Refused Are Alive and Well
There are a handful of bands in my life that I can say changed my taste in music forever. Refused came at the exact right time in my life for me to be ready to experience a whole new sound. Relief from the radio station and my worn out Tool, Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead records came in 1998 when The Shape of Punk to Come: A Chemical Bombination in 12 Bursts came into existence.
I remember watching MTV2 and seeing the music video for New Noise for the very first time and rushing around my mothers basement to find anything I could to write down the name Refused on. I had no such luck and in true MTV fashion, the video got lost in a sea of nauseating pop videos with young girls spinning around in short skirts. Luckily all it took was not ditching out on my math class for once to find out that the tight jean wearing kid that sat next to me, with his finger nails painted black and his hair swooped heavy to one side had (obviously) been converted to Refused a long time ago.
The Shape of Punk to Come changed everything, blending jazz samples, electronic beats and the shrill screams of lead vocalist Dennis Lyxén into the perfect mixture of a purely new sound that belonged solely to a band on the brink of self destruction. Although the band speaks freely about their ideologies on the record – taking a hard stance against punk rocks continuing decent from anti-establishment anthems into the mainstream mindless idea that "whatever’s cool is cool", the albums’ catchy enough that no matter what genre of music you like, the record can find it’s way into your album collection.
Music finally had something to be excited about… then the fucking band broke up! Which leads me to wonder if there is no coincidence that one of the best songs on their last album is titled "Refused Are Fucking Dead".
The bands new projects The International Noise Conspiracy and Text, were alright, but didn’t come close to wetting anyones appetite for what had been lost with the break up of Refused. So for the last 14 years I have been putting one of the same 12 songs inside of every playlist I ever make, wishing to God I had had the opportunity to see Refused play live just once. After 14 years of thinking about the band that got away, Refused announced their reunion tour, kicking off at Coachella. You better believe I was there.
I’m not one for spoiling a surprise, so I won’t go into much detail about what it’s like to stand ten feet in front of the powerhouse that is Refused. I wont babble on about how the intensity that so many bands lose after such a long hiatus (I’m looking directly at you, At the Drive-In) is still in full effect with every member of Refused. I wont harp on the fact that if you miss their show you are a terrible person that needs to get their priorities in check. All I will say is that after seeing Refused perform live, I can say that without a doubt… Refused are fucking alive and well.
Photos By: Michael Dubin