|Category:||Interview - Internet||Publish date:||5/1/2004|
Bad Religion - Interview with Jay
by Paul Buckley
altmusic.net, May 2004
Bad Religion played their second show in Ireland on the 11th of May, a few hours prior to the show, I caught up with Jay Bentley, the bassist for a talk about the internet, Winnebagos, chess timers and the pronunciation of the word “nuclear”. It’s a nice… if disturbing insight into the mind of a bass player. Enjoy
How’s the tour been going so far?
Okay, um we haven’t played together since August of last year, we made the record, but that doesn’t really count because it’s not really us playing together, it’s a bit different. Making a record is kind of, learning the songs; me playing with Brooks, Brian playing the guitar, Graffin singing, me Brett and Graffin doing the backup vocals, but we don’t really ever do it together.
I guess you could just do it over the internet
Theoretically we could’ve all done it at home but it doesn’t work out that well when you want that instant feedback. But it’s completely feasible to do it like that… maybe next time. Straight over the message board.
It’ll maybe leak slightly earlier next year then
Haha, yeah perhaps.
How do you feel about the album being leaked prior to release again?
Could you expect it not to be? Wouldn’t that be weird, if you actually believe it wouldn’t get leaked?
It comes out on the 8th [of June] doesn’t it?
Yeah it comes out on the 8th, and it came out… I don't know, Graffin and Brett went on that European press tour and they sent out maybe… 150 copies to press in Europe and within a couple of days… Well, really the first thing I heard of it being on the internet was that Brett played those three songs at a radio station, and somebody taped those three songs and transferred them to mp3. I mean imagine the work, and then once that happened, it just seemed like somebody said “Well fuck it, I’m putting the whole album out there” and it was done. I guess it’s to be expected.
Do you think it will affect sales?
You know what, I thought about that a lot and I thought, for a band of our size, because we’re not… we’re not too small and we’re not too big, we’re right in the middle. So realistically it could really hurt a band like us, like more people could download it and go “Oh I’m not that into it, I’m not gonna buy it” or more people could download it and go “Wow, I’ve never heard of these guys” and then go and buy it. I wonder how many downloads people like Pink get, because they just want the single, they just want to have that song and they don’t want to go buy the record. It’s so hard to say, for every one person that downloads it and says they don’t want it, maybe two people download it and say they do. There are no long term studies, so who the hell knows? It can work both ways. So for that, what you have to actually accept is just a fact. You just have to accept it, you can’t cry and piss and moan because, fuck it, quit. Don’t make records any more.
Have you seen that article about the RIAA claiming their music was boring, so they’re slowing down the lawsuits?
Yeah, they were suing everyone. It’s like trying to sue people for calling on the phone, it’s just a prevalent part of every day life is the internet, and the information that travels back and forth. So there you go, that’s what life is now. So either get over it, or fuck off. We’re just gonna start making records for the internet, and they’ll be really bad. Download only makes puking sound. Then it’d just be some kind of blown out digital hell. Honestly, I think the biggest thing, what scares me about all that is that as people get more computer savvy, I think there’s gonna be a lot of people putting songs out for downloading that are going to be… kind of wormy. My wife Michaela, she says, “why do people do that?” I tell her “that’s their job… that’s what they do, their job is to be a 1337 |-|4><0|2 (for those of you unfamiliar with the term, it’s a “leet haxor”… the history stemming in gaming nerds, “leet” meaning “elite”, “haxor” meaning “hacker”. At this point, internet nerdiness [especially in the Bad Religion message board] tends to be a bonus).
I guess we’d better get back to the core of this interview though. What do you like the most about going on tour?
