The International Theatre of War
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The International Theatre of War


Band Pop Avant-garde


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos


The best kept secret in music


"Band of the Week"

"Reds is the product of ex-Firebird Band and ex-Blackouts player John Isberg. His twisted take on the darkest elements of Depeche Mode and Bauhaus are more than worthy of your attention. I had the pleasure of touring with John five years ago at this time, and so i thought it appropriate to give his new delicious project some ink..."

-Seth Fein - Daily Illini

"Artist's Corner"

Artist's Corner: John Isberg
By: Matt Hoffman
Posted: 2/22/06
John Isberg, born in St. Charles, Ill., grew up in Aurora. He rode his BMX everywhere, moved into the middle of a cornfield called Elburn, and decided he wasn't a big fan of corn. He then joined the Illinois Army National Guard right out of high school. In 1997, after his time in the National Guard, he moved to Champaign and discovered T-Rex, Beats by Otter, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and the joy of slinging Jupiter's pizza. He ran into Chris Broach [ex-Braid, ex-L'Spaerow] in 2001, and together they formed The Firebird Band. Their full-length debut album The City at Night put them on the road full-time, and his life has strangely never been the same since. John currently is in a new band, Reds, which performed at some WEFT 90.1 FM sessions in December and will be recording soon. He is also submitting some tracks to the local Artists Against Aids compilation, which will be available in the coming months.

You've been in a number of different bands. Do you consider yourself a serial band member or do you just like having several creative outlets?

I think if something interests me, then it's something worth pursuing. I am into so many different styles of music that sometimes it's hard to find my voice. I was very fortunate to play with the bands I did though. I think Steve and Joe [of The Living Blue] are absolutely the most talented musicians I've ever played with. Joe is tireless and would stay up all night at the space writing riffs. One time I joined him and we jammed for a while and came up with the song, "my lines" off the first record. It was a great time. I came off of a two-month tour with The Firebird Band when I met those guys and started jamming with them. It was such a difference in dynamic and I think in a way that's why I usually like to keep finding new things.

How do you handle the inevitable creative differences that arise when working with a band?

Creative differences can be a big problem if you find yourself working with someone who won't at least see where you're coming from. With The Firebird Band, Chris and I wrote The City at Night, and for some reason we just seemed to be on the same page. Between when we started it and when it was finished, I felt that I grew more as a musician. I worked with a friend of mine, Eric Heaton, in his studio while The City at Night was gestating. We'd stay up all night writing songs on a Roland 505 and a Korg Triton. I learned a lot about space in songs, timbre, counter melodies, finding tones and sounds that flowed well together, but more importantly, having fun writing songs. Out of those sessions, I ended up bringing two demos to the Firebird record, "Next wave" and "Satellite Delay" (which ended up being the song we used for the video), and I think it says a lot about Chris that they ended up on the record. Certainly on that record, I didn't agree with certain ideas but I guess you learn to pick your battles. There has to be some compromise that you can live with.

More about you personally: What drives you and inspires you? Who are your influences in your art and work, and what do you hope to accomplish?

I get a lot of inspiration from my surroundings, my friends and family. I think recognizing the humanity in everyone is very important, compassion, empathy. I think that as far as artists, John Lennon has been someone I've been inspired by. I mean, he wasn't perfect by any stretch, but the fact that he had the conviction to say something beyond glorifying himself really registers with me. I'm always amazed with pop culture and celebrities. They have the ear of the nation and seldom have anything worth listening to.

Describe your fan base. How do you connect with them?

The kids that came out to our shows were some of the best in the world. We missed a show in Albuquerque, N.M. once because our van was down. We drove to Phoenix and some kids drove from the show we missed to Phoenix and even stayed an extra night to see us in Tempe. Unreal. And seriously, it was always an honor to play for them, we wouldn't have been a band without them. I have a deep respect and thanks for them and for the floors, couches and cooked breakfasts.

You've said that you're going to be starting a Brit-pop/new wave record spinning night at the Cowboy Monkey. Tell us more about that and what else you're working on now.

