The Conspiracy's theory
Swedish mod-rocking Communists party for the Party
Our mission in this band is to make people think and dance. So says Dennis Lyxzén, vocalist of the Marxist punk group (International) Noise Conspiracy.
Though undeniably stylish and stylized, the band (or collective, as they preferred to be called) isn't just Commie because Commie is cool. As evidenced by their guerrilla-style underground tour of China — a country that forbids concerts by Western rock groups — they put their collectivized money where their mouths are. "It was very inspiring," Lyxzén says of the tour, "because the music scene over there is very new and very fresh. It hasn't really been corrupted by America yet."
The Swedish quintet dips back into MC5-era garage rock and early soul for inspiration. As a teenager, Lyxzén had as much exposure to Motown soul and Noam Chomsky as he did to Bad Religion. What results is a combination of danceable '60s mod rock, incendiary political punk and a strong socialist agenda.
Importantly, no single piece of the Conspiracy's puzzle — musical or political — is subordinate to the other. "The ultimate is that people can understand and appreciate and relate to our music and be able to move their feet to it," Lyxzén says. "But a lot of times we are painfully aware of the fact that we are a band that plays music, and we cannot expect that everyone be into the political ideas that we have."
The group's bombastic sound is best captured in a live setting, where Lyxzén dances energetically, performing splits like a little kid who has seen James Brown on "American Bandstand" one too many times. The five members, decked out in matching drab-colored suits, look like a behind-the-Iron-Curtain version of the Temptations. "By wearing uniforms, we like to show people that we are a collective and that everyone in the band is on the same level. Capitalism wants rock music to be easily commodified, and by trying to single out the rock star like Jim Morrison or Kurt Cobain, you can sell the imagery of rock music."
Skeptics may bash the Conspiracy for embracing an institution as inherently capitalistic and greedy as the music business, but they say there's not much of an option. "To be a socialist in a capitalist world is pretty much impossible," declares Lyxzén. "I think we have to look at the fact that we are workers employed by a record label, and that we work putting out this product. We know that in a way, we are sort of selling these ideas to people, but at the same time, we are trying to use the record label to spread the word on socialism."
An idealistic philosophy, to be sure, but the group is reasonable about its goals. "We are very ambitious, and we don't want to play down on the ideas we have," Lyxzén says. "But if Dylan couldn't get a revolution going, how the hell can we? ... We try to make the best of the situation we're in. Hopefully we can inspire the same way we got inspired by older political bands. But if people just want to shake their asses, that's fine with me."
The (International) Noise Conspiracy play the Echo Lounge Mon., April 9. Tickets are $12. Show time is 9 p.m. For more information, call 404-681-3600.??