A (hopefully) complete overview of Bad Religion tours can be found here.
High school and Greg's summers in Wisconsin with his father made touring next to impossible during Bad Religion's first years Greg Graffin: “We got some initial popularity in the L.A. punk scene and then right when it was time to go on tour I had to go back to Wisconsin. Our whole early history is plagued by not going on tour. I think it ended up helping us in the long run because it created this hunger.” Even after the release of How Could Hell Be Any Worse? touring was still impossible.
It was between 1984 and 1986, that for the first time, Bad Religion started branching out of Southern California. Phoenix, Tuscon, Las Vegas, Reno, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and San Bernadino all became part of the band's touring circuit. In truth though, the tours were short and far between, as Graffin spent his summers in Wisconsin, as he'd done since moving to California, and the school year in the classroom.
It wasn't until December 1986 that Bad Religion went on their first ten-day east coast tour.
Jay: "It was freezing. We were driving around in a VW van with broken windows, it was really bad."
Pete Finestone missed this historic trip entirely, as he was back in England. Instead, Lucky Lehrer filled in and froze with the rest of the band.
At the end of their first full North American (Suffer) tour in 1988, Bad Religion had lost $2000.
Jay: "We did the math--1,000 people times $10 a head, and between us we made $1000. So we said, 'Well this is fucked, we're getting the shitty end of the stick here,' and then we became the assholes we are now. But in 1989, we still all had jobs, this was just a hobby gone haywire. You have to learn things, but the only way is to go out and get ripped off for six years. You have to know a little bit about the economics, or you're eating shit every night."
Then a promoter called and asked if Bad Religion would like to come play in Germany. Jay's response was, "Are you fucking kidding me, man? We just lost money in America, do you think we're going to fly halfway round the world to get our asses kicked, and not even speak the language?' But we went, and it was amazing. It was truly phenomenal how well the band was accepted there."
And so Bad Religion focused on Europe, playing there in 1989, 1990, and 1991.
[To be continued...]