Information Society (band)

Information Society (band)

Infobox musical artist
Name = Information Society

Img_size = 300
Img_capt = James Cassidy, Kurt Harland, Paul Robb (1992)
Background = group_or_band
Origin = USA
Genre = Synthpop
Years_active = 1982 – 1997
2006 – present
Label = Tommy Boy/Reprise/Warner Bros. Records
Cleopatra/Caroline Records
Dancing Ferret
Associated_acts = India
Maria Nocera
Hate Dept.
URL = []
Current_members = Paul Robb
James Cassidy
Kurt Harland
Past_members = Amanda Kramer
Christopher Anton
Murat Konar
Sonja Meyers|
Information Society (also known as InSoc) is a U.S. band originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, primarily consisting of Kurt Larson (aka Kurt Valaquen/Kurt Harland), Paul Robb, and James Cassidy; the latter two reconvened the band in 2006, initially with Christopher Anton as lead vocalist, then with Harland rejoining them as lead vocalist in 2007. Their breakout hit was 1988's "What's on Your Mind (Pure Energy)", a dance hit which included a sample of Mr. Spock (Leonard Nimoy) from "Star Trek", saying "pure energy," and opened with a sample of Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley), also from "Star Trek", saying, "It's worked so far, but we're not out yet!" They are known for their loyal fan base in Brazil, Japan, Spain and Mexico. Information Society became part of the American response to the Second British Invasion.


Founding and debut album

The band was formed in Kurt's dorm room in Dupre Hall at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, in 1982 [ [ Minnesota Historical Society | Minneapolis Music Collection | Band Histories ] ] , and they performed avant-garde electronic music with flourishes of hip-hop, dub, and electro. The name was chosen partly after Ingsoc, the newspeak term for British socialism in the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. In 1983 they independently released two albums, "The InSoc EP" and "Creatures Of Influence." Two years later it released "Running," the group's first single, which became a hit popular in New York City Latin dance clubs and put them on the map. The song, a 7-minute excursion into electro-freestyle, was written and sung by Murat Konar, who left the band soon afterward. It was released on the Minneapolis-based label Twin-Tone Records, which was known for rock music rather than dance music. Its growing success led the group from its native Minneapolis to NYC, and the ensuing revenues and contacts, as well as the addition of Amanda Kramer to the lineup. led the group to record its proper debut album for Tommy Boy Records, which bought out the group's Twin-Tone contract because of its expertise in street-oriented music. Kramer left the band shortly after the second single "Walking Away" was released. InSoc was also the only Tommy Boy act to have all of its albums released through major-label distribution channels rather than independent distribution, since the label, a former subsidiary of Warner Bros. Records, had that option available to it throughout its years as a Warner subsidiary. In this case, Warner sub-label Reprise Records was the distributor. The groups 12-inch vinyl singles, however, were distributed through independent channels.

In addition to "What's on Your Mind (Pure Energy)," the group’s self-titled major release debut "Information Society" (1988) also produced another Top 10 Billboard hit in "Walking Away", as well as a third single, the ballad "Repetition." The final single from the album was a cover of ABBA's "Lay All Your Love on Me."

The audio samples from "Star Trek" were authorized for use on the album partially thanks to the efforts of Adam Nimoy, fan of the band and son of "Star Trek's" Leonard Nimoy. The album sold out its initial pressing in 2 weeks in the US. "Information Society" reached gold status after 5 months of its release and would eventually turn platinum. The disc was one of the few to use CD+G, which included digital graphics on the compact disc version in addition to the music. The graphics for the CD+G portion can be seen on the Information Society Website along with computer based information which has been included on other releases. The songs "What's On Your Mind (Pure Energy)" and "Walking Away" were used in a sampler disc bundled with the Sega CD to showcase the console's CD+G capability, using the same graphics as the album.

During this time the band released an anonymous single (comprised of 2 tracks from their forthcoming second album) under the name Think Tank. Years later, Robb would release tracks under the name Think Tank through the formerly-fictional record label Hakatak.

