Moshcam spoke with Refused guitarist Kristofer Steen about the forthcoming album release of Freedom and he all but confirms Australian tour as part of Soundwave 2016! The album will be released on the 26th of June via Epitaph and is the bands first album in 17 years!
When you guys stopped playing live you said: “Refused is fucking dead”. Would you say you are now resurrected?
Kristofer: (laughs) I think that fits actually, I like that, resurrected, I get a picture of zombies walking around which is good image.
How did you guys feel before your reform show at Coachella in 2012 and how did you decide to go with Coachella?
Kristofer: We had an offer before from Coachella, like two years before and at that point we just thought that’s impossible, we’re no way near accepting that because at that point it was totally impossible to approach Refused again. Its hard turning things down when you get good offers but we just felt it wasn’t right. I guess it kind of planted a seed or something. Some of us in the band like me, Dave, and Magnus started a project together, and we made music that was vaguely similar to Refused, so we started that. But right before Coachella we were all kind of terrified, we really had to bring it, turn it into something great and not make it something tired!
I imagine there was a lot of pressure on you guys?
Kristofer: Yeah tones of pressure, but most of that came from ourselves, so we went to Boot Camp to make Refused into, hopefully… our goal was to make it into something better than it was, so that was how we did it. But then it was a terrifying prospect because we didn’t really get to play many shows before the Coachella one. We played a few secret small shows but then ended up on a big stage at Coachella. It was a great experience and we were surprised at how much fun we had together playing the songs, so we sort of made peace with our history and started loving the old music and yeah made us say ‘why shouldn’t we do this again?’ It was pretty simple.
I’ve heard that you guys started to contemplate a new album within the first four months of a reunion tour, was it back playing together again that sealed the deal on the new album?
Kristofer: Yeah for sure, playing shows and meeting all the people that loved the shit record, I think we were overwhelmed. I don’t think we really understood how much that meant to people until we met the people and saw with our own eyes how much it meant. It was just a big sort of love bombing, really inspiring… so that was a big part of it, making something new for these people.
The album is produced by Nick Launay (Nick Cave, Arcade Fire), how did you guys get involved with him and decide to work with him?
Kristofer: We wanted to work with a producer, which we hadn’t done before, and even though someone gets a producing credit we really produced it ourselves, they were the engineers. We wanted to work with a proper producer who would bring something to the table and we didn’t want one of those modern metal guys because we didn’t want that kind of sound. We love the Grinderman and Nick Cave records—we just thought he made them sound great. We had a few interviews and one of them was with Nick, he just said the right things, no bullshit, but just seemed like someone we would have a lot of fun working with and would bring something new to our music, it was very simple actually.
Kristofer: I mean he’s an old hard-core guy. As sort of a joke we asked him for a bit of feedback, not to do anything to the music. It was as much a joke as something serious, so we sent him some demos and didn’t hear from him during the summer. Then all of a sudden right before we were about to go into the studio he sent us a new arrangement of ‘Elektra’. He just did a demo for it, we had sent him a 6-7 minute epic and he had made it into what it is, a 3 minute song. He didn’t add any parts, [it was] our parts, our lyrics, everything, he just arranged it in an effective way. It was just because he did something great, we had to use it. It was really just because of that; if it hadn’t of fit us we wouldn’t of used it. It wasn’t that we were so eager to put his stamp on our record, it’s just because he made it into a reduced version of our song. We think it’s kind of fun, but of course we know its going to be a little bit annoying or that people will be offended by it. But I think that’s part of it too, we thought it was kind of fun too.
Who is your favourite Swedish artist at the moment?
Kristofer: I don’t think I have a huge favourite. I like The Hives: they are a great rock band: they are true to their style and a great live band. I quite like Ghosts’ stuff, and I also like a band called Goats – both have the masks. [They are] quite similar in that way.
There are some rock and funk sounds on the album, (Servants of Death) what was your motivation in going with this direction of sound?
