America's last Hardcore heroes BAD RELIGION always had "the attitude of being 'anti'," claims guitarist BRETT GUREWITZ -- but never has it been more clearly illustrated than on their latest LP 'Generator', a buzzsaw punk masterpiece barbed with intelligence and ferocity. MIKE GITTER listens to these old punk rockers lettin' it all hang out...
"IT'S REALLY f**kin' weird to be an old punk rocker!" green-haired nutty professor guitarist Brett Gurewitz is laughing at the irony of pushing 30 and still playing punk with the last great Hollywood Hardcore heroes, Bad Religion.
"Can you even call it punk any more?" Brett poses. "I don't go out and destroy things the way I used to any more. But it's just the attitude of being 'anti' I've had since I was a teenager. That feeling hasn't worn off."
Bad Religion -- Gurewitz, bassist Jay Bentley, vocalist Greg Graffin, skinsman Bobby Schayer and ex-Circle Jerks shredder Greg Hetson -- is still 'anti' after all these years, more powerful, pointed and prolific than they were a decade ago when they started doling out their quickfire doses of melodic, buzzsaw punk.
Next to the Ramones they're probably the biggest-selling three-chord-burners in the world.
THEY MAY just be the biggest cult band in the world. They're also the smartest. Like their nonstop, juggernaut assault, when Bad Religion work, they work fast. Witness their recent spate of dates that packed in four countries and two continents in a mere 10 days (including London's Astoria on April 17)...
Bad Religion probably work on the tightest schedule known to any band. The reason? Vocalist Greg Graffin's double-life as a student-teacher at New York's Cornell University, working on his doctorate in evolutionary biology. Doesn't this put a strain on Bad Religion's ability to function as a band?
"It gets tricky," Brett admits. "The only drawback is that we can't tour as much as some bands, but if Greg wasn't in college I don't know if I'd really want to tour much more than we do anywas. This year, we're gonna be out on the road for about 80 days. That's fine for me -- almost a quarter of the year."
BAD RELIGION'S ragged-voiced frontman isn't shy about bringing his academic credentials to the sweating, stagediving fray, spicing up the buzzsaw barrage with lines like, 'religion is just synthetic frippery'. Even if the kids are united, they're not gonna have the slightest idea what the hell he's on about.
"Personally, I'm a highschool drop-out," Brett admits. "But I've done a lot of reading. In the old days I was trying to say, 'Hey, I'm smart, I can write deep, intelligent, cerebral lyrics' -- like I had something to prove. That became our trademark, which wasn't such a good thing.
"But with the past couple of records I've tried to stay away from that. Greg, too. With the exception of 'Chimera' on the new album, he's tried to lay off the sophistry! It's easier for him to sing, 'heaven is falling' than, 'the firmament is raining the euclivity'!"
'GENERATOR', BAD Religion's sixth and best album, is full of those points -- barbed with uncanny intelligence and ferocity. Brett credits the articulate anger of 'Fertile Crescent' or 'Heavens Is Falling' to watching events in the Gulf unfold.
"That war was something none of us could get around," he insists. "It was probably the lowest point for America that I could ever remember. The way American press was treating the war was pornographic. I even considered moving out of the country, I was so dismayed.
"The entire country was acting like this was some football game," the guitarist continues, his voice growing louder and more agitated. "It was appalling!"
But what were the band getting at by calling their record 'Generator'? Brett's response is a surprise.
"God," he states emphatically. "It's my metaphor for God. The vibe that I'm trying to give is like, if you've ever been in a room and the air conditioner's humming. You don't notice it, of course, because it's a constant hum. The it turns off and you suddenly notice how quiet it is because it went away.
"That's the generator; it's just behind everything. It's funny, God and spirituality has been the central conflict of my entire life."
THAT'S PRETTY strange, coming from someone in a band called Bad Religion.
"A person must be thinking about that stuff to name their band that," Brett, a recovered drug addict, responds. "I don't know how to believe and what to believe in -- but I don't feel comfortable with atheism either.
"It's funny -- those are questions you think you can answer a lot easier when you're a teenager, so you read Descartes and you read Nietzsche and all this bullshit that just gets you more confused. The older and more learned I get, the angrier and more confused I feel -- and the more I need an outlet like punk rock. Whatever it is, Bad Religion helps to get it out."
Interview image(s) added: Big Brother Skateboarding Mag (March 2001)
English transcript added: Big Brother Skateboarding Mag (March 2001)
English transcript added: Bad Religion Experiences a Punk Renaissance
English transcript updated: The World According to Bass: An interview with Bad Religion's Bottom End (Jay Bentley)
English transcript added: Queer In Your Ear: The Greg Graffin Interview
Jesse has updated his or her media collection with a magazine: Left of the Dial #3 (Summer 2002)
Interview image(s) added: The World According to Bass: An interview with Bad Religion's Bottom End (Jay Bentley)
Mummabeth has updated his or her media collection with a magazine: Flipside #67 (July/ August 1990)
Jesse has updated his or her media collection with a magazine: WOM Journal Vol.12 (April 1996)
Interview image(s) added: Die Kultband der US-Punk-Szene im Interview: Pioniere als Schüler
German transcript added: Die Kultband der US-Punk-Szene im Interview: Pioniere als Schüler
English transcript updated: Punknews - Interview with Jay Bentley and Brian Baker (Bad Religion)