(long pause) Uh… what do I like most about touring? Being with my friends. Playing is fun, but I would play the same show, Vancouver, Dublin, Florida, I don’t mean that I’m bored, but for me, it’s like when I play, it’s just something you do at 100% and it doesn’t matter how many people are there, or what city you’re in, you just lose your mind. I can’t help it, so really I don’t get to see the guys when I go home. But when I come on tour I get to see them, so it works out pretty well. By the end of this year I’m gonna hate them all, thinking “I’m gonna have to get the hell away from these guys”. Then I’ll go home, and I’ll be there for a while, and Michaela will say “You’ve got to go out on tour, you’ve got to get out of here”. So then I go back out on tour, it’s a good balance.
I guess it’s hard to complain about that.
I hear people complaining about touring and you just start laughing at them: “You fucking baby” Jesus, how could you ever complain about this? I mean I’ve been on tours really early on, five or six guys in a van, maybe 35 cents between the five. Two or three days without eating, crying. Eighteen, nineteen years old, crying by the side of the road because you’re so hungry, but at the same time… let’s just go to the next town, maybe there’ll be food there. It’s just such a cool thing to do, and then it’s weird, it seems like the more popular you get and the more stuff you get, the more you start complaining. I watch it happen in my own band, I see these guys “this beer’s not cold!” Fuck, I can remember a time when there was no beer. No anything. I think that you should not be allowed to be complaining about touring. If you do, you should have your instruments taken away. There should be some kind of musical police that says “sorry, we’re gonna have to take your stuff, for a year, you can’t tour any more, you can’t even make records. You’re not allowed to make music, you’re complaining too much”.
Hell, the way the administration is going, I’m sure we can expect it fairly soon.
It’s coming. Then they’ll send all the musicians to the Middle East. “You guys go over there ant take care of things, we don’t know what the hell we’re doing”.
There’s more of a political lean on this new record, it’s more forward than the other albums were.
Yeah, other than the Gulf war, the first Gulf war, when we did the Maximum Rock N Roll single, and we did it right as that happened, and we were just as appalled and outraged then. I mean this is a hundred times worse than what happened in ’91. This is a hundred times worse. This is unbelievable, unprecedented. This is just attacking countries, it’s just deciding “We’re not really happy with that guy, so let’s go attack that country.” I mean that’s insane, it hasn’t happened in a long time, that a superpower just attacked a small country because it wasn’t happy with their dictator. What about Cuba? Those fuckers didn’t attack Cuba. I’ve said this before, and my favourite quote is “This is a war on terror”. I don’t see the ships pulling into Northern Ireland. So fuck off. It’s not a war on terror, it’s a war on the middle east. Admit it for what it is, stop lying about it and using some kind of shadow war as a meaning for your… Bush is the biggest baffoon. He’s being used by Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz. Those guys have had this planned since fucking… Reagan. “We’ve got to get in there”. They had his dad, and he said “This is fucked, I can’t do this.” So he backed out, and now the kid’s in there, and he’s just a fuckin’ monkey, he’s basically saying “Yeah, whatever these guys say, I’m backing them all the way.” Rumsfeld should be out on his ass for all this photo shit, because it would appease the world. The buck stops with Rumsfeld. But instead Bush is saying “No, I support him 100%, he’s doing a fabulous job”. And you start realising, he’s not in control… they are. If I were a boss, I would say “You’re so fired, you and everyone you know are fired. I’m taking your cell phone, and every name I find in it, they’re fired”. But no. So that gives you an idea into how angry and frustrated we are as people, so we made this record and it’s the only thing you can think to do and you start making this record about what’s going on. People are saying “oh, this is kind of a political record” and we’re like “Oh yeah, we don’t make them unless America does something stupid”.
That’s debatable, America seems to be doing something stupid every day.
I don’ think that we make too many political statements, we’re kind of a socio-political band where we look at how human beings interact with one another, but there’s not necessarily too much of it focused on one specific entity. I mean there’s a few Operation Rescues and things like that. But overall we’re kind of vague. You wouldn’t know if we were talking about Germany, Canada. People tend to act the same way everywhere. Even on this record, most of it is about that, but there are a couple of different ones. And then there’s the title. I’ve been doing interviews in the States and people say to me “Um… what does the title mean?” So I say “let me clarify, it’s a parody on the Star Wars title… because we just attacked another country”. They just don’t get it at all. People in the US don’t get it, some of them are saying “Woo, yeah”, and I say “Really, you’re ‘woo yeah’ing this? Do you realise outside of the country, everyone on the planet just thinks that you’re a piece of shit?” “Really? Why?”
