Friday, June 23, 2006

glisten: hurra torpedo

Hurra Torpedo - All the Things (S)He Said

Hurra Torpedo - Body

It's not often that you find an internet meme that makes you come back for seconds. Star Wars Kid was fine the first time, sure; but was anyone really hoping that Ghyslain was going to do a follow up? Did anybody buy Will Hung's album? Does anyone care about the Pokemon kids' next project? Of course not; so it's a tetch odd to find that the folks behind the much emailed and linked cover of Bonnie Tyler's 'Total Eclipse of the Heart as performed on kitchen appliances' clip are not only still active, they're currently on tour.

This gets less surprising once you realize that the band wasn't some fly-by-night outfit. Egil Hegerberg, Kristopher Schau and Aslag Guttormsgaard have been making music for over a decade now, as part of the pop/demolition band Hurra Torpedo and in other incarnations as part of the Norwegian art collective cum improv comedy group Duplex Records (think less Lansing Dreiden and more Gwar). As Hurra Torpedo, the trio dress in baggy, blue tracksuits with the ass pulled down to thigh height. They play rock and roll music, generally with one man on rhythm guitar and the other two doing improvisational and oddball percussion. More precisely, they're beating the living hell out of kitchen appliances with lengths of pipe and massive gears and slamming shut a deep-freeze to what roughly corresponds to 'the beat'.

I got looped into seeing Hurra Torpedo live after some encouragement from sometime Hut contributor Elisabeth and scoring a little love from the Norwegian Embassy. I went with low expectations and left utterly blown away. First of all, they were loud. About two weeks earlier I had seen the much ballyhooed and droning sunn0))) in the same space, a band that claims to play so loudly and violently that they will make audience members loose their bowels. Sunn0))'s show is nowhere near that sort of Grand Guignolesque hyperbole, but they were cacophonous enough that you could actually feel the music shimmer around your body. Hurra was louder.

They're also very funny and very well grounded. Hurra Torpedo is several parts comedy and theater to go with their destruction. Each performer plays a persona; the oblivious frontman, the violent would-be Casanova and the Harpo-esque idiot. They understand that what they're doing is farcical and they're the first to tell you; their only pretentions are faux pretentions.

Lastly, all the talk about being a novelty act and of selling out to Ford aside; they're very, very real with their performances. It is one thing to talk about utterly demolishing an oven with a lead pipe and to then lift said oven over one's head and throw it several yards, all while performing an awesome cover of 'Blitzkrieg Bop'; it is quite entirely another thing to actually watch someone do it. Allow me to be the one that tells you: it is an awesome spectacle and it cannot be faked. By show's end, the entire band was well and truly exhausted, the set was littered with glass, twisted metal and insulation. I was impressed enough that I left with a CD, a t-shirt... and a badly abused oven door, which currently occupies a position of honor in my foyer.

Hurra were definitely one of the best and most memorable shows I've seen this year; they take a great deal of rock's animus and give it violent life in the best and least misanthropic fashion possible. I threw up the horns without a shred of dignity or irony. I highly recommend you do the same if they're in your neck of the woods.

Recorded music from this sort of a band hardly does them justice, but I've pulled two of my favorites from their album: a cover of the TaTu pop hit 'All the Things She Said' and the clanky original 'Body'.

tell me more about it...

Hurra Torpedo's new full-length album is available only via import or at their shows... or, amazingly, via iTunes.

Weird world we live in these days.

The album's unsurprisingly not too listenable, but you're obliged to at least get their cover of 'Toxic'; you won't regret it.
You can also buy all manner of useless Hurra Torpedo stuff from their cafepress site... but no album?
Unsurprisingly, there's a great deal of Hurra presence on the web. You can visit the band's official site, their myspace site or The Duplex Records site.
Watch the band's Ford Fusion sponsored 'rockumentary', The Crushing Blow.
Viral salesman bullshit aside, this is fairly clever.
Read a pdf of the band's utterly insane tech rider/stageplot.

Ever seen backline that includes two toasters and an electric toothbrush?
'This is music from Norway'
To get any kind of an idea what Hurra Torpedo is all about, you're obliged to see them perform live. Video hardly captures the energy, but here's some clips to give you an idea:

- Covering The Pixies' Where Is My Mind

- 'Spencer'

- All The Things (S)He Said

- Not too sure on this one; some interesting chanting, though.

- And, of course the iconic cover of Total Eclipse of the Heart... plus a special live finale.