Advertisements
“I’d Rather Have No Fucking Punk Rock Than Donald Trump”- Our Conversation with Dennis Lyxzen of REFUSED

“I’d Rather Have No Fucking Punk Rock Than Donald Trump”- Our Conversation with Dennis Lyxzen of REFUSED

Editor’s Note:  It was an absolute pleasure speaking with legendary vocalist Dennis Lyxzen of REFUSED for Madness To Creation.  In this interview, we discussed their latest album entitled “War Music”, which we rated a 10 out of 10 stars, which is a rarity for this website.  We also discussed the perils of capitalism and Spotify, along with many other topics.  Chatting with Dennis was like chatting with an old friend.  Fans can find Refused at the following locations:

www.facebook.com/RefusedBand

www.officialrefused.com

www.twitter.com/refused

www.instagram.com/refused

Madness To Creation:  Thank you Dennis for taking the time to speak with me for Madness To Creation!  You recently released “War Music”, which we rated a 10 out of 10 on this site.  Take us into the album and what were the most challenging and rewarding aspects of creating “War Music”?

Dennis:  Yeah!  Take that Internet! *laughs*  There were a lot of songs that were done and then we had to rerecord them, I did the vocals and then they changed the arrangements.  It was quite a frustrating and taxing experience re-recording, which it seems like every time we do a record and it seems kind of rough, then it turns out really well, cause there’s something about that energy and that resistance, that makes it, it just feels more.  It’s funny because all of your grievances and all of your frustration, it all goes away the minute you see the record and the minute you see the artwork, then it doesn’t matter, like all of that doesn’t matter because you create a piece of art, and the art you should feel it.

Madness To Creation:  Absolutely!  It reminds me of the quote where it says, “art is supposed to make you feel uncomfortable”, do you agree with that quote?

Dennis:  Yeah!  I mean it doesn’t always have to be like that, but I mean art is many facets, but one of them is to be confrontational, to make people feel a bit uncomfortable, to get people out of their comfort zone, cause we’re all stuck in that, “I like this, and this is perfect for me”, but then art can challenge your perception of the world, it can challenge your perception of yourself, and your privilege in your life, and I think that’s a cool thing when art succeeds in doing that, with a lot of artists, that doesn’t matter, but when it’s good art comes along, it does challenge your ideas about the world, for me when I discovered music, I really got into music, I viewed it as an art form, and an art form that expands your mind and it keeps going into music and going into art, you learn stuff all the time you learn about yourself, you learn about the world, so yeah!

Madness To Creation:  Based on the last record to this record, what are some things that you’ve learned about yourself in terms of your personal growth and stuff like that?

Dennis:  Well, I think the last record, which was “Freedom”, was a record that we had to make to sort of free ourselves from the shackles of Refused if that makes sense, and people were like, “what is this band that just took off without us”, we had to let that down and let Refused become our band, and when we did “Freedom”, we hadn’t written music in 14 years, and that’s a long time, so we did that record and we were trying out a couple of things, and I think what it was is you’ll try out things, then you’ll play stuff live, and in the studio it sounds great, but when you play it live we’re like, “yeah, I’m not feeling this”, and the crowd is not feeling it, so I think we’re just trying to be honest about what works for us, what feels exciting when we’re playing it, and that’s kind of what we went for with music in that state of mind, what type of music do we wanna create, and I think personal growth, it’s just a matter of like when you’re young, I don’t think of between “Freedom” and “War Music”, we’re adults, we don’t change that much, but one of the most important aspects of growing up is you need to learn how to follow the music, follow the art, cause when you’re young, it’s a lot about your ego and you’re like, “no, I wrote the song this way, and you can’t change it”, though it would be for the better, there’s just a lot of ego involved, and there’s a lot of your personal investment, I just kind of learned to just take a step back and think “what serves the music the best”, “okay, we do rewrite the lyrics”, “okay we redo the vocals”, if it’s going to make the music better, I’ll do it. 

There’s been a lot of times where I’m writing lyrics, me and David does the lyrics together, I usually write an outline and we’ll send back and forth, and when I send him the lyrics, I’m like “this is cool” and he’s like, “no, this is horrible”, and I’m like, “all right, let’s start over”, but I mean, when we were young, that could’ve killed you that could’ve been completely devastating, when this is not good enough, we’re gonna have to raise the bar and forget about your ego and just work with the music, that’s one of the most important things that I’ve learned is to just put your ego aside.

Madness To Creation:  That’s a great response and that could be taken for most things in life.

