After years of being in Nashville bands, Daniel Pujol finally got noticed by the greater music community when he started performing under his own moniker. His band, Pujol, was picked by Spin as one to watch, and he hooked up with White Stripes frontman Jack White and released a vinyl single on White’s Third Man label. Tomorrow, he’ll use that newfound notoriety to help Jonas Stein — guitarist/singer of Turbo Fruits, former member of Be your Own Pet and Pujol’s Nashville compatriot — launch his Turbo Time label.
Pujol, who moonlights as a grad student at the University of Denver by way of correspondence, has been around the Nashville scene since 2006, playing with bands like Meemaw and Wizardz before breaking out on his own. Thus, he’s a perfect candidate to create one of the two inaugural Turbo Time releases. (Turbo Fruits is releasing a single tomorrow, as well.) The whole point of the label, Stein said, is to act as a platform for friends in the Nashville scene.
To that end, it has a distinct ethos: Rather than putting out full-length albums or CDs, Turbo Time is releasing only vinyl and digital singles, the goal being six singles within a year for each artist. (The roster has yet to be determined.) It’ll all build up into a full-length singles collection that should be released at the end of the year, containing work from all the Turbo Time artists.
Pujol’s entry — a four-song EP called Alive At The Same Time — shows that even though the lo-fi-garage path is well worn, in the right hands that kind of music remains a whole lot of fun to listen to. His brand of ramshackle garage rock has hooks that sputter wildly from fuzzed-out guitar licks, and he has a nasal upper register that recalls Paul Westerberg on those early, bratty Replacements records. The music is imbued with a kinetic spirit and cohesion that most lo-fi bands try to make up for not having by turning the reverb dial to 11.
A lot of Pujol’s lyrics sound like free association, words strung together for their melodic flow rather than direct meaning. “I take the songs apart to make sure both parts [lyrics and melody] work separately,” he says, by way of explanation. Those songs aren’t very literal, and they deal with concepts like heartbreak, politics, questioning the world, and so forth — things most twentysomethings are thinking about — but here we see them through a socially positive lens. “Creatively, I’m trying to MacGuyver a greater way to make the world a better place while still doing what I want and trying not to hurt anybody,” he says.
With the label, Stein wants “to take it back to an old-school way of doing things,” he says. Back in the day, artists would release singles and then build into a full-length. It evolved into people making full-lengths all the time.” The key concept here is one that we’re hearing more and more: CDs are becoming irrelevant in the digital era. By spreading out multiple small releases instead of one big one, Stein wants to give people “something to look forward to.”
The connecting tissue for Turbo Time, Stein and Pujol, of course, is Nashville, a city whose rock community, according to Stein, resembles the Detroit’s in the 1960s, the seedbed for bands like MC5 and the Stooges. A thriving garage scene has emerged in the city in recent years, buoyed by labels like White’s Third Man and Infinity Cat, where Pujol has recorded next to bands like JEFF the Brotherhood, Natural Child and Heavy Cream. Like any small punk scene, Nashville’s is close-knit. “We’re all family and in bands with each other,” Stein says.
Pujol adds, “There’s a creative dialogue here. We’ve all been around each other for the last three, five, 10 years, in some cases. There’s a vibe and aesthetic here that I don’t see as strongly anywhere else.” A label like Turbo Time may be able to give that aesthetic a place to breathe, and a band like Pujol can do the rest of the work.