In Issue #5:
* Bold New Look!
* What It Is
* BR/Pearl Jam Fest
* What It Is: The Gray Race
* Touring Plans
* Old Lyrics
* Johnny More Punk Than You
* Contact BR
BOLD NEW LOOK!
Ok, so it's really not that exciting but the newsletter headings are now written with the same font as the BR logo. It's known as Fritz Quadrata, or Anticlaire for all you computer font enthusiasts.
WHAT IT WAS
It has been about six months since the last BAD TIMES was released and in that time BR had very little time off.
BR/PEARL JAM FEST
June and July, 1995 were spent touring with Pearl Jam on their ill-fated summer extravaganza. Although many of the shows were cancelled part of the way through, it was still a fun way to spend part of the summer. Did it negatively affect BRs credibility? That is debatable, but suffice it to say that there were not a lot of people at those shows who came to see BR. Basically it was Pearl Jam fans who were treated to a blast of classic american punk rock, some of them liked it, some didn't. BR fans did not show up by and large, and that is a good thing for a couple of reasons. First, it was a bit more expensive than we would charge for our concerts and we played a shorter set, so it was not a very good value. Second, it was not a typical setting for the band. In general, BR enthusiasts are not used to huge arenas, and the power of BRs performance is not fully appreciated at such venues.
The good elements of the tour were that it was really fun to be able to play for a mainstream audience without worrying about how well it went over. It felt good to know that some people who had never heard of BR found the new exposure to be a positive experience.
Many people have asked BR what was the real reason Pearl Jam cancelled so many shows? Given our proximity to the situation and our freindship with the band it seems logical that we would be the rock and roll Deep-Throat, and have the real inside story. However, there are conflicting indications from numerous sources and to this day none of the band members (from either Pearl Jam or Bad Religion) seem to have the same understanding of why the tour was cancelled. Suffice it to say that Pearl Jam had a vision of how they wanted to tour, and how they wanted to treat their fans. For numerous reasons their vision didn't materialize. To their credit, they are trying to balance the tough job of being true to themselves in the midst of tremendous popularity. Their ideas are usually noble and good for their fans. But the difficulty of carrying out those good intentions is often times insurmountable because of the rigid structure of the music industry. In general promoters, and record sellers are not interested in helping out the fans. Furthermore, they are not interested in helping bands with gestures of good will to the fans. They are in it to make as much money as quickly as possible. Without the sympathy of the industry, a huge rock band has to fight an uphill battle. Pearl Jam shows us just how hard that battle is, it might be un-winable once a certain level of popularity is achieved. It might always result in cancelled shows and awkward ticket buying promotions. For an independent or relatively small band, it is easier to side-step some of the industry's rigidity in order to bolster the relationship with the fans. But Pearl Jam cannot go back to that level.
Ultimately, the decision to cancel seemed to be based on numerous industry issues as well as certain shortcomings of the band's collective psychology. If you want some dirt, look elsewhere, we have no tabloid-worthy information to report.
August and September were spent in Polypterus Studios (aka Greg Graffin's upstairs home studio) finishing the demo tapes for the next BR album. Bobby Schayer and Brian Baker have become de-facto Ithaca, NY residents because they spent so much time working there on the project. Greg Hetson was busy touring with his band the Circle Jerks, but the tour ended abruptly and unexpectedly because of lack of label support from Mercury Records, the CJs label.
In late September the band did something unprecedented. We chose New York as a location to record the new album. This is primarily because the producer, Ric Ocasek, lives there and always records at the same studio, Electric Lady, in Greenwich Village.
For seven weeks BR took subway trains, ate pie (instead of pizza), stood in the middle of speeding traffic with outstretched hands to hail taxis, and even began to use the term yo, all for the sake of recording the best album ever. What sacrifice!
The day after the BR album was mastered in NYC, Greg G. was in the studio again. This time to produce a record for someone else. The band Unwritten Law, from San Diego, came to Ithaca, NY to record at Pyramid Sound, a state-of-the-art studio in town. They were an opening band for some BR shows and GG took a liking to them, and eventually they chose him to produce. The album should be released in February or March, 1996.
WHAT IT IS:
THE GRAY RACE!
The new Bad Religion album will be released in late February and it is titled The Gray Race The Gray Race is a metaphor for the human race. It alludes to the fact that out of the thousands of living species on the planet, only humans have the ability to see difficult situations as having shades of gray. Other animals have only clear-cut alternatives, their world is only black and white. They either attack or run away, they either sleep or search for food, they either dominate or submit, blend in or stick out. Ironically, humans build themselves a physical world with systems and structures that function best when its operators also see things as cut and dry, black and white. Indeed to be successful in our world, it is necessary to see things as black and white in order to fit the structure that we have created. Thus mankind lives with a constant dilemma. In order to be more successful, we have to be more like our animal ancestors who saw things as black and white. That puts us at a deficit because we become less in touch with our unique human abilities to be compassionate, caring, and see the shades of gray.
