|Category:||Interview - Internet||Publish date:||1/1/1996|
|Source:||The Orange County Keith Netzine (United States)||With:||Bobby Schayer, Brian Baker, Greg Graffin, Greg Hetson|
|Synopsis:||Four interviews with Brian Baker, Bobby Schayer, Greg Hetson and Greg Graffin, done by Orange County Keith.|
Good Times with Bad Religion
Part I: Monolog by OCKeith
Well kids here it is, the thing you’ve all been waiting for. The somewhat exclusive Orange County Keith-Bad Religion interview/feature. First off, let me tell you all who I am. I am this dude that is 19, lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and does lots of cool things. Besides going to the University of Alberta, getting a marketing degree, specializing in mass communications, I have a radio show on 88.5 FM CJSR where I put on a quite a rad show and interview many a band. As well, I am putting on shows here in Edmonton, mostly at a place called the Dinwoodie Lounge. Look forward to possibly seeing some great bands here in the next few summer months care of yours truly. My paid job is bartending at a resturant in Old Strathcona called Chianti Cafe. Anyway, here is the story:
Music West is this huge music conference/ festival with many guest speakers and bands playing. It is kind of an industry thing with many big names and lots of smoozing with managers, bands, and labels going on. This all takes place in Vancouver every year in the beginning of May and much fun is had by all. In conjunction with this is a thing called Slam City Jam, North America’s biggest skateboarding competition. Armed with a complete delegate pass, I prepared to journey “into the unknown”. So on Friday, May 3rd I departed to the great city of Vancouver, anxiously awaiting my opportunity to finally see Bad Religion live and hang out with these living legends. Well, once landing in Vancouver, I felt like Axl Rose in the Welcome to the Jungle video, just getting off of the bus. If you can believe it, this was my first time flying on an airplane and going to Vancouver, all for the love of BR, who, by the way, were pretty much headlining the entire event.
The weekend started off with a bang, getting to my fine hotel located just minutes away from the Plaza of Nations where most of the festivities took place. On that day, I ended up meeting a lot of cool people and did the interview thing with loads of big wigs, etc. Get this, aside from interviewing bands such as Sloan, the Groovy Ghoulies, The Smalls, SNFU, Unwritten Law, and Spiderbait over the weekend, I interviewed, get this, Rusty, the manager of Hootie and the Blowfish. I’ll have to admit he is a nice guy and he did admit that they are a frat band even though they hate frats, but unfortunately their music just sucks too bad for me. Sorry Hootie! Oh, yeah, one more thing that might interest you aside from the Bad Religion thing, my other brush with fame was meeting INXS who were backstage at the Commodore Ballroom hanging out with fellow Australians Spiderbait, who are huge Down Under, but are obscure anywhere in the Northern Hemisphere. Yeah, INXS is washed up and aren’t the greatest but it was kind of neat a band that has sold something like 30 million albums worldwide, not recognizing who they were when I actually met them and then finding out after who they are after the fact.
Besides the Bad Religion thing, many Scotches were consumed and a great deal of mingling with Corporate America was done. Well here it is:
Saturday, May 4, 1996 will be a day I will never forget. A day my Mastercard will never forget. It was 5 PM and the guys had just flew down from Portland. The techs and road people were busy setting up while the street boarding part of Slam City Jam was finishing up that late afternoon. Greg Hetson and Brian Baker were the first to arrive on the scene, with Jay at his house out in Bow Island and Bobby Schayer and Greg Graffin at their hotel. Brian is a really cool guy and will enjoy talking about old Minor Threat/ Dag Nasty/ Dischord days.
Aside from the interviews, I hung out with all the guys a good bit, especially Greg Hetson. Some of the activities included watching a home video of Bobby touring his home in Seattle and drinking Newfoundland Screech with him, and showing the guys my Bad Religion bootleg CD’s and tape that my friend Roger from Scotland made me More details will be given later but after the show, myself and two friends (Cindy and Sherry) who I met at the Bad Religion show met up with Brian, Greg H, Jans (BR’s tour manager) and Dave (SNFU’s manager) at the Town Pump, to watch the Smalls perform to a sold-out show. I would like to thank Greg for buying me beer that night. Following that, myself, Jans and his escort, Greg H and my two other friends (Cindy and Sherry) went to an after-hours party/ bar that was lame, yet still very cool. Saturday night ended by me driving Greg to his hotel late that night at about 4:30 that morning. Sunday was pretty much the same, with me hanging out with Greg H and a few others at the SNFU/ Seaweed/ Spiderbait show at the Commodore. Besides that Saturday, the Sunday was a day I will never forget as well. Greg Hetson is a very cool, but quiet, shy guy. His music speaks louder than his words.
