Punk may be as old as the hills, but in todays turbulent and changing world – it can still be as dangerous as a car bomb. In the lead up to their second album, ‘Burn The World‘ – we sat down with Karl Backman and Dennis Lyxzén to discuss Swedish punk, the relevance of todays music and why it’s important to stay wild.
By Meghan Player
Each member of the band has worked on other ‘projects’ previously – did forming AC4 allow you each to create/explore something new? Were you each fans of each others bands previously?
Karl: David and I mainly just wanted Dennis and Jens to do a new version of their old band Step Forward – but with us in it. That was the original plan. AC4 isn’t that far from what me and Jens did in our other band The Vectors either, or even what Dennis and David did on the first Refused demo.
I like a lot of the stuff the others have done. Instängd and Final Exit. Our new bass player Christoffer had a band called D.S.-13, they were really good. Jens’ other band Regulations too. The (International) Noise Conspiracy were a great live act. Dennis is always really entertaining when he’s screaming and jumping around on stage. He makes the audience feel alive. Who wouldn’t be a fan of that?
Dennis: There comes a time when you are one out of 4-5 old dudes around in the city that still have an unconditional love for punk rock and hardcore and then you realize that the only sensible thing to do is to start a band with these people.
I was always a huge fan of the other guys in all their projects and doings so it was fairly easy to decide that these are a bunch of dudes that you wanted to play with. Myself and Jens started playing together back in 87 and since 92 I’ve just been looking for any excuse to play with him again. David and I obviously have a history as well and we felt that it was time to do another band. I’ve know and respected Karl since I first saw him play in like 1988.
Sweden, and indeed Scandinavia in general, has provided some of the greatest hardcore, metal and punk bands over the years – were there any local bands in particular that inspired you to originally start a band?
Karl: I started my first punk band, the Boredom Brothers, in 1982. There weren’t that many local punk bands at the time, but my friend Biber had a band called Gitarrslaktarna. I liked them. It was mainly the UK scene that inspired us back then. The early local punk bands, especially mine, were horrible, to be honest. It was fun and exciting to be squatting in a building and causing anarchy and chaos and fight the local council and all, but musically most of our scene was just a fucking racket.
Dennis: I grew up in complete and utter isolation. There were no other punk bands around and no other people into the same things so for me; no. I had to discover everything on my own and force my friends to start up bands with me. In the 90’s a scene grew with some pretty rad punk and hardcore bands, that was an inspiring time even though most bands were horrible!
Each of your previous bands began around the late 80s/early 90s – when a blast of grunge and So-Cal punk/hardcore bands burst onto the scene – did these movements across the seas have any influence on your style or sound throughout the years?
Karl: Not really. There were a few good grunge bands, and by that I mean Nirvana, but I think Guns n’ Roses meant at least as much, if we’re talking about what came out of the US in the late 80’s. Regulations actually did a Nirvana song, but that was much later on.
Do you think that modern punk/hardcore music still holds the same relevance that it did in the 70s and then during it’s revival in the late 80s/early 90s?
Dennis: No. Music in general has lost the power to be an important factor in popular culture. Everything means less than it used to and the stakes are not as high as they used to be.
To be a punk nothing holds very little value of meaning. It is just another harmless youth culture. That being said, I still think that music has validity and a certain power that I still believe in.
Punk did change everything for me and brought me to places that I never thought I would go to.
Karl: Anything is only really new once, but the anger over the things politicians do, and your lust for life and creating your own fun is just as relevant today. Probably will be tomorrow too. There’s a lot of corporate pop music with unchallenging and non-offensive lyrics that’s labeled punk today, but that isn’t new either. It was there from day one. It’s just an unimportant by-product.
Word is that you’ll be releasing the follow-up to your self-titled debut this year – what can you tell us about the new album?
Karl: It’s called “Burn The World“. 16 songs in 29 minutes and 38 seconds, so it’s a little longer than the last one. It’s a bit more varied too.
Did you approach making this album differently to your debut? Have you explored new sounds or techniques this time around?
