5 MINUTES WITH GREG GRAFFIN of BAD RELIGION
Twenty years later, Bad Religion are still the most relevant punks on the planet. How have they managed to consistently rock our world? Simple. By foregoing fashion in favor of the fundamentals, they’ve developed a foolproof formula for crafty arrangements that are crisp, concise, and catchy as hell. Then again, these guys have always been smarter than the average punk act: knowledge of the basics aside, vocalist Greg Graffin has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology and is said to be one of the five leading bone tissue paleontologists in the world.
A few years back, Graffin and crew began sponsoring the Bad Religion Research Fund scholarship program for students in the cultural or physical science fields. Graffin personally takes charge of the application review process with the band making final decisions as a whole. Says Graffin, “I feel a sense of pride in being able to support someone’s research endeavors. The real reward for the whole band is our being a part of higher education while perpetuating the idea that Bad Religion has always stood for—to question the prevailing dogma. It’s something you can do in science, the humanities, and in entertainment as well.”
While some may think it no longer accurate to call them a hardcore band, Bad Religion still play with enough bile and conviction to keep their integrity intact. Their latest album, The New America--produced by the legendary Todd Rundgren--sees BR playing their usual hook-happy, socially conscious rock—with a few new flavors. Says Graffin, "So many bands are afraid to change. They’re afraid to step forward because they’re in a comfortable spot with their audience and they don’t want to mess up a good thing by offering them a challenge. Bad Religion and punk have always been about challenge and if we can’t do that on this record, then
what good are we anyways."
drDrew.com grabbed Graffin for Five Minutes to talk about his greatest fear, his favorite book, and the worst job he's ever had.
drDrew.com: What's your favorite thing to do when no one else is around?
Greg Graffin: Man, that is such a leading question. Depending on how I answer this, I’ll either sound like a sexual pervert or a total bore [laughs]. Let’s say I’d spend my time doing something involved with literature or sex.
drDrew.com: Name a guilty pleasure.
GG: I don’t have any. I don’t feel guilty about anything.
drDrew.com: What's your greatest fear?
drDrew.com: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
GG: [Long silence] I tend to over-think things, so I wish I was more spontaneous.
drDrew.com: What was your worst day job?
GG: About twelve years ago, I was a Salad Bar Host—which is below busboy--at the Chart House in Westwood. That was by far the worst job I ever had.
drDrew.com: What is your idea of perfect happiness?
GG: Perfect happiness has a lot to do with unencumbered mental clarity.
drDrew.com: What's something you're good at that's totally useless?
GG: If you’re good at anything, it’s useful.
drDrew.com: What was your most memorable celebrity encounter?
GG: A memorable celebrity encounter? I try to shy away from celebrities.
drDrew.com: Who would you like to trade places with for a day?
GG: My girlfriend, ‘cause then I would know how good I feel.
drDrew.com: What song best represents the soundtrack of your life?
GG: “Streetkid Named Desire.” It’s a song on the new record and it’s about my life. There’s a little self-promotion for you.
drDrew.com: If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be?
GG: Something from the animal kingdom--some kind of predator. Probably a wolf.
drDrew.com: When you were a kid growing up, who did you imitate when you stood in front of the mirror?
GG: There’s only one answer to that—the person I’m still imitating: Bill Murray. I’m from Wisconsin, he’s from Chicago, so there’s that immediate Midwestern identification.
drDrew.com: Name a book you've read recently and liked.
GG: There are so many, but the one I’d recommend would be Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie.
drDrew.com: Name a film you've seen recently and liked.
drDrew.com: Name an album you've heard recently and liked.
GG: Frank Zappa’s Strictly Commercial.
drDrew.com: Finish this line: "If we can send a man to the moon, then why..."
GG:…are people still killed in car accidents?
drDrew.com: What will you remember most about the '90s?
GG: How unmemorable they were.