What I did was record the interview in four different parts with all the members of the band separately except for Jay Bentley, who I didn’t get to interview on tape because he was with his family all day that day. Email me with comments>>>>> firstname.lastname@example.org Oh, yeah, be sure to check out my NetZine. It is the Orange County Keith Net Zine stocked full with interviews with the raddest bands, pictures, my top 10 chart, fan/hate mail, cd and gig reviews, etc..... at WWW.UALBERTA.CA/~KRUBULIA. Soon to be given away: an autographed black and white glossy collectors press photo signed by the band and five 6x4 All Ages stickers each signed by the band. Stay tuned, read on and ENJOY!
Part II: Interview with Brian Baker
Well, as I said earlier, interviews and much hanging out was done with all the guys from Bad Religion. Jay was the only one I did not catch on tape. It was 7:30 pm on Saturday, I was in the catering tent eating with Unwritten Law, the Dance Hall Crashers and the Bad Religion crew. Greg Hetson was also hanging out. David, aka, Cipher (known to frequent irc channel #badreligion) called me on my cell phone. I didn’t really feel like talking so I gave the phone to Mr. Hetson. That sure surprised David all right. Anyway, enough babbling, here is the Q and A:
Me: Here I am, sitting on a cardboard roll here, sitting and relaxing backstage at the Plaza of Nations hanging out with Brian Baker.
Baker: Howdy. Are you sure this is going to pick up, what with all the background noise?
Me: Yeah, it is kind of loud. I don’t know, do you want to go somewhere else to do the interview?
Baker: No, this is fine, it’ll work. We just have to speak directly into the mic.
Me: So hey Brian. Of course you are kind of the verteran to everything that punk stands for person.
Baker: Well, I have never heard it put quite that way but yeah, that’s nice.
Me: I see that you were in a very legendary band known as?
Me: Before that?
Baker: Dag Nasty.
Me: Yeah, I’m liking them. And before that was of course
Baker: Government Issue, Sam Hayne, Meatmen, then Minor Threat.
Me: Ok, so now all the pieces of the puzzle have been filled. Basically Minor Threat was the DC thing. Now, I got to ask you. Did you guys ever have “Battle of the Bands” with West Coast bands?
Baker: No, not really. West coast bands except for the Circle Jerks and Black Flag didn’t really make it out all the way to the East Coast yet East Coast bands had no problem making it to the West Coast. So except for Black Flag and the Circle Jerks that makes all of them pussies. Have you ever seen the “Another State of Mind” movie? That’s when Youth Brigade made it half way or something. They made it to the East Coast but I think they had to walk home.
Me: the van broke down or something?
Baker: Yeah, the school bus. Yeah, not too much of a rivalry. We fought with Boston and New York.
Me: Ok, of course you were known as a “straight-edge” band.
Baker: That was cause we wrote the song “Straight-Edge”. That’s probably why.
Me: Were you straight-edge though?
Baker: Yeah, but it wasn’t a millitant millitia of sweat-shirted kids beating up people for drinking. It was because most of us were far too young to drink anyway and we didn’t really think about getting drunk because we had better stuff to do. It wasn’t supposed to be what it is now blown up into nowadays. It was never supposed to be a millitant group of people, that’s stupid.
Me: Now you released a Discography, which I just have to say is swell, my favorate song being “Stepping Stone”.
Baker: That’s interesting your favorate is a cover but I’m glad you like it (an original by the Monkee’s)
Me: There are a lot of great songs. Out of Step is a great album.
Baker: Yeah, it seems to hold up well and has stood the test of time and it’s been well over a decade.
Me: So you were stuck on bass. Now the story is that you there was no room for another guitarist.
Baker: Yeah, I was the last guy to join so I got stuck with bass.
Me: So you are multi-talented.
Baker: Not at all.
Me: Well, I took a picture of you playing drums so we have that as proof.
Baker: (Laughs) Yeah, I’m the Police all by my self.
Me: And of course you are the guitar maestro now. I know everyone has asked you this but what happened with REM?
Baker: You mean how did I get into it or how did I get out of it?
Me: Well, all of the above.
Baker: I got it because, well those guys aren’t as unhip as you may think and Micheal (Stipe) has been a big Dischord fan forever and I know Scott Litt is a friend of mine that has produced the last seven or eight albums and when I was living in LA, I’d see Scott from time to time. One time I ran into him and he said, “Hey, you should go down and play with those guys because they want to take another guitar player with them on the road.” and I go, “Cool” and later someone from the company called me and said, “Hey, we are going to audition some people. Do you want to come down?’ So I went, “Sure.” It was me, and a bunch of other people, all like kind of, I don’t know who they were. They were supposed to be legends. T-Bone Burnet and a guy from Young Fresh Fellows and somebody else. Anyway, to make a long story short, I got it and was all set to go on tour. They were going to leave in November and this was July. Then Bad Religion called and had to tell REM that I couldn’t go.
