Bela Lugosi is Still Dead Apparently

TONIGHT! Bauhaus performs again three nights at The Wiltern
The Dusting Off of Bauhaus: 1998, 2005
by Alexander Laurence

Part of the Bauhaus legend is that they broke up fifteen years ago, and many
of their young fans have never seen them live. Like the Sex Pistols, and even
the Beatles, not many who frequent the Goth clubs in towns everywhere and who
have expressively danced to "She's In Parties," had seen Bauhaus in the flesh.
In America, Bauhaus were never popular when intact. After they called it
quits, in 1983, a weird thing happened: kids in the suburbs saw Edward
Scissorhands, wore black clothes, listened to The Cure and Siouxsie, wanted to join a
surrogate Addams Family. There was the film The Hunger (featuring Bauhaus). All
this dark imagery resonated with young suburban people. Why this caught on who

By the late 1980s, these underage people, who used to have their parents
drive them to Goth clubs and to Dead Can Dance concerts, or even Dungeons and
Dragons meetings, moved to cities, and the Goth nights in any given city expanded.
Since then, bands have gone up and down, and much Goth music is very old and
dated. Much of it sounds like workout music now. Bauhaus stayed innocent,
preserved, even though Peter Murphy solo records and Love & Rockets tainted the
image. Bauhaus would always stay young, trapped in their early twenties. Goths
want to stay young forever. They could relate. They are really vampires right?
They have seen The Hunger. You get the idea.

So all were shocked when Bauhaus announced that they were going to reform and
play some shows in LA in July 1998. This was news to anyone who knew about
Peter Murphy and his conversion to Islam and move to Turkey. Wasn't he like Cat
Stevens? The Beatles never had to do a reunion tour because they always had
too much money. Why the Rolling Stones, Sex Pistols, and a number of other bands
make comebacks could usually be reduced to a few things, like money and
boredom. The greed of promoters has swelled in this age. At least Bauhaus didn't
attempt to record a new record and embarrass everyone. I mean has anyone
actually bought a new record by the Stones or the Cure in the last ten years? Why is
Bauhaus returning now, for the typical twenty-year dust-off period? It's
either now or never.

Peter Murphy states that this "Resurrection" is a chance to clarify some of
the Bauhaus myths. He says in interviews that Bauhaus was never into devil
worship or occultism. They weren't even a true goth band. A number of their songs
have influences ranging from reggae dub, funk music, and glam rock. The whole
uniform and tendencies of goths in the late eighties were formed long after
Bauhaus had broken up. I mean when I listened to Bauhaus as a teenager, I also
listened to Magazine, The Gun Club, The Psychedelic Furs, Wire, PIL, and Gang
of Four, and several other bands that wore no makeup or much black clothing.
This would be heresy among today's goth clientele, who haven't heard of many of
these bands, but that's what people were listening to in 1980, along with

It was a surprise that Peter Murphy was even onstage. There had been several
rumors that he had died. I went to the third night at the Hollywood Palladium,
their fourth show. I had talked to people on the internet and there was talk
of technical problems and that the band was nervous and cold. By this third
night, they were getting more creative flow and appearing more natural onstage.
They played the same songs all four nights, following the songs of the recent
Crackle CD. They also played a Dead Can Dance song.

During "Double Dare", singing backstage, Murphy could be seen with his face
projected on a TV screen. The other members were onstage while Murphy's big
face loomed over the audience. There was a lot of smoke and dry ice. Bauhaus are
theatrical. Murphy has a special stage presence like few in rock. There was a
real connection to the crowd this night. Many people were dancing and sweating
in the front row. Bouncers were giving water to the dehydrated throng.
Peter Murphy danced around the stage, with less energy than 1982, and at one
point ripped his pants. He spent much time singing from the drum riser. He
gestured often to the audience, winked, and spoke words to certain people. There
was a greater reaction to each song as they went into the first few chords of
"She's In Parties," "The Passion of Lovers," or "In The Flat Field." These are
songs that we have all heard many times, but few of us could believe that it
wasn't just watching a video. It doesn't seem likely that Bauhaus will play
again in the future (ahem), so it was like we were all dropped into the
post-punk period of 1979-1982 for ninety minutes.

As I drove up to the Hollywood Palladium, I saw the long line wrapping around
the block. The sea of black clothes. The age range was wide. People who were
there in the punk heyday, now getting close to 40, to the kids, barely out of
junior high. I saw some latina chicks from east LA. They look real goth in
their own way. You know, Love & Rockets? I met people who I used to see when I
went to shows more than fifteen years ago. Other people looked very un-goth, and
maybe who couldn't get into the nearby Hanson show the same night at the
Hollywood Bowl.

