However, the exhilaration was short lived with the reunion lasting less then 12 months – but not before thousands of punk rockers of all ages turned up to see their musical heroes in the flesh, when they played headline shows across the country. Despite being a little longer-in-the-tooth, the Nordic noise-makers lived up to their fabled reputation.
“The Australian tour in 2012 was some of the best shows we did all year,” says vocalist Dennis Lyxzén. “We had a fantastic time, it was just really beautiful. We were supposed to come back and do Soundwave in January last year, but unfortunately that got cancelled, so we’ve wanted to come back to Australia ever since. This time it’s going to be so special because these shows will be the last ones we’ll play for our Freedom record.
“We’re all super excited,” he says. “We’ve been on the Freedom tour for a year and a half now, and this will be the last thing we do for a long time.”
No one wants to hear that their favourite musicians using words like ‘last thing’ or ‘long time’, and sensing my anxiety Lyxzén quickly points out that this hiatus is going to be short-lived. “We’re going to take a small break and then we’re going to start working on new material for real,” he says. “Everyone in the band has other projects and different stuff that we wanna do and focus on for a little bit, so we need some time off from each other – but the good news is that at the end of this there’ll be new Refused music coming out somewhere along the line.”
Refused are seen as pioneers of the hardcore sound. Their influence over more than a quarter of a century is undeniable, while their unapologetically non-conformist attitude and politically motivated lyrics set them apart from so many of their peers. “Here’s what happened to me,” Lyxzén says, as eager to talk about the past as much as the future. “I started my first hardcore band in a town where no one liked that type of music. The first show we ever played we thought that no one was really going to be into it. We created this huge spectacle of destruction, and people were really into it.”
“That struck a chord with me. To bring that theatrical, extroverted violence to a show, for me it’s become second nature. The energy that our music exudes is so easy for me to fall into and get taken over by. Punk rock and hardcore is a very expressive type of music. Even on nights when I get up onstage and I feel sick, or I feel out of shape, or I feel like my body’s hurting, once I start playing it all goes away – I think that’s what music should be.
“It’s a privilege and an honour to be able to fly to Australia to play shows, and then to have people show up and respond to your thoughts and ideas.”
In a sign of good faith Lyxzén says they’ve personally handpicked a stellar lineup to open their shows. “We’re bringing, all the way from New York City, Sick Of It All as part of their 30 year anniversary tour, and from Melbourne we’re going to bring out a fantastic band called High Tension.
“At the moment in Sweden it’s pitch dark 24/7 right now, and I can’t wait to just get away, play some music and have a good time,” he says. “We’re going to hit the beach and hang out with some friends – it’s going to be fantastic. When we fly down there, it’s only seven shows in almost two weeks – that’s fucking the way touring should be.”
By Natalie Rogers