In preparation for their third tour of the U.S., Sweden's (International) Noise Conspiracy have packed up the required equipment — guitars, drums, microphones, cords — as well as a few items that aren't usually among a touring band's traditional gear.
"Usually we have political and philosophical books with us for sale," explained singer Dennis Lyxzén. "There's going to be a bus following us the whole tour, with political literature of all kinds."
Unlike bands that simply encourage fans to leave a show with armfuls of T-shirts, CDs and other merchandise, the politically conscience punks want concertgoers to walk away with something more, like an alternative worldview, for one thing.
"We just try to inspire people," Lyxzén said. "Just inspire people to do something and realize that there are different ways of perceiving the world."
The anti-capitalist quintet — Lyxzén, guitarist Lars Strömberg, guitarist/organist Sara Almgren, bassist Inge Johansson and drummer Ludwig Dahlberg — will kick off their monthlong U.S. jaunt Thursday in Chicago in support of their second album, last month's A New Morning, Changing Weather, and its first single, "Capitalism Stole My Virginity."
Much like the essays, theories and other "information that might be important for the consumption of this record" found in the liner notes of its predecessor, last year's Survival Sickness, the fold-out booklet that accompanies the new album is peppered with quotations from authors and philosophers (Simone de Beauvoir, Karl Marx and riot grrrls Bikini Kill among them), as well as Web links and suggested text to complement each of the LP's 11 tracks.
"We want to show people that there is a different way of thinking of things by leaving all these traces behind," Lyxzén said. "So if people are interested in the ideas we talk about, they can follow up on the traces we leave behind. It's sort of a call for self-education, a call for people to be inspired. So the whole plan of the band is to inspire people in one way or another."
Just as the (International) Noise Conspiracy are attempting to expand the minds of their fans with each album, they're also building on their own musicianship. Where Survival Sickness was all unbridled punk passion, typified by its fittingly titled single "Smash It Up," the band is showing off some restraint — not to mention melody — on A New Morning, Changing Weather.
"When you love music as much as we do, it comes to a point where it doesn't really matter — you just want to play good music," Lyxzén said of the shift in form. "The last record I like a lot, but you could tell what we'd been listening to when we recorded it — a lot of Rolling Stones records. On the new album, we wanted to record a record that sounded like it was recorded today."
If Stones classics like Let It Bleed and Beggars Banquet were in heavy rotation while making Survival Sickness, what was cued up during the recording A New Morning?
"Everything, that's the whole thing," Lyxzén replied. "The last record sounds very '60s, punky, while on the new album there are bits and pieces of a lot of '60s soul and rock, but there's also '70s punk rock and '80s new wave. There's some '90s pop music, and then there's some year 2000 R&B stuff. So it's just a mix of everything that we're into."
Horns, piano, synthesizers ... not the typical instrumentation for a band thematically earnest to punk rock ideals.
"Well, we aren't typically punk rock," Lyxzén snapped. "We just try everything. We don't like to define ourselves by some youth culture or anything. We just want to play music. When it comes to the fact that there are two kinds of music, good music and bad music, you should just go for it, you know."
(International) Noise Conspiracy tour dates, according to Epitaph Records:
- 11/8 - Chicago, IL @ Metro/Smart Bar
- 11/9 - Detroit, MI @ The Shelter
- 11/10 - Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom & Tavern
- 11/11 - Toronto, ON @ The Reverb
- 11/12 - London, ON @ Call the Office
- 11/13 - Ottawa, ON @ Babylon
- 11/14 - Montreal, QC @ Cabaret Music Hall
- 11/15 - Cambridge, MA @ Middle East Club
- 11/16 - Hoboken, NJ @ Maxwell's
- 11/17 - New York, NY @ Knitting Factory
- 11/18 - Philadelphia, PA @ North Star
- 11/19 - Washington, DC @ Black Cat
- 11/20 - Carrboro, NC @ Cat's Cradle
- 11/21 - Atlanta, GA @ Echo Lounge
- 11/22 - Tampa, FL @ The Orpheum
- 11/23 - Orlando, FL @ Sapphire Supper Club
- 11/24 - New Orleans, LA @ Shim Sham Club
- 11/25 - Houston, TX @ Mary Jane's
- 11/26 - Austin, TX @ Emo's
- 11/28 - Albuquerque, NM @ Launchpad
- 11/29 - Tempe, AZ @ Nita's Hideaway
- 11/30 - San Diego, CA @ Mira Mesa Epicentre
- 12/1 - West Hollywood, CA @ Roxy Theatre
- 12/2 - Pomona, CA @ Glass House
- 12/4 - San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall
- 12/5 - Chico, CA @ Brick Works
- 12/6 - Portland, OR @ Meow Meow
- 12/7 - Seattle, WA @ Graceland
- 12/8 - Vancouver, BC @ Richard's on Richards