|Category:||Interview - Internet||Publish date:||6/11/2010|
|Source:||The Bad Religion Page (June 2010) (Netherlands)||With:||Jay Bentley|
|Synopsis:||This interview with Jay was done backstage at the Melkweg in Amsterdam prior to the show.|
Last Friday (June 11th) Bad Religion, once again, played at the Melkweg in Amsterdam. We (Jesse and Marty) were lucky enough to get invited to be present at the sound check and to sit down for an informal interview session.
Originally the sound check was supposed to start at 4PM, but Friday morning we were told it would start 30 minutes earlier.
Having arrived in Amsterdam just past noon and the sound check now starting at 3:30PM, we had plenty of time to walk around Amsterdam pretending to be tourists. Since the weather took a turn for the worse that afternoon, we were happy to finally arrive at the Melkweg just past 3PM.
We didn't have to wait long before Jay and Brian showed up. Apparently they also just returned from a walk to the city center. Having met Jay earlier this year at the Groezrock festival, he recognized us. Almost sounding proud of himself, Brian added that he just woke up.
Already feeling sorry for the guys for being tired and having to put up with us, we followed them inside the venue where the merch was just being set up. On first sight no new stuff. However, a closer examination revealed one item that we had not seen before: a black can cooler sleeve with, of course, a crossbuster on it. Didn't get one, though.
Seeing the inside of the Melkweg in broad daylight was definitely a new experience. For some reason the place appeared to be much bigger empty.
We headed straight for the stairs leading up to the backstage area where the dressing rooms and production room are.
Although already having bought tickets for the show that night, Jay offered us all access passes that allowed us to come, go and hang out as we pleased. How could we refuse?
Cathy, Bad Religion's tour manager, told us that for whatever reason the sound check was moved an hour later. Having another hour to spare we quickly headed into the city to return just in time at the Melkweg for the sound check.
After having played around a bit on his guitar, Brian was joined on stage by Greg Hetson, Brooks and Jay. With everyone present (except for Greg Graffin, of course, who was touring Amsterdam), they started to play 'Before You Die' with Jay on vocals.
Sitting quietly on the side we were surprised to hear Jay asking Jesse which song they should play next. Still in shock she said 'Leave Mine To Me'. With a look on Jay's face as if he was expecting her to request some never-before-played song from Into The Unknown, he asked her if she was sure. Strangely enough she was(!), so they started playing the song.
The next two songs that were played during this private karaoke session were 'How Much Is Enough?' and 'Marked'.
After the sound check Jay clearly was craving for a cigarette, so we headed back upstairs and decided to sit down in the smoking room where two comfortable couches were waiting for us. Initially we were told we only had about 20 minutes before another interview with Jay would start. As Jay also didn't know (or doesn't want to know) who/what/when, it indicates how much of an interview-machine he is.
We already decided we didn't want to show up with the default questions about Bad Religion's 30 years or all the other obligatory questions that you see in most interviews these days.
Q: Is it true that Bad Religion actually started in 1979 in stead of 1980, meaning this year is Bad Religion's 31st anniversary.
A: "That's what I say as well. It was definitely in the last couple of months of that year. November, December. But no one can remember exactly. Greg Graffin wanted the year 2000 to be Bad Religion's 20th birthday, so we kinda went from there.
No one can remember exactly when, but we got the whole band playing at Greg's house; in his living room. We practiced in his living room. Then we went to Jay Ziskrout's living room. That's where we came up with the name 'Bad Religion'. Then we went to my garage and got kicked out after the first day. The cops came. That's when we built up Greg's garage: the Hell Hole."
Q: With a lot of people constantly wondering if this will your last tour or album, do you guys ever talk about the future of Bad Religion?
A: "No. We learned a long time ago that we're not really super forward thinking. It's better not to make plans for the future. Obviously we have a record coming out in September, that's for sure. The record is done. If we all die on the bus drive tonight, the record will still come out. So we've got this tour that's booked. On to the process of booking the US tour, that's now going to start on October 7. That's the plan. It's like staying about six months ahead.
The only time we've really discussed when it stops is that it's going to stop. It's not going to some long drawn out farewell tour and a reunion tour.
I can't say for sure what we're going to do. Maybe this is our last tour. I don't think so. There's no discussion in the band that this is it; that we're packing it up after this."
Q: Since we'd probably wouldn't get a chance to talk to Greg Graffin, we asked Jay about the status of Greg's 'Punk Professor' project.
A: Apparently there has never been a deal or anything. It's just Greg who had this idea and decided to start shooting it, hoping it would be picked up.
