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Hello, and thank you for taking some time to answer our questions, and to start, how are you? How’s this tour going?
Fine! It’s been a long day actually, we’ve been on the bus since midnight, and we arrived two hours ago. It can be quite drooling, but the shows have been great, we’ve just done three so far, really good shows I think.
Do you miss something from touring in the 90’s?
The first tour we did in Europe was in 94, a ridiculously long time ago. We went on tour with a band called 108, I don’t know if you know them, it’s a hare krishna hardcore band composed with hare krishna monks. It’s like the most weird thing, but they were pretty big in our scene. And we slept on floor in hare krishna temples for like 6 weeks. Every once in a while, I can miss those kind of innocent days when it was more of an adventure. It’s kind of hard to recreate but on most of levels, I think it’s so much better now, and more enjoyable. Definitely easier, you win some and you lose some other things, but mostly I think it’s much better, everyone is much happier, easy breezy!
During this 14 years break, what was your reaction when you saw your “Shape Of Punk To Come” become a classic and have so much influence on the scene?
Firstly it was really strange (laughs). It was really strange because we nested so much in that record and nothing really came out of it. We were filled with disappointment at first, and then that broke up the band. The record lived it’s life on it’s own and doing it’s thing without us, you know. It was strange, but mostly it’s just amazing that your music and ideas can travel and create serious bond with people out there. It’s a really weird thing because we did it in a small little place in Sweden. It’s just amazing that you can do things in little places, in a peripheral place like that, and it reaches that many people and becomes a classic. It’s amazing, I’m really proud of it, we all are, but at first we all were kind of angry that it took off when we’ve broken up. Like “NOW you like this? What’s wrong with you?” (laughs). It’s a good feeling, for sure.
What’s your opinion about the shape of today’s punk?
Well, honestly, I’m sad to say that I can’t tell you the first thing about today’s punk (laughs). You know, it wasn’t meant as a blueprint or anything, it was a cheeky sort of statement, little bit as a joke. It was just something for us, to do an hardcore punk album and, you know, try to expand our expression. It was just for us, people should do what they want, definitely don’t have to follow us anyway.
You said, or someone from the band, that you didn’t care to ruin the image of the “legendary band”. Wasn’t that too much pressure, and how did you get in the recording process?
Honestly we didn’t really talk about it, about that aspect of it. We didn’t feel like we had to be careful. “The Shape Of Punk” is a sort of a reference, everyone talk about it like it was a kind of luggage, I guess, but afterwards, if you’re like “Yeah it was a bit of a pressure”, not because of that album I think, but we’ve been away for so long. It’s like we had to rediscover how we make songs, and like “What’s a Refused song now?”. Those kind of questions that you need to answer. I guess that was a tough one, we followed every lead we could fine. But it’s always pressure to do anything good. It was a lot of pressure to do “The Shape Of Punk” too, and how we approached every record we did by being quite hard one ourselves. Of course you can have that kind of mentality and still, it can be not that great album anyway, but I think you need a little bit of that. When we were in the process of making "Freedom", I don’t think we felt like we had a ton of pressure, but high inside we definitely did because we came out of the process like, totally drained. But, I mean that’s also a little bit like we are as people. A little bit perfectionists, I guess, it can be good and sometimes it can be a problem. And of course, we make the music, so we’re sort of the last persons to say whether if it’s good or not. For “Shape”, we felt like “well, this album obviously doesn’t work, because no one really likes it”. So it was “it’s a failure” and we were like, “Ok, well, we still felt like it was a good album”, but if no one else agrees with us (laughs)
But you can still be proud of what you’ve done, even if it’s liked or not
Exactly, that’s the feeling we all wanted to have. We did the very best we could and we could be proud of that. I don’t know if you play in bands and stuff…
Then you probably have similar experiences, you know? It’s a tough business, making music (laughs).
For the writing of the new record, did you came up with brand new ideas, or did you still have riffs from back in the days?
No, I think we exhausted every riff potential, so it was pretty much like creating everything from scratch. All the things we discarded then weren’t good enough to be on any record.
I noticed some hip-hop/funk or industrial metal on "Freedom". Where did these ideas come from and did you asked external persons to help you think outside of the box?
We had some people, but I don’t think we need help to sort of think outside of the box because most of the ideas that I think you’re referring to, are our ideas that we felt very early. We wanted those kind of elements. But, yeah, you always need people to have specific skills. We worked with a producer and his assistant and they were very good at finding right sounds for certain songs. That’s one of the fun things about recording, you can add this touches just to make us, you know, sort of broad, diverse records as possible. I think it adds a lot when you put on these little touches.
