International Noise Conspiracy, The
The (International) Noise Conspiracy
The (International) Noise Conspiracy is a Swedish rock band influenced by the political activity of influential leaders Che Guevara and Karl Marx as much as they are by '70s punk, garage-rock, and '60s soul music. Lead by singer Dennis Lyxzén (who once fronted the seminal Swedish hardcore band Refused), the INC (as they are commonly referred), have based their vibrant careers on spreading their revolutionary political mantras to their audiences while at the same time demanding their bodies to dance along. Eye Weekly's Stuart Berman described the INC as, "… Karl Marx as soundtracked by the Kinks." With matching outfits, on stage and in press photos, the INC knock listeners' feet off the ground dancing while putting social issues in their heads—even if they don't notice at first. The Los Angeles Times called the INC, "… rock's most politically radical band." But making socialism sexy may be the band's primary agenda.
With brash sounds that no one could ignore, Dennis Lyxzén's hardcore group Refused was heavy in style and content. After the band called it quits in 1998, Lyxzén and former Separation guitarist Lars Strömberg wanted to start a new band that had some of the political notion of Refused but with a more danceable style of music played behind it. What resulted was a mélange of '60s garage-rock, soul ideas, and punk aesthetics. Lyxzén and Strömberg were joined by bassist Inge Johansson, organist Sara Almgren, and drummer Ludwig Dahlberg. "We wanted to be a soul band originally, but we realized we were all too white and living in the north of Sweden, so that won't work," Lyxzén told Berman. "We aren't interested in the avant-garde, we just want to play music that could appeal to a lot of people, widening the spectrum of who could get into the ideas that we're saying."
Shortly after forming, the group recorded a dozen songs that were then released as a series of 7 inch records on four different independent record labels. Many of those same songs then appeared on the band's first full-length album, The First Conspiracy, released via independent label G-7 Welcoming Committee. In true militant fashion, the INC decided that their first tour outside of Sweden would be to spend a month playing shows in the People's Republic of China.
Not long after the band's first tour, the five-piece went back into the studio to record a more substantial collection of songs. After signing a deal with Burning Heart Records in Sweden and U.S. punk label Epitaph in 2000, the INC released Survival Sickness. With the lead single, "Smash It Up," roaring out of the cages like a lion, the album did well and the band spent most of their year touring all over the United States and Europe with bands like The Hives, At the Drive-In, and Rocket From the Crypt. "Blending punk with the influence of 1960s British Invasion bands like the Kinks and the Who, the Conspiracy remind us how captivating simple, basic, groove-oriented rock & roll can be," wrote All Music Guide's Alex Henderson. "You don't have to agree with the band's politics to find Survival Sickness hard to resist," he concluded.
Led by the raging single "Capitalism Stole My Virginity," in 2001 came the album A New Morning, Changing Weather. Produced by Jari Haapalainen, the record came at a time when Sweden was burgeoning as a hotbed of fresh rock 'n' roll and most especially, garage-rock. With, "… beefier rhythms, psychedelic textures and Funhouse-style sax jams—the album also marks an ideological evolution for INC, building upon the 'Smash It Up' fervour of Sickness to explore deeper levels of Marxist philosophy," wrote Berman. "In a lot of interviews, we talk about political issues, and people are like, 'These guys don't seem to be a lot of fun,'" Lyxzén told Berman. "But this band is such a great mix of politics, music and aesthetics, and we're fascinated by books, records and pop culture," Lyxzén said. "Whenever we play music, it actually is a lot of fun, and when we play live, we hope people will see we're not boring-stiff people that just want to talk about politics all day long, because that's not what we do when we're at home."
Touring exhaustively for A New Morning, the band played all over the world, capturing one of their finest moments at the Oslo Jazz Festival in 2002. The following year, the band released a recording of that show as the album Live at Oslo Jazz Festival. The six-song EP Bigger Cages, Long Chains also came out that year and contained a tad less vocal socialism and even an unusual cover of N.E.R.D.'s "Baby Doll." Bradley Torreano of All Music Guide noted the EP's bursting energy when he wrote that, "… sheer passion … rings out of every tense baseline and raging chorus…."