It seems weird that people would want to be labeled as Goth. People who are
misfits, loners, nerds, black-wearing tendencies, thin, etc. I have talked to
many of these people at a Bauhaus website (www.bauhaus.org). They see
themselves as one big dysfunctional family, much in the same way deadheads, skatepunks,
straight edgers, or alternative college rock people do, I suppose. I don’t
see why people decide that they are just one thing. They decide this early on.
It reminds me of people who only eat at McDonalds. A certain type of music
inspires certain styles and certain ways of living becomes codified, and then
rules and a philosophy emerge. I was there at the beginning but was asleep. I
didn't know that this philosophy came to be represented in a person like Robert
Smith of The Cure: black hair, white makeup, singing depressing love songs, and
feeling trapped and that no one understands them. One thing about Bauhaus I
like is that they didn't put out a lot of boring records. They knew when to
stop. The Goth culture they helped create is not their fault....

PS 2005: Bauhaus are back at it again. After seven years dormant, they have
returned again. Daniel Ash, Kevin Haskins, and David J all live in the LA area.
They are all involved with the local music scene and new bands. I had been
speculating that they would get back together. Back in 1998, they had been
disbanded for fifteen years. Now it’s almost 25 years since their first record.
Even though Love & Rockets and Peter Murphy have been successful, it doesn’t
prevent their older music to speak to a younger generation. For every one person
who hadn’t seen them in 1998, now there are ten more who haven’t seen them in

It was basically a reunion for the Coachella 2005. This year also had a
reunion of Gang of Four and all the original members. Bauhaus played a secret show
at the Glasshouse a few days before. This was a wild event. The playing was
average but the response was overwhelming. 75% of the crowd was wearing the same
goth fashions as before. None of Bauhaus appeared to be into the fashion.
Peter Murphy had dyed his hair blonde.

The Coachella performance was more of a spectacle. Peter Murphy hung from a
rope upside down and sang “Bela Lugosi’s Dead.” It was one of the most
stunning visuals from the festival. They played some different songs. All the members
wore black clothes. Bauhaus followed Weezer and played before Coldplay. It
was an odd lineup indeed. It remained another chance for young people to
appreciate this sort of music. I was reading recently and interview with Nick Cave.
He was talking about the fact that he likes goth people because they are
stubborn and stick to the same imagery. They are very serious.

Bauhaus was a cult band that spread to a larger following. They were very
diverse and futuristic. Songs like “Terror Couple Kill Coronal” sound like they
could be released today. Music is so give and take. There is no adequate
timeline as to what really influence what music. It is difficult really to map out
why this band is really important to the younger generation as it is. Some
people focus on different periods of music. I think that most sensible people
fish around and listen to different stuff and pick out all the best songs. All my
love for Buddy Holly and Del Shannon didn’t inform my musical palate for all
future bands. Those were great guys who had their day before I ever listened
to music. Bauhaus had their time in precisely 1979 to 1983. It’s funny that
kids born after that would admire that time so much while ignoring their own
musical zeitgeist.

I know a lot of music being made today in 2005 looks back to some other age.
Maybe some of it is made in innocence. I don’t think that the music now and
all future music will just be about excavation of the 1970s and 1980s. There are
so many bands now. Perhaps the more interesting ones will work in some area
that is not just a vicious cycle. Bauhaus was originally made out to be glam
rock revivalists. They seemed to take a lot of various musical parts and make
them their own thing. There is something about Bauhaus that makes it like no
other band.

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Christoper Sorrentino

Interview with Christopher Sorrentino
by Alexander Laurence (c) 1995

Christopher Sorrentino's first novel, Sound On Sound (Dalkey Archive), is all-out attack on the music industry, filtered through the stylistic auspices of Modernist writing. It is an ambitious debut as a novelist. He was born in New York City. Since 1985, he has lived in San Francisco. In the Mission, he is known as "The Great Giuseppe." He is the son of novelist Gilbert Sorrentino, so along with Martin Amis, they are beginning a new movement in writing.

This year, 2005, Sorrentino has been nominated for the national book award. His new novel is called Trance (FSG).

Alexander Laurence:
Could you talk about that wonderful time when you first thought about writing Sound On Sound?
Christopher Sorrentino:
I took some notes outlining its structure, etc., basic conceptual stuff, back in 1982. Then I stopped writing altogether until I was about 25, and after writing rotten short stories for a year or so, I unearthed the Sound On Sound project, which seemed like a sufficiently ambitious way of avoiding the bildungsroman I'm sure I would have wasted my time on otherwise. That was in April 1990; I finished the book Chrismas Eve 1992.

Are you worried about the fact that some people may recognize themselves in these characters?
Any of the models for the characters in the book who might recognize that and become insulted are probably too fucking stupid to read the book.

Let's talk about the technique? The layering of one chapter over another creates tension, meaning, and confusion.
I've always liked books, and other art, that worked like that--Sound and the Fury, Rashomon kinds of things. I tried to take all those modernist techniques I'd been ogling for years and push them until they fell on top of each other, and I wanted to let the book's structure determine its content as much as possible, and what I ended up with was a self-disruptive stack. I guess what you could call its narrative inconsistencies are balanced pretty much by its thematic and formal harmony, and even in the midst of the inconsistencies readers will find motifs and refrains that pop up throughout the book's five sections.