So is it better to be more successful and less compassionate (like an animal) or more understanding of our fellow humans and less worried about material advantage (like a conscious, caring being)? That is our dilemma.
Suffice it to say that the legal, political, financial, religious, educational systems of our species don't allow for shades of gray. We can either become more selfish and animal-like in order to master those systems, which will ultimately lead us to a premature extinction, or slowly evolve new systems that have inherent qualities of compassion and respect for our fellow humans.
Every song on The Gray Race touches on these human issues. It is the most emotional album to date and hopefully it will prove that BR is concerned about the race, and although optimistic about human ability, pessimistic about the current state.
1.) THE GRAY RACE (see above discussion)
2.) THEM AND US, outlines the problem with using stereotypes to instill antipathy against another group of people. ...Despite that he saw blatant similarity, he struggled to find a distinctive moiety.
3.) A WALK, a song of resistance against being a part of the system. ....I'm going for a walk, and there's nothing you can do, because I don't have to live like you, so I'm going for a walk.
4.) PARALLEL, we really want to pretend we know what is best for other people and we fool ourselves into thinking we're helping them, really we are just staying out of their way.... our lives are parallel.
5.)PUNK ROCK SONG, there is so much human tragedy in the world, we can identify it but we can't fix it, all we can offer is this punk song. People are usually more interested in discussing a songs fashionability than its meaning. That's why the human tragedy persists.
6.) EMPTY CAUSES, could it be ... that causes are just manifestations of too much time and far too little to do?
7.)NOBODY LISTENS, listening is not necessary to live in society, most people just go through the motions. Unfortunately thinking requires listening. People can't think if they don't hear.
8.)PITY THE DEAD, ...Look at all the living and then ask yourselves why oh why do we pity the dead?
9.) SPIRIT SHINE, people want to conform, sometimes they try to persuade others to do the same with such alacrity that they seem to give off an aura.... "Spirit shine all the time, can render you blind.
10.) STREETS OF AMERICA, ...a substrate for progress and disarray the streets of america stand as false-hope corriders to greener pastures. The myth of america is all that persists.
11.) TEN IN 2010, in fifteen years the earth's population will be ten billion. That is double today's population. With a doubling rate so short where will we go when we are geriatric?
12.)VICTORY, our rational mind keeps us from committing terrible crimes. Horrible acts reflect the victory of instinct over intellect.... the evil sits inside him torpid, timing its escape.
13.) DRUNK SINCERITY, despite the best intentions, so much of what is promised to us turns out to be nothing more than rhetorical blabber.....there's hope in the words and emotion in the eyes...but it's all just drunk sincerity.
14.)COME JOIN US, cultism is alive and well in the world of mass media and peer groups. If you like individuality, it is hard to live in these times.....we're looking for a few more stalwart clones, so come join us.
15) CEASE, like a chemical reaction the milieu of human activity has spread. There is sublime beauty and also horror involved in this process. But existence is not supernatural, everything must cease.
That is the record conceptually, in a nutshell. It is also, by far, the best sounding record we have ever recorded. Hopefully, you will agree.
Only the first legs are booked so far of the Gray Race tour. We know where we want to play during this tour however: ....everywhere! Our travel plans for this album will bring us to more places in the world next year than ever before. So if you are wondering why BR has never played your home town maybe this year you won't have to wonder anymore.
We kicked off our tour in a charitable manner. We played at a benfit show in Big Bear, California this February called Board Aid. It is a snow-boarders paradise with an outdoor music stage, but it's also for a good cause, AIDS awareness. It was a great place for us to kick off our tour because it is right in the middle of our collective homeland, southern California.
In Europe, we played numerous shows the very same week that the album was released. These shows were almost like album parties because they weren't at the huge concert halls that we usually play. Instead, they were at very small-capacity clubs. This idea was to bolster our committment to the intimate relationship we have with our fans. The concept of these European club shows is the same as when we first began touring over there in the 80s. It was a great opportunity to see us the way it was early on in our careers. The tickets were very hard to come by, they sold out very quickly. But fear not if you didn't get in to one of those shows because we plan to go back to Europe in the early Summer to play at more normal sized halls.
Our North American tour looks like this so far:
30, Seattle, Snow Board Festival
31, Las Vegas, NV
1, Las Vegas, NV 2nd show
2, Albuquerque, NM
4, Austin, TX
5, Dallas, TX
6, Houston, TX
7, Modern Rock Live, FM radio
8, New Orleans, LA
10, Palmetto (Tampa), FL
11, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
12, Orlando, FL
13, Atlanta, GA
15, Philadelphia, PA
16, Washington, D.C.