For the Record …
Members include Sara Almgren (left group, 2004), organ; Ludwig Dahlberg, drums; Inge Johansson (born on May 10, 1977, in Sweden), bass; Dennis Lyxzén (born on June 19, 1972, in Sweden), lead vocals; Lars Strömberg (born on March 21, 1978, in Sweden), guitar, vocals.
Group formed in Umeå, Sweden, c. 1998; released debut album The First Conspiracy, G-7 Welcoming Committee, 1999; reissued, Burning Heart Records, 2002; signed with Burning Heart/Epitaph Records, released Survival Sickness, 2000; A New Morning, Changing Weather, 2001; Bigger Cages, Longer Chains EP, 2003; released Armed Love, Burning Heart, 2004; signed to American Recordings/Warner Bros., reissued Armed Love, 2005.
Addresses: Record company—American Recordings/Warner Bros. Records, 3300 Warner Blvd., Burbank, CA 91505. Website—The (International) Noise Conspiracy Official Website: http://www.internationalnoise.com.
Known for his work with some of the finest hip-hop and metal albums of all time, record producer Rick Rubin had been a fan of the INC for a number of years. The legendary hit-maker had seen the band play on their first U.S. tour, and in 2003, emailed Lyxzén to say that he would like to produce the INC's next record. A big fan of the Rubin-produced metal album Reign in Blood by Slayer, Lyxzén immediately wrote Rubin an email back and said "yes," before even asking the rest of the band. "A lot of times it seems that Rick knows more about who you are than you do," Lyxzén admitted to Rolling Stone's Andrew Dansby.
The INC's new recordings with Rubin were made without bassist Almgren who left the band to join The Vicious. The new album was shaping up to be slicker, with catchier choruses, and, lyrically, a bit of a different outlook since the September 11 tragedy. "When we wrote the last record, the whole anti-globalization movement was happening," Lyxzén told Corey Moss of VH1.com. "There was protests everywhere, we traveled the world, we played protests and you could kind of feel like something was happening and revolution was in the air. Then 9/11 happened, and it was like a huge backlash on all the political movements that we were a part of. It's hard to wake up one morning and be like, 'Yeah, the revolution didn't happen.' Like, what to do now? And that inspired a lot of the new record, kind of finding the strength to carry on, and this is what we need to do."
Armed Love was released via longtime label Burning Heart in Sweden in 2004 and set to be released in the United States at the same time. After some record company trouble, Rubin helped the INC out by signing the band to his own label, American Recordings. A division of Warner Bros., Rubin's eclectic label released Armed Love in the States in 2005. London Free Press's Darryl Sterdan called the new album, "… their most polished and poised production to date, with a dozen fist-pumping counterculture anthems fueled by hip-shaking soul grooves…." In Lyxzén's interview with Dansby, the musician explained the slight differences of the band's lyrics, post-September 11. "The way things are today, it is easy to find things to write about, but you must be careful not to wear yourself down," he said. "I've been singing songs about these issues for a long time. But if you compare the lyrics with the last few records, there is a different approach. They're very political, but they talk about politics from a personal standpoint."
The First Conspiracy, G-7 Welcoming Committee, 1999; reissued, Burning Heart Records, 2002.
Survival Sickness, Burning Heart/Epitaph, 2000.
A New Morning, Changing Weather, Burning Heart/Epitaph, 2001.
Bigger Cages, Longer Chains, Burning Heart, 2003.
Live at Oslo Jazz Festival, Moserobi, 2003.
Armed Love, Burning Heart, 2004; reissued, American Recordings, 2005.
Eye Weekly (Toronto, Ontario), October 19, 2000; November 8, 2001.
London Free Press, October 11, 2005.
"(International) Noise Conspiracy Prefer Armed Love to Hippie Love," VH1.com, http://www.vh1.com/artists/news/1508663/0802005/international_noise_conspiracy.jhtml (November 1, 2006).
"Noise Conspiracy Get 'Armed,'" Rolling Stone, http://www.rollingstone.com/news/story/5937215/noise_conspiracy_get_armed (November 1, 2006).
"The (International) Noise Conspiracy," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (November 1, 2006).
"The International Noise Conspiracy," Epitaph Records, http://www.epitaph.com/artists/artist/70 (November 1, 2006).
The (International) Noise Conspiracy Official Website, http://www.internationalnoise.com/presskit_biography.asp (November 1, 2006).
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