A look into the history of Information Society is a peek at the evolution of electronic music. From their first self‐released album in 1983 to their upcoming 2021 album ODDfellows, InSoc (as they’re affectionately known), have grown from a young electronic band, mutating the sum total of their influences, to a veteran collective influencing a new generation of electronic musicians. One important thing remains constant: The music is distinctly Information Society, monster electro bass and beats topped with lush, poppy vocal hooks.
Led by founder/producer Paul Robb, the group, including vocalist Kurt Larson and bassist James Cassidy, stormed the club charts in the mid ’80s with their Freestyle classic “Running”. Inspired by the worldwide response to the single, the group seized the opportunity and moved to New York to record their major label debut, Information Society, for Tommy Boy/Reprise. Producer Fred Maher was brought in, fresh from his work on Kraftwerk’s Electric Café album, and helped Robb & co. craft a tight pop sound. Initial buzz was intense, and proved to be accurate; by the time the group got to its first in‐store appearance, two days after the record’s release, the album was sold out.
After a whirlwind series of live dates throughout the world, supporting the self‐titled album, the group went on to release the albums Hack and Peace And Love, Inc. and numerous Top 40 hits, notably the #1 smash “What’s on Your Mind (Pure Energy),” as well as “Walking Away,” “Think,” “Repetition,” and “Peace and Love, Inc.” Numerous national and international tours followed; outside the United States the group is particularly popular in South America, Spain, and Japan.
Departing Tommy Boy/Reprise Records in the mid‐’90s, the group returned to its electro‐industrial roots on several independent releases. Kurt Larson took the artistic helm of the group in 1997, and released Don’t Be Afraid, which explored the darker recesses of the band’s musical imagination. Meanwhile. Paul Robb released a series of industrial techno records under his nom de disco, Think Tank. During this period, members also pursued musical interests as diverse as video game music, television scoring, and even commercial jingles, a goal the group had announced in one of their earliest manifestos in 1983!
In the early 2000s, re‐releases of both “Running” and “What’s on Your Mind” reached #1 on the Billboard Dance/Club chart. This renewed interest in the band served as a catalyst for a new round of songwriting, and an EP of new material, entitled Oscillator was released in 2005, followed by the full‐ length album Synthesizer in 2007.
Since then, the band has enjoyed something
of a renaissance, performing both domestically and abroad, including a 25th Anniversary performance in Philadelphia, which was memorialized on the DVD release,
It Is Useless to Resist Us: 25 Years of Information Society. A companion digital‐only release, Modulator, offered easy access to the hidden tracks and Easter eggs sprinkled throughout the DVD release.
2010 saw the release of Apocryphon: Electro Roots, a collection of the group’s earliest releases, along with ultra‐rare live concert recordings and outtakes. The limited edition, signed release was sold out within days.
In 2011, HAKATAK International, the group’s longtime label, released a well‐received collection of remixes, entitled Energize! Classic Remixes, Vol. 1 (and its 2014 companion collection Engage! Classic Remixes, Vol. 2), which included the first digital release of several underground hits from the early years. Summer 2013 found INSOC in the company of Andy Bell (Erasure), Howard Jones and Men Without Hats for dates on The Regeneration Tour at The Greek Theater in Los Angeles and Mountain Winery in the Bay Area, and creative juices were stirred.
Shortly after the Regeneration dates, the three original members ‐ Kurt, Paul and James ‐ reunited to discuss working on a new album and _hello world was the result. The album was filled with classic INSOC dance floor fodder like “Get Back”, soaring epics like “Jonestown”, and cinematic textures like “Creatures of Light and Darkness”. Embracing the many faces of synthetic music while remaining organically Information Society, _hello world wasn’t as much a rebirth of INSOC as it was a nuclear‐powered version that ups the ante. A follow up album, Orders of Magnitude, released in 2016, was InSoc’s homage to their foundational influences, covering songs by Fad Gadget, Heaven 17, Gary Numan, and Snakefinger, among others. Longtime InSoc hero Gerald V. Casale added his vocals in a duet with Kurt on their cover of “Beautiful World” which adds a modern splash to the Devo classic.
In 2018, the group re-partnered with their original label, Tommy Boy, to release a series of digital singles, roughly once per quarter. The band has compiled those 4 singles and added an additional 7 tracks that make up the full album, ODDfellows, which will be released in 2021.
In 2019, after nearly a decade of fruitful collaboration, video artist Zeke Prebluda (aka Falcotronik) was invited to join the group, and became the official fourth member of the group. Prebluda is well known in the underground music world for his numerous creative partnerships with artists as diverse as Paul Oakenfold, Meat Beat Manifesto, Rabbit in the Moon, and Not Breathing, as well as his own group Metrognome: Falcotronik.
With the new album complete and numerous live dates in the works 2021 promises to be another banner year for the pioneering synth-rockers.