Information Society Interview

Paul, Its a pleasure talking with you today and for taking out time of your schedule. We hear the INSOC is back at it again!! Since VH1′s “Bands Reunited,” many thought that this would never happen. Glad you guys are back…..

So, How have you been these past few years and since then??
I’ve been busy. I’ve done quite a few records, remixes, a few films, and lots of TV commercials.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t get all the guys here in one stage but how did you guys finally decide to “really” make that comeback?
Was it the “Bands Reunited” show that did or was it something that was brewing all along?
It was actually a call from our old manager Vito Bruno to play at Beatstock for KTU in New York in the summer of 2005. We just all felt like it was a good time to go back and play in NYC…

So where is Kurt? We hear there is a new front man in the group and keyboardist? How did you guys hook up with these individuals and tell us about them?
Actually, Kurt is still in the mix as well. We decided a few years back to go back to our original conception of the band as a collective, rather than the pop idea of certain members…We record and play shows with a changing cast of characters which includes all three original members, as well as lots of friends a “associate” members…

What differences in styles/performances, if there are any, can you sum up in Kurt and Chris as lead singers?
Chris Anton is a little more predictable!

So, we hear there is new material out and EP? What can the fans expect on this project and on the new single? Will it be a mixer of genre’s or a specific style?
Well, we never knew what genre we were supposed to be representing in the first place, so I’d have to say the new material will be the same. Some dance, some pop, some electro, some plain old weird.

Recently, we have begun seeing INSOC touring once again at various venues across the country. Is there a tour in the works
and how did it feel to be on stage once again?
It’s unlikely that we’ll ever “tour” again in the conventional sense of the word, because we’re all busy, and being away from home for months at a stretch is a young person’s game. However, we have been and will continue to dates that work with our schedules and sound interesting.

We see that you guys did a recent gig in New Orleans, La. Being my hometown, it was difficult seeing the devestation in the area
that I call home. Did you get a chance to tour the area? How as the crowd’s reception down there on INSOC?
Yeah, it was pretty sad seeing all of the empty areas of NO, and we definitely did not see the worst of it! NO has always been a good town for us, and the last date was no exception, although, as always, those southern crowds are wild!

How did Kurt fit in the picture on some of these gigs? The reason we ask is because on InformationSociety.us Kurt is quoted with, “After several years of discussions between Paul and me, I decided to pass ownership of the name back over to him and let him go ahead with some new material without me. I did strongly consider doing it with him, but in the end I felt it was better to let him go ahead without me. Paul has some new songs, and has hired a new singer – should be cool.” With that being said, Kurt has still been seen in numerous venues peforming? Is this a sign of the original line-up possibly rekindling the old flame?
Kurt does shows when he can…He even flew down to LA to put some vocals on the new record, although most of the songs have Chris on vocals…

So, with the new album out, new group, how do you manage still to continue your work in TV and remixing? You seem like a very busy individual over the years? Its to our understanding the you have had major TV work like South Park’s movie, “Orgazmo,” “Mtv’s Road Rules,” “American Psycho,” “Broken Palace” and most recently with new projects on your partnering label, Bleep Records?
I try to keep my hand in!Is Bleep Records a spinoff of the famed Hakatak Records? Tell us how did that come about?

Actually, Bleep is dead, and HAKATAK is back. www.hakatak.com or www.myspace.com/hakatakinternational. Bleep was funded by outside partners who eventually got a little nervous about the economics of the record industry, so I resurrected HAKATAK International. It’s much better being your own boss!

How do you feel about remixing? You were quoted on the band’s site with, “I like doing remixes, because somebody has already written half the song for you and you have the luxury of messing it up.” What songs do you look for in doing a remix? In other words, “How do you choose your projects?”
If I dig the track, and if I think I have something original to say, I’ll do a remix.

So, looking at where you are currently in your career do you ever reflect on how it all began?
Every so often I think about the early days. I will say this, Information Society would never have a chance in the music of today. I listen to our original Tommy Boy demos, and I think “How did we ever get signed?” People took a lot more chances back then, which is why there was a lot more variety in pop music. Today the music business is ruled by fear.

How did it all begin (Who met who and where did you guys meet)? Its our understanding that your career along with the band’s started back in the early 80s?
Kurt Larson, James Cassidy and I all went to high school together, and we put the band together in 1982, a year after we all graduated. Took us another three years to figure out how to make music, though! (“Running” first came out in 1984.)