Or “Outside the country?”
Yeah, they don’t even think about it. It’s so fucking weird in America. Canada is an ice cube is an ice cube on the top of the world, Mexico is… a salsa dip below them. Europe… it’s so quaint and cute, Europe is cute. Even Rumsfeld said it. That’s old Europe. When Germany and France weren’t participating. We’re talking new Europe here. “Really… countries that don’t exist? Botswania”… dicks. I hate them.
Luckily, I’m on the border of Europe.
I feel sort of bad for the UK because they got sucked into it and, well you can’t come out and say “Blair’s a fucking tool, but he got used”. Everybody got used. Any logical human being after Colin Powell’s U.N shit and everything else, they came out and said “This is exactly what’s happening, they’re making nuclear weapons on milk trucks, there are portable Winnebagos making death rays. Everyone basically said “I guess we’d better get that stuff out of there”.
Then afterwards, they basically said “Oh… oops, sorry”
After about a month you’re going “Where’s the death rays? What happened?” Six months… “Where’s the death rays??” Then after about a year it’s more like “There’s no death rays!” Everybody got fucked on that one. So you can feel kind of bad, you know now for a fact what’s happening. I think Spain did the right thing. They just said, “Right, fuck you people.” And they just got out. I liked that, they basically just said “Fuck you, you’re full of shit”.
They got the short end of the stick a little while ago with those bombs mind you.
Well yeah, when the WTC incident happened, the “9-11 Terror Attack”, I said “Welcome to the rest of the world, this happens daily everywhere else, it just never happens here.” Except when it happened in Oklahoma City and then they thought “Terrorist attack!?” and it was an American and they said, “Oh, he’s a crazy guy, ssh, he’s just a crazy loner blowing up FBI buildings.” Fuck. They’re so backwards and so out of touch with living on this blue marble in the year 2004. They’re just out of it completely, and willing to be told anything. A guy that can’t even say the word “nuclear”. My kids laugh every time he says “Nucular”. My kids howl and shout “Nuclear, IDIOT!” The kid’s ten.
It’s a sorry state of affairs all in all.
It’s pretty bad right now, but you know, it will resolve itself and I don’ think it will in my lifetime, but it will resolve itself and the world will be a better place for it, because lessons will be learned. You have to look at it that way. It’s fucked and wrong, well you know, I shouldn’t say that. You HOPE that lessons will be learned and the world will be a better place for it because I can tell you, living in a place where the native population was completely eradicated. You would think that everyone who lives there now would be so apologetic and they’d rather just kick them and say “fuck you, go back to your little rock in the desert”. You couldn’t be less sympathetic. So maybe they ARE unwilling to learn, and maybe they ARE the spawn of Satan. Maybe America really is that. Exactly what they say it is. Maybe those fundamentalists aren’t wrong and America is just an evil pile of shit.
Or, as in most cases, the scum rises to the top.
Realistically, who wants the job? Who would want the job and that responsibility?
Sorry, I think I just spun you off on a tangent.
Haha, don’t worry, it’s all we talk about. Baker and I, we were talking about what we do on the tour. We just get hammered every day and scream about this for hours.
Some people are spinning the line that it happened last year, and that it’s done and dusted.
The point is that, we’re supposed to be further along on an evolutionary scale, we should be growing exponentially with our morality. World War II should have taught everyone lessons, that it’s not at all okay to do that. It just seems like, in 50 years people seem to forget. It’s not even that, the people that remember it are all dying, so it’s a whole new group of people being brought up that don’t give a fuck. “Who cares, that’s the past”. So you’re condemned to repeat it.
