Fifteen minutes with Jay Bentley from Bad Religion
Onozine/Buzz Gneerator, December 10, 2004
“What I liked about punk rock was at first it was a fashionable alternative to mainstream rock & roll, but that’s 1977 when Jonny Rotten said fuck four times in one song, that was just the best. What I found about punks is they were a collective of like minded individuals who felt estranged from the modern world and maybe this pursuit of happiness wasn’t really for us.
There were individuals who questioned politics and religion. When I was 14 that seemed to strike a chord with me. I learned early on that people who were older than myself were liars. (laughs). I figured that if I was going to discover the truth, it was going to be on my own. The people that I met in the punk rock scene all felt the same way so we got to ask questions, we never got really good answers, but at least we were asking, we were satisfied with that pursuit.
I think mainstream punk rock talks about how your girlfriend hurt your feelings. There are some bands out there – Anti Flag for example - that is, in my opinion a true punk rock band that is railing against the system. On the other hand, if you look at a band like NOFX and think of them as funny…Fat Mike puts his money where his mouth is and steps up to the plate and talks about some very serious politics. That is very admirable. I see a lot of bands that don’t want to talk politics and stick there head out too far because maybe their management or record label tells them not to. We are the ones that are supposed to be out there with our fingers up, we want something new.
Politics are a slippery slope. There are no just and true politicians. If you are a career politician, you are a lair, a thief, and a criminal. That’s your job, the goal is to not get caught. In the voting scenario we’re asking people to look at the current administration, the current sitting house senate, and the president and realize that in 50 years there hasn’t been a republican ownership of DC, it’s all republicans doing what they want at will. In that scenario, putting a democrat in office sounds fairly reasonable. It’s called a check and balance.
Different parties have different answers. We are, in my opinion, living in this Charlton Heston nightmare that if it went one step further, the KKK would march right into DC and say ‘we’re taking over’.
I am not a fan of Michael Moore, I don’t read Bush bashing books cause that’s the latest craze. I thought it was funny when he choked on a pretzel, I felt the empathy of the world after 9-11, and I feel the shame of being an American preemptively striking Iraq for no reason. Having an administration that is run by no more than 10 men who’ve been around since Nixon waiting for the right baffoon to be in office…well they are getting exactly what they want and I would not be surprised if GW Bush said ‘I don’t care if I win or not, I got what I wanted,’ it’s very scary.
The world is in an uproar about Martha Stewarts insider trading, Kenneth Star spent 100’s of millions of dollars prosecuting Bill Clinton for having sex…who’s doing anything about what is happening now? No one. There are no democratic majorities to say anything, that is not the kind of politics I am a fan of. I would like that to change and I don’t think that is going to change by putting Ralph Nader in office.
[In regards to Rock The Vote and punkvoter.com, is the message getting through?]
I think so. My fear is that after being on this tour for over a month now, I’m finding that while there are apparently 100,000 people who have this same idea that this is a bad president, a bad administration, and a bad time politically that could be rectified, I am finding that there is a sense of apathy coming from the 18-25 year olds thinking that everyone else sees this and someone else will fix the problem. [They think] they don’t need to go vote because a lot of other people feel the same way. We’re all feeling the pressure and that scares me more than anything else, that everyone will sit around on election day watching television, waiting to see Kerry rise in the poles then surprise, surprise, the electoral votes, once again, go to Bush.
There are a lot of things that cause me concern, not the least of which is electronic voting, I really believe that if, en mass, everyone takes their small worthless pebble to the poles, we’ll have a giant mountain that no one can deny. They can’t say it was close.
People ask’ what can I do?’ Go rent an 18-passenger van and pick your friends up and go vote, then go have pizza and beer, make a party out of it, then go back and really feel that you have done something for yourself. People get lost in the voting thing with out knowing that it is for them. I said it on stage today, go register and vote, it takes two minutes, if you don’t then you get what you deserve.
My philosophy is that it’s not the candidate, it’s they party. Kerry is the same skull and cross bones graduate as GW, nothing makes him a more upright and just human being. There are [a lot] of people that would make a better president, but getting people in Ohio to vote for that person is ludicrous. The way the mind seems to work is “McNugget, McNews, McPresident” in that order.
I’d like to see the country divided in two. There are too many separate concerns, the coasts, the Midwest…I think of our president as a figurehead. Ronald Regan was a great communicator. Warren Beatty could be president. I think people think the president thinks of all these great things, he doesn’t, he’s told them. That is a fact.
I don’t think a normal human being would want the job. I think that the problem is that someone with compassion and empathy would make a good president, but that gets us on a religious path and there you have a problem. We can’t have a religious state.
[Regarding the gay marriage ban] I get this feeling that people always know what’s best for someone else. If they would just mind their own business…we don’t need to be told morals. If you are 40 and you still have not figured that out then some one along the line has done you a great disservice, it’s not rocket science. There are a lot of us on this planet, if you can’t step back and see that…you need to get over it.
[I believe] there is goodness. I’m 40 and my gut tells me that in 20 more years, people like me will be in control. I have a tremendous amount of respect for people with a strong work ethic, people that take pride in what they do, not what they get. Bad Religion is 25 years of tenacity and not caring. We do what we do because we like it.
German transcript updated
English transcript added
English transcript added
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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