Why is placing this novel at the beginning of Reagan's presidency; how does that relate to the 4/4 beat of the 1980s?
Aside from the fact that the parts of my own life I drew from for material took place at that time, when I realized while writing the book that one of the things I was doing was conducting a running commentary on popular culture, I figured the Reagan parallel fit perfectly. The eighties were really an era of subtle destruction, at least on the home front--I won't talk about the more overt forms of destruction that occurred in, say, Central America--a lot of demonstrably good things were destroyed or co-opted, and the transformations were accomplished in part through the manipulation of a lot of easy-listening, slick-as-snot images and icons; like Ronald Reagan and his prophet, pop culture, like an idea of rock and roll as the theme ditty of rebellion so powerful and pervasive that the form can be used to score a Nazi movie like Top Gun. To me, rock and roll is simply another agent of betrayal.

Any favorite groups worth mentioning? Or did you write this novel under pharmaceutical influence and/or sonic accompaniment?
The only group which has consistently held my interest over the past twenty-five years or more has been The Beatles; they sound like everybody who came before them and everybody who came after them sounds like them, a kind of perfect post-modern continuum, even more so because it's rarely acknowledged except as if all parties are conscious of what they're doing. I can't write on drugs, except maybe pseudophedrine, and I can't write if there's anything more alluring, like music, going on in the room.

Some writers have forged their way by combining the subject of rock music with the art of writing; they end up leaving out the art. How did you achieve this balance?
I was really interested in technique, and I think it's silly to get tripped up by your own subject. I'm not the kind of writer who runs down to the library to check stuff out on microfiche or does months of fieldwork in the Tundra: you could get eyestrain, you could get frostbite. I'll dump verisimilitude and factual accuracy for fiction every time, and so in this case the idea of articulating some kind of reasoned "judgment" about rock and roll went out the window right away: I started from the premise that it's another pile of shit from the Lite Entertainment brigade and went on from there. I'll leave the analysis to the rock critics.

You are going on a world tour to promote this novel. Could you say something about your "Sound On Sound Tour 95?" How do you think it will go?
My publisher's a little concerned that I'll be hitting the road slighty before publication date; I guess they're worried that books won't be available for the thousands of fans who'll be hurdling the police barricades, tearing out their hair, and screaming hysterically. They're also balking at the idea of concert t-shirts, which I'm frankly pissed off at, and the action figure prototypes haven't arrived yet from Hasbro, so it looks like Kay Bee is going to be cancelling all the bookings at its franchises. Other than that, it should go pretty well.

What do you think about the future sound of America?
A Noel Coward character remarks somewhere: "Extraordinary how potent cheap music is," and I would imagine that this could serve very well as a timeless motto for the popular music industry.

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Art Brut

Art Brut Invade North America with Debut November Tour

Look out for the Debut LP “Bang Bang Rock And Roll” in Early 06
Showcases in New York, Chicago, Toronto, and Los Angeles“In the spirit of sex you’re too drunk for, drugs that don’t work, and rock cliches that should be sharpied to your forehead, these Brits deconstruct bombast via bombastic guitar riffs. Sing speaking like he’s working through a Learn to Read Handbook, frontman Eddie Argos makes fun of star-fuckers and meatheads. Star-fuckers and meatheads will totally headbang along” - B+ SPIN Magazine

UK’s most fierce and fiery rock ensemble, Art Brut, will unleash itself on North America. They will be showcasing their unsigned asses to the US masses in New York, Chicago, Toronto and LA. ‘Bang Bang Rock And Roll’, the debut album from Art Brut was released in the UK on Fierce Panda/Banana Recordings and will soon be available in the US next year.

Art Brut formed some 18 months ago after singer Eddie Argos decided that he wanted to be in a band because he wants everybody to be in a band, and also because he wants to be a superstar. After deciding to form a band, he quickly recruited Ian Catskilkin (Guitar) and Freddy Feedback (Bass). The band was completed when they met drummer Mikey B on the back of a bus and Jasper Future (guitarist from Eddie’s old Band -Art Gobblins) joined a few months later. Five minutes after this happened (actually it may have been slightly longer than that) they had written their debut single ‘Formed A Band’.

‘Formed a band, we formed a band, look at us we formed a band’ they sang/shouted. ‘We’re going to be the band that writes the song that makes Israel and Palestine get along’ they said, and furthermore ‘We’re going to write a song as universal as Happy Birthday’. Rough Trade released it as a single, lots of people thought they were joking or being ironic but lots of people liked it anyway. It didn’t stop there though, they wanted everyone to form a band so that popular culture would mean more to them. They wanted people to set up franchise bands called Art Brut and they wanted those bands to cover their songs. Again, everyone thought they were joking. After that, a lot of people were left thinking “how do you follow a single called ‘Formed A Band’ about forming a band?”.

