AC4 is a Swedish hardcore-punk band known for having the most famous REFUSED member in their line-up. No offense, but I truly believe that the majority of their fans see a lot more than just Dennis Lyxzén behind their name. The good news is that AC4 are readying their second album called “Burn The World”, with plans to premiere it in March 2013. A preview in the form of the song “Breakout” has been recently unveiled through IDIOTEQ’s pages. Now’s the time for something more!
The band consists of singer Dennis Lyxzén (REFUSED, THE (INTERNATIONAL) NOISE CONSPIRACY), guitarist Karl Backman (THE VECTORS), bassist Christoffer Röstlund Jonsson (D.S.-13) and drummer Jens Nordén (THE VECTORS, REGULATIONS).
I sat down with Karl to talk about the band, live shows, the message in hardcore, the punk state of mind and a few more. Check it out!
Yeah! I’m stoked you’re here, guys. What’s up? How’s the Swedish winter treating you guys? [smiles]
Thank you! That’s nice. This winter hasn’t been that bad actually, but I could still do with a bit of sunshine.
Ok, but we’re not here to talk about the weather, right? [laughs]
You’re about to release your new record called “Burn The World”! Awesome… but why would you like to burn our pretty world down? [smiles]
“Burn The World” is the title track of the album. I wrote it after I visited the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant and Pripyat inside the Exclusion Zone in 2010. I have a love-hate relationship with nuclear disasters. There are few places in the world that says so much about the essence of mankind as Reactor 4 does. That truly shows what we are as a species.
The song is about the EU using economical pressure to force Ukraine to restart their old Soviet era nuclear power plants to export cheap electricity to Europe, while we close down our own plants so the politicians can pretend they’re going green.
Still 9 out of 10 babies in Ukraine are born with a chronic disease. The old sarcophagus around Reactor 4 is leaking heavily and is officially predicted to crash together around 2015. The new one is not completely financed and they still haven’t figured out exactly how to finish it. Even if they do, most of the radioactive material is outside of it. That’s thousands of tons. If that hits the Dnieper, and it eventually will, all land down river will be inhabitable. We are talking about evacuating millions and millions of contaminated human beings.
When the Chernobyl accident happened in 1986 all the construction of new power plants were stopped in the country. Half built plants left decaying all over Ukraine will now be finished to make European politicians look good and multinational energy companies make money. It’s the cheapest but most unsafe way. Chernobyl is the worst accident in the history of the world and what they are planning now will be a lot worse.
The world will burn, but the planet will survive. Humans probably won’t. And we are just punk rockers screaming at rocks in the desert.
So what energy sources do you think are realistic, seem to be safe and will be used in the future?
Oh, I’m not the person to answer that question. If I knew, I’d be snorting coke off my Nobel Prize medal right now.
[laughs] OK, let’s leave it. You’re putting it out via Ny Våg. How come you decided to release it via your own underground label? Are there more fellows behind the distribution? What about other parts of the world?
Ny Våg is Dennis’ own label, so we maintain complete control over our music. There’s a distribution deal with Sound Pollution in Europe. Yes, the album will be released on other labels in the US and Australia. It will be official in a few weeks I think.
Did AC4 shake off the yoke of the recent REFUSED reunion? Was there even something like that? A curse of REFUSED? [laughs] How did the band affect AC4?
I don’t know about any curse, but AC4 obviously didn’t play any shows during the reunion. We recorded our new album and Dennis did vocals whenever he was home for a few days. The huge success of REFUSED creates an interest in AC4 and that’s mostly all good. The only thing is that we sound very different of course. I think their reunion tour reminded people of what a good hardcore singer and frontman Dennis really is, so people seem excited about our comeback too.
Damn, David Sandström left AC4 to focus on REFUSED. Now REFUSED is dead. Again. [smiles] What does he do now? How is he? Did Chris oust him from the position of the musical foundation of the band? [smiles]
[laughs] That’s not true at all. David not being in AC4 has nothing to do with REFUSED. He’s just the kind of guy who eventually loses interest in whatever he’s doing. That’s why we couldn’t go on with him in the band and that’s why you haven’t heard about his new stuff. His latest solo album was released under the name A HEAVY FEATHER. He worked on it every day for three years, but when it was finally out he only did two gigs with it and then he wanted to do something else.
He’s living with his girlfriend in southern Sweden and is working on some new music right now. Probably in a very obsessive way. He will always be doing music in some form. He is still very much a friend and he even came by on the last day of the recording and did some backing vocals on our new album. He is also an excellent drinking partner and a very interesting conversationalist.
