|Category:||Interview - Newspaper||Publish date:||9/16/2008|
|Source:||The Gateway, September 16, 2008||With:||Jay Bentley|
Bad Religion still keeping the faith
by Simon Yackulic
The Gateway, September 16, 2008
“Anger management. Volume. Flashing lights.”
Jay Bentley’s simple description of what to expect from Bad Religion’s Edmonton show quickly breaks into an explanation of the issues facing the band as they continue their aggressive and unapologetic assault on the mess they see as the world. His comments reflect both sides of the band’s razor edge: loud guitars and even louder political voices.
With 14 albums and a substantial impact on the entire punk rock scene since their formation in the ’80s, Bentley notes that Bad Religion continues to have these two primary aims with their music.
“One is to entertain ourselves, and the second is to be somewhat relevant in the things that we’re doing—to feel that we’re still accomplishing something.”
Maintaining that continued relevance comes naturally to a band that embodies such an aggressively free-thinking spirit. The band’s “cross-buster” logo stands as an affront to dogmatic beliefs. Singer Greg Graffin has stated how that symbol was chosen as a metaphor—not just for opposition to dogmatic types of religion, but as a symbol of dissent in the face of any sort of shared belief or way of thinking that is pushed on people to the determent of freedom of thought or expression. Despite this standpoint, it may come as a surprise to people that Bentley identifies himself as spiritual.
“[I feel] kind of like an overall presence—not to sound like a crazy hippie—but seeing things for what they are. It allows me to feel that I’m doing whatever its will is, [so I can] get out of my own brain and allow myself to think of something more powerful than myself—and that works.”
His laid-back attitude regarding spirituality also transcends into his views on music distribution and file sharing. Bucking the views of influential groups like Metallica, Bentley seems to have no problem with digitally shared music and has some fairly blunt criticism for those attempting to control it.
“There’s absolutely nothing you can do about it, so you accept it and say, ‘This is totally rad, welcome to the 21st century—this is how it is.’ It’s all bullshit. It’s the internet. You can’t control it. It’s not legislated. Leave it the hell alone. Stop freaking out about it.”
Something the band has always found worthy of freaking out over is the political scene, and Bad Religion have worn their views quite openly on their sleeve during their entire 28-year history. As a satire of George W Bush’s policy, the band titled their 2004 release The Empire Strikes First.
While his ideas about the Bush presidency are no secret, Bentley, who lives with his kids in Vancouver, seems to have a more lenient view on Stephen Harper, even though he still associates the Conservative leader with Dubya. But though they’ve made a career out of speaking out against the system, Bentley notes that Canada will have to be content with Harper until we can find our own change that we can believe in.
“I don’t know if anybody who is [Harper’s] opposition is really any better, at this point,” Bentley states skeptically. I’m not really sure how liberal they get, because there is a point at which you’re just kind of a hippie granola guy and you’re not going to be any good as well. Until Canada finds their own Barack Obama, maybe we’ll just wait and see what happens.”
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