Me: Not too much of a big choice there.
Baker: No, no choice at all. I have never not been in a band or a songwriter or contributor. the REM gig would have been a lot of fun, I would have made lots of money but I wouldn’t have been a contributor so I’d much rather do Bad Religion than worry about money and arenas.
Me: Yeah, you have a pivotal role now. I noticed you did some writing for a few songs off of “The Grey Race.” Baker: Yeah, Streets of America, Nobody Listens, Spirit Shine, and The Grey Race”.
Me: Did they have some stuff recorded before you came in?
Baker: Yeah, Greg had 14 songs written. By the time we finished recorded we had about 20-something songs to choose from.
Me: I noticed “The Dodo” was done in the Ithaca studios.
Baker: That was just a fancy word for Greg’s house.
Me: Ok, I have a question for you and I know it is relevent since, you were in the original seminole Dischord band. Why is Dischord’s stuff printed in France?
Baker: It’s because the albums; Dischord doesn’t make the albums themselves, they’re made through a guy named John Loder who runs Southern Studios out of London and John uses this French pressing plant because it is cheaper. So there is no Dischord pressing plant. It just gets shipped here from Europe. Just a production deal.
Me: That is sweet. You can get the new Fugazi for 12 bucks today which is nice. What do you think of the new Fugazi stuff? It’s pretty experimental almost.
Baker: I like it but I’m a sucker for the hits. I am a big “Repeater” fan. I like all of Fugazi’s stuff I’ll have to admit but the stuff that really kicks butt the most is when Ian is singing and it’s moving. I don’t like the spacy stuff as much just cause that’s not my taste in music.
Me: I think 13 songs is forever lodged in my cd player.
Baker: It’s really a great record. I wish all the records sounded like that. But I’m sure a lot of Bad Religion fans wish that all of Bad Religion’s stuff sounded like “Suffer” so I guess they understand.
Me: Hey, I got to ask you. What do you think of Bad Religion’s “Into the Unknown” material?
Baker: I’ve never heard it.
Me: I have it here. Do you have any desire to hear it?
Baker: Not really. I’ve heard a little piece of some bootleg cd a few years ago in somebody’s office once, but I’ve never really listened to it. I guess there is no danger of us ever playing it so I don’t need to listen to it.
Me: I think we should surprise Greg by putting it in the sound board before the show, freak him out.
Baker: Yeah, that might be kind of funny actually. Give that a shot, just make sure I’m not around when it’s played.
Me: If you have any say, try to get it rereleased cause it’s a groovy album.
Baker: I don’t know if it will ever be. I kind of like the fact that people think that you can’t find it. It’s mysterious.
Me: I tell you, it is kind of hard to find and there is such a high demand for it by Bad Religion fans. I have seen people selling it for 50 bucks a piece.
Baker: I’d rather see it in high demand.
Me: Well hey, it was an honour meeting you. Thanks a lot for your time and good luck with your future endeavors with the band that I worship.
Baker: You’re welcome. Thanks. Oh, bye the way, my email address is email@example.com. Email me!
Part III: Encounters with Bobby and Greg H
Admidst my quest to get those pertinent questions answered, I had a chance to beleaguer and belittle Bad Religion’s Bobby Schayer (on drums) and Greg Hetson (guitar).
I. A Chat with Bobby
Highlights of hanging out with Bobby included drinking Newfoundland Screech with him, him giving me a tour of his house (he filmed a tour of his house with his camcorder for those homesick days on the road) in Seattle. Hey Bobby, you got a great house! Here is the Q and A:
Me: Hey, hey, hey. It’s me, Mr. Orange County Keith here with Mr. Bobby Schayer and a guy named Screech. He’s from Newfoundland.
Me: You know what? You guys rock.
Bobby: Thank you.
Me: Basically I flew down to Vancouver from Edmonton just to see you guys.
Bobby: Oh really? Wow.
We started to talk about an Edmonton show (at a festival called Highwood ) that they were supposed to play but didn’t have a clue about until they were told after the show while touring Europe. The promoters used Bad Religion’s name to sell tickets and ended up ripping off a lot of kids in the process. Bobby was not too pleased to hear this.
Me: Bobby, what ever happened to Pete Finestone, Bad Religion’s predecessing drummer?
Bobby: Pete Finestone is now in a band called Fifi with Steve from the Angry Samoans and he also owns a boxing gym in Hollywood called the 5th Street Gym
Me: So how did you get this gig?