What was the band’s first album?
Our first commercially-released recording was a self-funded EP called, funnily enough, “Information Society.” The first time somebody else risked money on our music was in 1984, when Wide Angle Records put out our EP “Creatures of Influence.”

How did that work lead to the bands’ signing with TommyBoy/Reprise Records?
Somehow the record got to Louie Vega in the Bronx, who was like 20 at the time, and he started playing it every nigh at the late, great Devil’s Nest. From there, it caught fire all over in New York, which is when Tommy Boy stepped in and signed us.

The music that came off the Tommy label, no doubt, was the band’s most notable work with hits like, “Running,” “Walking Away,” and “Whats On Your Mind (Pure Energy),” just to name a few. How was that ride? For a time, it seemed that INSOC was all over MTV, on every tour all over the world, on kellog cereal boxes, etc. You guys were a marketing machine!!
It was like a roller coaster ride, and we really had no idea what we were doing, and we sort of took pride in the fact that we were not typical music business wannabees. It was an interesting time. Nobody was more surprised than us.

It seemed that INSOC caught a large following with the Latino market; specifically in areas like Miami, NYC, Chicago and L.A. In addition, the country of Brazil has a “HUGE” following of INSOC. What do you think appealed to that attraction?
No clue! We were used to playing at New Wave clubs, and when we first starting doing shows in the New York area and South Florida, we were really baffled. I think the combination of electro beats with romantic Euro vocals was kind of the formula…We jsut naturally built off of and combined what we were listening to: New Wave, New Romantics, Kraftwerk, and Bambaata. It’s funny, though. A lot of the young Latinos in the 90′s didn’t really want to hear music that sounded too “Latin.” I remember making India’s first record, and she was complaining to me, saying “Paul, that sounds like something my parents would be doing a conga line to. I want something more alternative!” In the meantime, my favorite records were “The Mexican” and “Hector”! White boy from Minnesota.

During the 80s, Freestyle Music or what some back then called it “Latin Hip-Hop, Heart Throb, or just plain Club Music” was at its height….did the band every consider itself any of those genres or was it more of a POP genre? In the freestyle world, many have debated INSOC’s true origins/roots.
I remember when people were calling it Latin Hip Hip, but it was never really Hip Hop, was it? The whole thing was built off of Electro beats: Soul Sonic Force/Bambaata, Kraftwerk, Juan Atkins, Man Parrish, etc. But, really, I’m not into the whole genre thing. I don’t think INSOC was really a “freestyle” group, but I think that “Running” was definitely a freestyle record. I think that song was partly responisble for defining the sound, in fact, but I’m not gonna claim we ever really knew what we were doing…Really, I think “Let The Music Play,” is probably the single definitive freestyle record. But the great thing about the club scene back then, was that people were not so concerned with categories. We’d go to Area or the Tunnel or the Saint of Studio 54, and you’d have British New Wave, and Rap, and Freestyle all mixed together. We did shows with 2 Live Crew, Eric B and Rakim, Rob Base, Big Daddy Kane, as well as other “club” acts…That would never happen today.

In the freestyle world, NOEL is viewed by many as a freestyle legend. In 1987/1988, you produced along with Roman Ricardo the infamous track “Silent Morning” that still to this day can be heard playing in clubs all over the world. How did that project materialize and how was it working with Noel?
Our then-manager Vito Bruno showed up with this kid from the Nrons named Noel. I wanted to be a producer, so he put us in the studio together. “Silent Morning” was the result. I was just trying to make something similar to Information Society, but obviously, Noel (and Louie Vega’s remix) took it someplace new, and made it a hit. I can remember vividly when Noel started to get more famous than us in New York City, and he’d still help us carry our cases around to shows. At one point, someone in line outside a club said: “Noel what’re ya doin’ carrying boxes?” Because he was a star, and they didn’t recognize us!

For years, the mass public has continued to promote various forms of HOUSE, TRANCE, JUNGLE, BREAKBEAT, etc but it seems that Freestyle Music has lost its credibility by the music industry. For several years now the WMC has not had a Freestyle Panel to my knowledge. If it were not for the legends like George Lamond, TKA, Stevie B, Coro, Judy Torres and Johnny O to name a
few that continue to do “SOLD OUT” venues throughout the country, it truley would be an unvirtually noticed genre. Most recently, we have seen new acts like Nina Sky resurface Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam’s classic tunes in addition with Janet Jackson doing Debbie Deb’s remake of “Look Out Weekend.” Do you view Freestye Dance Music as an influential form of Dance music?