They also had a song - the instrumental track "Hit Me" - placed on the soundtrack to the movie Earth Girls Are Easy. By 1989 Information Society joined the "Club MTV Tour" which also included Paula Abdul, Milli Vanilli, Tone Loc, Was Not Was and Lisa Lisa.

"Hack" and Vector

The second release, "Hack" (1990), wasn't as successful, but had 2 top 40 hits with "Think" and "How Long." The album managed to sell quite well in late 1990. Videos were produced for those two tracks, but only "Think" got video airplay; the Adam Ant-directed spot for "How Long" was put aside as nobody involved was happy with it. A third single, "Now That I Have You", was remixed and sent out to DJs but was never released.

Kurt was also the owner of the heavily-modified ""-inspired art car named "Vector" featured on the cover of "Hack." The car sported a functioning laser rangefinder, among other unusual features. "Vector" was eventually given to a friend at Burning Man in 1997.

"Peace & Love Inc." and Cleopatra Records

The group’s third release, "Peace & Love, Inc." (1992), proved to be more powerful and critically acclaimed, although its label failed to do much to promote it, although it featured production by Karl Bartos of the legendary electronic band Kraftwerk. The first single, "Peace & Love Inc.," reached #1 on the Billboard Dance Chart. A music video was produced for the track, but MTV declined to play it. The album is also notable for being perhaps the first album ever produced to contain a track of modem tones, which, when played into a telephone connected to a computer, resulted in a bonus message from the band.

Five years later a fourth album, "Don't Be Afraid" (1997), was released. Written and performed by Kurt Harland alone and produced by Steven Seibold, DBA was more industrial-driven than previous albums and reflected more of what Kurt had been wanting to do during most of his tenure with InSoc. Cleopatra Records released the album, but—like Tommy Boy Records—did little to promote it. Harland's love of computer-related materials continued to be evident, as the album included a CD-ROM filled with bonus material, not yet a common occurrence in 1997. The disc included a selection of digital samples used in the album's production, miscellaneous works of art by InSoc fans, a program to generate the distinctive border graphics used on the album's cover, and the music video of "Peace and Love, Inc."

There was also a carefully-orchestrated digital scavenger hunt culminating in the discovery of a bonus track called "White Roses." The scavenger hunt began with decoding a modem's signal recorded at the end of the audio CD, resulting in a text message from Kurt which pointed the way to a Web site where the search began. There is also a cover included of Gary Numan's "Are 'Friends' Electric?". Also included is "Ozar Midrashim", later used as the main theme for the videogame "". The album eventually went out of print, but it had a second release in a [| remastered version] in 2008, this time with "White Roses" included as an audio track. So far, this release has only been available as digital media and not on CD or vinyl.

A remix album, "InSoc Recombinant" (1999), was produced, featuring vocals to the band's earlier hits remixed by various artists. The vocals to songs pre-"Don't Be Afraid" were not the originals, they were new versions re-recorded by Kurt alone specifically for the remixers' use. Included on a bonus, unadvertised CD-ROM were digital copies most of the band's officially-produced promotional videos, including a copy of the "Peace and Love Inc." video of higher quality than that distributed with "Don't Be Afraid." This CD-ROM, however, did not feature the "How Long" video.

Compilations and "Bands Reunited"

In 2001, "strange haircuts // cardboard guitars // and computer samples" was released including all the hits from 1988 to 1992.

In 2004, Cleopatra Records released a compilation titled "Pure Energy". The release consisted of tracks from "Don't Be Afraid" and "InSoc Recombinant," supplemented with a slightly altered mix of "Are Friends Electric?" and two new remixes of "What's On Your Mind," one by Effcee, and one unattributed mix labeled "What's On Your Mind (Pure Energy)" which attempted to emulate the original Tommy Boy version of the track. Robb called the album "an insult to both the band and the fans." [] . Harland, despite being credited as producer in the liner notes, had nothing to do with the release; and while declining to either "endorse or un-endorse" the album, he did take particular issue with the cover art, both for its low quality and for its portrayal of him holding a gun. []

The group was featured in an episode of VH1's Bands Reunited in November 2004. As broadcast, it appeared that Aamer Haleem (host of the show) got every member to agree to reuniting. However, Kurt had declined to appear in the planned concert, for reasons he later detailed in [ a post on the band's official website] . The post also details his experiences behind the scenes of the production, and how they differ from the portrayals in the episode as broadcast.