Bobby: Well, 1991 on the Against the Grain tour, Peter had just quit and the band was about to go on tour in Europe and what happened was Greg Hetson called me up and asked me to try out for the band. I showed up, played with them, they liked me and I got the job.
I went on to tell him who I was and how big of a fanatic I was (basically sucking up to the band). I then showed him some of the bootleg CD’s I had with me. He had never seen Stranger than Pulp Fiction or Radiation Hazard before and thought they were very cool.
Me: Hey, I heard it through the grapevine that you said in Chicago to somebody that after 20 years you are going to break up, retire.
Bobby: No, I said maybe after 20 years we will retire but lets hope we can make it there first. People always take things out of context.
Me: It was also supposedly said by you that the reason why you are not doing Lollapalooza this year is because of the Ramones. Is there anything behind this or any other reason why you aren’t doing Lollapalooza this year?
Bobby: No, it was just timing for one and we have other engagements to do at that time while Lollapalooza is going on. We are doing a lot of festival shows in Europe and we don’t have a lot of time to do it.
Somebody listening in: Not only that but I hear that Perry Farell does not drink enough Screech.
Bobby: That’s right. We can’t have that.
Me: The same can be said about the Warp Tour?
Bobby: Right. That was the rumor. Someone said that and I don’t know who is putting all these rumors out that we were playing all these festivals but someone got it wrong. I don’t know why someone was making it up. We were the last ones to find out. All of those, not true, not true. We are doing the Screech tour....Newfoundland!
Me: OK....Your second leg. Is there any possibility of you guys doing smaller cities such as Edmonton, Calgary, any Canada dates soon?
Bobby: Yeah, we will be doing all the colleges and “secondary” markets. Probably Rochester New York, Buffalo, St. Louis, Ann Arbour Michigan, you know.
Me: Have you thought about doing some more Canadian dates?
Bobby: Yeah, that’s the whole point. We just did Montreal, Toronto, and now Vancouver but hopefully we’ll come up to Edmonton, do Calgary probably, maybe do Saskatoon, you know. If it does happen probably in September.
Me: I’ll be there to see you guys.
Bobby: Well, I hope to see you there, definitely, great.
I went on to tell Bobby about the Bad Religion web page (http://r2d2.ucsd.edu/br) He was mighty impressed but told me that he doesn’t even have a computer yet.
Me: Now to hit a new topic. Do you guys ever do any covers? I noticed you guys used to do “Riding the Storm Out”
Bobby: Yeah but that was from just one show.
Me: One show?! Do you realize how many bootlegs of that song there are out there now? Wow.
Bobby: We attempted to do Tom Sawyer (by Rush) today during the sound check.
Me: I might as well ask you this question. Can you clarify this question for me Since there are a lot of fans out there that really need to know the answer A yes or no answer will be fine. Are you guys Sellouts?
Bobby: YES! But then again if we are sellouts because we signed to a major label then I guess the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, the Buzzcocks, the Clash, the Damned, the Jam, the Dictators, the MC5, the Stooges, the Stranglers, the Dickies..... I guess all of those bands were sellouts too.
Me: You realize that I am going to edit out all of that last part out because you said yes and that’s all that matters.
Bobby: What is a “sellout”? A great album by The Who. One of The Who’s best albums.
Me: Anything about a live album coming out maybe one of these days?
Bobby: There are so many bootlegs out there right now that basically what you got is what you get, but probably I’m sure we’ll probably have something soon.
I went on to show Bobby this special tape a friend of mine from Scotland made for me that had Into the Unknown, Hell on Earth 1984, the John Peel Sessions, the Generator demos, and some other rarities.
Bobby: Wow! Into the Unknown. Oh, it even has the Dodo and Universal Cynic. We did Universal Cynic, we tried to do that today during the sound check.
Me: I got the 7” record with that song on it. It has the hunter on the cover.
Bobby: That was actually what we were considering to use for the cover of “The Gray Race” album. We actually wanted to get a real picture of a deer and a guy in the middle of Times Square.
Me: But then you’d have a whole bunch of shit flying.
Me: So what do you think about Bad Religion’s “Into the Unknown” material?
Bobby: I heard it about ten years ago. I don’t think it’s as bad as many people make it out to be. I think for what it was out at the time, you know I think they had a lot of balls to do what they did so now it seems like it is one of the bands most seeked out records.
Me: Cool. Name some of the past bands you have been in.
Bobby: I used to be in a band called The Question, I used to be in a band called The Silly Joke Band Called Two Free Stooges (I could be wrong on this one), I used to be a roadie for the Dickies, I was in a band called the Screech band, ACDC, the Tammy Pon and the Monthly Cycle, the Montsanno Ride, the Feelies, the Tripes, the All-Out Underground, and the Smock Sessions.
