Known for the synth pop classic “What’s on Your Mind (Pure Energy)” as well as the freestyle hit “Running,” Information Society have become very active again in recent years. In addition to live shows, the original line-up put out a great new album in 2014, “_hello world.” Now the group has unleashed “Orders Of Magnitude,” a collection of cover versions representing music that has influenced and inspired them. It’s a very interesting assortment of songs, ranging from “Don’t You Want Me” (The Human League) and “Dominion” (Sisters of Mercy) to “Heffalumps and Woozles” (Winnie the Pooh) and “Capital I” (Sesame Street). In an email interview, member Paul Robb discussed the motivations behind and making of the album.
What was the motivation behind making this album, both the general concept and the decision to do it now?
Actually, this album has been many years in the making! Some of these covers are years old, some are brand new. It just seemed like a good time to pay homage to some of the people who influenced our development and (musical) worldview. These covers were collected over the last few years…”Don’t You Want Me” with Vitamin C was recorded in 2001, for God’s sake.
I was most surprised by the “Heffalumps And Woozles” and “Capital I” covers – could you explain a bit about how they inspired/influenced you?
“Heffalumps” was my idea. It always struck me as a somewhat terrifying song, and very friendly to an EDM treatment. “Capital I” was a Kurt Larson special; a combination of lonely pride and quirky duty…Why do they feel compelled to polish the I? At night they close the door and take refuge in their work?!?
Have you had any feedback yet from any of the artists you covered?
So far, the only comment has been from Gerald V. Casale, who said (of Kurt): “He sounds like a better version of me.”
In selecting what to cover, were you generally thinking of artists (and then choosing a song by them) or were the songs themselves the obvious choices?
Some more, some less. I can’t claim that “Kiss You All Over” was an obvious choice. We thought about doing “The Year of the Cat,” by Al Stewart, among others, but it was too long!
Were there any songs that you attempted to cover, but that didn’t work out?
Well, there’s always that live recording of “Louie, Louie” from 1984…
Were you giving any thought to an overall ‘sound’ for the album, to bring cohesion, or just treating each track as an individual entity?
It’s funny, but no matter how much we set out to honor a track, it always seems to end up sounding like Information Society.
It seems that you’ve had good reactions to your Pledgemusic campaigns. Is it a challenge at all coming up with the various special items/packaging? Has anything taken you by surprise in terms of what people go for or end up not being interested in?
Not really. I think we have a pretty good handle on what our fans will like.
You seem to do a good deal of multi-act ‘retro’ shows as well as ‘freestyle’ shows. Are there any major ways that they differ for you, in terms of your approach to them (song selection?) and/or audience reaction?
At the Freestyle shows, “Running” always gets the biggest response. In that world, we are known more for that song than for any of our other (bigger) hits. In other markets, other songs are much more popular. In South America, “Repetition” is our biggest song by far.
For this Pledgemusic campaign you offered Sparky, the Arduino-based robot. What inspired that, and how is development on it coming along?
Sparky seemed like the obvious next step after our bespoke INSOC analog synth from last time. You can play a sequence on your synth, and Sparky will dance along.
Do you currently have a new original album in the works?
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Only that we are a better live band now than we have ever been, so if you ever have wanted to see us live, now is the time to do it!
For more info in Information Society, visit their official site at informationsociety.us.