Nation of Ulysses (1988-1992)

The Nation of Ulysses was a punk band from Washington, D.C. that created their own political and social aesthetic and organization, also called the Nation of Ulysses (AKA "Ulyssean Jihad", "Party of God", "Al-asifa" (lit. "The Storm"), "Cupid Car Club", "Organization of the Oppressed", Etc.).

Their objective was to destroy society through their doctrines of "P-Power" and "Ragnarok." Members of NOU (the collective and the band) dressed and acted conservatively to confuse the squares, while acting out their violent vision (musically, at least).

More or less, they just had a gimmick. But it actually stuck, and quite a few punk kids started wearing suits and slicking back their hair Mafia-style, and chanted the mantra, "Ulysses, Ulysses, little flower, beloved by all the youth."

They expressed few politics in their music, as caffeine, youth, and candy aren't considered very political by most. They also used a lot of beatnik slang, like "square" and "cool."

The band consisted of Ian Svenonius (vocals), Steve Kroner (guitar), Tim Green (guitar), Steve Gamboa (bass), and James Canty (drums, and Brendan Canty of Fugazi's brother).

They released only two full-length LPs on Dischord Records, "13-Point Program to Destroy America" and "Plays Pretty for Baby," before moving on to form the Cupid Car Club and later, the Make-Up.

The high point of NOU's career was when Ian Svenonius was crowned the Sassiest Man Alive. Ian (also known as Ian the Spiv) is rather sassy, publicly expressing his love for mirrors and silk pajamas (I've seen him riding his bicycle around D.C. in said pajamas).

After breaking up, the members stayed in the punk community: Svenonius, Gamboa, and Canty formed Cupid Car Club and the Make-Up (both on K Records, while Tim Green went on to Red Eye, the Fakes, the Vile Cherubs, and several other projects.

13-Point Program to Destroy America (1991, Dischord)
Spectra Sonic Sound
Look Out! Soul is Back
Today I Met the Girl I'm Going To Marry
A Kid Who Tells On Another Kid is a Dead Kid
Cool Senior High School (Fight Song)
Aspirin Kid
Hot Chocolate City
P. Power
You're My Miss Washington, D.C.
Target: U.S.A.
Love is a Bull Market
The Sound of Young America
Channel One Ulysses
Atom Bomb

Plays Pretty for Baby (1992, Dischord)
N-Sub Ulysses (Intro)
N-Sub Ulysses
A Comment on Ritual
The Hickey Underworld
Perpetual Motion Machine
N.O.U. Future-Vision Hypothesis
50,000 Watts of Goodwill
Maniac Dragstrip
Last Train to Cool
Mockingbird, Yeah!
Depression III
S.S. Exploder
The Kingdom of Heaven Must Be Taken By Storm
The Sound of Jazz to Come
Presidents of Vice

NOU had an enormous influence on the D.C. punk scene in it's short life, helping to give it an aura of untouchability and a big head. Some indie/punk scenes in the U.S. still can't stand that snobbish "D.C. attitude."

It must be noted that the Nation of Ulysses never actually broke up, and the phrase "breaking up" is used only as a matter of convenience. Once one has been blessed by spirit of Ulysses, no actions or words can break that bond. The spirit of Ulysses lives on in the members recent projects, most notably in the Make-Up's gospel revivalist style.

Ulysses, Ulysses, little flower, beloved by all the youth.

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