Do you think that the other bands you had during the break had influences on how Refused sounds today?
I’m sure, even if you wanted or not, it trickles down into your music. But honestly it felt like we were starting something from scratch. Like “How do we go about this”. Fourteen years is such a long time, and if you look at our records, "Shape Of Punk", and "Songs To Fan" and the one before that, it’s so different from each other, so what band are we? Which one of these are us? So, in a sense, we just have to really reinvent ourselves. It was a kind of a strange thing. I think it would be easier if we were a sort of AC/DC or Slayer type of band, that has their esthetic that is great, absolutely great for both of them, they probably know, kind of, what their next record is going to sound like, but it wasn’t like that for us. People liked that we were a kind of eclectic band, we felt like “Ok, well, that’s what we have to do then”.
How do you feel now, does the warm welcome of new album gives you motivation for the future?
We’re actually working on new music as we speak, we have a whole bunch of sketches. And it’s much easier now. It felt like, we had to make this record, and now it feels like, you know, it’s much less difficult and painful (laughs) when we figured out how we write music together. It flows along much easier. But yeah, we’re writing and we want to make more music. We enjoy ourselves a lot, so no reason to stop.
What about the graphic aspect of the band, the album covers and the videos? Are you involved in this process?
It’s more a sort of a sounding board, I think. We wanted that artist (Fredrik Söderberg) to do the cover, he makes these sort of occult paintings, and for some reasons, I felt like it would be nice to have a cover that doesn’t seem like it’s announcing exactly what’s inside, you know what I mean, because it’s kind of boring, and we only had, you know, quite ugly covers (laughs), as far as I’m concerned. But I feel that’s something that’s not so literal, and more suggestive, was pretty cool. But, yeah, I like to be involved in that, because I work as a director when I’m not playing in bands, so I feel like it’s fun, not to do it myself, but to be involved and be like a sounding board for other people.
You directed the documentary Refused Are Fucking Dead in 2006. Do you have other directing plans, music related or not?
I’ve been working as a stage director for a while now. I didn’t really want to make documentaries, I think I want to make feature films, so that’s an area when I go home. That’s a next step!
And let’s talk about your hometown Umeå, great bands like Meshuggah or Cult Of Luna are from there, it seems to be a lot musical diversity with jazz festivals and opera places… How is it today?
Yes, it’s really great in that way. It’s always been very easy for bands to get going, find good rehearsal spaces, all that stuff, it’s very easily available which is cool because it's a small town. On the surface, it’s quite boring, which is also a kind of a good thing : it usually mean that you have to do something for yourself, you have to make it fun somehow, playing in bands, be creative… But yeah, I think it’s bizarre that us and Meshuggah, and Cult Of Luna, and so many more bands too. It’s pretty cool, but it’s very ugly, sort of a non-space too (laughs). No, not very ugly, I exaggerate a bit, but it’s not like here, you know in Switzerland, everywhere you look it’s like “woah”, it’s pretty amazing. What is it like in Lausanne for example? How big is the city?
There are about 130’000 inhabitants.
Umeå is about 120’000 I think. And is there a lot of bands?
Sure, but it’s hard to find places to rehearse, to find gigs, and to get out of Switzerland. You have to do a lot on your own, like DIY style...
I guess that’s cool. Otherwise they can move to Umeå (laughs) and take their chances there. It’s probably quite easy, but there’s not that many places, venues, to play in Umeå. That’s sort of the one thing, which is a bit of a problem. But other from that, it’s a very good place for bands.
Any band to recommend?
Oh, such a difficult question. For some reasons it was blank in my head. I mean, I listen to music constantly. Among current bands that are still making great music, I think Swans is a great band. I was following their inspiration because they reformed and sort of making much better music now than they did when they were active in the 90’s. For me they were, also live, phenomenal. They are one act I really like. For some reasons it’s the most difficult question. When it comes to hardcore I usually listen to sort of old stuff. I like Sick Of It All, I think it’s still a good band. Madball is a good band, they do their thing, I can’t listen for an entire record but bits and of pieces of everything is kind of appealing. But new bands, I don’t know… Dennis would be the person to ask. He would have like thousands of different band names for you.
Any last word for our readers?
It’s great to be back and we’re planning to be around for a while now.
Interview : Pete
Label : Epitaph Records
MySpace : www.facebook.com/RefusedBand
Site Web : www.officialrefused.com
Site du label: epitaph.com
Interview cliquée : 1925 fois