A scream that does not roar. Distorted and clear at the same time. Full of anger and yet controlled.
A stylishly dressed man with half-length hair and dress size S, who has once been named "Sexiest Man of Sweden". With opulent rings on his tattooed fingers. Under his shirt you can guess more tattoos. Warm and open, yet pleasantly reserved. He seems almost a little shy, speaks softly and clearly.
Then he enters the stage and immediately has the attention of all the people in the room. Imagine yourself standing in front of a volcano in which you can only see a beautiful mountain – but somehow you can still feel the energy of the lava bubbling inside.
And then it explodes to the rhythm of the music, not standing with both feet on the stage floor for a second. Hair, arms, legs fly around, often all at the same time at the same height.
Dennis Lyxzén is the name of this sometimes dormant, sometimes angry volcano – probably the only volcano in Sweden that erupts regularly. Two things make it explode: music and politics. This resonates in everything he does. And that's a lot!
"I'm a restless person and I can't just sit around well." This becomes abundantly clear when you look at the long list of things Dennis usually does: While touring with one band, he writes songs for another, produces videos for his own YouTube channel, is a football coach, is politically involved and plans the next album and the subsequent tour with band number three – or four.
The Swede from the small town of Umeå became internationally known as the singer of the hardcore band "Refused", which disbanded at the end of the 1990s shortly after the release of their album "The Shape Of Punk To Come" – even before the album was regarded as one of the most important albums of this scene in punk and hardcore circles. The growing success of "Refused" also meant the end of the band. Because the Swedes felt misunderstood when their mix of hardcore, punk, metal and jazz became hype and the video for “New Noise” ran in heavy rotation on MTV. The band felt it was wrong that their political goals were not considered important enough by the media to pay attention to. The real goal of spreading their "Revolutionary Program" with a new social justice seemed obsolete: "Refused is f... k dead", it was logically said.
Dennis Lyxzén went one step further with a new band: "If the revolution isn't fun, nobody participates, right?"
"The International Noise Conspiracy" - T(I)NC - was the consequence: "We wanted to make music that people dance to and rejoice, only to realize that they are loudly singing along to a decidedly critique of capitalism and then hopefully start pondering about the negative effects of globalization, imperialism, misogyny, capitalism and racism."
"The International Noise Conspiracy" quickly became popular, much better known than the less mass-market "Refused". What happened was what the highly political, capitalism-critical band had not wanted: hype instead of understanding. But this time Dennis persevered – and tried to animate his audience: "Buy books and read. Books can be more punk rock than music! Educate yourself." Such sentences have remained an integral part of his stage appearance – even after T(I)NC have not been active since 2009.
Dennis' clearly attacks capitalism in his lyrics with sometimes harsh words. Using a language that tends to the extreme. "I carry a lot of anger at our capitalist structures within me. But I don't want a violent revolution. I want to name things clearly and express how violent I think turbo-capitalism is. If you ask me, individual politicians or companies are not the biggest problem in today's society. The problem is our thoroughly capitalist mindset, with constant profit and growth at its core. Because it gives rise to inhuman and environmentally contemptuous behavior and most of our current global problems. As long as this mindset does not change, whenever a driver disappears, a new entrant will take its place. It is therefore not enough to attack the companies or parties, because they are only a function of the system. We have to question the system as a whole. That's where my angry poetry comes from, using some strong references to revolutions and their symbolism."
Does he believe that this system is surmountable? "Yes. My heart is the heart of a revolutionary and I think capitalism can be overcome. This capitalist thinking, into which we have moved further and further, has only existed for about 150 years. And today you can already see that capitalism does not work well. Our planet is dying because we exploit nature on a massive scale due to our market and system focused structures. With this thinking, we destroy everything, including our own livelihood. If more and more people realize this, we can replace capitalism. Honestly, I firmly believe that one day it will be gone. However, it won’t be a quick revolution, but one for which we need a lot of patience. That's the hardest thing for me."
Lyxzén expresses this with his characteristic calmness. But the energy and passion behind these words resonates constantly – as in his music. What drives this now 50-year-old man at heart? Is it more the will to change something or the music?
"Phew. This is not an easy question. I notice that when I write lyrics, I always end up with my socio-critical topics. Even in almost all longer conversations, no matter where I am in the world, the topic is always present. That's me. But, deep down, it's the music that drives me. I love music. I love poetry, love creativity and love to create. The feelings that music – no matter what kind of music, by the way – can trigger in me... Only music can do that to me. I just love and live music!
Meanwhile, “Refused” is reunited, releases new albums and is touring the world again. But that's just one of Dennis' countless projects. In addition, he is a licensed football coach, since he injured his knee while playing, has his yoga routine every morning and before all performances: "Sport has a similar power to music: Sport can bring people together, think beyond boundaries, motivate and direct the inner power to something good."
Pretty busy, this guy? Wait, that's not all!
With his post-punk band "INVSN" he has released an album and an EP and is just back home frome a tour, a new album of "Fake Names" has been recorded and will be released in March 2023. He also has two new projects: "Vännäs Kasino" is a new punk band and in "Backengrillen" he works with other Refused members on a mixture of free jazz, kraut and metal. His YouTube channel "Dennis Deep Cuts" revolves around music, art, books and everything else that interests him.
Being active, not standing still – and continuing to stand up for what is important to him: This is how Dennis Lyxzén deals with a time in which pandemics, wars, environmental destruction and an uncertain future put a scratchy, uneasy cloak over everything: "Sure. Times suck. On the big world stage. But also on a small scale: Never have I had so many friends around the world with mental problems. Strong people whose psyche suffers hard. We have created a system for ourselves in which we can no longer cope. A system full of pressure. If this system eats us up mentally, then the system is sick. We need to change it. We need another revolution!"
There it is again: the seemingly calm volcano, which channels its collected power inside and causes it to erupt in a controlled manner. It’s lava is music and the goal is social upheaval. Screaming. Loud. But not roaring. Knowing what's important: Dance tonight. Revolution tomorrow.
Listen to Dennis' music as a singer in different bands like Refused, The (International) Noise Consipracy, INVSN, The Lost Patrol Band, AC4 or Fake Names. Check out our Spotify playlist below:
Also check out our running playlists loaded with punk rock and other motivational music - and made to improve your run by finding a good rhythm around 180 rpm. The rhythm most world class runners are used to run in.
Dennis Lyxzen is part of our People we admire Blog. Please also have a look into the other great people we feature.
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