It’s not the greatest of times.
Nah, far from it. Damn people. It’s a bit like why people don’t go out and don’t socialise any more. It’s just easier not to deal with people.
I can agree with that, being an antisocial bastard.
You never know who you’re going to run into, it’s not like you go out and you see people, and they say “hi” to you or anything. The odds of being punched are the odds of a stranger saying “hi” to you. That’s pretty fucked up, “I’m not going out there, somebody might hit me.” “Why would they hit you?” “I don’t know.” “Why would you say ‘hi’ to someone?” “I don’t know, this freak said ‘hi’ to me today, so I hit him.” You just can’t win, and it’s so weird.
You’ve got to wonder what motivates them.
I don’t know. That’s why we’re here, we ask the question “What motivates you?”.
Unfortunately, it seems to be the people who hear the message are those who already knew it.
It’s strange, we’ll try to be the fist people to leave the planet and live in space. “We’re leaving, we’ve had enough” We’ll get ourselves some Death Ray Winnebagos and drive to Mars.
That sounds a damn sight better than staying here. I guess we’d better really get back on to the record. The musical contribution would have been…mainly Greg and Brett writing the songs, but have you, as the rest of the band had much input towards it?
Well me and Brian and Brooks all went to Brett’s for about a week. We camped out in his basement and wrote ideas, we did all this stuff together and then laughed. And from the hours of stuff on tape, whatever Brett got inspired by, he built songs around all these little things. Some of the stuff was done with the guys from Hot Water Music, some was done with us, some was done with Atticus; the programmer for Trent Reznor. He really picked a lot of ideas from a lot of different places, and when Brett finally had five or six really complete songs -as close to complete as they were for him- that was kind of when Greg heard them and said “I’ve got to go back to work”. So there were his songs, and that’s when the album started to take place. We were talking to Brett a week ago about song writing credits, and he said, “here’s how I’m going to break down the song writing credits”. Then he said something, I didn’t really care or listen much, but basically he said, “I’m gonna have it written by you, and by Brooks and this guy and that guy”.
Are we going to have the names of who wrote the songs on the album itself?
No, I don’t think so.
There was a lot of debate about the Process of Belief album because they were so used to seeing the credits.
I think that was part of the deal that Greg wanted coming back on to Epitaph. To feel that his song writing contribution would be as important to Epitaph as Brett’s which is hard because Brett owns Epitaph. It gets kind of… politically “swirly”. So they came to an agreement, as far as song writing mechanical royalties went, “Written by Greg and Brett”, so they just split the song writing down the middle. So now there’s no worry about it, so if one song becomes a hit, it wouldn’t matter who wrote what, but in order to do that, you can’t say “This song written by Greg, this song written by Brett”. It’s the same on this record, it won’t say who wrote what.
Have you got any side projects?
I told myself that right now, when I’m in this band, when I’m not playing, I want to be at home, that’s important to me. Trying to get into another band or starting another project would take me away from that. What I told myself I would do is I would start a side project with Michaela. That’s something that I’m doing, but I would never put it out, or tour with it, it’s just for fun, and Miles has been playing the drums now for a couple of years, so it’s a little family band that we just play in and goof around. It’s really funny. It’s fine for me, to keep playing music when I’m not in Bad Religion and I don’t have to go away from my family.
It’ll end up getting leaked on to the internet somehow.
Haha, I don’t record it.
- At this point a guy bearing a large bag comes by, and Jay directs him to the communications room –
We left him in Denmark. He left his passport on the bus, and the bus went off. We were getting on a plane the next day, and he realised where his passport was. We said, “See you later”.
What kind people you are
Oh, we’re lovely, we did it to Brett in ’93. When he left his Chess timer outside the US embassy and they thought it was a bomb. That’s a true story. He left his passport on the bus, and we basically just left him there to play a show in Amsterdam.
---- I ran out of tape at this point, hence the lack of any closing remarks.
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