Jay: "You know, in my idea most of these things will just come out eventually. For example, there's this video for 21st Century (Digital Boy), that new one with live footage from Europe that no one has ever seen before. It's not that one we made in the pool. That was shot on the 1991 Against The Grain tour. The person that shot it was one of Greg's friends; he's a friend of all of ours. He was working at a company at the time and when it was all said and done they wanted a ton of money from us. We said 'No, fuck you. We're not giving you any money'. So the video lost its purpose and just vanished. I got a copy of it on tape, but I was never going to put it on the internet because they didn't want us to do it and we didn't pay for it. How it got out onto the internet I don't know. Things will eventually surface."
Q: Just like Greg's No Control synth demos and Brett's Generator and Stranger Than Fiction demos.
A: "I have no idea how those got out there. 'Til this day Brett also doesn't know how those got out."
Q: Do you ever regret saying things online, and especially on The BR Page?
A: "Sometimes. But I don't really care that much. I learned a long time ago just to be honest. And when you say stupid things and you're honest about it, you just say 'yeah I said it'.
I did learn a long time ago that you don't really say things that you truly really regret, because that will come back to haunt you. I did learn that. That was more before the internet. That was back in press when things would come out in papers and I was like 'oh fuck'".
You know, Brian and I did all those interviews with No Substance and New America where we just kinda painted on a smile saying 'this is great; this is the greatest record we've ever done'. And I said: 'this is just fucked. I'm just going to be honest from now on. I'm tired of pretending.'"
Q: So right after those two albums came out you already had second thoughts?
A: "I already had second thoughts when we were making them. When we made the record No Substance we had no material. We just walked into the studio saying 'let's write it right now'. It's Ok. It's not terrible. But I was always putting it in context with Bad Religion".
Q: Regarding the new record, Greg's been comparing it to Recipe For Hate. Do you see the same similarities?
A: "No. The references are just funny to me. It is like RFH in the fact that it's Bad Religion. People's biggest complain about Bad Religion is 'your songs all sound the same'. Well, that's good. We're Bad Religion. That's what we do. There are always parts of every album that resurface".
Q: If you look back at your previous albums, what do you remember them by? It must be different to the way fans are experiencing and remembering albums.
A: "In Hamburg a husband and wife came up to me and he said 'our daughter's 15th birthday is tomorrow. Will you sign this shirt for her?' I said 'sure'. Then he laughs and goes 'she was made to Modern Man'. And that's their memory of the album. If they buy an album, go home and they get emotional over work or school or their parents die at a car crash, that's how they're going to remember that time. It's got nothing to do with the record itself, it's just their moment.
When we made The Empire Strikes First I was pissed. And everybody was pissed about what was happening with America. The vibe was like 'let's just go and make this fucking record right now'. We were so mad. And that was like the general vibe. Let's just get this thing out.I know it's weird but it was kind of the theme. And when we made The Process Of Belief, that was way more fun. It was like 'we're back together again'. I was nervous.
For the earlier albums it's that my kids were being born, me getting married and all those things that are part of the albums as well."
Q: When the internet became popular and all sorts of fan sites started to pop up, what did that do for Bad Religion or you?
A: "It was awesome! All of a sudden you could connect with the whole world. You know, in the past you would get a letter from Italy and you wouldn't answer for three weeks and then you mail it back and then you have a good pen pall [laughs]! But now it's awesome."
Q: Do you or the others ever read stuff about Bad Religion such as album reviews?
A: "You'll have to take all of that with a grain of salt. You can't get too caught up in all of it. It's never a good idea to read everything."
Q: How about comments on sites like punknews.org?
A: "I think they're hilarious! They're funny. Both Brett, Brian and myself will always go like 'hey, did you read that?' And we'll all have a laugh about it. Brett might get a little bit more upset then others."
Q: Brett indeed posted in the comments once, but no one believed it was him.
A: "And rightfully so. You should never believe anything on the internet. That's why have have that signature. It's all bullshit [laughs]!"
Q: Well, sometimes we have are doubts about quoting you and putting it up as news just because you said something in the forums.
A: "You can. I don't really care if you do. Half the time I spend my time goofing of with SOLDSHORT now [laughs]. He's from LA and he's funny. This is all from the old badreligion.com. There was this chat back then where you had to hit the refresh button because it wasn't auto-refresh. It was more like an IRC. What was that called? Something like #badreligion. An IRC channel."
Q: Last time we spoke you mentioned Brett was working on a new intro for Won't Somebody. Did it work out? Is it different from the version on the live album?
A: "I don't know. It just kind of is. In fact, the live album intro is different from the way we were playing it by the end of that tour. We changed it like three times during the tour. The shows at which we recorded the live record were the first 4 or 5 shows."
Q: Has Resist Stance changed as well? Because during the HoB tour we've seen several different intros to that song.
