My Thoughts On The Refused Reformation, Daniel P Carter
Radio 1 Rock Show host DPC weighs in on the Refused reunion debate...
Yes Refused are no longer fucking dead and people are crying about it already. The backlash began as soon as the rumours were confirmed, but you know what, I think people should take a moment before jumping online and talking shit.
With their last two albums [96's 'Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent' and 98's 'The Shape of Punk to Come: A Chimerical Bombination in 12 Bursts'] Refused helped shape the current musical landscape that we hold so dear. Their influence has been vast but at the time VERY FEW people gave a shit about the band. I remember standing in the Red Eye venue at King's Cross as they played only three songs before their set was stopped after Dennis had his head split open. Some people were heckling them, complaining and asking for their £3.50 back as he was taken to A&E. [Read that last sentence back at least twice before moving on - Online Ed]
Ink & Dagger supported Refused at that show and I was bummed out by the lack of people in attendance that night and at their prior reformation show. No-one gave a shit. They didn't even finish the tour. It was bleak.
Fast forward at least a decade and Refused have been offered the chance to get back together and make some money. Wow, 'the anti-capitalist rhetoric now seems to ring a little hollow' shouts the internet.
Sure, Refused 'appropriated' a lot of stuff from Nation Of Ulysses, Fireside and Swing Kids, but from that they created something truly exciting. I would rather watch a bunch of 30 year-old guys play some awesome songs they wrote than see a bunch of 20 year-old guys play bad rip-offs of those same songs. I'm not pointing fingers and trying to be all 'things were better back in the day', they obviously weren't in a lot of respects as you had bands making great art for a very cliquey crowd and never seeing any benefit from it. Refused is the perfect example of that.
Refused once noted that everything needed to be said had been said already. Why would they try to relive the past was a question they asked their audience? But years later the offer of some good money comes sniffing around and brings with it the temptation to meet up again and discuss things, talk through some old problems. The band do that and remember that they were bros, that they were a gang once. They then get in a rehearsal room, play the songs that were life-affirming to them and rediscover that - at one point in time - Refused was everything to them. It was their life.
Reformations always get shouted down by people and maybe sometimes they are right to do so. 'They will never be as good as they were back in the day' is the first accusation.
I have seen a few reformations over recent years as the trend is definitely growing. Did anyone complain about the Hot Snakes shows? Were they shit? No. They ruled. Hoover played an awesome show in London a while back. It brought back the fond ones and I was stoked to hear songs I never thought I would see played live again. Swing Kids recent show was hideously under-attended and for the first three songs I kinda wished I hadn't gone until suddenly BAM there it was. Swing Kids again. Awesome. Turbonegro were fantastic at Supersonic. I have friends that recently saw American Nightmare in Boston and they said it was cool to hear those songs again. It felt like a celebration.
I saw most of these bands the first time round but I'd still see all of them again because I loved their albums. Personally, I am still waiting for Quicksand to do the right thing. WIll people cry about that or will they simply go and enjoy it? You want Fugazi out of hiatus? YES PLEEEEEAAASE!
The other accusation and perhaps the dirtiest one: The band are only doing it to make money!
So what? You may work in a pizza parlour to make money, does that make you a scumbag? You might work in a bookstore to make money! Does that make you a sell out? You work with bands you may not even like to make money! Haha...oh.
Musicians make money by making music. Hence the profession. Actually that's not true; musicians rarely get the chance to make decent money. So now, years down the line, when their influence has shaped so much of what we now love (or loathe) and they finally have the opportunity, let's not beat them up over it eh?
Daniel P Carter hosts the Radio 1 Rock Show each Monday night from midnight til 2am. For more information click here.