Me: I made a video tape with all of your videos and Late Night Talk Show Appearances. I have everything except for the European video for “Punk Rock Song”. I guess it is getting a good buzz on Euro-MTV.
Bobby: Oh, I don’t know. You know I find out a lot of things when people tell me this stuff. What we do, it just happens. We make the video and they do what they want to do with it. You know whoever puts it out they do what they want to do with it. I just sit in the back and have the best seat in the house.
Me: Hey, I noticed you got your second of worldwide fame on The Late Show with David Letterman. “Hey look what the drummer can do!
Bobby: Right, Right! Yeah, you’ll have to send me a copy of that. I don’t even have it on tape. Yeah, that was funny. For us, it’s just cool the fact that you know. My attitude is, “Look, we’re going up there, probably making asses out of ourselves up there but we’re having a good time doing it and the whole idea of this is to just have fun, you know. We’re not trying to change the world. We might voice our opinion as to what we think is right or wrong but it’s up to you to use your own judgment.
Me: I will send that tape to you along with bunch of other cool stuff. Give me your address after the interview.
Bobby: OK, cool.
Me: You know I got a lot more questions here lined up but I will leave them for the intelligent one of the band. Just joking. You are the “quiet one” of the band.
Bobby: Yeah, I’m the quiet member, the George Harrison or Ringo of the band. I’m having a good time though. Come on join us for some Screech!
Me: Hey man, I got to thank you so much for your time. Take care and I will see you again soon.
Bobby: All the best!
II. A Chat With Greg Hetson
Me: Well, well, well, what do you know. Here I am sitting in a trailer with lots of food with Greg Hetson.
Hetson. Hey, why don’t you sit down? Want to sit down? I can stand.
Greg: OK, I’ll sit. Thank you.
Me: Cause I’m not worthy, and you are in the band dude. Anywise, I’ve got to ask you, what ever happened to your LA Kings this year? It looks like they suck now
Hetson: (stammers) And what team do you support?
Me: Edmonton Oilers
Hetson: The Oilers? Where are they? They’re golfing too so don’t give me any crap, OK?
Me: OK, they lost Gretzky, they got Kevin Stevens who isn’t doing jack-shit, What do they have?
Hetson: I’ll tell you right now who they got. I’ll tell you who saved your ass (team Canada) in the World championships, Yannick Pareault, LA King, OK? Canada would be out again of those damn World Championships.
Me: That guys have no defensive skills whatsoever!
Hetson: Well he sure saved your ass in the shoot-out, didn’t he? Huh there big boy?
Me: Hey, hey, I got to ask you, do you still play lots of video games?
Me: No? I know you used to like Blades of Steel.
Hetson: Yeah, I got addicted to that thing. I wouldn’t leave my house.
Me: Have you ever played NHL Hockey ‘96?
Hetson: Yes, I have the computer game but I can’t get it to run. I didn’t load it right or something. Anyway, it will be up and running pretty soon. I have played some of it at a friends place before. It is excellent.
Me: Do you go on the internet quite a bit?
Hetson: Yeah, when I’m home.
Me: Do you have an email address?
Hetson: Yeah, do you have my new Bad Religion email address? It’s firstname.lastname@example.org and I have a personal one at home that I use. I’ll give it to you later if you have any cool stuff to send.
Me: OK, now to some Bad Religion related questions. How come the Big Bang video isn’t available anywhere anymore?
Hetson: I don’t know. You’ll have to ask Brett there.
Me: You have played Edmonton before with the Circle Jerks in 1987. How was that, or do you even remember?
Hetson: Yeah, with 7 Seconds.
Me: What do you remember?
Hetson: It stayed light real late up there.
Me: Lets go back to the Circle Jerks. They are now no longer. Is that correct?
Hetson: That is correct.
Me: I saw a picture. Debbie Gibson singing with you guys. They flashed the picture everywhere. Rolling Stone, MTV, everywhere. What was up with that? Was the final straw pulled there?
Hetson: Oh, no. That was hilarious. You know, having Debbie Gibson singing in a punk band was ingenious. I thought it was really funny. No, she was dating the producer that did our album and that’s how we hooked up with her. She has a great sense of humor.
Me: Well, hey. I might as well ask you this. Bad Religion is a band not known for it’s covers. Any chance of ever playing “Riding the Storm Out” again?
Me: I noticed you guys did “Tom Sawyer” during the sound check today, by Rush.
Hetson: Yes, we did a really lame version of that today.
Me: You realize that it has already probably been bootlegged and is on the internet as we speak.
