The Lost Patrol Bio
"There's so many singer-songwriter people out there," says Dennis Lyxzén. "They're all super good at singing, and everything they do sounds really clean and super-tight and professional --- and really boring. I wanted to do a singer-songwriter record that was more Black Flag than Simon & Garfunkel."
For those already familiar with Lyxzén's high-energy work with groundbreaking Swedish punks Refused and The (International) Noise Conspiracy, the acoustic-based Songs About Running Away --- The Lost Patrol's followup to 1998's Songs In The Key of Resistance --- will probably come as a major shock. But when creative impulses collide with deep emotions, sometimes a person simply doesn't have a choice in the matter.
"I wasn't looking to do a Lost Patrol album," says Lyxzén. "I wasn't like, 'I want to do something different!' It's more like, something happened that made me want to do this record." Seeking solace in the aftermath of a bad breakup, Lyxzén found himself writing songs that were more personal than anything he'd ever sung before. "I was put in a situation where the only thing I could do was play acoustic guitar and try to express, try to make some sense of the mess I was in," he says. "I demoed a bunch of the songs, and a friend of mine said, 'You should actually record this and try to put it out there.'"
At first, Lyxzén wasn't sure that he actually wanted to make his new material available for public consumption. "When I first started writing these songs, I wrote them all specifically for one person, and one person alone," he says. "But then I figured, there's other people out there that have been through similar experiences, and hopefully they can find strength, or relate to the fact that everyone goes through this."
Songs About Running Away took shape over several months in a small studio in Lyxzén's hometown of Umea, Sweden. Though tracks like "Out Of Date," "Left And Leaving Blues" and "The Last Goodbye" are lyrically quite bleak, the recording sessions were more like a jamboree than a wake, with over twenty of Lyxzen's friends --- including members of Randy, The Facer, Bittersweet and The (International) Noise Conspiracy --- turning up to lend a hand. "For a couple of months, I was surrounded by friends, doing something really creative, taking all this energy and putting it into something that was creative," he says. "And that felt really good, actually."
The results sound really good, as well, despite the fact that the musicians on Songs About Running Away generally entered the studio without any idea of what they'd be playing. "For two months, I was in the studio like every night, and I just told people, 'I'm in the studio tonight --- come on by.' Depending on how many people came by, that's how the songs turned out. Everything's recorded live, except for the backup vocals and the horns, and no one was allowed to hear the songs before we recorded them. I'd show them the song, but I wouldn't tell anyone what to play. It was more like, 'You play the piano, right? Well, go ahead and play the piano!'"
If the rawness of the performances are in keeping with Lyxzén's punk rock background, the record's unpredictable, organic vibe harkens back to classic late 60s and early 70s records by Neil Young, Van Morrison and Bob Dylan. "We never did more than three takes of any song," Lyxzén remembers. "I like that loose, live feeling, like Bob Dylan's New Morning record, where you can actually hear people fucking up all the time. There's places on this record where people are not really playing what I'm playing, but it still sounds cool. I play acoustic guitar on every song, and I sing at the same time; I figured that if there are six, seven or eight people playing along with me, it doesn't matter if I fuck up."
Though it steers clear of the political topics typically addressed by Lyxzen's work with The (International) Noise Conspiracy, Songs About Running Away is hardly an exercise in solipsism. Songs like "Alright" (a charming duet with Swedish pop star Lisa Miskovsky) and the closing "Desperate Attempts" pack a cathartic message of their own, proposing that one can always rescue a bit of sunlight from the darkness.
"I don't see any sense in letting the sadness overtaking you, and becoming the sad guy with the acoustic guitar," Lyxzén laughs. "It's kind of like, I'm suffering still and we've all been through this, but let's not forget that we're still alive; let's try to make the best out of the situation. At times on the record, you can hear it being really vibrant and alive, and you can actually hear that we're having a good time. But then there's times where you can hear that I'm really bummed. I think that's a cool contrast, the sadness and the celebration of life."
And the angry young punk rockers who simply won't accept the idea of love songs sung by an avowed Socialist? Lyxzén has a message for them, as well. "At one point or another in my career, I've definitely said, 'I'm never gonna write a love song, blah blah blah,'" he laughs. "And then I just woke up one day and realized that I need to write a love song, just because that's what's important for me right now. I can talk about politics all day long --- and when the new Noise Conspiracy record comes out, a lot of what I've gone through will be put in the context of political thought --- but I wanted to show that these are things that really affect me, as well.
"I know this whole thing is kind of 'out there' for a lot of people, especially if you only see me as someone who's affiliated with punk rock," he shrugs. "There's a lot of flute on it, there's kind of a 70s feel to it, and it's all just songs about The Girl. But all these angry punk kids, one of these days they'll also fall in love. Maybe they'll have their hearts broken --- and then maybe they'll understand why I needed the flute!"