Back in September 2010 I was lucky enough to see AC4 play in their hometown of Umeå. I thought that this would be my only chance to see them play. However, this April, AC4 are coming all the way from northern Sweden for a nationwide tour of Australia that kicks off in Brisbane on the 7th of April. I spoke to front man Dennis Lyxzén about hardcore, growing up isolated and the pending Australian tour.
By Angie Hurlock
The origins of AC4 can be traced back to the late 80’s to a band called Step Forward, but twenty years on and a plethora of bands in between, AC4 formed in April 2008. Including members from the Vectors, Regulations and Refused, AC4 play old school hardcore punk with a sheer passion and intensity which can not be ignored. “We’ve known each other for years and years and years and we figured that we needed to make this happen. We’ve all known each other so long that it is just like hanging out with a bunch of dudes that could be your brothers. Also, I think it came from the realization that we were the only four punks left in the city our age”. This city in which Dennis talks about is Umeå; a city renowned worldwide for the amount of great punk bands it has produced, yet it remains almost oblivious to the rest of Sweden. “Sweden is a small country and we [Swedes] are really worried about the latest trends. Apart from the punk scene, the Swedish music scene is pretty horrible. So, most parts of Sweden and the Swedish media take very little notice of what we are doing up here. Which is of course very nice, it means that we can operate under the radar”.
To my surprise at the AC4 show I saw in Umeå, the crowd was tiny and the entrance fee was cheap, which reinforced the idea that in their hometown, they are just a local punk band. “I guess we are [a local band]. We have no illusions of being anything different. When it comes down to it we are a band that plays really fast raw punk/hardcore. We are happy that anyone likes us. Also, up here people are hardly impressed by anything. It’s a good thing”. The punk community of Umeå is impressive, for a city with just over 100, 000 people it constantly has gigs and boasts a never ending list of bands which seem to all be unified by the isolation of living in the north of Sweden. “We live in a really remote and isolated part of the world so that makes things tight. The town is small which means that we have to work together and it means that most people are smart enough to see past small and petty scene bullshit. Not everybody of course, but in general we have a pretty good vibe up here. It is however amazing the amount of bands that this small town has produced. But never underestimate boredom and isolation and fighting the raggare. Raggare is a Swedish mix of rednecks and rockers”.
In the days of one of Dennis and David Sandstöm’s earlier bands, Final Exit, Dennis played bass while David took the vocals and initially this is how Dennis wanted AC4 to be as well. “I wanted to play bass and have David singing but I was voted down. I guess they like me more as a front man than as a crappy bass player. I have a strong desire to one of these days just to be that guy in a band. Just play bass and take no responsibility. It is hard to always be the guy that is supposed to talk and sing and dance”. Despite working together on various projects together, AC4 is the first proper project that both David and Dennis have worked on since the demise of Refused in 1998. “It is good to work together again. I think that we get reminded of the energy that drew us to each other in the first place and sometimes we also get reminded why Refused broke up”.
With AC4 and Dennis’ other current band Instängd, his passion for hardcore is evident and inspiring. “Hardcore is where I grew up and that’s where I spent the better part of my life. Even when I was doing the most amount of touring with The (International) Noise Conspiracy I still went to the local hardcore shows. I did my label and still put on punk shows at home. It is a tricky thing to grow old in the hardcore scene but it is sort of the only place I belong, so it will do”. Many of Dennis’ bands including AC4 have used their platform to express political awareness through their music but he understands that politically motivated music is not for everyone. “For me music has been like that always. I am not saying that it should be like that for everyone, but for me punk liberated my mind and made me aware of politics and the way the world operates. I always thought that it is best to sing about stuff that is close to the heart whether it is politics or just existential ponderings. I also never thought that I would get a platform where I could speak my mind growing up as a working class kid in the north of Sweden. So, I still feel I have some sort of weird obligation to speak out for all the people that will never get the chance”.
The upcoming AC4 tour of Australia is not something that Dennis had imagined possible for AC4 when the band was first starting. “It [AC4] is a project based on desire and lust. When we started we just wanted to play some shows and hang out at my house and watch football and drink beer and jam some old school hardcore punk rock ‘n’ roll. I think that we realised that we could actually be a functioning band when we did our first European tour. We actually managed to play all the shows without any major disasters so we figured why not get a bit more active. Then we were asked to do a tour down under and how can we turn that down?”. Dennis has already been to Australia this year touring with Bloody Beetroots as part of Big Day Out and he is looking forward to coming back in April with AC4. “It was a great time [touring with Bloody Beetroots]. It was really easy for me. It wasn’t a very punk experience but a great contrast to a lot of other stuff that I am doing. I am very much looking forward to coming down again, I really love Australia.”