|Category:||Interview - Internet||Publish date:||1/1/2007|
Righteous geezers of the Warped Tour
"In some ways, the (Vans) Warped Tour seems like it was built specifically for us," Bad Religion bassist Jay Bentley says.
The veteran Southern California punk band, which formed in 1980, might be regarded by some as too long in the tooth for the daylong, youth-oriented traveling festival, which features dozens of bands and a variety of extramusical distractions.
But Bentley is correct in saying that Bad Religion was there when many of the activities that Warped has featured and furthered over the years ? such as skateboarding, snowboarding, BMX and motocross ? began.
"Warped is all about presenting this lifestyle that's very similar to how we were living in 1980, when Bad Religion and Social Distortion were playing and the (Lords of) Dogtown guys were skateboarding in empty swimming pools," Bentley says.
"But you can't tell anyone that. When I look at people on the tour and say, 'Yeah, back in 1980 ?,' you can see their eyes glaze over and they say, 'I wasn't born until 1987.'"
Bad Religion is on its fourth go-round with Warped. In an early morning phone call that found Bentley saying he was "pretty sure" he was in Cleveland ? such are the vagaries of touring ? he shared his thoughts on the tour and the state of his band, whose most recent album is "New Maps of Hell."
Q: How is Warped different from the other festivals that are out there?
A: The fundamental difference is that it's presenting a lifestyle, versus "here's a bunch of Top 10 bands." Ozzfest is somewhat like that, too. But Warped, if there happens to be a band that's in the Top 50, they're lucky. They're picking bands that are more about this cool alternative lifestyle, not about hit records.
Q: Bad Religion is a very political band. How does that fit in with the other bands on Warped?
A: We're definitely the odd man out, in that sense. We came out of the school of thought when it was Black Flag and the Germs, and you wanted to get up there and have something to say, versus just crying about your girlfriend or screaming about something random.
Q: Are any Warped bands making an impression on you?
A: I'll sit out there and watch Coheed and Cambria. Because, if you're going to go fantasy, go all the way. They're not pretending to be anything other than exactly what they are. That's more refreshing than anything out here.
Q: Your singer Greg Graffin's strong opinions on politics and religion are expressed in some pretty heady ways in the band's songs. Is there some sort of intellectual litmus test you have to pass to be in the band?
A: Not at all. I think we have IQs ranging from the high 150s to maybe around the 80s, and belief structures that include people like me, who believe in factors greater than myself, to people like Greg, who are absolute atheists-scientists and say, "I won't believe anything until you prove it to me." But I think that's what makes the band work ? not having six like-minded individuals, but rather six people who are out there with big question marks over their heads, saying, "And now what?"
Q: Graffin is a college professor, and (guitarist) Brett Gurewitz runs your record label, Epitaph. Do those things cause the band to get pushed too far into the background?
A: Yeah, and that's exactly where it belongs. This is a hobby. It's something we do for fun and because we like it. And it's been like that since we were 15 years old. Everybody's got what they do, and then we get the band together and have fun. Most of my time is spent doing my most important job, which is to guide my kids away from the federal penitentiary system. This is just a band. It's not a cure for cancer.
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