|Category:||Interview - Newspaper||Publish date:||8/4/2009|
|Source:||In This Week, August 4, 2009||With:||Brooks Wackerman|
In 1982, a group of high school friends from San Fernando Valley (Hollywood's uncool next door neighbor) decided to start a band. They had everything they needed -- leather jackets, beat up instruments, and big plans to conquer the world. More importantly, they had a name that would piss off the Moral Majority and a logo that could easily be spray painted all over town. And thus Bad Religion was born.
Even from its earliest days, Bad Religion offered more than just a fistful of ideals. Amidst the rapid-fire power chords, the band managed to throw in not just melody, but Beach Boys-like harmonies. And on top of it all, the lyrics were incredibly smart. (Singer Greg Graffin finished up his Ph.D. thesis a few years back.) The band used its word to relentlessly attack American politics, culture, and most notably, the Big Man upstairs.
Nearly 30 years later, the band has proven that punk rock isn't just for kids (the sum total of the band's ages is 259 years). And thanks to the 2001 return of founding member (and Epitaph president) Brett Gurewitz, combined with white-hot anger stirred up by the Bush administration, Bad Religion is as fiery today as it was during the Cold War.
With all its years of experience, calling the band the grandfathers of SoCal punk rock would be both complimentary and accurate, were it not for the lone exception of young blood drummer Brooks Wackerman, age 32. Despite being the baby of the group, Wackerman, who joined the group in 2001, is no novice. He spent six years drumming for Suicidal Tendencies, filled in for the great Josh Freese on a number of Vandals tours, and is a current member of Tenancious D. Wackerman recently spent a few minutes with IN to talk about life in the band.
"Joining such an established band, you definitely feel like the new guy for the first few years," Wackerman says from a Warped Tour stop in North Carolina. "Now I feel like I'm an old guy like the rest of the guys. We all feel old. They taught me how to be old," he adds with a laugh.
Surprisingly, Wackerman has never been fazed by the age gap between himself and his elder bandmates. "I've always been in bands where the members are a decade or two older than me, so I'm used to most of my friends being a lot older. I grew up fast."
Socially, it's smooth sailing for the latest Bad Religion lineup. Wackerman sums up the group dynamic thusly, "Jay Bentley is the loudest voice in the band. The funniest guy is Brian Baker. I have the driest sense of humor. Greg Hetson is funny -- just a different type of funny, maybe more subdued funny. Graffin has the brains. Brett has the brains, too, and he brings the good vibes."
But with any band, there was still a musical get-to-know-you period. Bad Religion has a bicoastal writing approach, with Graffin working from his home in New York and Gurewitz writing in Hollywood. The band then joins up a few weeks before the recording session to work out the arrangements and to pitch in any additional writing ideas.
"On the first record [2001's "Process of Belief"], I felt a little restrained because I was still feeling it out and I didn't know what the boundaries were," Wackerman recalls. "It was more of a trial-and-error experience. I feel like I came into my own on the last one ["New Maps of Hell"].
"New Maps of Hell" found the veterans treading out into unchartered territory for the band -- acoustic guitars. After decades of visceral pummeling, Gurewitz and Graffin offered up a few acoustic versions of album tracks as well as some bonus ballads for the deluxe edition of "Maps." Wackerman, however, doesn't envision that side road setting the course for their upcoming album, due out next year.
"Never say never, but I don't see that happening. As of right now, our intention is to keep plugged-in. But you never know, we could make it really sensitive on a bridge and bring in the 12-string," he jokes.
In the meantime, the band is just concentrating on touring -- finishing up the last leg of Warped and then heading to Australia with NOFX in the fall. Wackerman has also allowed himself a little time to think about Mormon girls.
"It's been too long [since we've played in Salt Lake] and I can speak on behalf of the band when I say we're excited to come back to the land of the Mormons." And he's not just being facetious.
"I have a lot of great Mormon friends that I went to high school with, so even before I started touring there, I flew out there a lot to visit friends." He even dated a few. When asked if that worked out, he replied with a laugh, "No. Obviously not, because my wife is not Mormon."
Dating woes aside, Wackerman is sure there will be love -- at least band-and-fan love -- in the Salt Lake City air this weekend. "We always have great shows there."
- Spencer Sutherland
German transcript updated
English transcript added
English transcript added
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Interview image(s) added: Diplomatic Defense
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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