Dennis:  Most things in life as well! Just put your ego aside, I mean we invest a lot of ourselves in our daily lives, sometimes we are egotistical shits, I mean that’s what you go to, I mean if we all try to detach ourselves from our ego, we’ll all become a little bit better of people.

Madness To Creation:  Based upon the conversation that we’re having, what’s one thing that you catch yourself being not egotistical but a little prideful on?

Dennis:  There’s a lot of things, small things, I mean I am the singer of a band, it’s not an egotistical thing, but it’s quite an ego boost to be up on stage and have that, but I also that hour every night where I can use all of this extrovert energy and people that like what I do, that pretty much grounds me for the rest of the day, I can be a little bit more mellow cause I get to live out that fucking fantasy, you know?  I mean, I understand people, we play smaller clubs and we play some big festivals, but I can understand if you’re a huge artist, how addictive that thing is and how easily we can lose ourselves in that, but I try every day to be a better friend and a better partner, better brother, you know all of those things and just try to be mindful of the people around me, but we all have our own shit that we deal with.

Madness To Creation:  I think we all feel that way.  As a performer, do you prefer smaller venues such as Fine Line Music Cafe or do you prefer the bigger festivals?

Dennis:  I think I prefer these type of clubs, festivals are great because people might check you out that won’t see you at the small club, but festival crowds are fickle, there’s a lot of passing through, tonight we know that they’re super into what we’re doing, and that’s rad.  I like clubs where there’s 500 to 1,000 people, that’s pretty awesome and that’s a good sweet spot, and then when you’re playing in front of 20,000 people, it becomes very abstract, it’s just a mass of people, so I like these type of clubs.

Madness To Creation:  I was going to say I love covering shows this size, there’s a different energy as opposed to covering arena or festivals.  My favorite song off of “War Music” is called “Malfire”, the lyric that stood out to me was “there’s a different type of war when the wolves are at the door”, it’s one of those lyrics that hit me in between the eyes, it’s kind of based upon my political views as well, what was going on in your mind when you wrote that?

Dennis:  We’re looking at what was happening in Europe and to a certain extent in the States, but the War in Syria, when you had a country that got bombed because of geopolitical circumstances that none of us can really figure out, it is about money, it is about oil and it is about power, but then normal people like you and me, their homes are being destroyed, I mean Europe, we would do the same thing if our country got bombed to shit, I mean it’s a fucking war, you know, and they came to Europe and it was this huge crisis of refugees, that happened, and so these refugees came to Europe and then Europeans started treating them like they were the enemy, so you’re running away from war and you’re coming to, not a war zone, but a situation where people just hate you because you’re a refugee, countries like Hungary and Bulgaria, I mean they wouldn’t let people come in there and in Germany, people would get super racist, so be driven from one horrible situation to another and all you wanna do is live, that’s all people want to do, they just want to fucking get by, they want to take care of their family, they want to fend for themselves, they just want a fucking dignified life, we treat immigrants like they’re the problem while all these other things are happening, which is why it’s the real problem on why we have refugees.  

We were thinking a lot about that because it’s been a huge issue in Europe for the last couple of years, I mean people are like “close the borders, build the fucking wall”, where people just want a life, that’s what it is.  Most people just come here and they’re hard working people that just want to provide for their families, and that’s what it is, just try to get in a better situation for themselves and their family and people treat them like shit, and they’re not going to feel at home and the wolves are at their door again, just threatening their life and it’s a horrible thing.  I think hopefully in the future, we’ll take better care of one another and be judged by how we treat those that have it the worst, and I think that’s a real thing.  It also serves political purposes to blame immigrants or to blame them.  

You’re seen the cartoon where the capitalist has ten cookies and there’s the worker with one cookie and one without a cookie, and the capitalist says, that one might take your cookie, and that’s the kind of world that we live in where the 1% one 60% of all the wealth in America.  1% owns 60% of all the wealth in America and then we think it’s the immigrant’s fault that people are falling into despair, and you’re like, “no that’s not right, we’re just redistributing the wealth”.  You’re one of the richest countries on Earth, and a country where 50% of the population works double jobs because that’s the only way to get by and instead of saying “it is a problem with your redistribution of wealth” you’re blaming immigrants, you’re saying it’s their fault.  It’s just a way for the rich and powerful to divert attention from how the system works.  I’ll take an example.  We played in Detroit the other night, and Detroit is a little bit better now than it was a couple of years ago, but it really fell into hard times because capitalism is a system that has no morals and has no consciousness. 