17, New York City
19, Asbury Park, NJ
20, Providence, RI
21, Boston, MA
22, Montreal, QUE
24, Toronto, ONT
25, Detroit, MI
26, Cleveland, OH
27, Cincinnati, OH
28, Chicago, IL
30, Minneapolis, MN
3, Portland, OR
4, Vancouver, BC
6, Davis, CA
8, San Francisco, CA
9, Santa Cruz, CA
10, Fresno, CA
11, ???, CA
12, Phoenix, AZ
13, San Diego, CA
14, San Diego, CA
16, Denver, CO
17, Denver, CO
18, Salt Lake City, UT
So far, the May shows are not yet confirmed so the dates that we play those cities may change slightly.
We hope you can make it out to the shows!
We also plan to play South America, Australia, and of course, Japan on this tour. When we do so is not yet determined, but the desire is there, so it will likely happen.
OLD SONGS In our continuing series, here are some lyrics to songs that are often requested:
Back to the Known 1985:
Run, but don't be scared to look behind
Stop, don't wait too long make up your mind
The end is almost here, the sky, the air so nice and clear
The sound of dirt decay, and the ringing in the air
is the screen-debris of yesterday
There, now that you know
it's not so bad
See, the good things soon flow proximad
So few tried to enhance,
we don't deserve a second chance
Just laugh yourself away,
and kiss your ass goodbye with a shadowed dream of yesterday
Yesterday, the good old days
Yesterday, the way we used to play
Yesterday, it just got worse and worse
Yesterday, the future has been rehearsed
....from the L.P. How could Hell be any Worse?, 1982:
I show pity on the human race, on the ignorant plenty
who devote their lives to an icon that they've never known
I show pity on eons past when a clever man
started the first civilization and human agression was born
I show pity on the future to come when the government systems
will be omnipotent and we'll be worse off.....than we are now
Pity, Pity, on the masses of ignorant people
Pity, Pity, on the masses of agression
Pity, Pity, on the future centuries to come
It's all a matter of looking at the past
It's all a question: Are we going to last?
If we endure the agression that's inside all of us
We'll wipe out our own species and thus....the world!
...from the E.P. Bad Religion, 1980:
Economy, Technology, does it really work?
The guy running the government is just another jerk
Try to teach some values and they all erode away
You're lucky if they listen to a single word you say
What is right and what is wrong government decides
You don't have to like the laws as long as you abide
We're all being oppressed by the upper middle class
The government you vote for is the one that you possess
I'm so tired and now I'm through,
I'm through and so are you
Oppressive fear from the government its us not the president
We control the masses of the whole entire race
Soon our streets will all be filled without a happy face
We have received a lot of mail in the last year.Virtually all of it was favorable. But just last week I received an interesting e-mail note that definitely belongs in this column.It was from an anonymous name Spencer, usually I don't respond to inane messages, but I guess I was in a bad mood that day:
At 08:34 PM 3/24/96 -0500
why does bad religion suck now. i mean you guys are a bunch of fuckin<> pricks for continuing to call yourselves bad religion - you guys should be fad religion or something. i admit it, bad religion was a fuckin amazing band and probably one of the best ever (that is before generator), but now with each ensuing album, you people are soiling the name worse and worse. don't you fuckin get it? your band is a fuckin joke now. being the moron that i am, i got the gray race the other day, and after reading the lyrics and the other shit, i realized that i was once again pranked by you ignorant morons. i thought that after the stranger than fiction joke you guys would have wised up and returned to writing lyrics that were real and about the anti-establishment, but i was way off. the lyrics on this new album is fuckin dumb. no you guys are not bad religion anymore. bad religion would never make songs that are as dumb and hollow as the ones on the gray race and stranger, and br would certainly not sell out and sign on to a major label for better distribution. whatever. also, you were on mtv the other day and you said that you believe thatbr's success is because it continues to stay true to what you are or something. whatever. get a fuckin clue man. you are so out of it. don't you fuckin get it?
Thanks for the note Spence. Why do you think that your opinion matters? What makes you think that all the others who love bad religion are somehow below you? You are nothing more than arrogant shit. Leave me alone.
People have generally stopped preaching to us about how punk we aren't. That is good and bad. Good because it gets tiresome, bad because we have nothing to write in this column. Please don't hesitate to spout about your superiority to us. You might end up getting printed!