The answer is that you write a song called ‘Modern Art’ about being thrown out of art galleries and you get your fans to handpaint each individual 7” sleeve. Fierce Panda released it as a single, and it was one of the biggest selling ever. Lots of people liked it. By this time even their crazy dream of having Art Brut franchise bands was becoming a reality. NME saw them play at the single launch party for ‘Modern Art’ they remarked “Art Brut 17 are at the bar, Art Brut 4 are scuttling around the Barfly throwing pink paint about…Art Brut 138 are hiding in the corner”. By the end of 2004 the band’s singles had found their way into many end of year polls including NME, Playlouder, John Peel’s Festive 50, ‘Formed A Band’ was even No 8 in Blender’s Top 100 Tracks of 2004. Eddie Argos had made an unlikely entrant in NME’s Cool List and the band were selling out venues the length and breadth of the country.

After spending the first part of the new year in the studio with John Fortiss recording this album the band now find themselves in a position where Art Brut franchise bands are contributing b-sides to their new single ‘Emily Kane’ (May 2nd). Lots of people think they are still joking, they still might be, but Israel And Palestine are certainly getting on a lot better, though admittedly that might not be down to them.

WED 11/9 HOBOKEN, NJ Maxwell's
THU 11/10 NEW YORK, NY Mercury Lounge
FRI 11/11 BROOKLYN, NY Northsix
SAT 11/12 NEW YORK, NY Fixed @ Tribeca Grand Hotel
SUN 11/13 TORONTO, ON Lee's Palace
Tue 11/15 CHICAGO, IL Schubas Tavern
THU 11/17 LOS ANGELES, CA Spaceland
FRI 11/18 LOS ANGELES, CA The Echo
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The International Noise Conspiracy


First there was the The Kinks, the MC5, Primal Scream, and Gang of Four—great bands that made you think as you kicked out the jams and said "To Hell To Poverty." And now there is The (International) Noise Conspiracy whose mix of dirty 60's garage, punk rock, soul, and radical politics will have you tossing your Nuggets comp and Clash records by the wayside.This Swedish sextet are expanding the limits of a "rock band" by making music that is as smart as it is rocking. Their second record, A New Morning, Changing Weather, will hit you in the gut with its big sound. The first song "A Northwest Passage" sounds like a V1 engine hovering over the streets. Strikingly idealistic, most of the band's lyrics deal with questions about freedom, capitalism, and love. Songs like "Born Into A Mess" and "Capitalism Stole My Virginity" make you want to dance and ponder political philosophy.

Who said that the youth of today are lazy and apolitical? INC are ready for revolution in the street.
The (International) Noise Conspiracy is not an easy group to define musically or politically. In lyrics often borrowed from popular culture they speak of defiance and resistance. They are against globalization. They are conceptualists. They embrace The K Foundation, Guy Debord, Bob Black, Michel Foucault, Noam Chomsky, and George Orwell. They are out of control. They are fighting the power. When I heard their debut Survival Sickness in 2001, I sensed the the potential for something greater. The songs "Smash it Up" and "The Reproduction of Death" made me want to hand out Mao's little red book. Noise Conspiracy has since conquered the USA and Europe. We know the truth. As one of their lyric says "There is a light in everyone." Pass these words along. There are enough things said in their liner notes to keep us busy for years.I spoke with lead singer Dennis Lyxzén in January 2002. He was in his homeland, Sweden.

Listen to the music

AL: The new record came out in October. You were in the United States for about three months. Now you are back in Sweden. What are you doing?
Dennis: Right now we aren't doing anything. We have had a month off since around Christmas, which has been really nice. Next week we start a tour of Scandinavia. After that, we are doing at least two European tours. We will be on this continent for a while.

AL: When did the record come out in Europe?
Dennis: In October. Right before we came out to the States we did a tour in Europe right around when the record came out. Now we are doing a tour here since the record has been out a while. That is the way to go about things, I guess. We recorded the album last summer.

AL: Survival Sickness came out about a year ago. Now you have several records out. Things are moving quickly for you.
Dennis: Yeah. We just want to be a band that keeps things flowing and the energy going. We get easily bored so we write a lot of songs because we want to play new songs. One day we thought "Hey we have 20 new songs, let's do a new record." We just went for it. I think there might be a longer time span between this record and the next record we do. But you never know. In six months we might be really tired of touring and will want to make a record. We want to keep the creativity going. When we have ideas, we get together and jam and play. That's how we do it.

AL: You started out in China and released records there first, before you were signed to Burning Heart Records. How did that happen?
Dennis: A friend of ours saw our first show. He is a Swedish kid who has lived in Hong Kong most of his life. He thought we were great. We started joking to him "You should take us to China." And he started joking: "Yeah, you should put out a record on my record label." We ended up doing both of those things. We started by joking about it and then we ended up making that trip to China. It meant putting a lot of energy into it and a lot of our own money. It didn't matter. It was a mission that had to be done.

