With the release of “The Shape Of Punk To Come”, REFUSED pioneered the hardcore sound in a shocking, surprising but most of all impressing way. "The Shape Of Punk To Come" album is an innovative twelve track bombination of intellectual revolutionary punk where the band stand up as vanguard of new open-minded noise. It’s a provoking and progressive adventurous dose of chimerical hardcore that refuses to be stale. And hardcore will never ever be the same again. This is the sound, this is the pulse. This is the beat of a new generation!
ALL BUT overlooked by the mainstream at the time of its release, this has since come to be recognized by musicians galore as one of the greatest heavy albums of all time. The no-nonsense hardcore scene which spawned this Swedish combo collectively shat itself when this mixture of smart-bomb riffing, ambient electronica, leftist politics and near perfect pop was birthed. It was so good, in fact, that the band broke up proclaiming they’d achieved what they set out to do and there was no point carrying on.
REFUSED ARE FUCKING DEAD
“If a band ever finds that it is not giving their best effort and playing at the edge of their abilities at all times, then they are not playing the kind of music that they should be playing.”
– Patrick T. Daly, Oxford, UK
This philosophy, placed in the context of hardcore music, is what made Refused so unique. Complex rhythms, hardcore rage, political activism and a dose of experimental sonic confusion all smashed together to create a seamless ball of energy.
Refused set themselves apart by fuelling their collective creativity with the tension that is inherent in the band environment. With five creative forces using the whole to satisfy each of their own creative desires, there is potential for failure here. Fortunately, there was enough unity in the vision to turn tension into energy.
“We made this album wanting to challenge people’s preconceptions of what a Punk band could be and what it could play, because Punk is the most conservative musical form there is. Even in Hardcore, there are so many rules about what is and what is not acceptable, and that completely negates the whole spirit of the original idea”.
- Dennis Lyxzén / Refused.
Lyrically speaking, Refused delves heavily into the political arena. Their Anarchist stance becomes clear in “The Deadly Rhythm”, when they ask,
“Is it our duty to die for governments and for gods? / Is it our privilege to slave for market and industry? / Is it our right to follow laws set to scare and oppress? / Is it our gift to stay in line and will it take away the blame? / We can no longer pay the price / We'll get organized / We will no longer believe that working for you will set us free.”
Stretching beyond the political arena and into the area of personal motivation, they attempt to light a fire under your ass in “Summer Holidays vs. Punk Routine” by saying, “We're all tired of dying / So sick of not trying / Scared that we might fail / We'll accomplish nothing / Not even failure.”
The spokesmen of Refused were Dennis Lyxzèn, David Sandström, Kristofer Steen and Jon F.Brännström.
Dennis was the oldest and also the most outspoken on the political destruction of common values. He was notorious for his loud and bold ways, excellent dancing skills and finely tuned writing on political issues.
David was the arrogant and self-proclaimed leader of the poetic commune, often seen sporting a great beard, talking about himself as the genetic replica of Charles Mingus. A great composer and a most ferocious drummer.
Kris was the prophet of sound. What he hears he paints with and when he sees he hears, eyes are just an aid to hearing if you look at it that way.
Jon was the young yet nostalgic romantic and with a crooked smile and a hat he is known to mankind as the unrelentless avenge of social status in dance music, his prominent beat-making skills granting Refused access to previously unreachable dimensions.
The myth has it that Refused was formed out of the cultural vacuum provided by a society with no sense of art or humane politics. The group was very much reactionary but in such a way that it actually does challenge the conservative conventions of modern culture.