Capitalism is not a system that says, “we’ll take care of you”, capitalism is a system that takes care of the stockholders, it’s supposed to produce profits, so if your factory in Detroit, it is cheaper to ship your factory out to China, you will make more profit, and capitalists doesn’t care about those people, and it’s so ingrained in our minds that it’s the only system that we have, so that kind of stuff happens all of the time where factories are brought to other countries because of lower taxes or a cheaper workforce and then people here are probably like, “it’s the immigrants’ fault” that the economy has gone to shit.  No, it’s the way that the economical system works.  There’s a couple of people that are insanely rich in this country and most people are really poor.

Madness To Creation:  Bernie Sanders had this chart that said Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett own more than the bottom 40% combined in this country.  *Side Note:  This is not an endorsement of Bernie Sanders for public office*

Dennis:  Exactly!  With these corporations and companies, I saw how Amazon wouldn’t let people have more than ten minute breaks and they can’t get health benefits and they work for like minimum wage, and I’m like, “are you kidding me”, so that’s what capitalism is, it’s not a moral system, it’s a function that just asks, “how do we make the most money”, “how can we maximize profit basically”, yeah it’s pretty crazy.  To me, it’s funny how Bernie comes out and people are like, “he’s a Socialist”, but you love Socialism, if it’s for corporations, if it’s for banks, they bail out people that’s socialism, but if they make profit, it’s capitalism, and also the New Deal that happened at the Second World War, there were a lot of social programs to boost the economy, there’s a lot to be said about this country, there’s a lot of stuff that we can talk about.

Madness To Creation:  Fun question, if Bernie Sanders was in a moshpit at a Refused show, how would you react?

Dennis:  That would be funny, I mean he is an old guy, I can see him sort of backing our band, we might be too radical for him, but definitely I can see him backing our band.  It’s funny cause Racetraitor that opens up for us, their message is about human rights and they are activist warriors, and he’s one of those guys that says, “yeah, you can call Bernie up” he’s called Bernie a couple of times and I’m like, “oh shit, that’s crazy”, he’s a man who actually listens to people, he’s not perfect or anything, I’m sure that there’s a lot of stuff that’s not as great as it could be, but you know where we have him, he’s been saying the same stuff for the past 40 years, so it’s interesting, it’s interesting to see where this takes, that more “radical shit” could be something that benefits a lot of people, and gets a lot of people better lives basically.

Madness To Creation:  I feel like something has to give.

Dennis:  I mean it’s one of those things where if Bernie is not going to be elected, I think the divide between people is going to become even bigger and I think that whole paradigm shift where you have the left wing people and the right wing people, I think that’s going to be even bigger if Bernie is not going to win.  I mean, America has been on a downhill slope for a long time now, I mean you live it and you feel what is actually happening, it might be a good thing to shake things up and a lot of people when Trump came said “he’ll shake things up”, no, he’s just going to make things worse, and someone told me and said, “maybe, we’ll get some good punk rock”, and I’m like, “I’d rather have no fucking punk rock than Donald Trump”, yeah it’s wild times. 

Madness To Creation:  Kind of something that I’m thinking about as we’re having this conversation is Spotify and Pandora, how has that affected you all as a band?

Dennis:  That’s also one of those questions where we can also talk about for hours.  It’s one of those things that I love the idea that music is accessible to everyone, growing up in a rural part of Sweden, it was hard to find music that I wanted to find, it was really tricky.  I love the idea that everybody can get access to movies and music, but it is quite complicated with the whole mid-tier type of band like Refused, I was lucky in the 90’s with Refused and International Noise Conspiracy that we sold records, you sell records and I can’t remember when we went on tour and the record label said “don’t bring records with you on tour cause people will buy them in the record stores”.  I think every year, the economy of being in a touring band gets harder and harder because of the accessibility of music, all music is out there at all times, so people want to tour to make money, which means everyone wants to tour, which means the venues can kind of pick and choose and they can say, “we’ll pay you this to come play”, “well we can’t afford that”, “well, then there’s 20 other bands that will play for this to do the show”, it’s like the economy of being a mid-level band is pretty rough.

I think a lot of it has to do with the accessibility and Spotify and Pandora, I mean you get a million streams and you only get a couple hundred bucks, I mean if you compare that to selling a million records, then you’d be rich, so it’s like it is a hard economy to make a living as a musician.  I mean, if you were in a DIY punk band, you’ll be fine, if you’re Madonna or Bruce Springsteen, you’ll do fine, but the mid-level bands that play in front of 500 to 1,500 people, it’s really hard to make that work because you make no money selling records you make no money off of Spotify, our music sure as hell doesn’t play on the radio, it’s a bit tricky.