Well, I just thought it'd be fun to spin some records, and maybe pay myself back for being on eBay so much. And when the needle hits a record like The Smith's The Queen is Dead or Depeche Mode's Speak and Spell, it just sounds so damn good. So expect stuff like that. And some old school Grandmaster Flash, Nu Shooz (if I'm feeling it ... ). But yeah, come out, and get your dance on. And it's the Cowboy Monkey, which is always a good thing.

Final interview questions are always lame. Mine is no different. Give me three words that do not describe you.

Right-wing Republican
© Copyright 2007 Buzz Magazine - The Buzz


reds- "she says she's fine" artists against aids compilation. greater champaign aids project.

reds- "i'll never understand"
reds- "waiting at red lights"
both on WEFT 90.1fm and WPGU 107.1

tracks aired on WEFT 90.1fm
reds- "zeta"
reds- "black cat"
reds- "the evening sky"

the international theatre of war- "kinney"
the international theatre of war- "too much talking"

2- 1 hour performances live on 90.1fm WEFT


Feeling a bit camera shy


John Isberg came from "the city at night"-era Firebird Band(lucid records/bifocal media), the Blackouts(lucid records) and the Insects. Eriq Heaton comes from the Insects.
Sticking together over the last four years, Eriq and John have developed their sound through late night recording sessions from the beginnings of acoustic guitar and drums under the guise of "The Insects" to more fully-realized electro pop pieces.
The idea for The International Theatre of War was under the surface as John Isberg continued with the Firebird Band. Some of the initial songwriting between Eriq and John ended up as contributing tracks to the Firebird Bands' record, "The City at Night," notably, "Next Wave" and "Satellite Delay." Eriq joined them on tour as sound engineer and John and Eriq would hang out on the road and plan for the future.
"We would talk about our influences from time to time, mostly how much we loved Prince, Depeche Mode, The Cure, Pet Shop Boys, all the classic bands we grew up with, the first time we went to a darkened club and that throbbing pulse of the music, the lights, the heat and losing yourself in the night. Our music was less an imprint of our influences and more just us trying to recapture that feeling we got when we first heard that music, that feeling when the hair on the back of your neck stands up and you get the chills, when we first braved the dance floor and just gave in. That kind of feeling was what we were trying for."
What came out of the pairing was the initial idea of an electronic project called "Reds." Upon leaving the Firebird Band in 2005, the door was open to start working on Reds. Drawing from hours of demos, the sound was slowly pieced together and shows started to appear.
Within a short period of time, Reds had played on the radio, had some college airplay on several radio stations with two of their songs, and started to make an impact beyond their initial ideas.
Reds had evolved into The International Theatre of War over the past year in the live setting, as tastes changed and instrumentation adapted. What started as a more shoegazer sound had been filtered through to more ambient tones, minimal house and some french vibes as well. The duo had continued to change and evolve as mood influenced design.
Reds had definitely been a process of trial and error, finding out mostly without having read manuals, what works and what doesn't. One of the biggest problems with Reds was equipment issues.
"We literally had no way of tuning to the sequencer. The master tuning on the Roland mc505 that we were using had somehow become completely messed up. There was no standard tuning for any sequence and the tuning was not even from song to song either. We would actually tune different strings of our bass/guitar to individual songs in order to have some semblence of order. It was a total nightmare and any idea of adding additional synthesizers or keyboards was not an option."
"One of our last shows in that guise ended with me throwing my bass across the stage into our fourth song and walking off."
With the end of that era, time and new gear helped settle the tuning problem and they could concentrate on songwriting.
"It was very freeing to be able to add all the texture and embellishment that I had wanted to do before. Now, we could really stretch out and bring the live performance aspect to a new place"
As they continued on, more experimentation began to take place and a huge catalog of songs began to form, some not fitting the aesthetic of Reds and a new, darker sound had emerged. Not sure what to do with it, John experimented with some solo shows showcasing the new material.
With time and patience, John and Eriq regrouped and started working on the new songs that were being developed. With a new, darker direction and a return to more shoegazer guitars, a new name was established to distinguish the change. Reds was gone and in its place was The International Theatre of War, a darker, more driving idea and now, it feels they're getting closer to what they were looking for.

The International Theatre of War is currently writing and recording for a forthcoming record on Chicago's Lucid Records to be out sometime in winter 2007.