"Oscillator" and "Synthesizer"

In 2006, it was announced that Paul Robb and James Cassidy had decided to reconvene Information Society, initially without Kurt Harland's full participation in the recording process. [] Harland's absence in the studio line-up was cited as being due to family and work obligations. Harland ultimately contributed lead vocals to one track, "Seeds of Pain."

The new lineup included Christopher Anton as lead vocalist and co-writer for several tracks from Oscillator and Synthesizer including the title track of the latter. They were also joined by Sonja Meyers who played additional keyboards and provided a return to female background vocals.

Anton and Myers performed live with Information Society throughout 2006-2007, including shows in California, Oregon, New York, New Jersey, and São Paulo, Brazil. By mid-2007, the band returned to its original lineup of Kurt, Paul and James, who performed on July 21, 2007 at the Freestyle Reunion 2 Concert at Madison Square Garden. After the release of "Synthesizer", the trio performed a series of concerts in Philadelphia, Seattle, San Francisco and Austin, TX. The concert in Philadelphia was filmed for a forthcoming DVD []

On 19 March 2007, Information Society self-released an EP titled Oscillator, as an Internet-only release - their first commercial release in over six years. This was followed by a new album, "Synthesizer" which was released on October 9th in North America and October 5th in Europe on Dancing Ferret Discs. The album was released digitally in North America and Europe on September 4, 2007.

Information Society commissioned chiptune/micromusic artist 8 Bit Weapon to remix "I Like the Way You Werk It." 8 Bit Weapon remixed the song using both a Commodore 64 computer and a Game Boy Classic handheld console. The remix was titled "I Like the Way You Werk It - 8 Bit Weapon Remix."

I Like the Way You Werk It was also remixed by LA-based indie promoter and electronica artist Jon Hershfield. The remix is titled Werk It V.2. Both Robb and Anton have been guests on Hershfield's internet radio program

ide Projects

A.K.A. was a side project by Information Society's members Kurt Harland & Mithat Konar. (Mithat Konar is not the same person as Murat Konar, who wrote and sang on Information Society's "Running". Mithat is his brother who also was a member of InSoc.) They only recorded 2 songs ("Cruel Lovin'" sung by Mithat, and "All You Ever Told Were Lies" sung by Kurt), both produced by Kurt. They released a few 12" Singles in 1988 and one CD in 1991. With the success of Information Society, this project died.


Information Society is a musical collective which has been recording and performing for over twenty-five years.

Complete band roster

This is a list of everyone who has ever played with InSoc's live show, in order of appearance. [ [ Information Society ] ]

*Paul Robb
*Kurt Harland
*Pamela Tzara/Brustman
*Heather LeFay
*Kristin/Kaerlin Leader
*James Cassidy
*Chris Little
*Murat Konar
*Lisa Tonra
*Shawntelle Martin
*Belinda Beasley
*Mithat Konar
*Amanda Kramer
*Sally Venue-Berg
*Ed Potokar
*Mariuccia Nocera
*Ed Wozniak
*Sherry Hart
*Will Loconto
*Kristoffer Larson
*Liam Hart
*Sonja Meyers
*Christopher Anton

Principal members

Paul Robb cites his influences in earlier albums as hip-hop and house music, and he was integral to the early operations of Tommy Boy Records. He went on to release solo material under the Think Tank name and was half of Brother Sun Sister Moon who later became known as Luminous. In addition to his ongoing work with Information Society, Robb is a composer for TV and film whose credits include "Orgazmo," "South Park," and Clio Award-winning commercials.

James Cassidy is a professor of soil Science at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon.

Kurt Harland lives in San Francisco, CA with his wife and son, and is the Audio Director for a video game production company. He remains the lead vocalist for Information Society and is also the lead singer of an unrelated group.

Performance line-ups

Principal performers by time period.

* 1982: Kurt Harland, Paul Robb, Pamela Brussman
* 1983: Kurt Harland, Paul Robb, James Cassidy, Kristie Leader, Pamela Brussman
* 1984–1985: Paul Robb, James Cassidy, Murat Konar, Lisa Tonra, Chris Little
* 1986–1988: Kurt Harland, Paul Robb, James Cassidy, Amanda Kramer
* 1988–1993: Kurt Harland, Paul Robb, James Cassidy
* 1993–1998: Kurt Harland
* 1999-2006: No band activity in this period
* 2006: Paul Robb, James Cassidy, Christopher Anton, Sonja Meyers
* 2007: Paul Robb, James Cassidy, Christopher Anton, Kurt Harland
* 2008: Paul Robb, James Cassidy, Kurt Harland



*"The InSoc EP" (1983, EP)
*"Creatures Of Influence" (1984)
*"Information Society" (1988) Gold US #25
*"Hack" (1990) #77 US
*"Peace & Love, Inc." (1992)
*"Don't Be Afraid" (1997, Remastered Version in 2008)
*"InSoc Recombinant" (1999, remix compilation)
*"strange haircuts // cardboard guitars // and computer samples" (2001, compilation)
*"Pure Energy" (2004, compilation)
*"Oscillator" (2007, EP)
*"Synthesizer" (2007)
*"" (2008, compilation)


*"Running" #2 Dance
*"What's On Your Mind? (Pure Energy)" (1988) #3 Pop, #1 Dance
*"Walking Away" (1989) #9 Pop, #5 Dance
*"Repetition" (1989) #76 Pop
*"Lay All Your Love On Me" (1989) #83 Pop, #23 Dance
*"Think" (1990) #28 Pop, #5 Dance
*"How Long" (1991) #20 Dance
*"Peace & Love, Inc." (1992) #10 Dance
*"Going, Going, Gone" (1993)
*"Are Friends Electric?" (1997)
*"What's On Your Mind? (Pure Energy)" Remixed (1998) - "Recombinant mixes released as a 12" single."
*"Running" Remixed (2001) #2 Dance
*"What's On Your Mind? (Pure Energy)" Remixed (2001) #2 Dance
*"Baby Just Wants" (2007)
*"Back In The Day" (2007)
*"I Like The Way You Werk It" (2007)

Articles and reviews


* 2007: [ Plaza of the Mind] - an interview with Paul Robb
* 2006: [ New Information Society Revealed;]
* 2002: " [ Beyond Society] interviews Paul Robb


* 1999: [ Multiple Personality] - Sound on Sound interview with Paul Robb
* 1997: [ Sideline Interview] - [ Sideline Magazine] interview with Kurt Harland
* 1997: [ Chronicle Interview] - The [ San Francisco Chronicle] interviews Kurt Harland
* 1997: [ OING Interview] - OING Magazine's interview with Kurt Harland
* 1997: [ An Interview] - an interview with Kurt Harland, source unknown
* 1997: [ An Interview] - Keyboard Magazine interviews Kurt Harland
* 1995: [ Redundantly] - Kurt Harland interview in Redundantly Magazine
* 1993: [ Interview] (source unknown) with Kurt Harland
* 1990: [ Knightline] - Phrack Magazine interview with Kurt Harland
* 1990: [ August Village Beat] - Village Beat Newspaper interview with Kurt Harland


* 1988: [ Keyboard Interview] - Keyboard Magazine interviews Kurt Harland, Paul Robb, James Cassidy
* 1988: [ Interview in MT] - Music Technology Magazine interviews Kurt Harland, Paul Robb, James Cassidy
* 1983: [ Music Review] - Minneapolis City Pages newspaper

External links

* [ Information Society Official Website] - The official Information Society website
* [ Information Society Official MySpace] - the official Information Society MySpace page
* [] - The original official Information Society website, written by Kurt Harland
* [ AllMusic Guide]
* [ White Roses] - More information regarding the track "White Roses"
* [ InSoc Discography] - Afreet Gallery's very detailed InSoc Discography page


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