|Category:||Interview - Newspaper||Publish date:||9/10/2008|
|Source:||Vue Weekly, no. 673, September 10, 2008||With:||Jay Bentley|
Bad Religion follows its own map
by Carolyn Nikodym
Vue Weekly, no. 673, September 10, 2008
One of the best things about getting older is that you stop worrying about the opinions of others.
Bad Religion has a strong tradition of not caring—Epitaph Records, after all, was formed back in the ‘80s for the sole purpose of selling the band’s records. At the time, no label wanted to purvey the gospel of the SoCal punks. Nonetheless, the band—made up of Greg Graffin, Brett Gurewitz, Jay Bentley, Greg Hetson, Brian Baker and Brooks Wackerman—did go through a bad patch during the late ‘90s, where not caring became more of a curse than a blessing. Brett Gurewitz (aka Mr Brett), one of the band’s two songwriters, left, and Bad Religion seemed to run out of steam with each successive release.
“We were sort of at the end of a fairly bad cycle,” bassist Bentley explains. “We put out a couple of bad records on a major label. We were just doing exactly what we were talking about earlier—kind of flogging it and not feeling too good about what we were doing, and our drummer had quit and then our label didn’t sign us back on and we thought, ‘Well this is kind of it.’
“At that time,” he adds, “Brett Gurewitz called and he said, ‘You know what? You guys need to make a really good record’ and we said, ‘Well, that’s really easy to say,’ and one thing led to another. The next thing you know, he’s in the band writing, so everything’s fine, and we just have a renewed intensity, so everything kind of worked out.”
Longtime fans of the 28-year-old band can probably agree with Bentley that Bad Religion’s last three albums, back at Epitaph and with Mr Brett, have burst with purpose and intensity. Many called 2002’s The Process of Belief a return to the band’s punk rock roots.
There was some disappointment, however, when 2007’s New Maps of Hell didn’t turn out to be a double album, as Gurewitz said it would be during an interview for the DVD Live at the Palladium. Although word on the Internet is that it was Bentley who nixed the idea, he is quick to explain how the decision really went down.
“I’ve read that, that I was the one that said no to that. I like that!” Bentley laughs. “So I’ll take full credit for it, but no it wasn’t quite that. I think what happened was we’d made Live at the Palladium, and in part of the interview section with all the guys in the band, Brett had said we were going to make a double album. And even that day that he said it, he said, ‘I don’t know why I said that.’ And we all laughed about it, and we said, whatever, leave it in. Who cares?”
It wasn’t that the band was averse to the idea of a double album, it was just the time required to write enough material, what with its two key songwriters, Gurewitz and Graffin, busy with Epitaph and teaching, respectively.
New Maps of Hell was well received by fans and critics alike, the question of “still relevant?” answered strongly in the affirmative.
“We’ll know well before anybody else. Our relevancy isn’t based on what someone else thinks of us. It’s really what we think of us,” Bentley counters. “Being together for 28 years, trust me, we’ve had points in our career where we were irrelevant to ourselves. And we know it, and we said, ‘This is just shit. What we’re doing right now is absolute shit.’ There’s no reason you can’t make it out of that and say, ‘What do we have to do? Well, we have to make a good record.’ Well, that’s really easy to say, and quite difficult to do, but it’s something to strive for.”
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