Karl: It’s recorded in the same place, by the same guy and with the same equipment, and again over just one weekend, but we took more time setting things up this time. It sounds a lot better. Fredde, who recorded everything, also mixed it this time, instead of letting someone else do it. It worked out really well. He knows our kind of music. We got a lot more out of the drums. Dennis had more time doing the vocals this time. Christoffer is a seasoned hardcore punk bass player so having him in the band has added some energy and depths to the sound too. That also gave me room to play a bit more varied.
Dennis: I think that we spent like 2 more hours to set up the sound. Last time we just set up and started recording!
When can we expect to hear the new material?
Karl: It’s gonna be out in March and then we’ll be doing some European festivals in April and May.
Is there a track on the album that particularly stands out to you?
Karl: I’d like to think that they all stand out, but “Diplomacy Is Dead” is probably the furthest from what AC4 has done before, musically.
As a band that delivers a high energy, high octane show – how do you ensure that sound and incredible ‘noise explosion’ is represented/captured on your albums? Has the band previously used the readily adopted technique of recording an album in one room, as a whole band as if it were a live gig?
Karl: I have never recorded anything in any other way, with any band. Yeah, we do live recordings of the music and basically just add the vocals after that. There’s a guitar overdub on one or two songs and that’s it.
A band is not just the sum of each instrument, there’s something more added when you play together. I think it’s a mistake a lot of new bands do when they record, thinking it is somehow more professional to record each member separately. And then they go on and on about how their crappy demo isn’t “capturing their live sound”.
There’s a great interview with you both in Australia where you’re talking about how important it is to play a show with the same amount of energy and enthusiasm , regardless of how many people are in the room – is this attitude as important to the band as the music is?
Karl: Yes. The thing is that with every band you always end up doing a few shows where the room is almost empty. It’s no big deal. If you’re letting that dampen your performance you’re punishing the people that actually did turn up. That’s stupid. It’s also a lot more exciting as a band to feel you’re doing your best, rather than boring yourself and everybody else with a bad gig. Dennis is really good at keeping spirits up. I just look at him hanging from the light rig and I go ‘Yeah, this is where it’s at’.
Dennis: Well, I am still just happy that people wanna see us or me play regardless and the people that did show up, did show up. No need to give them a show not as good as you would give to more people.
People get lazy and they start taking shit for granted. I never take anything for granted. You go into every show like it is the most important show you ever played. Like it could be the last time you were allowed up on stage! I’ve always been like that and hopefully I will always be like that!
Having recently bid farewell to Refused at their last show in Australia – the one thing that still sticks with me is when your Dennis, screamed to the crowd to “Stay wild!” – it seems that that idea has resonated and weaved itself into AC4’s persona – is it an idea that you all embody/subscribe too?
Karl: The idea of staying wild is the original punk idea, or original rock’n’roll idea, of not letting them grind you down. Not marching into the cage they’ve built for you. If you’re not subscribing to that idea you probably won’t enjoy AC4 anyway. Or even life.
Dennis: When Karl writes me he always closes his mails with ‘Stay Wild’ so… I just stole that cause it is such a simple but amazing sentiment.
It looks as though releasing the album and touring will take up a good part of your year – you’ve got a couple of festival slots lined up in April, including Groezrock in Belgium – are there any plans to extend your touring schedule throughout Europe or the UK? We’d love to get you back in Australia at some stage.
Karl: We haven’t got a clue where we’re going to play this year yet, except we’re doing four gigs in Finland in March and then the German tour and that’s only another 10 or 12 days. We liked Australia a lot, so we’d love to come back, yeah.
Finally, what is the one thing you would like your fans to take away from the new album?
Karl: It’s weird to think about how other people will feel about your work, so I don’t know. Just play it loud. Punk records are meant to be used as weapons. Turn your stereo up and play it at your neighbour.
A huge thank you to Karl and Dennis for taking the time to chat to us. You can keep up-to-date with album news, tour dates etc via: