N.O.U. presented themselves as a radical political party instead of a rock band. They renamed the home they shared "The Embassey" and published a 'zine called "Ulysses Speaks" to expand upon their philosophies and ideals, which included the destruction of America and "Parent Culture", aligning themselves with radical political movements, fake time-lines of supposed N.O.U. terrorist activities, calling for the consumption of large amounts of sugar and caffeine, succession from the United States, and the idea that no one involved with the N.O.U. would ever age past 18. The liner notes of the band's releases also reflected these sentiments. Just how serious all this was has long been a matter of debate, although political rhetoric has continued to be a part of Ian Svenonius's post-N.O.U. work.
The band's sound incorporated elements of punk, hardcore, soul, jazz, and noise. Presentation was also key to the band's identity, as the group would appear live in matching clothes or suits (dressing well was another key tenant of the N.O.U. philosophy).
N.O.U. would record two 7"s and two LPs for Dischord Records (the first 7" was a split release with K Records) during their lifespan and during that time would rank second only to Fugazi in terms of popularity amongst the label's bands. Steve Kroner departed following the recording of the 2nd LP. The group began working on a 3rd LP as a quartet but after Tim Green quit in late 1992, the group dissolved. Svenonius, Gamboa, and Canty continued on with the short-lived Cupid Car Club and then The Make-Up. Tim Green relocated to the West Coast and worked as a producer and performer with a number of acts.