AL: What is the music scene like in Sweden and how does Noise Conspiracy fit into that?
Dennis: The music scene in Sweden is really good. There are a lot of good bands. Bands that come from here, and play music, many of us really mean it. I think that is a really good thing. There are some bands who talk about political issues, and we actually feel connection and kinship to that. We know most of the people in the Swedish music scene. Sweden is a really small country. I don't know how well we fit in with other bands. Some bands we like to play with, others we don't.

AL: Most Swedish bands sing in English. Do you think that rock and roll and capitalism are related in that way?
Dennis: I think that it relates to the cultural implications of rock and roll. We all grew up listening to the universal language of rock and roll. That language is English. My first band started when I was 13 years old. We sang in English. There was no question about it. That was the culture of music. Most bands in Sweden don't plan it out. They don't sing in English to make more money. There are a few bands who are really big in Sweden who sing in Swedish. Obviously they are not going to make it out of Sweden. It's not a scam. More interesting is how the cultural imperialism of America spreads across the world, so that bands in China sing in English, though they don't speak or know English. It's weird to see. It's amusing in one sense that you have to sing in English to become accepted. For me it has never been a question to sing in anything other than English. It's the most natural for me. Swedish is a tricky language to write lyrics. I didn't think about it when I was a kid. Now I do.

   REFUSED reunited in 2019 (above)

AL: What is the situation with your old band The Refused? This is a really popular band in the punk world in USA. Are there any plans to reform? Many people who like Noise Conspiracy are people who are also fans of The Refused. They still play videos on cable channels here as if The Refused were a new band. The band has been defunct for a while?
Dennis: Yeah it has for over three years. It's so much part of the past. When that video of The Refused came out in the States, the band had already been broken up. Many people didn't know that. I think that if people enjoy Noise Conspiracy because they liked The Refused, that they are off-base there. This is how I feel: If you like the politics of The Refused, I can see you liking The Noise Conspiracy. But if you like the music of The Refused, and base that on liking The Noise Conspiracy, that's fucked up. The two have nothing to do with each other. There will never be a reunion show. There will never be anything else coming out by The Refused. People get into the band now, but it doesn't exist. The last record was done over four years ago. For me, I don't even think about it, ever.

AL: It's good to move on. How would you describe the politics of The Noise Conspiracy? Are you anarchists or left wing?
Dennis: If you check out what we are doing, you will realize that we are radical leftists. That is as far as we want to go to define ourselves. But if there is anything we have learned it is that ideology is the enemy. You can't define your political ideas to a certain setting. You can't say "this is what I am" and define people from that. That is a weird thing to do. In this band, what we do, is say here are some ideas that we like. Some of them don't make sense together. They are contradictory. They are a paradox. We throw them out to people. Here are some good ideas. You figure it out. It's not up to us to be the leaders. We just try to inspire people to get their own reactions and ideas going. Every time you try to define your politics and try to make your ideas fit for everybody, it's just not going to happen. We are radical leftists, anti-capitalists, and a good mix of socialist, anarchist and communist, and Dada Artists, and Situationists, and so on and so forth. When people come to see us play, we take the opportunity to talk about political ideas. That has been true of every band I have been part of. We bring flyers and books to gigs so people can look into it for themselves and not just take our word for it. We don't need more leaders. We just need people to inspire each other.

AL: What do you think about the punk scene in America? There are magazines like Maximum Rock and Roll and Punk Planet that discuss what is punk and what is not. There are a bunch of rules of conduct. How do you feel about it?
Dennis: I have been part of the punk and hardcore scene for ten years. Why this band doesn't have anything to do with the punk scene is because the punk scene is petty. I think it really focuses on the wrong issues. Punk rock politics are political ideas for the privileged kids. They don't have anything to say about the real big issues of the world. There is a definite lack of analysis when you are worried about what label puts out what records. What bands are signed to what label. Or what venues you are playing. There is a lack of an overall view. Maximum Rock and Roll is one of the first punk rock magazines I read. It taught me a lot about bands, punk rock, and politics. But if your main goal is the preservation of punk rock as a subculture or youth culture, then of course it's important to you who's signed to what label. It's important for you how your ideas of punk rock are being perceived to the outside world. But for Noise Conspiracy that is not important. We are not interested in youth culture or subcultures or punk rock. We are interested in the political ideas that we are talking about and playing music. For us, it doesn't matter if punk rock sells two million or two billion records. It doesn't matter if punk rock is the biggest commodified music genre of all time. Political ideas are far more important to be confined to a certain scene or a certain time.

