Note: due to the crossbuster that was printed on top of the text, some parts could not be made out.
Bad Religion were formed in 1980, during the emergence of Punk around Los Angeles. Hailing from the Burbank/Woodland Hills suburban areas of North Los Angeles, the first incarnation of the group comprised of Greg Graffin, on vocals, Brett Gurewitz, guitar, Jay Bentley, bass, and Jay 'Z' Lishrout on drums.
The group came up with the name Bad Religion simply because they did not like religion and what it stood for. Their music was hard edged 'Punk' rock, with many songs played very fast, but not straying into 'Trash'. By the summer of 1981 the group had released their first record. The Bad Religion EP was a six track 7-inch EP and was recorded at Real Life Studios in Agura. The record was produced by the band themselves and was released on their own Epitaph Records label, formed by their guitarist Brett Gurewitz. Despite the fact that the band weren't too happy with the final mix of the EP, blaming the studio for its deficiencies, it sold well, with Jem Records buying 300 copies to distribute out of Los Angeles.
Bad Religion distributed the rest of the EP's around the Los Angeles area themselves and in an interview in Flipside magazine Brett said Greg's vocals on the EP sounded like he was singing underwater. If you've heard the EP, you'll know what he meant. Also in late summer of that year they played a show at Bard's club and made a name for themselves, quickly becoming established as one of the better groups amongst a growing number of talented outfits. Later that year the group went into Track Record in Hollywood and recorded four tracks for compilation LP's: 3 tracks, Bad Religion, Slaves and Drastic Actions were recorded from the first EP and the other track In The Night was a new song. The tracks were produced by the group and Jim Mankey. The 3 tracks from the first EP ended up on the Public Service compilation LP on Smoke Seven Records (1981) and In The Night was put on to the B.Y.O. Records compilation LP Someone Got Their Head Kicked In! (1982).
1982, and Jay 'Z' Lishrout had left and was replaced on drums by Pete Finestone. The group went into the Track Record Studios in Hollywood once more, again with Jim Mankey, though this time he was the engineer and the group produced all the songs. 14 tracks were recorded and then mastered at Gold Star in Hollywood. The result of this excursion into the studio was the LP How Could Hell Be Any Worse?, which was unleashed onto an unsuspecting public in Los Angeles.
The LP was very successful for the group and sold well, it also established Bad Religion as one of the best Hardcore groups in L.A. Today it is regarded as a milestone in Punk history - a true classic considered by many as one of the best Punk LP's of the decade. The music was fast, short and to the point. The group played regular gigs and were very popular. The track We're Only Gonna Die was taken from the LP and eventually featured on the American Youth Report compilation LP on Invasion Records (1982).
1983 - Jay Bentley and Pete Finestone left the group and were replaced by Paul Dedona bass, and Davy Goldman, drums. The LP, Into The Unknown was recorded at Perspective Sound, Sun Valley, and was produced by Greg Graffin and Brett Gurewitz with Jim Mankey engineering once again. Expectations of another classic LP, hot on the heels of the previous year's first album, were very high. However, when the LP was released it would prove to be one of the most disappointing Punk records of the decade and, as fas as they're concerned, the biggest disappointment in the history of Hardcore.
It was slated on by practically everybody who reviewed it. No one could believe this was the Bad Religion of a year previous. The record was 70's M.O.R. nowhere rock a hundred light years away from the chainsaw punk of the first LP; the following review by Tim Yohannan of Maximum Rock 'N' Roll Fanzine probably summed up everybody's feelings: "This is the obligatory slag review. Basically, this new Bad Religion album totally sucks, unless you like slicking produced early '70's wimp rock. After playing it, I hurted it out the window, into the unknown!" Today the LP is something the group would rather not talk about, understandably so, and undoubtedly this resulted in them losing a lot of loyal followers in 1983.
1984 - Brett Gurewitz, Paul Dedona and Davy Goldman all left the group. Brett, unfortunately had a big drug and alcohol problem and nearly killed himself with an overdose - only later cleansing himself of both addictions. The group continued and recruited Greg Hetson from the Circle Jerks to play guitar whenever he wasn't playing or touring. They also recruited Tim Gallegos, ex-Wasted Youth on bass, and Pete Finestone rejoined on drums.
The group then went into Pacifica Studios, Los Angeles and layed down five tracks for a new EP, including a re-recorded version of Bad Religion. The EP Back To The Known was produced by Greg Graffin and Brett Gurewitz, even though Gurewitz no longer played with the group, he remained good friends with [...] and concentrated on his label, Epitaph Records [...] engineered the EP.
The EP (12") only had music on one side of the disc, the other side was totally bland and was received [...] reviews from [...] back to fast punk rock, [...] and after the second LP [...] could really have expected [...] fold, but, amazingly [...] title Back To The Known [...] one with what their [...] they were capable of.
1984 - The Summer also saw the re-release in 12" format of their debut 6-track EP, again on Epitaph Records, due to popular demand (I guess?). Their first LP was re-released in 1985. From 1985 to 1987 Bad Religion kept a low profile, with no new product in their bed, though they played frequent shows in Los Angeles and up and down the west coast. [...] to keep the band and their name, zo that people still knew they were together. [...] Tim Gallegos left during this period and was replaced by their original bass player Jay Bentley. Greg Hetson still played guitar dor Bad Religion whenever he wasn't playing with the Circle Jerks.
1987 saw Jay and Brett Gurewitz bumping into each other again, as they both lived in Hollywood. Jay would often ask Brett to play with them again, as having him back in the group would be fun, but Brett would always say "He didn't know" or "Maybe he would".
Eventually, in 1987 Bad Religion had a show lined up but, unfortunately, Greg Hetson was out playing guitar for the Circle Jerks, Jay asked Brett if he would play guitar for the show at the Gilman Street Club (run by Maximum Rock 'N' Roll fanzine), Brett agreed and during the rehearsal before the show they started writing the new songs for the latest LP.
Brett Gurewitz was back in the group again, sharing guitar duties with Greg Hetson, so the group now had both lead and rhythm guitars, giving them an even more powerful sound.
They agreed to record a new LP, so Brett obtained a tape of their first LP, How Could Hell Be Any Worse? and played it whenever he could; his desire was to produce a frame of mind similar to that which inspired the songs on the debut album. Surprisingly, the LP, Suffer, sounds like a continuation from where the first LP left off, Brett said they never intentionally set out to make an LP as their first, it was simply the way he wrote it and it just happened to come out in a similar [...] vein.
The group recorded the tracks at Westbeach Recorders in Hollywood, April, 1988, 15 tracks in total, produced by the group themselves. The LP was called Suffer and was released to enthusiastic reviews by practically everyone. Bad Religion had returned to the hardcore scene in a blaze of glory. The record was released on their own Epitaph Records label and the group and LP went on to be voted "Best Band 1988" and "Best LP 1988" in both Flipside and Maximum Rock 'N' Roll's annual readers polls. The group were also playing to sell-out shows on their Comeback tour, promoting the Suffer LP.
In years to come, I think Bad Religion will be remembered as producing two of the best and most influential Hardcore albums of the decade plus, unfortunately, the worst. Never mind lads - welcome back!
Thanks to Flipside and Maximum Rock N Roll fanzines for quotes and very short interpretations of parts of their Bad Religion interviews.
German transcript updated
English transcript added
English transcript added
Article added: Fracture #19
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