For a while there, Swedish hardcore icons Refused really were f*cking dead. And that meant that for most us, life was – one way or the other – going to continue.
In the case of frontman Dennis Lyxzén – a man whose performances came to define the word incendiary – this meant more music. The (International) Noise Conspiracy may have made some waves, but his next step with INVSN has proved more subtle, more enduring, and – perhaps – longer lasting.
Let’s allow Lyxzén to tell their story in brief:
“We wanted to try something different, so we started writing in Swedish. We were called Invasionen – which is the Swedish for ‘invasion’. We did one record, more kind of ’70s punk style but in Swedish. Then we changed some members and did the second record which was completely different, just our attitude towards it and everything. That record kind of put us into the path that we’re on now, and got us signed to an American label. Then we ended up recording the newest record, which is just called ‘INVSN’.”
- - -
We live in a part of the world that is super-alienated. Bringing out the Swedish in us made our music sound the way it sounds now...
- - -
This brief potted history can’t quite cover the music, the creativity within the INVSN project. Even singing in Swedish was viewed as a rebellious gesture, deliberately placing down limitations at a time when Scandinavian pop music has rarely been so consumerist, so outward looking. Ironically, the band’s decision to then translate their songs into English generated even more discussion.
“Sweden’s a small country, there’s only so many venues that you can play,” Lyxzén says. “There are only so many people that can hear your band. Singing in Swedish, it’s a limitation when you want to go outside of Sweden. I mean, you can become sort of a cult phenomenon, but I’ve always liked the idea that people should be able to know what we’re signing about, know what the topics of the songs are. I spent a lot of time writing the lyrics. More than anything, I want people to be able to – if they’re interested – know what I’m singing about.”
Much more post-punk than anything Lyxzén has attempted before, there’s darkness in INVSN that is seemingly spawned by the barren Scandinavian landscapes of their rural base.
“I think that if you followed my – I don’t know if we should call it a career… if you’ve followed my life in music, I never shied away from trying different things. I always had a pretty broad spectrum – from Refused and the very eclectic sounds that we were making, then Noise Conspiracy played some sort of garage rock, rock ‘n’ roll music. Then we did The Lost Patrol Band, which was like a power-pop band. I always tried new things, and I think with INVSN that kind of came naturally.”
- - -
'Down In The Shadows'
- - -
He continues: “When we started singing in Swedish and I started writing lyrics in Swedish, this post-punk, dystopian feel just felt very natural. People tend to have a tendency to think that this sort of isolation, alienation is just [felt in] the suburbs of Manchester. But we live in a part of the world that is super-alienated. Bringing out the Swedish in us made our music sound the way it sounds now. In my mind, also, just from the beginning there has always been two types of music – good music and bad music. That’s what counts.”
Now expanded into a six piece – three male musicians, three female – INVSN are preparing to release their third album in the UK – their first major release in the country. Looking at the long game, the frontman insists that playing live, taking their music venue to venue, person to person, is their main focus.
“I never really had any project that was just a studio project,” he says. “Everything I’ve done in the studio has been an excuse for me to go out and tour. I like to write songs and get them recorded, and I like that whole creative process. But I still love to go on tour, I love to be in a band, tour in a band and play live shows. So it’s definitely that type of project. Play live – wear people down with your presence.”
Focusing on taking their current line-up back into the studio, INVSN is already looking towards their next step. “We’ve been playing together for almost a year now, and I’m super, super excited to actually start writing new songs with the band. You can practise a lot, but playing live is a different thing. It’s, like, a different animal. If you get that experience when you actually play a lot, and it doesn’t matter what circumstances you find yourself in, you always sound good. We’re at that point where we sound good no matter where we play, and the idea of recording new music with these people makes me very, very, very excited.”
- - -
In Sweden I’m not really defined as ‘the Refused guy’ or anything like that. In the States it’s been a bit tricky...
- - -
With Refused once more on hiatus, Lyxzén is able to focus on INVSN. But that doesn’t stop some fans from comparing this daring new project to his past catalogue. “In Sweden it’s fine. In Sweden I’m not really defined as ‘the Refused guy’ or anything like that. In the States it’s been a bit tricky... sometimes things don’t work out as smooth as you want them to.”
“In Europe, the shows we’ve played have been great,” he states. “People are open minded and they like good music. All in all, like the reception when people see us live... we’re a six-piece and everyone in this band used to play in punk and hardcore bands. Even if on the record it’s slightly more poppy or whatever, but when we play live you feel the energy from our background, so to speak. Whenever people see us play live they’re pretty taken by it. It’s a good thing.”
- - -
Words: Robin Murray
All photos from Facebook, as linked below
‘INVSN’, the album, is released on July 14th via Razor & Tie. Find its makers online here.