AC4 are a hardcore punk band from Sweden who are touring Australia in April with US punk group Star Fucking Hipsters. Green Left Weekly’s Chris Peterson spoke to AC4 lead singer , also of The (International) Noise Conspiracy, who toured Australia last year.
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Having been in the music industry for so long (with your former band Refused! beginning in 1991), can you reflect on what’s changed in recent years. What is the situation today for independent artists?
It gets harder by the day to try and survive as an independent artist. Less people buy records, which means more bands tour. And that means more bands are out on the road, which means less people come to the shows and the bands get paid less.
The last couple of years have been really hard on bands on the mid-level [of success]. Either you have to be completely underground and make a living on other things, or be huge and sell music to commercials and movies. The inbetween level is just really hard to survive at these days.
Your other band The (International) Noise Conspiracy toured here last year. What can T(I)NC fans expect from the AC4 show?
Not too much. Different band, different attitude, different music. Some sort of similar energy. AC4 are not wearing tight purple pants.
You have spoken about how the political music scene has this narrow focus on policing bands as “sell-outs”. I see this mentality reflected in the left political scene more generally. Would you agree? What needs to happen to make politics more open and accessible?
Well, it is a hard question that the left has been struggling with for the past 50 years. I think that there is something sad about how fast we scream “sell out” and how hard it is for us to see the big picture.
Politics is a combination of several things and the punks and the narrow-minded people just seem to focus on a few of these aspects.
Most people are too worried about marking their territory to have anything intelligent to say.
Do you think political music still has the power to shape and build movements, or has the promotion of anti-establishment bands by the establishment effectively neutralised that power, and reduced it to simply protesting and not creating?
No, I don’t think it does [have that power]. It can create a small world where we might feel at home — small pockets of alternative spaces for outsiders.
There was a time when music might have been a vital force in actual change. Nowadays it is just a soundtrack or a uniform that we can use to change our own little worlds.
As far as the revolution goes, I have a hard time seeing that music will be a part of that.
The best that we can do is to play the streets when things are happening.
In the past you’ve reflected on the fact that capitalism has, since the collapse of the Soviet Union, presented itself as the only option. With the recent anti-colonial revolutions in the Arab world and the deepening revolutionary process in Latin America, are we seeing imperialism exposed before a new generation?
Well, hopefully. I think that it is still a bit too early to see what the revolts in the Arab world will mean. The first step would be to get free of dictators and then take it from there.
I thought that the big economical breakdown exposes people to the flaws of capitalism, but it seems people are not interested in questioning the world we live in.
April 7: The Zoo, Brisbane, w/ The Mercy Beat & The Quickening.
April 8: The Wall, Sydney, w/ Homeward Bound & Cap a Capo.
April 9: Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle, w/ The Worstmen & Coma Lies.
April 10: Blush Nightclub, Gosford, w/ Whole Hearted & Porn Ring.
April 14: The Arthouse, Melbourne, w/ Viking Frontier & Madonna.
‘Let's go to war!’ AC4, with The (International) Noise Conspiracy’s Dennis Lyxzen out front.