Refused was a Swedish hardcore punk band originating from Umeå, formed in 1991. In total the band released five EPs and three full-length albums before originally splitting up in 1998. Kerrang! magazine listed the band's 1998 album The Shape of Punk to Come at No. 13 on their 50 Most Influential Albums of All Time list in 2003. Refused is composed of vocalist Dennis Lyxzén, guitarists Jon Brännström and Kristofer Steen, drummer David Sandström and bassist Magnus Flagge. Their lyrics are often of a non-conformist and politically far-left nature.
On January 9, 2012, the band announced their long-awaited reunion (which was also highly contested considering the band's original and explicit declaration to never reunite), confirming shows at Coachella, Rock am Ring, Ruisrock, Roskilde Festival, Groezrock, Way Out West Festival, Sonisphere Festival (Cancelled), Download Festival, Rock for People, Primavera Sound, Hellfest, Fuji Rock Festival, Øyafestivalen and Pukkelpop.
Career trajectory (1991–1998)
Refused formed in early 1991 with Dennis Lyxzén, David Sandström, Pär Hansson, and Jonas Lindgren and released their first demo, "Refused," the same year. With an already altered lineup (including Kristofer Steen joining from local band Abhinanda with Pär Hansson going the other way) the band released their first studio album, This Just Might Be the Truth, in 1994.
Refused's final line-up consisted of Dennis Lyxzén, David Sandström, Kristofer Steen, and Jon Brännström, who released everything from Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent to the definitive album The Shape of Punk to Come. The band never found a permanent bass player.
Refused broke up in late 1998. Some believe this happened as a result of a depletion of creative energy and band members wanting different things. There was also conflict between Dennis and the rest of the band. Band members stated that their first shows after the release of Shape of Punk to Come were emotionally devastating and that their final tour was an awful experience. The band eventually cancelled the tour and announced their breakup through a strongly-worded press release, described below. Their last performance of their United States tour was played in Harrisonburg, Virginia but was shut down by police.
Daniel P. Carter described in January 2012 how unfairly poor the reception that Refused used to receive was, and how they never had the chance to make an impact whilst together.
After breakup (1999–2009)
After Refused split up, they released one final, fiery open letter titled "Refused Are Fucking Dead." It can be read in full here  on their label Burning Heart's website.
Lead singer Dennis Lyxzén went on to form The (International) Noise Conspiracy while the other members, as well as venturing into their own projects, formed the group TEXT.
In 2007 Dennis and David briefly reformed their Refused side project, Final Exit, which existed in the mid-late 1990s and originally consisted of members of Refused and Abhinanda, with each member taking a different role to that which they had in their main bands (e.g., David on vocals and Dennis on bass guitar).
As of May, 2008, Dennis Lyxzén and David Sandström have formed a new straightforward hardcore band under the name AC4.
Kristofer Steen is now a director and made a documentary on the band's last year in existence called Refused Are Fucking Dead.
In March 2010, Epitaph Records put up the old Refused website online with the words "Coming Soon." Rumours spread across the Internet about what the new website could indicate, including speculation of a reunion. Citing an anonymous source "close to the situation," Punknews.org unofficially announced that the band would perform at European music festivals in 2010. Dennis Lyxzén has denied claims of a Refused reformation as he and David Sandström are busy with AC4. The new band website was later announced to be a promotional site for a reissue of Refused's final album, The Shape of Punk to Come. The reissue, released on June 8, 2010, is a three-disc set with an unreleased live album recorded in 1998 and the Refused Are Fucking Dead DVD documentary in addition to the full original album.
In November 2011, multiple posters said to be for the upcoming 2012 Coachella Festival appeared on several Internet sites, and the line-ups included Refused. This started new rumours of a long-awaited reunion.
In BBC Radio 1's "Punk Show" on January 2, 2012, Mike Davies stated that Refused, along with At the Drive-In would be reforming in 2012. On January 9, 2012, it was announced that Refused would be performing for the 2012 Coachella Festival. The reunion was confirmed via Dennis Lyxzen's Facebook page. Later that day, it was announced that they would also be playing at Way Out West Festival in Gothenburg, Sweden. They will also headline one of the biggest punk festivals in the world, Groezrock in Belgium. The confirmation that Refused would be UK exclusives at Sonisphere Festival in the UK was made on February 20. However, in light of Sonisphere UK's subsequent cancellation, Refused were officially booked by Download Festival on April 3, to perform there at Donington Park, also in the UK, instead. On February 29, Refused played a secret show in Umeå, their first live performance since 1998. Refused are also confirmed for the Rock for People festival in Czech Republic. They appeared for the first time on TV in America on the Jimmy Fallon show on July 18, 2012.
On August 23, 2012 Refused indicated by a Facebook post that their reunion was for 2012 only and not a continuation of their career. The after party for their final show, on December 15, 2012, saw brief reunions from related Umeå hardcore bands Abhinanda and Final Exit, as well as some rarely performed songs from Refused. Redd Kross also performed.
On February 22, 2013, Refused were awarded "The special prize for Swedish music exports" by the Minister of Trade. Lyxzén and Sandström chose to criticize the current Government at the ceremony, instead thanking the efforts of popular education, in particular Workers' Educational Association (ABF) and youth centers (in Sweden associated with social democracy) while Jon Brännström chose to not accept the prize on his behalf later stating he wished they "(...) had said no to the prize and instead held a press conference about why we had turned it down."
Refused incorporated radical left and anti-capitalist politics, into a sound that paid homage to The Nation of Ulysses and Born Against. Before the Umeå hardcore phenomenon went into full bloom, the band was seen as part of the scene centered around youth-oriented venue Galaxen, along with the punk-rock scene as well as metal bands such as Meshuggah.
Drummer David Sandström states that before the band formed he was a "glue-sniffing death metal kid" but eventually a fan of Step Forward, the embryo of Refused. As Step Forward called it quits and friendship between David and Dennis Lyxzen grew stronger, Dennis took him home and made him listen to Youth of Today's We're Not in This Alone album over and over again in a room alone.
The album This Just Might Be the Truth was mostly influenced by popular American hardcore bands of the time (such as Earth Crisis) as well as various bands from the New York hardcore scene. By the time of its release, the band already had a strong anti-establishment profile.
On their second album, Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent, the band had a heavier sound, largely due to Dennis adopting a screaming style rather than shouting.
- This Just Might Be... the Truth (1994)
- Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent (1996)
- The Shape of Punk to Come: A Chimerical Bombination in 12 Bursts (1998)
- The Shape of Punk to Come DVD-Audio version (2004)
- Refused Are Fucking Dead (2006)
References in media
- Many post-hardcore bands cite Refused as influence, including La Dispute, United Nations, Underoath, The Used, and many others.
- The song "New Noise" has been featured in:
- the movies Crank, Friday Night Lights and "Boot Camp" and Jalla! Jalla!.
- the television programs 24 (Season 1), Rage, Criminal Minds, Nitro Circus, and The Following.
- the game Tony Hawk's Underground,
- The Used, Anthrax, Snot, and Crazy Town have covered Refused's "New Noise" on numerous occasions live.
- Emo-pop band Paramore used a sample from the song 'Liberation Frequency' in their 2007 song 'Born For This'.
- The UK magazine Rock Sound gave the album The Shape of Punk to Come the number one spot in the magazine's list of the 100 albums that most influenced the music that Rock Sound covers.
- British post-hardcore punk band Million Dead took their name from a line in the Refused song The Apollo Programme was a Hoax
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Image from Discogs