Back in 8th grade (late 90s for me), music was tough to get. Streaming music was certainly not around quite yet. Listening to music required buying CDs at almost $20 per album, which was a steep price for a kid on an allowance. Buying CDs to discover new music was out of the question at that price. Instead, 100% of the new music I heard about came through the radio or as suggestions from friends.
However, all of the sudden Napster burst onto the scene and changed everything about music. Suddenly I was no longer limited to saving up for multiple months just to purchase a single CD from a well-known band. I could download and sample as much music as my parents’ internet bandwidth could accommodate.
It’s impossible for me to say where I first heard the band Refused. I know for sure that none of my friends listened to that kind of music, so my only guesses are that I either heard it on Live 105.3 FM or randomly happened to download their songs on Napster. Either way, I was definitely an outlier in my appreciation of their music.
I remember driving with my friend and his older brother shortly after I discovered Refused. At the time, “cool” was the last word anyone would have used to describe me and I know my friend’s older brother looked down on me. However, when I told him to play ‘New Noise’ by Refused and the first verse came on, he turned to give me a look that said, “Where the fuck did this come from?!? This music is amazing!” In that moment, I learned the power of respect that can be given to you by someone who appreciates your taste in music. This experience also explains the bitterness I felt towards the friends I developed in college who all claimed my taste in music was shit, but that’s a story for another blog post.
Refused is a Swedish punk rock band which was primarily active from 1991 to 1998. To my knowledge, the band is a mainstay of 90s punk rock and anyone who likes the genre has the song ‘New Noise’ somewhere in their music collection. However, much like a famous Renaissance artist the band only gained popularity and fame after they had broken up in 1998.
All of these factors together leave me truly scratching my head as to how an unpopular, musically-ignorant 8th grader from the Bay Area, California could have discovered Refused in the late 1990s when music discovery on the internet was not a thing and the band was not well known.