Hetson: Well that’s cool. We do some other stuff. We do a rousing version of “Problems” by the Sex Pistols on a bootleg that I have seen.
Me: You also did a Ramones song.
Hetson: Yeah, we did one for the “Gabba, Gabba, Hey” compilation. “We’re a Happy Family” was the song.
Me: Now to go to your roots. Back in the early 80’s did you guys have a lot of parental support? Brett starting up Epitaph, when you think about it, you do need some money to do that. Did you guys have that help?
Hetson: Yeah. I wasn’t in the band then but Brett’s dad lent some money for it I think. Hey, just wait one sec.
This is where my official conversation with Greg Hetson officially ended. I got distracted and started talking to Greg Graffin and left the mic with Greg Hetson, who managed to do a duet (singing “Don’t Want to be a Queen for a Day”) with Bobby Schayer. I’d have to say it was pretty funny. Expect that to be up in Real Audio in the near future.
Anyways, here are a few other things Mr. Hetson shared with us (in his moments with the microphone):
Hetson: Anders Skip Peterson. What’s it like being the guitar tech for Bad Religion?
Anders: Uhhhhhh.......Guitars? Uhhhhhhh.........Electronics, you know.......
Hetson: Get to the point.
Anders: Hey, it’s fucking great, it’s fucking great.
Hetson: Thank you. That’s enough.
Hetson: Mr. Chi Pig. Say something to me
Mr. Chi Pig (lead singer for SNFU): (In a singing voice) I-HATE-YOU! That’s my new band called the Daredevils. HATE-YOU!
Hetson: Thank you very much. So what’s this Screech stuff all about? Now we have some Screech here from Newfoundland. That would be very far out in Eastern Canada for all you people out there that don’t know. It’s about 197000 percent alcohol and we have some tips on how to make it.
RECIPE: A Muffled Screech, by Greg Hetson.
A muffled Screech would be one ounce of famous Newfoundland Screech, a quarter ounce of orange liqueur, two ounce of cream or milk. Thank you.
Part IV: Orange County Keith Harasses Greg W. Graffin
Prior to departing to Vancouver, I managed to culminate many assorted questions derived from myself not to mention many other Bad Religion fans out in there in the internet world. My first meeting with Greg came when I watched the big sound check prior to the big show that ended up seriously rocking my world. I hate to say this but the sound check made the show almost anti-climactic in nature (yes it was that great) Where else can you hear songs such as “The Universal Cynic”, and “Tom Sawyer” (originally by Rush) I found myself shouting out requests to Greg during the sound check, with him responding to me that they were all much too easy to play (“Riding the Storm Out”, “The Dodo”, “Markovian Process”)
I finally had a chance to talk with Greg in a trailer (backstage) while the two opening bands Unwritten Law and Dance Hall Crashers kicked the crowd’s ass. It did kind of suck that I missed both of the sets but hey, I had an agenda. Prior to the official taped interview, I had a chance to discuss with Greg the comments rendered by a disgruntled, upset Brett Gurewitz and showed him some of the email posts sent by TLStarbolt himself. Without further propagating any further discord, Greg laughed and dismissed the words of angst. If I may quote Greg, “He is insane.” Finally after getting that issue out of the way, I managed to finally get down to the nitty gritty and ask him many of those questions that many of us yearned for an answer. Here it goes......
Me: All right, here I am, in a room with Mr. Greg Graffin. Ya hey!
Greg: That would be me.
Me: It is an honor to meet you Mr. Graffin.
Greg: You already met me an hour ago, what are you talking about?
Me: Yeah, I have to get it on tape just to make it official.
Greg: Oh, OK.
Me: It’s not official if it’s not on tape for the record.
Greg: The honorary meeting then. Where are the trumpets? The horns?
Me: I would have, I just didn’t bring mine.
Greg: All right.
Me: Some quick questions for you, each ranging in different levels of intelligence. The neck brace in the “Struck a Nerve” video, was that for real or what?
Greg: No, that was just a silly prop. No metaphor intended.
Me: Cool. Now you guys are not doing Lollapalooza. I heard from sources that it was because of the Ramones.
Greg: That’s not true.
Me: Yeah, I know the Ramones among others are major influences in your music.
Greg: Totally. No, it wasn’t because of any bands. I’m pretty much of a fan of doing a tour with a title of a band touring. It kind of rubs me the wrong way when you got all these tours that have names. It takes the focus off of the band and puts it on some marketing entity. That’s the same thing I don’t like about independent boutique labels. It takes all the emphasis off of bands and puts it on the marketing entity. Why buy records because of what label it is on? It’s absurd to me.
