Refused's Dennis Lyxzén Looks Back on The Shape of Punk to Come

Refused's Dennis Lyxzén Looks Back on <i>The Shape of Punk to Come</i>
As Refused fans know all too well, this week marks the re-release of The Shape of Punk to Come: A Chimerical Bombination In 12 Bursts, the Swedes' 1998 swan song. Released in deluxe form on both coloured-vinyl and as a three-disc CD/DVD set featuring an unreleased live recording and informative 2006 documentary, The Refused Are Fucking Dead, the Epitaph Records package has sparked a great deal of anticipation. As many punk pundits know, over the 12 years since its release, The Shape of Punk to Come has proven to be a rather apt title, spawning an entire sub-genre in its wake and being recognized as influential to everyone from Blink-182 to, well, you name 'em.

Still, as vocalist Dennis Lyxzén recently told Exclaim!, back when the album was first out, nobody cared.

"The weird thing is that it's hard to look back," Lyxzén says. "The impact that album had... it didn't have it for me. When [it] came out, people weren't that excited - thought we were weird. I remember the label boss going, 'I have no idea what you're doing here, guys, but I'm sure we can sell a couple of copies.' It was that kind of attitude. By the time it had an impact, we were broken up and I was doing (International) Noise Conspiracy."

Interestingly, Lyxzén points out that the only reason The Shape of Punk to Come came to exist in the first place was due to outright anger and a desire to insult, deface and cast off punk as whole, after feeling shunned by the music they once embraced. A particularly difficult 1996 U.S. tour in support of equally ironically titled Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent with hardcore conspirators Snapcase prompted Refused to create an album nobody could comprehend.

"[After being insulted], we wanted to do a weird record and tell everyone to fuck off," he explains. "We came from the hardcore scene [but back then], hardcore kids didn't like us and metal kids didn't like us... You want to be part of a scene when you're young, but we were like, 'Fuck it. Fuck the hardcore kids, fuck the straight-edge kids, fuck the metal kids.' We set out to create the record that was gonna tell everyone to fuck off."

Little did they realize the impact it would have for decades to follow. Even after years of fronting various other projects including AC4 and Invasionen, Lyxzén must still face the influence of his middle-finger statement.

"I remember sitting in the studio telling [Refused drummer] David [Sandström], 'Nobody's gonna get this record. People are gonna hate us.' We were laughing, 'Yeah, fuck those bastards.' How wrong we were."

Lyxzén concludes: "We did six months of touring on the record and nobody bought it," getting back to the point of how The Shape of Punk will never hold the same value to Refused's former members as it does to the rest of the world.

"That record didn't mean that much to me when we broke up. People come up to me and say, 'That record changed my life, dude.' That's crazy. For me, it didn't. It was just our last record. I'm still so caught up with [moving forward] that I can't be bothered to see if it has that much meaning to me yet."