AL: Is the band a collective? How do you go about writing material?
Dennis: We all write the songs. It may sound like the 1970s, but we are one of those bands who go into a practice space and jam. We start out with an idea and then we jam for a couple of hours until we have a song. We can't do anything or practice unless the whole band is together. We are a collective. There is a reason why these five people are in the band. We function really well as band. We have known each other for a long time and we come from similar backgrounds. I have known Lars Stromberg almost all my life. We had talked about doing a soulful punk band. We never got to do it because we were all in other bands. I was still on tour with The Refused. When The Refused broke up, we finally got to see this vision through. We already knew who was going to be in the band. We had actually practiced before The Refused had officially broken up. We felt each other out. It was very natural.

AL: What do you think of Atari Teenage Riot?
Dennis: They are a funny band. I have been following them for a long time. Their approach is less finely tuned than ours. They are more about "Deutschland has got to die!" We try to analyze it a step further. Any band that is part of the protest singer music tradition is a cool band. Any time I turn on the TV and I see any band talk about politics, it makes me excited, even if I don't like the politics too much. Even if the politics are not as radical as I want them to be I still appreciate it. There are so many bands out there who seriously don't say anything at all. It's sad that it's come to that.

AL: Are there any writers or philosophers that you like and would like to share with us today?
Dennis: Yeah. There are tons of them.

AL: What are you reading now?
Dennis: I think that I am reading six or seven books right now. I think that reading is why I have an interest in politics as well. Reading is more radical than playing in a band or playing punk rock. The Situationists are really interesting. I read Guy Debord, and his sidekick, Raoul Vaneigem. The Revolution of Everyday Life is my favorite book of all time. I am into other French philosophers like Georges Bataille. He's really good.

AL: Bataille is from before.
Dennis: He was a little bit earlier. He was part of the Surrealists. His political writing is the main thing. There's this Algerian guy named Franz Fanon. That's the kind of stuff I am reading. I am also reading a lot of literature from the north of Sweden. That is where I am from. It's stuff from 150 years ago. It's around the turn of the century too. It's all about when the farmers and settlers came up here and tried to use the land. They tried to live in the harsh conditions. I am reading that right now. I am picking up on my heritage.

AL: What is The Noise Conspiracy going to do for the rest of the year 2002? Are you going to come back to the States to do another tour?
Dennis: Yes, we are. Probably in the late summer. Right now we are going to focus on Europe. We were in the States three times last year which is pretty impressive. We are going to put out a new single pretty soon. We are putting out an EP this summer. It's a rock routine...put out an EP, and then tour and play some festivals. We have never been to England before and in two months we are going to England and we are going to open for Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.

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Maximo Park

Maximo Park
By alexander laurence

They are five guys from Newcastle. Maximo Park is Paul Smith (vocals), Duncan
Lloyd (guitar), Archis Tiku (bass), Lukas Wooller (keyboards), and Tom
English (drums). They started a few years ago after studying at the University.
Maximo Park are all about catchy songs inspired by post-punk legends like the Jam,
Wire, and the Smiths. Their first sonic blast of vinyl was “The Coast Is
Always Changing/The Night I Lost My Head,” in 2004. It caught the imagination of
the heads of Warp Records. This label is known as a mostly electronic label.
The label was overwhelmed and signed the band and immediately released their
second single, “Apply Some Pressure,” early in 2005,

It made the Top 20 in the national charts and shocked everyone. At that time,
Warp also released the “Apply Some Pressure” EP, which featured tracks from
both of the band’s singles. In the U.S. Maximo Park also finished recording
their debut album with producer Paul Epworth. They spent the spring touring the
U.K., Japan, and the U.S., making a talked about appearance at SXSW. The
“Graffiti” single heralded the arrival of the band's full-length A Certain Trigger
(2005). People were surprised by the new direction of the band. They returned
to the States to headline some shows in September 2005. The shows made an
immediately impact. I got to talk with singer Paul Smith before the shows at the
Troubadour. It was right before they went on a large American tour supporting
The Bravery. A fan attacked the singer while we were heading off to a café to
have a chat. Maximo Park are on the rise. Smith showed me a book about the
architect Anthony Gormley.

AL: You were interested in Anthony Gormley (www.antonygormley.com). How did
you find out about him?

Paul: He is a sculptor. Modern art inspires me. He has done some great
sculptures. He has done “Angel of The North” which is in Gateshead, as you approach
Newcastle. It’s very imposing. It’s made out of metal so it corrodes. It’s
like a lot of the industry in the area. It is intentional decay. There is an
art gallery in Newcastle where they show sculptures by Gormley. He gets
measurements of people and then he casts them. He creates strange metal sculptures of
loads of people. He creates fields of people milling around in a very abstract
way. He is an English artist.

AL: Are you all from Newcastle?

Paul: Yeah. We met each other there. None of us were born there. I was born
in Billingham, which is an hour south of Newcastle. There is not much going on
in Billingham. Jamie Bell (of Billy Elliot) is from Billingham. He used to
come around to our house when we were small. He was a friend of my brother. Then
I used to see him on billboards. He is in Green Day videos now.

AL: Newcastle is one of those university towns.

