Update: Apparently Refused are not quite fucking dead.
Some folks are saying that Refused, the best band that ever was, may be reuniting.
Saturday, we noticed that the official site for Refused had been updated, sort of, with a simple message that reads “Coming Soon…” Our initial thought was that it had to be some new retrospective release that was “coming,” and sure enough, a little digging revealed that Epitaph records is in fact readying deluxe LP & CD versions of the band’s final groundbreaking and influential album The Shape Of Punk To Come.
Yet rumors continue to insist and hope that a reunion is in the works. An “anonymous source close to the situation” has even told a punk news site it is imminent, and that performances at Summer Festivals in Europe are real plans as of now.
This is extremely hard to take seriously, being every hardcore band and fan’s wettest of dreams, and given the band’s demise, a story we know from start to finish by heart. There’s a statement that it all boils down to, for me anyway. It’s spoken in this clip from the band’s gut wrenching DVD, Refused Are Fucking Dead, one of the most brutally raw band documentaries ever assembled. I’ve had it in the Antiquiet archives for awhile now, expecting to someday add it to a long overdue retro review of Shape Of Punk and/or Songs To Fan The Flames Of Discontent.
“When it’s time to die, who is ready to die as nobly and as gloriously as the fact of our mortality demands? Who is ready for that? By the time you die, you’re so exhausted and so beaten and miserable, you can only die.”
The final show of Refused’s disastrous 1998 US tour was shut down by the police. Through the entirety of the tour the band had suffered at the brink of creative implosion. While the fans and the hosts saw the police as enemies, the band saw them as the bringers of their mercy, as liberators. Then and there the band fell, poetically, and as well as anyone could presume, forever.
In the band’s final press release and farewell statement, they proclaimed, once and for all:
“…We will never play together again and we will never try to glorify or celebrate what was. All that we have to say has been said here or in our music/manifestos/lyrics and if that is not enough you are not likely to get it anyway. WE THEREFORE DEMAND THAT EVERY NEWSPAPER BURN ALL THEIR PHOTOS OF REFUSED so that we will no longer be tortured with memories of a time gone by and the mythmaking that single-minded and incompetent journalism offers us. Instead we need to look forward. We got everything to win and nothing but our boredom to lose.”
Echoes of that statement over the years since (such as in this 2006 interview), along with the quote up there above from the DVD, have collectively well-established what I’ve always perceived as an inspiring, unshakable respect for mortality. A reverence for a unique point in time where everything came together in just a certain way. The band and its most loyal fans seemed to have walked away from it all with, if nothing else, a serenity that acknowledges that we’d ruin it if we could go back.
With all of this said, we’re horrible at predicting the future. I almost feel that by going on record as skeptical of these rumors, our bad luck guarantees that the reunion is imminent and that the band intends to break their promise. If so, then so be it. They deserve the money.
But the bottom line is that as much as we wish we could have been there to see the band just once on that ill-fated US tour, now is what we have, and being in love with the past is a sad romance. We have our records, we have our future, and we have our respect for the dead. Refused gave us these things, and we are forever grateful.
UPDATE: Dennis Lyxzén has confirmed there will be no Refused reunion.
UPDATE (Jan 19, 2012): So much for all that noise.
Thanks to Denis Blairon for tips & such.