|Category:||Interview - Internet||Publish date:||10/4/2010|
Bad Religion star rocks music biz
by Darryl Sterdan
calgarysun.com, October 4, 2010
After 30 years together, there isn't much dissent among the men of Bad Religion.
"When we get together, we all seem to get along really great," says Brett Gurewitz of the L.A. punk pioneers. "We've all fallen into our natural roles."
If you ask the 48-year-old guitarist and co-founder, he's got the best gig of all. While he's still one of the band's primary songwriters along with singer Greg Graffin, he has long since given up the endless grind of touring. Instead of riding a tour bus he rides a desk, spending his days at the helm of respected music label Epitaph, which he founded to release BR's first EP back in 1981 and which now includes subsidiaries like Anti- and Hellcat.
With both endeavours still going strong after 30 years -- Bad Religion just released their 15th album The Dissent of Man on (duh) Epitaph, while Gurewitz now commands a staff of several dozen and recently added Weezer to his eclectic roster of punk and indie acts -- Mr. Brett, as he's long been known, made some time in his schedule to talk business, give props to Herb Alpert and reflect on 30 years of Bad Religion.
What's a typical day for you?
You're gonna laugh. But a typical day is I wake up super-early, like 5:30 a.m. I work out -- either cycling, which I try to do 100 miles a week, or some other kind of resistance training. I get into work between 8 and 9 a.m. I spend about eight hours at Epitaph. I negotiate deals, I listen to music, I sign bands, I take meetings. Typical business stuff. Then I go home and give my one-year-old daughter a bath and dinner -- not in that order -- tuck her in, put her to bed, and if I'm lucky, watch a TV show with my wife before bed.
If you remove punk rock from the equation, you're an average suburban dad.
Yeah. And aside from when I'm writing a record or producing a record every few years, you can completely remove punk rock from the equation. There's no punk rock in my life anymore.
I can't think of anybody else who runs a label full-time and still makes albums.
You know who used to do it, in a different generation, and did it very well? The great Herb Alpert. He ran A&M, and every once in a while he'd have a record out. I'm not putting myself in his class, because he's truly a great musician. But he was someone I looked up to, and a role model. He managed to always have integrity in his art and be a businessman.
How does owning the label and not touring colour your relationship with the band?
I guess there are opportunities for resentment. I've got the easy job; I get to make the record and sit home while everybody goes out and does the hard work of touring. Although the guys never say anything like that to me. But if I were them, I would get a little irked by that. But I also think the band appreciate they have a home in Epitaph and that's largely because I'm ensuring that. A lot of bands in our situation wouldn't have as secure a home. So it's a double-edged sword.
After 30 years, are you in a comfortable groove?
Well, in terms of my involvement, I can't be in a groove anymore because I do it in fits and starts. Every two years or so, the guys say, 'It would be nice to have a new record,' and I start writing. And I sort of have to relearn how to write a record, because honestly, other than playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star for my daughter, I don't play guitar. So it's like reinventing myself every time. And has been for the last five records. So I'm not in a groove, but I'm also not in a rut. I'm always relearning my craft.
How is Epitaph faring in the new landscape of the music industry?
We're pretty stable, even growing a little bit. But just a little bit. It seems we have to work three times as hard just to stay in the same place. But we're fighting the good fight. We believe in music. We believe in musicians and artists and records, and we love doing this stuff. And I think there's a light at the end of the tunnel, but I'm not sure what it looks like.
What does signing a hugely commercial band like Weezer mean for the label?
That remains to be seen. In three to five years, I'll let you know. Will this be an event that gives other artists comfort in coming to us, and sort of changes the playing field? I hope so. And it looks like the record is going to do quite well. So it might very well be pivotal. It could be the watershed moment for my company. It's certainly the biggest signing I've ever done.
Over the years, you must have been offered big bucks to sell the label. Were you never tempted?
Yeah, I've been tempted. But I just didn't do it. I thought I was going to make more money by not selling it. I was wrong. (Laughs)
So it wasn't about principles?
Hell no, this is business. I'm not a f---ing idealist. I like capitalism.
Interview image(s) added: Diplomatic Defense
Interview added: Diplomatic Defense
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