Paul: That is right. After university we all met each other. That is where we
studied. I didn’t want to go to far away. I had to do something. I didn’t
want to work. I wanted to learn a little more about the world. After finishing
school, starting a band seemed like the next logical choice.

AL: Did everyone from Maximo Park graduate from college?

Paul: Yeah, we all did. We all have BA honors. I have a Masters as well. I
studied American popular culture. It’s called the American science of history
and culture. I wrote about post-war American poets and literature. I wrote about
Cormac McCarthy and Don DeLillo. I like Frank O’Hara the poet.

AL: That is the good stuff. When did you start Maximo Park?

Paul: They ask me to join about three years ago now. We have been on Warp
Records since July 12th, 2004. We were together two years before the record deal.
Before I joined the band it was Maximo Park without me. Duncan and Archis
used to share the vocals. They used to write songs and each sing their own songs.
It was very eclectic. Bands like Pavement influenced them. Archis used to
sing in Hindi because he is Indian. You don’t get that sort of thing in pop
music. They were a little like Super Furry Animals. I saw them play in Newcastle.

AL: When you joined the band it was more about sharp lines and the power of
architecture in public spaces?

Paul: You have broken me down. I do like a direct esthetic that has layers.
What they did before lacked that directness. But when they asked me to join
Duncan had already written some songs that had that direct appeal. It was like
the last roll of the dice for them. They had some success but no one made them
feel like they were heading in the right direction.

AL: Did any of the old songs from the previous band carry over into the new

Paul: Yes. “Limassol” was one of Archis songs that he used to sing. “Signal
and Sign” was one of Duncan songs. I changed the lyrics in these songs to suit
how I felt about the world. Some lyrics are still there. “I’ll do graffiti
if you sing to me in French” is a Duncan lyric. To me it didn’t make any
sense. I liked it a lot. To me French stuff is quite romantic. Graffiti reminds me
of the riots in Paris in 1968. It’s about excitement.

AL: There is the whole Situationist idea of “detournement.” Are you
interested in that?

Paul: Yeah. I think it’s essential. Things should be geared towards, if not a
thrill, enjoying your life and getting everything out of it. We all lapsed
into cycles.

AL: Where do all the hipster hang out in Newcastle?

Paul: There is a place called The Head of Steam. It’s a pub right across from
the main railway station. Some friends did our first video for “The Coast Is
Always Changing” there. We did that before we were signed. We released that as
a 7-inch single on Warp Records. We were trying to get known in England. We
had about 150 people there but you couldn’t see how big the audience was. There
is a place called The Clooney, which is a step up from there. It holds about
300 people. We didn’t play those places for very long. Bands still play there
every day of the week.

AL: The perception of the Warp Label is that it is one of these places for
leftfield electronic music. We know bands like Plaid, Autechre, and Aphex Twin.
Is it odd that Maximo Park is also on this label?

Paul: I think it is true that Warp is changing. They have been looking for a
more guitar-orientated band like us for four years. They signed one or two
people who released an EP and it didn’t work out. We were looking for someone who
would respect our music. In a business that is very hard. We had some major
companies that were looking after us. It just didn’t feel right. We wanted to
say that we are not the same as all the other guitar bands around at the
moment. We felt like our music stands out. We know that we would stand out on Warp.
We are trying to push pop in a different direction. In a sense we have the
same questing spirit that Aphex Twin does in his ambient electronica. We want to
have the sense of invention in our music. Maybe we want to have words that
have never been used in a pop song.

AL: Does the band have any shared influences?

Paul: It’s funny. We have some many tastes. Today I bought a CD by John Cage,
one by Laura Cantrell, and one by Ron Sexsmith. I like melodic songs. I like
experimental minimal things. I like traditional music. I bought a doo-wop CD.
I am just interested in songs and sounds. We all bring different thing to
Maximo Park. Duncan is really into Bob Dylan. You can hear the traditional ways of
songwriting as much as the way we play around with rhythms. Tom likes the
German band Can. Duncan also likes Captain Beefheart. There will be these
rhythmic ideas along with my love for Smokey Robinson. You will have these two things
coming together. I like a mix of sad things and a sense of humor. There is a
balance with sad lyrics and an upbeat melody.

AL: Maximo Park got lumped in with some other UK bands like Futureheads,
Kaiser Chiefs, Bloc Party, and others, who in America always been compared to Gang
of Four.

Paul: I guess there was something going on there. Bloc Party and Futureheads
were the more commercial end of that scratchy artpunk music. Franz Ferdinand
also broke down a lot of barriers. Kaiser Chiefs and Maximo Park got pushed
into that. Both bands are far more song based. We are more melodic and more
direct. I don’t think that the Kaiser Chiefs are writing really emotional lyrics.

AL: Kaiser Chiefs seem like they have listened to Parklife too many times.
Britpop took a while to catch on in America. When the Blur Vs. Oasis thing
happened, people were still into Grunge and Cobain had just died, and they weren’t
going to let that go.