Freestyle went dormant when techno took over the clubs in the 90′s. It may seem strange, but I was never a big fan of techno, because for the most part, techno didn’t have (and still doesn’t have) any decent songs. At the time I called it “Revenge of the Euro-Weenies.” Dance music today is still dominated by techno, although they’ve invented a thousand new genre names for what amounts to the same thing. I think a lot of our people started to listen to Hip Hop around that same time, and Freestyle was sort of left behind…

Are you close to some of the freestyle acts mentioned above and do you stay in contact with them? We have seen the band perform in venues that have featured these artists alongside INSOC’s lineup and am sure the freestyle nation is curious if ever we would see anytype of calaboration of some sort with any of them.
Of course, I know all of those people. I just made Judy Torres give me a big kiss at MSG in New York on Saturday night. And Noel and I have been toying with the idea of doing something new together for about 10 years now…

Looking back, what is your best memory as a peformer? Is there something
that stands out??

I’d have to say our show in Rio in 1991 for 130,000 screaming Brazilians will probably always be the highlight for me, although there were some shows at the Devil’s Nest in the Bronx that were almost as crazy. One time, we had to climb into the club through the bathroom window, because the crowd was so big…

Many people have termed “Freestyle” as dead. Many of the legends have attempted to come back but have not regained their former glory. In 2001, we had TKA come back with a comeback album off the TommyBoy label and others like Noel, Johnny O, and Stevie B but unfortunately, were unnoticed by the mass public. Do you think its a dead genre? Will it ever be what it once was? Or will it be an underground movement that will forever live in the heart of its former listeners? Freestyle Compliations like the recent “Freestyle Forever CD” that is distributed by Razor & Tie has gone GOLD. The genre can still sell records. So, Why? What will it take? Give us
your opinion?

Personally, I think Electro beats are about to come back. People are starting (I hope) to get bored with the boomboomboom thing. And the Nina Sky record is an example of what can be accomplished witha fresh approach. The reason I like that song much, is that it was actually a song. Although people don’t dig it, I really like a lot of Reggaeton and Dancehall beats. I think somebody could revive the whole idea of freestyle by injecting that energy into some new songs.

This question is related to a prior question I asked but I have asked this
to some of my past interviewees and am curious on what you have to say. What
is your definition of freestyle or What do you think Freestyle should be?
To me, Freestyle is about good, solid songs over Electro beats.

***
Ok, Paul…I have a few more quick/basic but yet important questions that I think all of your fans want to know!
***

If I were to go into your car, what CDs would I find?
At the moment, our new record “Synthesizer,” which I just got back from mastering!

Who are your influences musically and non musically?
That’s a big question. Musically: Gary Numan, Devo, Kraftwerk, DAF, Brian Eno, Soul Sonic Force, Yello, and a hundred others!

What is your favorite movie?
All of Jacques Tati’s films.

What are your hobbies?
I don’t have time for hobbies, I have kids!

What do you do for a living now??
Whatever pays!

Married, Kids, dog?
No, yes, no.

Do you find yourself singing some of INSOC’s old tunes in the shower, in the
car, etc?
Not so much anymore, Some of the new ones, though.

Favorite Food?
Penne Arabiatta.

Beer or Liquor – what is your vice….. and what kind?
I lime me some Scotch now and then.

What kind of equipment do you use to make your music?
Lots and lots of gear. On the computer, I’m a Cubase man.

Do you visit the freestyle boards on the net?
Sometimes.

Do you have an email address or website where your fans can reach you that
you would like to share?

Our Myspace page is very active, and our website is a good place for news and merchandise, including new music.
www.myspace.com/informationsociety
www.informationsociety.us
www.hakatak.com

Well, Paul, Is there a message or anything you would like to tell your fans
or express? Anything to add that we did not cover?
We were always surprised and humbled by the warm acceptance we felt from the freestyle community, and we feel privileged to have played a part in the evolution of the style.

Paul, we want to thank you for taking the time out in talking with us today and sharing a bit of INSOC’s career as well with yours. We wish you much
success in 2007 and think I can speak for everyone when I say, “Its about time you guys are back!!”

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About freestylemania

Freestyle fan since day 1. I started Freestylemania.com back in 1997 but finally got a real looking website in 1999 and have never stopped since.