Posted by: Necci – Jul 19, 2012
I still kind of can't believe this happened. Last night, Refused, the groundbreaking Swedish punk band who attempted to shake the world with their Situationist-inspired 1998 LP The Shape Of Punk To Come, finally reached the masses nearly a decade and a half later by performing their signature song, "New Noise," live on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. In the late 90s, Refused were clearly ahead of their time, and the frustrations they dealt with after releasing a brilliant album that was a critical favorite but didn't at first connect with a widespread audience led to them breaking up after a Harrisonburg, VA basement show that was shut down by the cops midset. It was a sad end to a brilliant band, and at times during the 2000s, it felt like the rest of the underground music scene would never catch up to what Refused were trying to do. Indeed, a Thursday side project called United Nations released a song entitled "The Shape Of Punk That Never Came" in 2008. Refused singer Dennis Lyxzen formed a retro-garage band called International Noise Conspiracy, who carried on Refused's ideals with a more accessible sound, and they even had a hit single in 2002, but it just wasn't the same.
But maybe they were just waiting for the world to catch up. Here, now, in 2012, Refused are back together and touring America, and Jimmy Fallon, who has notoriously excellent taste in musical guests (Sunny Day Real Estate, Goodie Mob, Jawbox, etc.), put them on TV in front of millions of people last night. Maybe this is just another symptom of Retromania, but this time I think I'm fine with it. Does this mean that Refused will finally reach the masses of independent rock fans out there in the USA, waiting for a truly new and different approach to the integration of music, politics, and social issues into their worldviews? Will Debord's Society Of The Spectacle or Vaneigem's The Revolution Of Everyday Life see a sales uptick on Amazon? That remains to be seen, of course, but for now I'm just happy to see a new generation of potential fans getting turned on to a legendary and important band that sometimes seemed in danger of being forgotten.
A final note: Refused played "New Noise" on Fallon's TV show last night, and don't get me wrong, it's a great song, but there are plenty of people out there who've only ever heard one Refused song, and it's that one. For those people, for the fans who watched the show live last night, and for everyone who wants to see the performance at its wildest and most vital, I'm instead presenting a web extra video, in which Refused perform the title track to their excellent final album. Its a great song, featuring some excellent dance moves from Dennis Lyxzen, and its lyrics contain this immortal verse: "Adolescent beats with a new thing to see--smashed guitars just like you've seen on TV. With burning speakers and with flaming hair, we'll have a riot right here." So what are you waiting for? Let's do it.
By Andrew Necci