Paul: It was very British. People say to me “It’s like Britpop mk II now.” I
don’t think that any of them are overtly British apart from the Kaiser
Chiefs. People think “The Coast Is Always Changing” is about the rough northeast
coast. If you didn’t know where we are from and our accents, that song could be
about Australia. Once people know about music or who makes it, they start to
have preconceptions as to what it’s about. They start to compare it to other
bands from that area. We didn’t know anything about these other bands when we
started. We wanted to make music that was exciting. I was born in 1979. When I
reached my early twenties, when I was looking for more music that I have never
heard before, and those were bands like Television, Gang of Four, and Talking
Heads. There is a lot of No Wave stuff and the less commercial stuff. I am a
big fan of Arthur Russell. He is amazing. He did some much different stuff. He
is much more an influence on me than Gang of Four. His stuff resonates with me
much more.

AL: We hear about many rivalries in the UK. Does Maximo Park have any natural

Paul: No, not at all. We always make friend with people. We have a lot in
common with other bands. We had a karaoke night with the Kaiser Chiefs and The
Bravery. I did a thing with The Rakes at the Reading Festival. The singer of The
Rakes was ill. I filled in for the singer. I sang my two favorite songs by
them, which are “22 Grand Job” and “Strasbourg.” Russell from Bloc Party was
playing guitar. Kele from Bloc party sang with them at Leeds. The Futureheads
are from the same area as us. We saw them on a plane a few weeks ago. We have a
similar sense of humor as them, and Ricky from the Kaiser Chiefs. I was with
the Futureheads and we were having a laugh about Bono and Bob Geldof who were
on the telly.

AL: What other bands are you playing with?

Paul: We are playing a UK tour with the Kaiser Chiefs when we get back. It’s
all sold out. We are doing two nights in each city. That is going well. We did
three shows with Bloc Party. We toured late last year with The Futureheads.
This year we have been playing by ourselves. We have ascended to a point where
we can invite other bands with us.

AL: Are there any new up and coming bands?

Paul: There is a band from Sunderland called Field Music. Our drummer Tom
used to be in Field Music. It’s like chamber pop. It is brilliant orchestration.
There are string quartets on more of the album, but all the songs are in crazy
time signatures. It’s really sweet music, like Big Star and the Beach Boys.

AL: Isn’t this sophisticated music going to alienate some of your teenage
fans, if you have Field Music opening up for you all the time?

Paul: Yeah. It already has. Some people like it. Some people wonder why
Maximo Park brought this band on tour with them. They made one of the best British
albums any band has done. When they play live it is quite different because
they swap instruments. They have a younger drummer now since Tom left. They are
quite genuine people. There is not much that in music I suppose.

AL: Why is that?

Paul: I think people are afraid to let some barriers down. I like Bloc
party’s music but I don’t know what Kele is talking about. There is that angularity
of the music of Gang of Four. There is a bulimical element to the vocals.
Field Music writes songs about their feelings the same way that Maximo Park does.
It is rare I suppose. Kaiser Chiefs tend to be observational I suppose. They
are making fun tracks. Some people find it hard to be self-aware without
sounding self-pitying.

AL: That’s why I like some of these newer bands like The Rakes and Art Brut.
They write about common things and everyday things. So it’s like the poetry of
everyday life, much like the poetry of Frank O’Hara.

Paul: Definitely. I can associate with that. Life is a very enriching thing
if you want it to be. My songs definitely stray what people do or don’t do

AL: Have you already started the next album?

Paul: Yeah. We have already done three or four songs. We have a demo. We have
finished the singles already. It was like “Wow, these are great tracks.”
Most of the rest is already written. There is an arrangement process where things
become Maximo Park songs. We will need time for that to take place.

AL: You are doing this tour with The Bravery. Are you going to tour America
again this year?

Paul: We would like to. We are doing a European tour in November. We are
doing our own shows in December. After that we are going into the studio to finish
up the album. We have some more shows in March 2006. Maybe in April we would
like to come back.

AL: Have you been to other countries?

Paul: We are going to Australia for the first time. We are flying over there
from America. After that we will be going to Japan. It will be our third time
in Japan. We are doing really well there. We have played the Fuji Rock
Festival. That was the biggest one I have ever seen. We have done a few tours in

AL: Did you go to festivals when you were younger?

Paul: Not really. I didn’t go any festivals until I was in the band. I don’t
like to sleep in a field with a thousand other people. I like to have my own
toilet and shower. I did go to All Tomorrow’s Parties in Camber Sands. I like
my music indoors and decent. I like all the curators like Mogwai, Tortoise,
and Shellac.

AL: Have people been misguided in some way with Maximo Park?

Paul: I think some people have got things wrong. We are not the new
so-and-so. We are not another version of some group out there. We stand there and
combine catchy uplifting melodies with lyrics that you can care about really

Website: www.maximopark.com

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