Thanks to all of you who took the time to send along a note or salutation. We really appreciate all the mail, but we cannot read all of it. Please accept our apologies if we don't get back to you soon enough or at all, but in one way or another we try to respond. Our e-mail system works well. So for you computer jocks, check out the address at the end of the newsletter. Here are some recent notes to us:
....I'm going to get straight to the point of this letter so as not to waste any of your time on my rambling....My point is I have wanted not to ask questions of the usual sort, but to discuss my theories and other such things with you....I'm talking about what you know and I know is on a way larger scale than that. There are things I'd really rather not put here in print, but here's a quick list of what I wanted to talk about:
1) The trilateral commission and the new communications systems
2) Nation of Sheep and the fraud of voting
4)The impact of the world of entertainment on our lives and distinguishing fiction from reality...and how fiction sometimes precedes and shapes our reality rather than reflecting it as the media claims
5) the separation of the lower class citizens into their own subdivision sectors
6) the declaration of INTERdependence in 1976
7) Probably a lot of other shit
I don't know exactly how we could work this out, over the phone probably isn't a good idea...Well if you could acknowledge that you received my letter and we'll see what happens...
Eli, West Newton, PA
I'm afraid to see what happens when Eli realizes that it could easily take a lifetime to adequately address so many arcane issues. Eli, you forgot about Ten in 2010!
...This letter is being written in response to the so-called punk music review penned by Matt Price concerning the band Bad Religion. Let me start by stating that punk is not merely music. In fact, punk is a lifestyle....for your information (BR) has been an integral part of the punk scene since 1979 offering intelligent observations about a world gone mad. Price's comment that the band has been around since 1988 is likened to stating that Paul McCartney was not in a band prior to Wings
K.C. Kraft, Ph.D. student in Anthropology, Oklahoma University (from the Oklahoma Daily newspaper)
I didn't know Paul McCartney was on that TV series. Thanks K.C. for setting the reviewer straight. Music critics usually don't know anything except what the labels tell them to know. Mr. Price is probably just a victim of propaganda.
...One of our friends died recently (Maggot, aged 28 yrs) in a road accident. We managed to persuade the vicar to play Along the Way in a local church at the funeral service on a portable hi-fi. It went down very well and left us that remain feeling pretty positive. We had to avoid mentioning the words Bad Religion to the vicar though!
Rej, Cornwall, England
Thanks Rej, our condolences to Maggot and his loved ones. Tell the vicar that I'm pretty sure he won't go to hell just because he played BR in his church.
....As a fan for the next album I would like to hear some faster...maybe rawer sounding songs. A production similar to that of Suffer or even 80-85 years. I really love raw sound. I'm not telling you what to do...I am just saying as a fan of your band...what I like to hear. Take it how you wish to take it.
Marc, Peachtree City, GA
I am sure that Marc will be surprised to see that the sound on the new record is a lot like Suffer actually. Much more drive and low frequencies than on STF.
....I would like to talk (write) about myself. Just a little bit. I write, I play music, I speak. I do other things as well. I have an acoustic band called Cry the Disco. It sounds like something J Mascis would come up with were he slightly less talented.....I do what I can. I can do more. Let me say that I am happy to have experienced some of the things you have done for me and others. I owe the same to you and to others. We're all here.
Todd, Branford, Connecticuit
Thanks to you as well Todd!
....I went to a show in Vienna...and I thought that you would be hiding somewhere trying to get rid of all your fans....but no you were talking to everyone who came to you so I really must say that I respect you behavior very much. I'm happy that I can be you fan!!!......there was so many people that I couldn't even move or breath. But the music was loud and the show seemed so professional and good that it's made a very good impression on me.
Damjan Okovic, Slovenia
We pride ourselves on putting on shows where the audience can't breath, you know....professionalism.
....Mainly youthful teenagers, blindly crying sovereignty, are forcing the independent into the corner. If someone were to spike their hair into a mowhawk here, they would be harassed, if not beat up on by some kid who holds no pride to himself. These kids are blindly hating people because they do not understand anything out of their world. So the only way they learn of the outside world is by TV...
Gannon Gilmore, Wailuku, Hawaii
This was Gannon's view of his hometown in Hawaii. It sounds a lot like my high school years in Los Angeles, 1980! Maybe things don't change, they just migrate to other regions.
....(to Greg G.)I saw you in Indy last year and you mentioned something about being from Anderson, Indiana. Is that really true? If so, can you elaborate?
Kris, Franklin, Indiana
My great grandparents were brick-makers who migrated from Germany and England and settled in the midwest in Newcastle, or Muncie, Indiana, I'm not exactly sure which one. My grandparents moved to Anderson, Indiana and worked at the GM/Delco plant there. I feel a hoosier kinship and yes, my mom talks like a hick.
We thank all of you who write us. We try to respond to as many as possible but it is almost a full time job. That is why we now have e-mail. Those who have tried it realize that it is much easier to get a direct response promptly.
We also want to stress that all of your comments are meaningful to us. Many people have found that if they have a comment or criticism it's better to let it be heard so that they can get a meaningful answer.Be prolific in your letters, but be patient in your expectations for a response.
11601 Wilshire Blvd
LA, CA 90025
PO Box 4416
Ithaca, NY 14852
By May, 1996, you will be able to write to individual band members at the following addresses:
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