The “Shape Of Punk To Come” album was the final chapter of the Refused saga. They split up in the fall of 98. Read their final communiqué here:
REFUSED ARE FUCKING DEAD
-The final communiquè-
Just like the political theorists and philosophers (Baudrillard, Foucault, Derrida, Debord and so on) we also managed with a sort of self fulfilling prophecy. A manifestation of an idea to a concrete action. When Quilapayuns in 1972 realized the importance of widening their spectrum of action by dividing the band into five different sections to be able to spread their ideas on as many locations and to as many people as possible they had realized the principle of collective mass organization. A division into five new directions means in practice five new projects that can challenge and fight the boredom and death that sneaks into our everyday life. Five new ways to make the political manifesto that once was known under the collective spanner of "the Refused Party Program" concrete, five new forces that can devour and choke every tendency of the bourgeoisie shackle that keeps us down.
So why does Refused have to die to be able to rise from the ashes like the Fenix??? It is impossible to take part of a revolutionary program when every aspect of existence has to be projected as entertainment and music, a tradition that both in expression and creation has been dead for far too long. We were hoping that we could be the final nail in the coffin of the rotten cadaver that was popular music, but unfortunately the reification was too big for us to succeed with our feeble attempts to detour this boring discourse. When every expression, no matter how radical it is, can be transformed into a commodity and be bought or sold like cheap soda, how is it then possible that you are going to be able to take "art" seriously? When every political idea has to become safe and categorized just so that it can be defined by disgusting "journalists" who's only aim is the selling of issues and the cashing in of paychecks, how can we then show the seriousness of the situation? When the single purpose of every song written is to accumulate capital for the record companies that will only kill every attempt at spontaneity and creativity, how are we then expected to create? When every show played just becomes another brick in the wall between people, between "fans" and "stars", when we instead of getting communication and interaction are being forced to become nothing but consumers and producers. When people are being praised as geniuses and idols just because they play music or write books or something equally boring and "cultural", when the widespread belief that their creation is more important than that people take part in everyday life...What does that say about the rest of us and what does it say about the system that we have? When we continue to uphold the bourgeoisie myth of self realization by saying that anyone can make it, just as long as they work hard, or pick up a guitar, we uphold the dream of good vs. bad jobs (rockstar = good, factory worker = bad) thus we also uphold the class system and the justification of it. When the self appointed elite talks about culture, the culture that tricks us into believing that there is such a thing as culture, without any thought or consideration of the political or economical system. When we become just another subculture with all the right attributes instead of a real counter-culture, then it is time to die, to revalue the position that we are in.
Refused "broke up" on the 26th of September 1998 in Atlanta, Georgia, and in a last feeble attempt to break the linear timeline that the modern ways of production has forced upon us we played the last show in Harrisonburg, Virginia on the 6th of October 1998. The show was interrupted after 4 songs by the local police force who thought that they've had enough. We knew that they were onto us but it was both a chock and a relief that they did not catch us until the last show. Then, after 7 years of trying, we finally managed to create our own time space within the capitalist power structure. The crowd managed to manifest a moment of passionate living when they continued to scream "rather be alive..." to the corrupt and useless preservers of private property.
So what now??? We will continue to, at every attempt, overthrow the class system, burn museums and to strangle the great lie that we call culture. We will continue with new projects and forces to do everything that is in our power to overthrow the capitalist structure that alienates us from every aspect of life and living, smash the reification that forces us to dress in outdated identities and rules: we will continue to demand revolution here and now, and not in some vague future that all reactionary leftist fundamentalists and reformists are talking about. We want every day and every action to be a manifestation of love, joy, confusion and revolt. This is the last that we have to say about it,
WE WILL NOT GIVE INTERVIEWS TO STUPID REPORTERS who still haven't got anything of what we are all about, we will never play together again and we will never try to glorify or celebrate what was. All that we have to say has been said here or in our music/manifestos/lyrics and if that is not enough you are not likely to get it anyway.
WE THEREFORE DEMAND THAT EVERY NEWSPAPER BURN ALL THEIR PHOTOS OF REFUSED so that we will no longer be tortured with memories of a time gone by and the mythmaking that single-minded and incompetent journalism offers us. Instead we need to look forward. We got everything to win and nothing but our boredom to lose.