|Category:||Interview - Internet||Publish date:||7/14/2004|
by Dan McNeese
arbiteronline.com, July 14, 2004
The two biggest events this past month, entertainment-wise, were probably Michael Moore’s highly controversial and overwhelmingly successful “Fahrenheit 911,” and the Vans Warped Tour. The latter, now in its tenth year of touring punk rockers and skateboarders, storms its way into the Idaho Center with mixed political views. Ranging from social and global politics to the state of the nation and the state of punk rock, everyone had an opinion that somehow worked around Moore’s film. With a heightened awareness of current events, the underlying theme for this summers’ Warped Tour was anything from what it was once dubbed by the Statesman: Today’s Totally Warped Youth. The masses had a voice, however independent or equally represented. Most views leaned toward the left, but the message was clear: Get Aware, Get Involved, and Go Vote. On their down time, I sat with some of the performers at this years’ Warped Tour to get their opinion on things. I owe a special shout-out to Atmosphere, The Bouncing Souls, The Casualties and Taking Back Sunday, whose interviews didn’t make the cut.
JAY BENTLEY OF BAD RELIGION
Like the Vandals and NOFX, Bad Religion have been punk rock icons long before the Warped Tour even started ten years ago. Always with a social or political topic, Bad Religion has had an underground voice and mind frame that few can compete with. Going on their 24th year as a band, I caught up with Bassist Jay Bentley for his take on ever-growing issues.
DM: What did you think of “Fahrenheit 911?”
JB: We’ve been touring so much I haven’t had a chance to see it. [Greg] Graffin saw it though the other day.
DM: What did he think of it?
JB: He says what everyone else says, that it will change your opinion of Bush. I laughed and said, “No, it won’t change my opinion of Bush because my opinion of him is already pretty bad.” He said, “Well it will put him in a new light.” I said, “I don’t think so, because on one hand you have him as a clowny character being controlled by Cheney, Wolfawitz and Ashcroft and all these old hogs. On the other hand I think of him as an actual evil human being who couldn’t give a flying fuck about anyone who doesn’t give him money.”
DM: Bad Religion has always been on some political level whether it be government or social. How does your new album emulate your past records?
JB: We haven’t been as political in the sense of national politics. More so on being socially political, like what does it feel like to be a human on the planet in 1982? 1994? 1981? 2000?
2004? We always talk about what it’s like to be a person. This new record we talk about America and what it’ s like to be thought of as a bully, do we really want to be an empire that goes around and beats up small countries?
DM: So you think other countries think of us as Bullies?
JB: As a person who tours around the world? Absolutely, I don’t think they think that I know they think that. They tell me that to my face.
DM: How does that make you feel?
JB: Fine. The first time we went to Europe in ’88 a German came up to me and said that he loved my band but hated me. I asked him why and he said because I was American. I can understand that. I live there, I get his meaning.
DM: So are you proud to be an American or shameful?
JB: I’m not proud or ashamed. That’s a view that gets you into a nationalistic bubble. We have a lot of things we can offer the world and I think most Americans are compassionate people, I really do believe that. I don’t think the American people are a bunch of neo-conservative fascists that think that any one who doesn’t agree with them is some atheist liberal kook that wants to destroy the fabric of this country. Everyone needs to remember how
this country was founded. It was because a bunch of liberal atheist kooks were persecuted for their religious beliefs. Now you have George Bush saying, “I’m doing Gods work” with Christian fundamentalists. Where are we right now?
DM: So do think questioning the Government is unpatriotic?
JB: No! I think it’s the most patriotic thing you can do. But if you do that, all the sudden you’re labeled as a terrorist, which is just great. They say there is a war on terrorism, but
until I see battle ships pulling into Northern Ireland, there is only a war with the Middle East. Every one thinks they are the only terrorists. Terrorism has been around a long time. Look at Timothy McVeigh, what was he?
DM: A terrorist.
JB: A Fucking Terrorist! Like when the news yesterday said they weren’t raising the terror alert but there was an “immanent terrorist strike based on unsubstantiated information,” I can do that. They say shit like it could be a terrorist or it could be a kid on a tricycle, we don’t know. Then when nothing happens they take credit for doing their jobs. It’s like they’re duct tapping plastic wrap over our mouths and telling us to breathe.
DM: So do think terrorism has a lot to do with media bias creating fear?
JB: That’s what our new song “Los Angeles Is Burning,” is about. Yeah. It’s about the media making a bigger deal over lame issues than they should. They’re trying to get people to tune in by scaring the shit out of them. It’s all about ratings. Like the O.J. trial. No one gives a shit about that now. TV isn’t here and now. TV is 12 hours ago. They make it seem like you have to tune in now by making a big deal to tell you it’s “live.” Big deal.
DM: So what would be their lowest common denominator?
JB: I think their lowest common denominator is power. TV stations pick what kind of shows and editorials they’re going to run and that’s scary.
DM: So do think the media is liberal or conservative?
JB: I used to think the media was entertainment. It didn’t matter. Unless it was a Stanley Cup Final it wasn’t real. If you think about it, the only thing that is real is sports events. Every show has some hidden agenda. When you hear Big Mac-eating people say Saddam Hussein really did fly those planes into the World Trade Center you realize how powerful that agenda is.
DM: What can you – Jay Bentley – do about terrorism?
English transcript updated: Bad Religion, the ‘McCartney and Lennon of punk,’ to make Spokane debut
Interview added: Bad Religion, the ‘McCartney and Lennon of punk,’ to make Spokane debut
German transcript updated: Gähnend in die Punker-Rente
English transcript updated: Bad Religion Reflect on 40 Years Together
Article image(s) added: Hartbeat #10
Article added: Hartbeat #10
German transcript added: Age of Unreason
Review added: Age of Unreason
English transcript added: The Genius Of... The Process Of Belief By Bad Religion
Review added: The Genius Of... The Process Of Belief By Bad Religion
English transcript updated: Bad Religion: Il Mito Hardcore
Article image(s) added: Metal Hammer February 2002