Me: OK, I know you guys did a piece of work called “Punk Rock Song”. There’s a video out in Europe, and you do the song in German. Do you know German? I mean, you’ve toured there well enough.
Greg: Our tour manager’s German. He taught me everything I know. No, we’ve toured there for the last nine years and I’ve picked it up and it is a good language to know in Europe, but not as good as English cause still more people speak English. (really Greg!)
Me: I got to ask you, “Into the Unknown”, any chance of a re-release in the future? I know it is a very, very sought-out album, there’s a lot of people that want it and I just got it on tape. I guy from Scotland just sent it to me. Hey, I have to tell you, I like it.
Greg: I think most fans of Bad Religion would find it interesting and wouldn’t even hate it. It’s just that certain people are very insecure about it. I’m not insecure about it and can relate it to a learning experience when I was young.
Me: (DUMB QUESTION ALERT!) You know, that isn’t the last time I have heard synthesizer on your stuff. I’ve noticed the song .Parallel” has. Is that the “direction” you are going in?
Greg: Let me get this straight. Are you suggesting we used synthesizers on “Parallel”?
Me: It sure sounds like there is something. What is that?
Greg: No, that’s me actually playing guitar. That’s a slide with my finger on one string of the guitar, sliding. (laughs) That’s interesting that you thought that was synthesizer because it shows your lack of musical knowledge. I’m surprised.
Me: I can sing but I’m not known for my exquisite talent with the guitar.
Greg: (Laughs) That’s OK. Then you shouldn’t make such “sweeping” statements. Anyway, but to answer your allegation or whatever, we aren’t interested in using synthesizers.
Me: Sex Pistols tour. I heard that you guys expressed interest in touring with them.
Greg: No, they expressed interest in touring with us. We were not considering it and then all of a sudden we were given this offer. I kind of like the offer for Australia, so we might be going to Australia with them. But to be honest with you, I am not too interested in or excited about touring with any of those types of bands (Greg Hetson later further confirmed this to me as well).
Me: Well, your second leg. I heard from Bobby, Edmonton possibly? What are the chances of some other Canadian dates?
Greg: Winnipeg maybe, Edmonton maybe. Thunder Bay.
Me: I heard from Bobby that Newfoundland might be in the books.
Greg: He’s insane.
Me: Next question. I heard from Bobby, it was a joke, but there will become a time when the band will be no longer and so....... you’re going to be a professor or set up an institute?
Greg: I don’t know man. You assume that I have my life figured out. That’s a big mistake. I have no idea. I love teaching, I love being academic and I also love being a musician. Look, Bad Religion existed for so many years under the mainstream and even when punk goes away, we’ll still have our desire to provoke people.
Me: Right on. I also heard, jokingly that you will run for president if you get a petition from 50 states.
Greg: Well, I’ve announce in five different states, last night most recently in Oregon. If I can get on the ballot in 50 states, I will run.
Me: OK, to change the topic, your parents are both professors, is that true?
Greg: Yeah. I’ve visited him about a week ago at the University of Wisconsin but he’s got a couple of posters in his room. A lot of students go to him to get backstage passes when we play in Chicago.
Me: When you were TA’ing, did you have a lot of people approaching you at Cornell?
Greg: They approach me but people are very serious at Cornell and UCLA where I got my Masters and I taught mainly pre-medical students. They have to take this weed-out course in comparative anatomy and I TA’ed.
Me: To shift topics here, since I don’t have a lot of time I want to tell you that someone with a lot of time on their hands made a Bad Religion dictionary that is on the internet.
Greg: Oh, cool.
Me: They took all the some-what complex words from your songs, put them into context and defined them. Check the web page and you will see it.
Greg: That’s great. You know you could just get the words out of a regular dictionary and don’t have to.... (laughing)
Me: Some of us are just lazy but some guy compiled it. It’s a long list.
Greg: No, that’s nice. A kind gesture.
Me: OK, since I am pretty serious about this, I have to ask you some questions about your song writing. I noticed it has almost a Chomsky-Parenti tinge to it. In your song writing process do you read books or newspapers, get pissed off and then write a song? Is it from the heart or what?
Greg: No. Look, when I read, I’m reading. When I write, I’m writing. I draw on everyday experiences and of course our consciousness is shaped by what we read. I’ve read Noam Chomsky, I’ve interacted with him also.
Me: Yeah, the seven inch you have released.
Greg: And also, coming up we are trying to put together a dialogue that will be published hopefully in “The Nation” which is a magazine. You might not have heard of it. I don’t know if it comes up to Canada. But the fact is that Chomsky and I have a lot of ideas in common and I wasn’t even aware of him for many years until about the time of the Gulf War. So that’s when I became to know him and what he finds so appealing about us is that we have been saying similar things that he has been espousing in academic circles. We have been saying in the popular youth culture. So maybe he doesn’t have a way to reach those types of people likewise we don’t have a way through Bad Religion to reach the academic circles. But we do see eye to eye.