Christoffer is a really good hardcore punk bass player and have added a lot of depth and energy to our sound, but he mainly got the job because his bass guitar looked cool.
What about your other projects? What bands are still active? Please sum it up for all the rookies out there.
REGULATIONS and THE VECTORS haven’t been active in a long time, but aren’t really over either. Dennis still has INVASIONEN and he also play drums with his other hardcore band INSTÄNGD. Jens just started a local heavy metal band and both me and Christoffer are open for new bands too.
So, you’ll be on the road again in April, right? Shoot us some details about it. Groezrock and Monster Bash sound huge! Are you booking intimate venues, too?
Yeah, first we’re doing club nights on a short tour of Finland in March, and then in April and May I think we do four festival gigs and the rest are more club gigs. I like both big festivals and smaller venues. You reach new people at the festivals. That can’t be a bad thing.
Do you ask people to come closer to the stage when there’s a gap under it? [smiles]
[laughs] Yeah, absolutely, but we rarely have to anymore. Don’t all bands do that? It’s like that all over the world. The local band come out on stage and the singer says ‘you can all come a little closer if you want’ and the audience take two steps forward. Then the band play half their set before anyone dares to move. Finally, when the frontman announces the last song everybody starts jumping around. Feels like I’ve been to a million gigs like that, but it’s the first time any interviewer has ever asked me about it!
Yeah, man! [smiles] You’ve recently stated that you give 100% of yourselves no matter how many people came to see you playing live. How come? Doesn’t this energy come from the audience at shows?
Yeah, sure, but if the audience isn’t there or isn’t responding you have to have that energy and excitement anyway.
Fair enough [smiles].
After all these years you’re still keeping it alive! I believe it’s just pure awesomeness! At this point, do you feel you have anything left to prove as musicians?
Not really. I mean it’s nice to get some recognition for your abilities too, but mainly we just play because that’s what we love to do. I write songs like I read books or have sex or go to the pub. It’s what I feel like doing. It’s not a career move.
Hmmm… and how do you balance your music passions with your private life? Is it hard to square the it with your jobs and families?
I don’t really work and Dennis have lived on his music for the last 20 years or something, but for Jens and Christoffer it is getting very hard, yeah. They have kids to support.
Apart from all the classic bands that inspired you, what are some of the newest names that amaze you?
What does punk mean to you?
To me personally it’s a lifestyle of sticking it to the man. And doing it wearing studded belts, bondage trousers and 10-hole Dr Martens. Loud and angry rock’n’roll. I’ve been a punk rocker since 1980 and I doubt I’ll ever stop. The only time I’m easy’s when I’m killed by death.
How important a role do you think hardcore punk play in affecting social change?
Very little, especially hardcore punk bands because the target audience is so small. In the end of the day it’s mostly entertainment. We write songs about how much we hate politicians and businessmen and the horrible things they do, but in reality affecting real change anywhere takes real, slow and boring political work or a bloody revolution. There are scientists who dedicate their entire lives to saving mankind, while we buy limited edition 7″s and call each other sell-outs and argue about what real punk is.
I’m not a politician, I’m a punk rocker. Rock’n’roll doesn’t change the world, but it can change you and you can try to live a life that you like to live.
But what about all those talks between the songs about changing people’s minds and planting the right thoughts and doing it because of the message, not music?! Are you telling me Santa Claus doesn’t exist and that Lance Armstrong doped??! [laughs]
I’m telling you Santa Claus is doped. To anyone who says they’re in a band for the message and not for the music I’d say; ‘go into politics then’. Good luck to them and everything, but if you don’t care about your music you are ripping your audience off. And anyone who thinks they have all ‘the right thoughts’ obviously don’t.
What should we do to stay wild in our lives?
Do the things you want to, not the things they tell you to do. You owe them nothing.
What is next for the band? Is there anything else that AC4 lovers should keep their eyes peeled on coming up?
We’re just waiting for the release of the album really. We’re doing a few interviews and sorting out tour details.
[laughs] I like the term AC4 Lovers. Somehow it sounds like something deeply perverted!
Damn right, you dirty boy! [laughs]
Is there anything you would like to add before we end?
You can all listen to the song “Breakout” from the forthcoming album on the band’s new official facebook page.
Thanks so much for your time! I wish you all the best for the rest of 2013! Rock’n’roll, baby! [smiles]