Despite the fact that they remained silent for the better part of two decades, Swedish punk rock forefathers Refused remained an ever- present, and let’s face it, unachievable standard for the next wave of bands to compare themselves to.

In 2012, the band broke their extensive hiatus, announcing a run of headline shows the world over. Needless to say, even the most fair weathered of fan well and truly considered selling their own kidneys just to be guaranteed tickets. If that wasn’t enough of a frenzy, you should have been there when they announced the follow up to 1998’s The Shape Of Punk To Come, which would be 2015’s Freedom.

That’s a long gap between drinks. But it feels as though the band are now making up for lost time. At the start of next year, they’ll be heading back Down Under for yet another headline run. We spoke to vocalist Dennis Lyxzén, who was currently at his home in Sweden. A country I’d only just visited and stayed in Malmö…

Of course, Dennis responded the way all Swedes respond to that…

 

 
Dennis: Oh…What were you doing in Malmö?
 
The Neversphere: Viking family! My brother followed a Swedish girl there and never came back.
 
Dennis: Amazing, that’s great. Malmö’s a cool city.
 
The Neversphere: Stockholm too. I like to think I’m fairly trendy for Sydney at least, but when I go out in Stockholm I can’t help but feel like the most underdressed person in the city…
 
Dennis: [Laughs] It’s very self conscious there. That’s why I don’t live there; I can’t hang with that. People are extremely cool in Stockholm. Every girl I know from Stockholm is a DJ, you know?
 
The Neversphere: Speaking of cool cities, you’ll be in some of ours very soon. Must be a buzz to be hitting the Australian summer?
 
Dennis: Yes! It’s well needed; it’s so dark and depressing here now. I’m really looking forward to it.
 
The Neversphere: The last time was a smashing success. It’s easier to monitor this stuff these days, but what are you expecting this time round from the crowd?
 
Dennis: I think last time in 2012 it was so special, the whole reunion kind of thing. There were a lot of people who never expected to see us live who came out. It was definitely different now. We have a new record, we’re more of a contemporary band…The rules of a victory lap don’t really apply anymore.

With High Tension and Sick Of It All coming out, I expect it to be fucking fantastic. But there’s something to be said about that first time back together, it was very, very special, the whole vibe of everything.

I’m not worried; it’s going to be great. This whole year and a half we’ve been touring Freedom has been great! I play music for a living…I travel the world and people pay money to see me prance around in tight pants. I have nothing to complain about. Well, I have a shit tonne of stuff to complain about but not as far as life choices.
 
The Neversphere: I was re-upping Freedom while I prepped for this interview and I couldn’t help but notice that it seems to be only tracks from Freedom in your top played songs. It’d be interesting to know the crowds you’ve been seeing, are they old fans or new mainly?
 
Dennis: The cool thing is that it’s a very diverse crowd. There’s a bunch of old Hardcore kids, there’s some young Punk kids, there’s the old guy in a denim jacket in the back who just loves rock n roll; it’s a very mixed crowd and not just with age. We aren’t a scene band. Like with Sick Of It All – I love those guys but they’ve very scene. If you like Sick Of It All, you love hardcore. That’s just what it is.

But with Refused as a band, with The Shape Of Punk To Come we transcended that and just became this anomaly of a weird-ass rock band. The crowd that came out of it is very mixed, it’s quiet exciting because that’s the way I wanted it to be – all types of people. Not just the Scensters or scene people.
 
The Neversphere: Now that Freedom has had time to find the footing, how do you think it all went down?
 
Dennis: We’re all happy. Everything is a process unto it’s own. You create stuff, you fall in love with it then you take a step back. All in all, we play 6 songs off the album every night. It’s a pretty great thing to be able to come back after such a long break up and create music and you’re still like ‘Whoa, this kicks ass’.

Everyone is still really pleased with the record. One of the cool things with music and being a musician is that there’s always the next record.
 
The Neversphere: The mid-90s was a great time to write punk rock music. It almost feels as though it would write itself back then. It feels as though we’re entering a very similar time now in terms of disharmony, political angst…Do you have to look very far these days to find influences to write punk?
 
Dennis: I think that if you’re paying attention you’ll always find something to write about. To write songs in the mid-90s when fascism and the Right-Wing were on the rise in Sweden and racism was running rampant…There’s definitely similarities to writing songs 20 years later.

Not much has changed and a lot of the things that have changed haven’t changed for the better. It’s easy to be angry; it’s easy to be pissed off. One of the things that have changed is that you’re older. You have a different perspective on things and you pick your fights a bit differently. You figure out what’s important, and what’s not important enough to waste your energy on; for me that’s been the biggest change.

But these are good times if you want to write and be angry, so were the mid-90s.
 

 
The Neversphere: In that case, there must be an abundance of new topics for Refused to address. Where is the bands collective head at with a new album?
 
Dennis. We are not in a rush. Here’s the thing. Everyone in the band has different projects. David [Sandström, drummer] is a songwriter, he writes music for other people. Kris [Steen, guitarist] is an Opera director, that’s what he does when he’s not on tour, I know it’s kind of a ‘whoa’ type thing. That being said, we’re meeting in two weeks to write songs.

David and I, we talked like 6 months ago. We talked about making the next Refused record a theme-based record; we had this theme we wanted to work around. Then one day, David calls me up and says ‘We need to scrap this theme-based record because we need to write about what’s going on here and now’…There’s so much happening and we need to write about that.

So we need to look over some ideas, catch up and hang out – we haven’t seen each other for like two months, practice a little bit for Australia but also look at new ideas. It’s in the works but as I said we’re in no hurry. Realistically I’d say in about a year from now we’ll be recording our new record. But yeah, it’s gonna happen.
 
The Neversphere: I’m gonna push it here man, what are the odds of you guys road-testing on of these new songs when you’re in Australia?
 
Dennis: Honestly…It’s too early [Laughs]. We’ll see in two weeks, maybe no actually. There are a couple of solid ideas. The part was haven’t nailed yet is words for them. But as I said, we’ll know in two weeks. In the 90’s a lot of the times we wrote songs and we did try them out live, that was kind of the trend.

For freedom we never tried any of the songs live. We wrote the record in secret, hiding it from the rest of the world. I wouldn’t mind trying out new songs, but who knows if it’ll be in Australia.

It’ll be a nice surprised if it happens…For everyone.
 
 

Refused Australian Tour Dates 2017
With Sick Of It All and High Tension
Tickets on now

Friday, January 20th
The Tivoli, Brisbane
Tickets: Destroy All Lines

Saturday, January 21st
Enmore Theatre, Sydney
Tickets: Destroy All Lines

Sunday, January 22nd
HQ, Adelaide
Tickets: Destroy All Lines

Tuesday, January 24th
Prince Bandroom, Melbourne
Tickets: Destroy All Lines

Wednesday, January 25th
Prince Bandroom, Melbourne
Tickets: Destroy All Lines

Thursday, January 26th
Metropolis, Fremantle
Tickets: Destroy All Lines