Me: I’ve tried to get that 7”. There’s a political science professor at my university that has it. He won’t give it up because of Noam Chomsky on it. Have you seen “Manufacturing Consent”?
Greg: Yes, and I’ve read five of his books in the last year. Hey kids, get smart and read Chomsky. Ones that he has sent to me. One of them is called “The Prosperous Few and the Restless Many” another is called “Corruption, Lies and Democracy.” One of them is called “Keeping the Rabble In Line”. There have been a number of them like that. Recently I downloaded some material lately. It was of the conservative takeover of congress, summarizing all of the different points that were involved, as most of his stories the truth behind the propaganda.
Me: I have noticed in some of your speeches during your show, you have said that you are a Democrat.
Greg: You know, I don’t even like to..... It’s not a good label. If I had to choose, I would choose, and I’m registered Democrat, I would always vote Democrat more than Republican. But I’m very disgusted with Democratic policies as well.
Me: OK, now going to your new album, “The Gray Race” which is of course out now. Is there anything recorded that is not out available? I know you have “The Universal Cynic” and “The Dodo” out. Is there anything else out there?
Greg: Not out there. I have a whole reel. You know that I have a home recording studio. I have reels and reels of stuff over the last six years that never saw the light of day and some things I call miscellaneous projects which are also crafted songs that are sitting on a shelf.
Me: They are in a vault, you are not going to touch them....
Greg: Ah, I don’t know.
Me: Would you be able to give a little thing for the Bad Religion page at all?
Greg: Yeah, I could give you a “snippet.”
Me: Aw for sure that would be great.
After this we discussed a few minor details. I got Greg to do a station ID for 88.5 FM CJSR, a web page ID for The Bad Religion Web Page (soon to be up in real audio). It was now minutes before the band’s scheduled time to play. I had to split. Before shaking hands I had time for one last question.......
Me: One last question. the “WATCH-O” theory. Tell for the listeners, what is watch-o?
Greg: Watch-o is a good sequay that I use in music. It always means “WATCH OUT”.
Me: And “Sitow”?
Greg: “Sitow” means “SIT DOWN”, because all of our audiences are always standing.
Me: Very cool. Thank you very much for your time here. It was an honor.
Greg: No, thank you.
Hey, check out the AFTERMATH part for the Vancouver set list, more pertinent information, funny facts, quotes and the giveaway (coming soon). email@example.com. Here is how you would write to Greg Graffin
Part V: The Aftermath and Other Cool Stuff
Whoa, I finally made it here. Sorry about any inconvienience this may have caused all you net-cruiser/ Bad Religion freaks. By the time you have read this, all the guys have read this and are liking it. Bobby, Greg Hetson and Greg Graffin all email with "nice" comments. Anyway here are some other interesting things you might want to know (aside from all of the facts and information contained within the interviews)
- A live album is not in the books for at least a while. The fact is, live recording is being done for b-sides of albums and possible use further down the road.
- Bobby plays with his Zildjian Session Master drumsticks upside down (hitting the heads with the butt end. He also "chops" his drumsticks for extra grip (looking like scales)
- Bobby's favorate drink is Newfoundland Screech.
- Greg Hetson's favorate type of beer is Extra Old Stock (Carling O'Keefe) I think. I could be wrong but many of those were consumed on a couple notible occasions (Right Greg?!)
- Greg Hetson's favorate Vancouver destination must be 1010 Seymour. (Right Greg?!)
- It is rumored that Wade from Unwritten Law has been known to shit on Bad Religion's huge tour busses from time to time.
- Bad Religion had great backstage caterers in Vancouver.
- More pictures will soon be scanned and some real audio of the interviews will be up in time, so WATCH-O!
- Greg Graffin likes my camera. Too bad I am an idiot. I took all of the Bad Religion pictures with 100 speed film. If you know anything about film, you will understand that that was quite a mistake. Mnay a picture was blurred.
- Greg Hetson, in his spare time, plans on doing some producing for some local So-Cal punk bands. Doh! I forgot the names of the bands.
- Look forward to a www.badreligion.com very soon in the near future, authored by Greg Graffin himself, from what I understand.The page will allow people to order Bad Religion merchandise. Hey, if I can learn HTML, anyone can.
- The Bad Religion Web Page is considered to be the band's sentimental favorate Bad R web page and is considered the "unofficial official Bad Religion web page" due to all of the legal shit out there. You dig?
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