QUESTION OF THE WEEK: TO REFUSE OR NOT TO REFUSE REFUSED
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Welcome to the return of MetalSucks Question Of The Week, a (sorta) weekly survey of our staff on a recent hot-button issue that’s rocking our metal planet.
Fearless. Controversial. Half-baked. We give it to you straight every Friday afternoon. Okay not that straight. Here’s this week’s topic:
Inspired by Terror frontman Scott Vogel’s slamming of reunited Refused as a “fake shell” in the face of wildly positive fan and media reaction to recent Refused shows, we asked our writers the following question:
THE REFUSED REUNION ISN’T BULLSHIT … IS IT?
Wat u think? The MS staff’s answers after the jump!
If you like REFUSED that’s fine by me, just understand that you are no different from the clueless thritysomethings who go to the county fair, wash their funnel cake down with a Miller Lite, and reminisce as they watch SUGAR RAY go through the motions on stage. You are entry-level.
The definition of selling out isn’t making money, but making money off contradicting your own ideals. So, in this case, about a band that once declared itself “fucking dead,” you could say that they’re selling out, and thus, that their reunion tour is bullshit. But once you move past a purely semantic level, is it really that bullshit? Is Refused putting out a new album with Scion? Are they touring with Five Finger Death Punch? Is their music being used for the opening of a CSI spinoff? No, they’re playing some shows (for fans that never got to see them the first times around) and they’re making some money doing it (which they didn’t get the chance to do the first times around). And the funny thing about selling out is that your young man’s ethos may clash with the eventual need to, you know, pay rent and feed yourself and your family and stuff. So Refused is going against saying almost 13 years ago that they would never get back together? That could technically be called bullshit, but really … who fucking cares? They’re out there making people happy and, from the sound of it, playing like they never broke up at all. Then again, maybe Scott Vogel is right to catch this breach of hardcore code; it’s not like Refused has ever strayed before by, like, allowing their music to appear in Criminal Minds or a Tony Hawk video ga — oh.
Is this Refused reunion a bunch of bullshit? Fuck no! Refused’s post-break up “Final communiqué” was a passionate statement that showed a band at wit’s end. In their intense emotions, all involved thought that the project would never come back from the dead like some poor, apologetic zombie. But over 13 years, a lot of opinions can change. Members have grown and experienced success with other pursuits, and now they agree that the band had to get back together. Do they have a right to take something we love and exploit it for a paycheck? Well, maybe that’s just not an accurate appraisal here. And who cares if it is? Those five dudes created Refused, and they have the right to revive it to play huge pretentious indie rock festivals, do reunion tours with buses and accommodations the likes of which they never before dreamed of, and generally run the band’s name into the ground — because it is their brainchild. We might hate that Refused is back, but it’s not up to us.
JUSTIN M. NORTON
Are people really worried about this? Band reunions are a part of life because the novelty factor alone guarantees interest. Most musicians eventually realize that working an job in IT or as a barista pretty much sucks compared to playing music live and making some cash doing it. It’s not like you commit treason by deciding to dust off your guitars. People have been “getting the band back together” since The Blues Brothers. Just a few examples: Autopsy, Brutal Truth, Celtic Frost, Saint Vitus, New Kids On The Block. Milli Vanilli reunited after being exposed as frauds! Of course, one of those dudes fatally OD’d later. Move on folks, nothing to see here …
Whether or not you like Refused, what Scott Vogel is expressing is a core tenet of the, erm, core. Hardcore thrives as both a subgenre and a subculture largely due to long-held notions like “support the scene.” His band Terror, to their credit, spends each year touring aggressively, not unlike Black Flag in the ’80s. Their shows frequently feature local openers as well as moderately popular current bands that excite the community. When it comes to “community” in this scene, Vogel and Terror consistently put their money where their mouths are.
This context is necessary in order to understand why Vogel is so peeved by the Refused reunion and its accompanying tornado of hype and cash. The excitement behind their return might feel like a slap in the face to a band like Terror who have been “holding it down,” so to speak. Indeed, a nostalgic fever has swept through music culture (the critic Simon Reynolds has dubbed it “retromania”) and hardcore is as susceptible as any other genre. Plenty of young bands are making music that would appeal to Refused’s fanbase, yet their efforts are overshadowed by what amounts to a colossal cash-in. Refused are fucking dead, indeed.
So concludes this very, very serious MetalSucks Question Of The Week. Are we way off? Are you sick of the words Refused, reunion, and retraction? Are you dying to comment the shit out of this issue below? See you back here next Friday!