A: "I had a different understanding of the intro than Greg did. So I was playing it one way and he goes 'no, it's like this'. And I'm like 'Oh, I didn't know'. So I was playing it one way and then I changed it. And then I changed it again toward the end of the tour and he goes 'yeah, that's much better'. So people go like 'ok, so that's the way it sounds like'. Not anymore! Because you're still kind of learning it and growing it. But as far as the song, it's still the same."
Q: You entered the studio with 16 songs. How is that different from previous times where you entered the studio with more songs, but a couple of them were dropped?
A: "Sixteen is all we have. A couple times we put everything on and I was like 'maybe we should have left that one off [laughs]'. This is more like Suffer through Generator where we just put everyting we had on the record. So it wasn't a question of which songs we're have to choose from. We didn't have a choice."
In the mean time, the people who were supposed to have the interview with Jay joined us. Apparently they wanted to do an article on Bad Religion for their new magazine called 'muleskinner'. Clearly not aware of the fact that thebrpage had turned into a multi-million dollar enterprise, the guy jokingly said he also once had a Bad Religion fan site when he was 15.
Luckily Jay didn't have a problem with us sitting there during that interview. So we remained seated, anxiously awaiting the default questions about Bad Religion's 30 year anniversary. And indeed, there they were.
All in all, it was quite an interesting interview that lasted for about an hour and ended at around 6PM. We can't wait see the result in issue #3 of muleskinner magazine, which will probably be published somewhere in July.
One of the memorable moments was when they touched upon the subject of 21st Century (Digital Boy) being a "rip-off" of another old song from the eighties. Because Jay couldn't remember the name of the band he looked at us as if he was thinking: "come on, YOU guys have to know this!". The only thing I could remember was something like ".... and the .....". Anyway, we were looking for Eddie and the Subtitles with the song American Society.
Just about when we decided to call it quits and were already in the hallway we received more questions by email from Brett Religion. Without giving it a second thought or showing any signs of unwillingness, we once again sat down with Jay in the smoking room.
Because we forgot to record this next part, most of it is by memory. Sorry!
Q: Are there any songs from previous albums that were considered 'sleepers' by the band, but became very popular and vice versa? Would Sorrow be one of the sleepers?
A: Jay considers the entire album The Gray Race a sleeper. Sorrow was definitely not thought of as a sleeper before it came out.
Q: [This question was actually for Greg Graffin] Does Tiny Voices have the best ooozin aaahs in the whole BR catalogue?
A: Clearly trying to refresh his memory of that song, Jay concluded this to be a definite No. To the question which song, in his opinion, does have the best ooozin aaahs, he couldn't give an answer. An interesting fact is that he sometimes needs to listen to Bad Religion songs, just to refresh his memory of those songs. Of course, he's only able to listen to Bad Religion songs in an objective way. Definitely not for entertainment.
Q: Is there any producer you have worked with in the past that you would like to work again with? How about Ric Ocasek?
A: Jay said he'd love to work with Ric again. Because they had such great experiences with Joe Barresi it only seemed logical to, once again, work with him. Rest assured, Greg's vocals on the new album won't be buried as much as they were on New Maps Of Hell.
As it was dinner time we decided to, again, head out. While we were still hanging out with Jay in the hallway backstage, Greg Hetson came out of the BR dressing room. The only way out of there was to pass us and reluctantly he decided to do so. If we could read his thoughts in a text balloon over his head it would read something like this: "Damnit, fans! I'm heading straight for that door over there. I'm not looking at anything else. Focus Greg! Focus on the door and just pretend they don't see you. Oh, and please don't talk to me". It was just funny how the three of us stood there silently looking at Greg passing us by totally ignoring us. Priceless.
We headed for the nearest place where we could eat and returned at the Melkweg in time to claim our sweet spot on the balcony next to the DJ / lightboard. Of course, we could have gone backstage again during the support act (which sucked, by the way) to mingle with the band. However, we already decided that's not our style. We respect the band's privacy; especially right before a show. I'm pretty sure that the last thing they need is a couple of out-of-place looking fans asking annoying questions about the old days, obscure songs and albums they'd rather forget about.
The show itself was, of course, great, with No Direction being the highlight of the set that night.
Beforehand, Jay already indicated that they had to leave for Milan immediately after the show, so we didn't have the opportunity to thank him for his time. So here goes... Thanks and see you next time!
If this is how most days on tour are for Jay, with interviews and all, one can only have respect for him.
English transcript updated: Flipside #25 (August 1981)
English transcript updated: Bad Religion's 'True North' Q&A: 'We're Still Creating Our Legacy'
English transcript added: True North
English transcript added: Christmas Songs
English transcript added: True North
English transcript added: True North
English transcript updated: True North
English transcript added: The Dissent Of Man
English transcript added: 30 Years Live
English transcript added: New Maps Of Hell
English transcript added: The Empire Strikes First
English transcript added: The Process Of Belief