March ’06: International Noise Conspiracy

Politics aren't fun. They don't have much to do with blaring rock 'n' roll, dancing on barricades, unquenchable pelvic thrusting or a sweaty lead singer jumping like a street fighter with his band, but all these things sure play a big part in The (International) Noise Conspiracy's politics. "We wanted to take all this energy and frustration and try to turn it into something positive," explains lead-singer Dennis Lyxzn (formerly of the iconic punk band The Refused), "something that could actually make people excited about politics." With a hard-driving punk-rock sound that draws influences from soul, jazz and '70s funk (how many punk bands have an organ player and a tambourine?), it's easy to see why INC are finding their way onto so many modern surf flicks, including Momentum: Under the Influence and Campaign 1 and 2. And their live show...mandatory curriculum for everyone. --Travis Ferr

SURFING MAGAZINE: You guys have a lot more to say than most bands politically, how would you describe your message to new fans?

DENNIS LYXZN: What we try to do is analyze everything in this world and try to see what the problem is -- try to cut to the roots of the social, economic and culture structures that we have. I would say that if we had to really break it down that our whole deal is that we are a socialist, anti-capitalist, revolutionary band; meaning that we believe that the capitalist structures that we live under are the main problem, and all the small problems that we have, we attribute to the capitalist system. So that's kind of our main theme: just to question, and criticize and hopefully overthrow this whole system we live in.

Was there a defining moment growing up that directed you towards doing something like this?

Yeah, I mean just discovering punk-rock music was probably what did it, you know? Like growing up, I mean I was into metal...I was into music in general...and being a teenager you always feel kind of out of place, like even if you're in with the crowd you can still feel kind of out of place and you feel alienated; and I felt really out of it 'cause I wasn't one of the nerds, and I wasn't the jocks, I was kind of in the middle. Then I discovered punk-rock music and it was actually music that talked about a lot of alienation that I felt; but it also talked about it in a constructive way. It enabled me to start to criticize and start to look at the structures we live in and that was 1988 I got into punk-rock and then I hung out with the "punks" in our hometown and they were all anarchist kids so I started hanging out with those kids and I got into politics.

Now your live show takes a very different approach than most "political bands" -- a lot more dancing than finger pointing. Can Politics be fun?

Yeah, and I think it's really important for us because we all come from this hard-core punk-rock background, and a lot of times when bands talk about politics it becomes something really heavy -- like a burden almost. When you go to a show and bands are pointing the finger and they talk about politics and it bums you out you at the end of the show you're like "Oh, Fuck -- this is what's happening to the's fucked up."

That's so true, why is that?

It's a problem within the leftist radical movement in-itself that's very self- sacrificial -- it's very "you can't enjoy it, you have to be a revolutionary." It's a very "Lennon" approach to revolution. We just figure: for us politics is kind of the essence of life. It's something that we live everyday so let's make something creative and positive out of it. That's just what we wanted to do is take all this energy and frustration and try to turn into something positive that could actually make people excited about politics. It's hard to find a balance between your political ideas and your life and sometimes when the balance is too tilted people forget to live their lives and they just become like this political machine and we're not really interested in that. We want to bring the joy back into politics.

You guys have become prominent fixtures in a lot of big-time surf films recently, how does that hit you being from Sweden?

Surprisingly enough, right where I live -- it's like really far up on the east coast of Sweden, there's a little coastal town--you can actually surf. And I've actually been surfing there...only once, but I did it and I have a couple friends that actually surf, like proper surfing, I mean it's not like huge waves and it's not crazy like that, but you can actually do it. I mean it ties in with skateboarding--a lot of us when we grew up and we got into punk-rock you we got into skateboarding 'cause at that time -- like late '80s, punk-rock and skateboarding was something that tied together. If you were a skater you were a kind of a punk -- so I mean being in surf movies -- that's pretty sweet.

Your first tour outside of Sweden was in illegal Chinese rock clubs, and I just recently saw you guys play with Turbonegro in Anaheim, basically in the middle of Disneyland, the epitome of American capitalism. How different is the crowd?

Well, first of all anytime you play with Turbonegro it's going to be different! They have a very...eclectic, spirited group of fans. But of course you know like playing an illegal show back in 1999 in China is going to be very different from playing in Disneyworld in 2005 -- of course, but at the same time, kids that are into music and kids that get the political ideas -- it doesn't matter if there Chinese or Americans -- if they get it, they get it. That's a cool part about being in a band 'cause music is the language that almost everybody understands -- so that's a cool thing, it smoothens out the differences a little bit. It's kind of cool.

With such a high-energy show, what keeps you guys going night after night?

You know the people that show up, they're the people that show up to see you play, and if you don't give 'em everything you've got. Why are you doing it? Some nights your body's hurting and you feel like you just kind of want to go home, but when you hit the stage, you gotta give it all you got. That's like your responsibility. So many people would love to play in bands; so many people dream to have an opportunity to do something like this, so if we're going to participate in this privileged life that we have, let's make the best out of it. Let's make people realize: this is f—ing serious–that's a good way to say it.

Your new record sounds a bit different, and you did have Rick Rubin produce it, were you looking to go a different route?

I think anytime you're a band that's serious about loving music your albums are going to be different. From the last record to the new record you've listened to a couple different records, you have some different influences and some different ideas have caught on. I mean, some of the things we tried out in the past didn't work out; maybe some of the things on the new record didn't work out as we wanted them to, but I mean that's the cool part of being in a band. It would pretty useless if you did a record and were like, "yeah, I'm completely {{{100}}}% satisfied with everything, then what would be the point of doing another record. So I like the whole idea of it.

Last night you were talking about who had more freedom, Sweden or America, did you come to a conclusion; I never heard the end of it?

[Laughing] You know, I think, probably, if we had to break it down, I think there pretty similar in that way, but I think that Sweden is a bit more free. It's a smaller country so it's easier for your voice to be heard. It's also a country where you don't censor songs because they can have a connection to Al-Qaeda; you don't censor teachers because they have un-American point of views; you don't censor movies; we don't blur out the tits on Swedish TV. So, I think in that aspect we're a little bit more free which is just funny because America is this country that's so desperate for this concept of freedom, and a lot of times it's not necessarily true.