Refused formed in early 1991 with Dennis Lyxzén, David Sandström, Pär Hansson and Jonas Lidgren and released their first demo, Refused, the same year. With an already altered lineup the band released their first studio album, This Just Might Be the Truth, in 1994.
Refused's final line-up consisted of the members Dennis Lyxzén, David Sandström, Kristofer Steen and Jon Brännström who released everything from Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent to the definitive album The Shape of Punk to Come. The band never found a permanent bass player.
Refused broke up in late 1998. It is believed that this was a result of expending all their creative energy and wanting different things. There was also some conflict between Dennis and the rest of the band. Band members have stated that their first shows after the release of Shape of Punk to Come were devastating to them emotionally and that their final tour was not a good time at all, but awful. The band cancelled the tour and announced their split-up. Their last show was played in a friend's basement on their United States tour and was shut down by the police.
After Refused split up, they released one final, fiery open letter titled "Refused Are Fucking Dead". It can be read in full on their label Burning Heart's website.
Among other things, they said that they "will not give interviews to stupid reporters" and demanded "that every newspaper burn all their photos of Refused".
Lead singer Dennis Lyxzén went on to form The (International) Noise Conspiracy while the other members, as well as venturing into their own projects, formed the group TEXT. As of May, 2008, Dennis Lyxzén and David Sandström have formed a new straight-forward hardcore band under the name AC4.
Kristofer Steen is now a director and made a documentary on the band's last year in existence called Refused Are Fucking Dead.
Before the Umeå hardcore phenomenon went into full bloom, the band was seen as part of the scene centered around youth oriented venue Galaxen, along with the punk rock scene as well as metal acts such as Meshuggah.
Drummer David Sandström states that before the band formed he was a "glue sniffing death metal kid" but eventually a fan of Step Forward, the embryo of Refused. As Step Forward called it quits and friendship between David and Dennis Lyxzen grew stronger, Dennis took him home and made him listen to Youth of Today's We're Not in This Alone album over and over again in a room alone.
The album This Just Might Be the Truth was mostly influenced by popular American hardcore of the time (such as Earth Crisis) as well as various bands from the New York hardcore scene. By the time of its release, the band already had a strong anti-establishment profile.
On their second album, Songs to Fan the Flames of Discontent, the band had a more metal sound and was influenced by Slayer, both in artwork and sound.
With their final album The Shape of Punk to Come, Refused drew heavily on the influence of Swedish bands such as Breach, Fireside, Randy, Millencolin, Entombed, Teddybears, Candysuck, Starmarket, Liberator, Satanic Surfers, Loosegoats, Mindjive, Nine, Abhinada, Bloodpath, Saidiwas, Final Exit, and DS13. Refused also drew influence from New York Hardcore bands Sick Of It All, Madball, and Earth Crisis. Besides musical influence Refused also used the writings of Karl Marx, anarchist Errico Malatesta, and the Situationist International. The band were already well known for their vegan and straight edge stances.