Madness To Creation:  I can’t imagine the logistics behind it.  I have time for one more question, take us into a Refused show, what’s the intensity like and where can people find you?

Dennis:  We’re very extrovert and quite violent music, it’s not a dangerous thing to go to a Refused show, it’s quite welcoming, but the output of music is quite loud and aggressive, gets quite political at times when we’re on stage.  It has happened where I rant a bit on stage, it is a bit of a spectacle I would say.  I mean if you’ve seen us live it is a bit of a spectacle, there’s a lot of stuff going on.  You want it to be exciting, I remember the first time I played in a band before Refused.  No one liked hardcore in our town, I mean maybe a couple of guys were into the Sex Pistols or The Cure or something like that but no one was into heavy music, like fast, hardcore music.  So the first show we played we were like, “let’s make an impression” and we smashed the guitars and fucking, at the end of the show, or drummer took the cymbal stand and threw it into the fuse box and the whole place got shut down, so that’s been my mentality ever since.  Like if you’ve never seen us before, you will remember it, with that kind of attitude, I always felt like you want to give people an experience, you want to give people an intimate kind of weird collective thing that’s happening.  If you want to find us, we don’t tour that much, and this is the only tour of the States that we’re going to do in 2020, if you want to see us in the States it’s like 14 shows.  We want it to be exclusive not only for the people that want to come see us, we don’t want to be a band where we take this for granted.  There’s some bands, hats off it’s a fucking commendable thing but some bands do 250 shows every year, and we’re like if we do 80 shows in three years, that’s pretty good.  It’s one of those things where if we come to town, you better make it happen.  I’m not sure when we’ll come back, but we want it to be that way, we want it to feel exclusive, we want it to feel exciting, and if you really like the band, come to a show and buy a t-shirt.  I think someone said “for a touring band, if you buy a t-shirt, it’s like 40,000 streams” or something like that, come buy a t-shirt!

Madness To Creation:  I know that you have to get ready so I want to thank you so much for taking the time to interview with me for Madness To Creation!

Dennis:  Thank you man for having me!  This was great.  I have to do soundcheck and I’ll see you at the show!

And there you have it!

Providing the ending of COVID-19 pandemic, Refused have some European gigs coming up.  Check out the gig dates below:

Wed. 5/20- Poppodium 013 in Tilburg, Netherlands

Thu. 5/21- Doornroosje in Nijmegen, Netherlands

Fri. 5/22- Trabendo in Paris, France

Sat. 5/23- Slam Dunk Festival North in Leeds, United Kingdom

Sun. 5/24- Slam Dunk Festival South in Hatfield, United Kingdom

Mon. 5/25- Skaters Palace in Munchen, Germany

Tue. 5/26- Atlas in Arhus C, Denmark

Fri. 6/5- Rock Im Park 5/7- in Nurnberg, Germany

Sat. 6/6- Scheune in Dresden, Germany

Mon. 6/8- Kulturfabrik Kofmehl in Solothurn, Switzerland

Tue. 6/9- Theatres Romains de Fourviere in Lyon, France

Sat. 6/13- Sunstroke Festival in Naas, Ireland

Thu. 7/9- Mad Cool Festival in Madrid, Spain

Sun. 7/12- Park Live Festival in Moscow, Russia

Fri. 7/31- Tsunami Xixon in Gijon, Spain

Sat. 8/1- Xtreme Fest in Le Garric, France

Sun. 8/2- Sylak Open Air Festival in Saint-maurice-de-gourdans, France

Sat. 8/8- Picture On Festival in Weiz, Austria

Mon. 8/10- Punk Rock Holiday in Tolmin, Slovenia

Sun. 9/13- Die Kantine in Cologne, Germany

Mon. 9/14- Batchkapp in Frankfurt, Germany

Tue. 9/15- Taubchenthal in Leipzig, Germany

Wed. 9/16- Capitol in Hannover, Germany

Thu. 9/17- Poppodium Bolwerk in Sneek, Netherlands

Fri. 9/18- Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg, Germany

Sun. 9/20- Wizemann Halle in Stuttgart, Germany

Mon. 9/21- Backstage Werk in Munchen, Germany

Tue. 9/22- Lucerna Music Bar in Prague, Czech Republic

Wed. 9/23- Proxima in Warsaw, Poland

Thu. 9/24- Festival Kreuzberg in Berlin, Germany

Sat. 10/3- Kulturvaven in Umea, Sweden

For tickets and further information on any of their U.K/European gigs listed above, click here

Advertisements
Share

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: