One of the more pleasant musical surprises of last year was the release of new material from Information Society, the electronic pop group best known for the 1988 dance club hit “What’s On Your Mind? (Pure Energy).” Though the “Oscillator” EP and “Synthesizer” full-length featured newcomer Christopher Christopher Anton on most of the lead vocals, original members Paul Robb and James Cassidy maintained the essence of classic Information Society while giving it a modern edge. In an email interview, Robb discussed reasons for the band’s return, clarified that original vocalist Kurt Harland IS very much part of the current line-up, and more.
What inspired Information Society to return with new music?
Paul Robb: We did a few shows in 2005 and 2006, and it reignited my interest in doing some new music. Since then we’ve been doing the occasional show when our schedule permits, and I must admit, it’s been pretty fun.
Was there ever any question as to whether the current incarnation would record/perform as Information Society, as opposed a newly named project?
Paul Robb: Well, you know the “current incarnation” is actually the original three members. Since Kurt was unavailable for the bulk of the recording of “Synthesizer”, he gave us the blessing to record with Christopher Anton, who remains a close friend. But once Kurt’s schedule opened up a bit, he was able to lay down vocals on a couple of the tracks, and we’ve been performing as the original threesome since then.
How have advances in musical technology over the years affected your approach to creating and performing music? Is there anything that you’d like to see the gear do that is still not possible?
Paul Robb: I would like live-performance gear that could teleport itself from show to show for free! But other than that, I’ve got no complaints. The new stuff is so powerful and portable, we’re able to do things onstage now with three people that we weren’t able to do when we toured with six. I now have my entire synth rack in my laptop.
What are the main components of your studio and live set-up?
Paul Robb: They’re quite a bit different, actually. In the studio, I base my setup on a PC running Cubase, and gazillions of plugins, though I still have four big ol’ racks of synths.
On stage, the premium is on portability, so we are much more laptop-based. I use Traktor to run our basic tracks, and then use Reason and several other platforms to function as synth racks. Kurt’s setup is completely separate and is focused on his sample pads, and vocoding. James’ setup revolves as always around the mighty Weaseltron.
In terms of your current audience, what do you see the balance as being between old and new fans?
Paul Robb: Mostly old fans, which we love, but there s always a very vocal subset of people who are seeing us for the first time.
Are they any recent electronic bands who you particularly like?
Paul Robb: At the moment I kinda dig Does It Offend You, Yeah?, Shiny Toy Guns, and Ming and Ping.
Information Society emerged when the cassette single was being promoted as a new format. What did you think of it?
Paul Robb: I must admit I had no strong feelings about cassette singles. I did make the mistake of actually buying cassettes for myself for a few years…
What was the experience like being featured on VH1’s “Bands Reunited”?
Paul Robb: It was OK. We knew Kurt wouldn’t want to come down to LA, so James, Amanda, and I used it as an excuse to get together and have a few drinks.
I really like doing ‘What’s On Your Mind (Pure Energy)” ‘ at karaoke. How do you feel about Information Society’s music being used in this way?
Paul Robb: It’s the same way we use it!
If Information Society were just emerging now, how do you think you might do things differently (with the emergence of the internet, advances in technology, etc)?
Paul Robb: If Information Society was just emerging now, I doubt we’d get noticed, because there is just so much music out there, and so many bands fighting for the same audience.
Do you have any further plans to work with Kurt?
Paul Robb: Of course; we are even discussing starting on a new record. (Don’t tell anybody.) We are also doing several shows this fall.
What is in the future for Information Society?
Paul Robb: It’s wide open, baby.
Are you currently working on any other musical projects?
Paul Robb: I’ve mostly been concentrating on music for TV, but I did recently do a remix for Angelspit.