Iconic Swedish hardcore group Refused return to Australian on the back of their killer 2015 LP Freedom. One of the most important groups of the 90s, everyone who has attended a Refused show since their second coming has yet to be disappointed. Guitarist David Sandstorm had a chat with us just before Xmess from his LA base.
Munster: I saw your play the old Palace Theatre on Bourke Street back in 2012 for your first tour and first reformation tour, what was your memories of that tour?
David: oh it was magnificent it was the peak of that year. After that tour we did a few shows in Sweden and that was it, but the Australian tour was the peak. After that tour I collapsed in my house and smashed a bunch of teeth. So that’s how hard we worked (laughs).
Munster: When you broke up back in the 90s and you did this huge reunion tour where you surprised at how much interest was in Refused in places like Australia and America?
David: Yeah I always find it surprising, but we love playing so we/re so grateful we get the chance to play all over the world, it’s the main thing we get to tour, playing on stage where at home. When we were kids we/d play our home town for months and months, so its awesome we branch out from that.
Munster: What process went into making Freedom?
David: We spent…its really burly now as we spent so long writing it, we started writing it before the reunion tour so it was a drawn out process by the time we were recording we reached a fever pitch, I remember collapsing in the middle of the night I was working so hard on the arrangements and I was working two days straight with no sleep so we were warm out. We went to LA to record and the pressure we put on ourselves was very high and we wanted to make the best Refused record and we hadn/t been writing for 14 years so we had to figure out what that was. So there was a lot of trial and error.
Munster: what lead to reforming? You don/t seem like guys that would do it for a cash grab and it would ave to be for the right reasons, what lead to the call?
David: it’s the kind of thing, its hard to compress, and also looking at where we had come and looking at our lives. When we started we all lived in the same city and hung out a lot working on a lot of compilations. Me and Kris were writing music for the first time since 1998 we didn/t know then it would turn into a Refused LP, it was meant to be an instrumental project. I was making music and Magnus was doing this own projects, at a certain point it was the same band and similar music, we did/t do it intently but it was like wow Refused is hanging out again. At the end of the day it was music and friendship that got us back. The things money and travel that’s great but we/d ave offers in the past but we blanked it just not interested, but after enough time it just happened.
Munster: You mentioned friendship as a big reason for reforming but even after you broke up you still worked with each other in different bands so you were never out of contact with those guys?
David: Yeah its, I mean we spent the week writing in an Island just because we wanted some isolation. Its really cold, so were just trashing it out in a shitty rehearsal space. We sheared apartments had breakfast, hang out rehearse, lunch hang out, coffee, then dinner then a few beers in the evening then talk shit and sleep thats what we did for five days. It’s a joy being in each other company and we hadn/t done that in a long while.
Munster: Scandinavia has always had an amazing rock scene particularly from the mid 90s onwards, is there anything you put that down to?
David: We ave had a very safe and kind of sheltered existence, its several things. Politically we were sheltered, Finland is between us and the Russians, and Europe is between Russia and everywhere else, I had very little travel and the democratic system kept everyone in a very nice place, like all health benefits where taken care of it was a very ordered life, and also we had music schools, so whether or not you had money you still had an instrument and got lessons every other week. So anyone who was musical at all you play . Also its very Americanised, a lot of USA TV films and rock n roll was successful and we speak the language to it translated well. It’s the same with hip hop it reaches people fast in Sweden.
Munster: When I saw you play in Melbourne you mentioned your love of Australian music like the Hard Ons and the Victims and Paul Kelly, considering you said it was sheltered was that stuff hard to come by?
David: We were big on Radio Birdman too. I guess its always been a big second hand music culture in Sweden and that connected. The kids, the middle class mostly are sheltered and their interests. Same in Finland and Denmark, there was a very open door to western music, being into punk we found it, but I had no idea which bands were English or Australia or American.
Refused play the Prince Bandroom Wednesday January 25.