Kristofer: I’m a huge fan of Michael Jackson’s Off The Wall. It’s one of my favourite records. I love Prince too. We just wanted to put a bit of that sound in there. We wanted to make a version of Off The Wall and see if we could make that work. You have to have guts when you make music and go wherever inspiration leads you, that’s what we really wanted to do.
How did the upcoming tour with Faith No More come about?
Kristofer: We have the same booking agent and we know Mike Patton, they wanted to go on tour with us. We didn’t really feel like we wanted to do any stuff like that. We wanted to do what we wanted to do, not being a support band, but this was an exception. We’re really looking forward to it and we’re going to play Madison Square Gardens so we can check that off our list, it’s going to be fun.
How did you decide to bring out an animated video for ‘Elektra’, can you tell me a bit about the process of putting this together?
Kristofer: That wasn’t even meant to be a proper music video it was just going to a lyric video. It became so ambitious in its execution, its based on our artwork.
When you have a track like ‘Elektra’ that’s so pounding and specific, its just felt great to have artwork that would speak a different language. It’s a bit psychedelic and suggestive so you get some sort of contrast, I love it, I think it’s awesome. It’s really strange and I think the combination works well. It’s based around the artwork of the record.
In 1998 you guys released The Shape of Punk to Come, which shaped a lot of bands sounds around that time. Who of these bands are some that you like?
Kristofer: You would be surprised how little we know about that… The only time people (bands) tell you, is when it’s not so great. As a principle we all think it’s really amazing—even if people make music that you might not like so much—it’s still amazing that we have reached so many people and it’s really cool.
Do you guys see an Australian tour on the cards? I know there have been whispers of you coming out for Soundwave festival next year?
Kristofer: Yes, I think at the start of next year I don’t think it’s been announced but that’s what we have been talking about.
What’s the best show you’ve ever played and what’s your favourite place to play?
Kristofer: We are so blessed to have had pretty consistently a great response (from the crowd). It’s fun to play in Spain because they are crazy and so passionate. I remember playing in Perth last tour and I remember that crowd being specifically awesome because it was a very rowdy audience in the best possible way. That stands out I think. Australia in general is great, we have great shows.
What are some of your favourite Aussie bands?
Kristofer: Grinderman, The Birthday Party and everything associated with Nick Cave, and of course, I don’t think I have to bring up ACDC. It’s one of those bands we always play during soundcheck. I know Dennis has a bunch of punk bands from Australia that he really loves. I think Australia produces a lot of good rock music. We have great audiences everywhere; we are pretty lucky in that way.
Thanks so much for chatting with Moshcam, we will hopefully see you early next year!
Artists in this post
The Hives are a Swedish rock band that first garnered attention in the early 2000s as a prominent group of the garage rock revival. Their mainstream success came with the release of the album Veni Vidi Vicious, featuring their most well-known song “Hate to Say I Told You So”. The Hives are known for performing
Ghost (known as Ghost B.C. in the United States) is a Swedish heavy metal band that was formed in Linköping in 2008. In 2010, they released a 3-track demo followed by a 7" vinyl titled "Elizabeth", and later their debut full-length album Opus Eponymous. The Grammis-nominated album was widely praised and increased their popularity significantly.
Propagandhi is a Canadian punk band formed in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba in 1986 by Chris Hannah and Jord Samolesky. The band is currently located in Winnipeg, Manitoba. While their earlier work draws from the punk rock and skate punk tradition, recent Propagandhi records have moved towards a heavier, heavy metal-influenced sound. The band members
Sydney electronic outfit Ghoul are no longer making music together. The band, together since 2008, broke the news of their split on their facebook page.n
Cancer Bats are a hardcore punk band from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. They have released four studio albums and six extended plays. The band is composed of vocalist Liam Cormier, guitarist Scott Middleton, drummer Mike Peters and bassist Jaye R. Schwarzer. Cancer Bats take a wide variety of influences from heavy metal sub-genres and fuse them