offer an opportunity to the many newly recruited fans to witness a Turbonegro performance, finally resulted in the bands reunion !! Apart from the tremendous response at the festival shows Turbonegro had also realized that they are in better shape and much more determined than ever before.
Happy Tom says: "We never wanted to break up in the first place. There was still an open account".
Turbonegro playing live in front of 40,000 people at the Bizarre Festival, Germany in august 2002
Shortly after the Bizarre Festival the band proclaimed that they signed a record deal for two new albums with Burning Heart Records, an independent record company from Sweden with a long tradition in the punk & hardcore sector.
Happy Tom explains: "The decision for Burning Heart was already made very early in the process. Unlike the major companies they agreed with everything that was important for us. They have the money but a soul too - a wonderful combination."
Burning Heart also licensed Turbonegro's most successful albums Ass Cobra and Apocalypse Dudes from Bitzcore and reissued them as digipak CD's with additional video footage from the recent Res-erection show at Quart.
After a hiatus of four years Turbonegro are back !!!
Tom: "We’ve been in insane asylums, methadone clinics, we’ve been shot at on stage, beaten up - we’re the cockroach of the rock'n’roll world - you can’t get rid of us!"