DMG: Are you happy to be off of the major labels?
JB: No. I mean, a label is a label. I’m happy to be back with Epitaph because I know everyone there. They’re not the evil, one-eyed monsters that everyone seems to think they are. They’re just a giant corporate business whose job is to sell records. There are very nice people there who genuinely care about the band but the reality is that there is not much they can do about it. That’s the harsh reality of the label and unfortunately for us, when we put out "Stranger Than Fiction" the Offspring and Green Day had just sold 28 million records collectively and every label, not just Atlantic, and every person on the planet was saying, "You’re next! You’re going to put out ‘Stranger Than Fiction’ and it’s gonna be huge so buckle your seat belt!" and I was laughing saying, "But I work at Epitaph and we sell 180,00 records. We’re not gonna sell that many records. Everybody was like, "Oh, you’re just being a pessimist!" I said, "OK, whatever! I’m not putting my seat belt on because I know what’s gonna happen." It didn’t happen and I think it deflated everyone so much that it was like, "Oh, wah-wah!" It was very "Let’s-Make-a-Deal-you’ve-chosen-the-wrong-curtain". That’s what bummed me out the most. It was like, "We did better than we’ve ever done before and you people are unhappy!" It was amazing to me. It really blew my mind. We had done odd things forever. It gave us some opportunities that we didn’t have before. We got on television. That was the one thing we hadn’t gotten before but we were just on television last week! (Laughs) We’re not on Atlantic anymore and it’s like, "Wait a minute and let me look back. I think we can do that on our own now."
DMG: Was opening for Blink 182 kind of weird for you? Did you ever feel like they should be opening for you?
JB: You know what? I had a conversation with Billy Joe and Mike (from Green Day) one time and they were already huge and now actually coming down. "Dookie" had gone through the roof and now it was starting to come back down. I sat there and asked, "How come you guys never ask us to come out and tour with you guys?" And they said, "Oh, no! That’s totally embarrassing. You can’t open for us!" I said, "Look, we don’t care. You came out and opened for us, right? We did two tours together where you came out and opened for us! What’s the big deal?" "Oh, no. We couldn’t ask you to open for us". "Why not? Ask us! You’d be surprised! We’d say yes! It would be fun to go and play somewhere different than where we’ve been playing for the past 12 years! It doesn’t mean that all of the sudden we’re ‘there’, it’s just fun to do something different." But they never asked. Offspring? Never asked. Blink, the guys we don’t know at all, called us and said, "Well, this is really embarrassing, but if you wanna kill us it’s cool: Do you want to come out on the road with us?" and that was the coolest thing. They didn’t make us feel stupid or bad or anything. They were totally cool and we said, "Yeah, that would be a lot of fun for us".
DMG: Did some of your old fans give you a hard time about that?
JB: Yeah! And they still do to this day but I don’t care about that. I don’t do things for people who want to complain about shit. It’s like, "Look, if you don’t like the fact that I’m opening for Blink, start your own fucking band and don’t open for Blink but don’t tell me what to do. If you like our band the one thing you should know is that telling people what to do is fucked up! Stop telling me what to do!" I just want to keep having fun and do things that are unusual for me. If doing that keeps the band having fun and getting out there and laughing every night then I’m gonna do it. I think from the beginning of this band’s increase in popularity onward, people have had misconceptions about the band about where we live: we’re from London, we’re from D.C., we’re from Orange County. Who knows where we’re from? We’re militant vegans, we’re "Earth-firsters, we’re straight-edgers. It’s like, I’m none of those! I’m always laughing going, "I don’t want your flag". It’s cool that you wanna somehow pin it on me, but I don’t want it.
DMG: Speaking of flags, people often wonder what the "cross-buster" logo is about. What does it mean to you personally?
JB: To me personally, it’s about pissing off my parents! (Laughs) When you’re 15 and sitting around in the garage and someone comes us and says, "Look at this!" it’s like, "Yeah! That’s gonna piss everyone off!" That’s how it starts. Much like the name "Bad Religion": when you’re 15, you’re not thinking about "What does Bad Religion mean?" You come up with the name because it sounds good and then you start coming up with reasons why. (Laughs) It’s true. For me, I’m a religious person. I have spiritual beliefs but I don’t like to follow the prescribed dogma that if you don’t do exactly what we say you’re going somewhere bad. I don’t believe in a mean and spiteful God. That’s kind of where that comes from and the "cross-buster" is like like the international symbol that everyone can look at and go, "Holy shit! What is that?" It doesn’t need much of an explanation! (Laughs)
DMG: Along the same lines, do you think that the mixing of religion and music to make a commercial record is kind of weird?
JB: No, I don’t think so. Music is an art. If you look back at some of the great artists of our time, and not just musicians, you’ll see that some of the painters and sculptors have painted some of the greatest religious icons of our time. I think that music is a way of sharing ideas and no one should be excluded for that, especially not ones with religious beliefs. If they’re gonna get up there and sing about the glories of someone, that’s great. To me it’s the same as a militant straight-edge band. If they’re gonna start shoving something down my throat then I’m not going to listen to it. If they’re gonna be up there saying, "I really like what I’m doing up here" and that’s the end of discussion then that’s cool.
DMG: "The Process of Belief" is the name of the new record and could be seen as a mantra for the band now. What does it mean to you, though?
JB: To have to do with the band, I think it was for us to believe in ourselves and not to quit. After everything that was happening to us, we’ll always want to believe in what we’re doing and that’s been Bad Religion from day one. When we made our first demo tape, we shopped it around to SST, Alternative Tentacles, BOMP!, and everyone else, we were pretty much told, "You suck. We don’t like you. We’re not gonna sign you." And we said, "Well, we like us" and that’s how Epitaph started. If we didn’t believe in what we were doing then none of this would’ve happened up to this record. On the last tour, it was like, "Blah! Boo! This is whatever. What are we doing?" It is kind of nice that Brett came in and revitalized Greg to start writing more songs and then Brooks came in with new drum patterns and an excitement that you had to put reigns on and say, "Dude! Slow down! You’re just out of control." With the last 5 records we made from Andy Wallace on we were working with producers where we were showing up at 12 and working til 9. It was like a daily ritual. We were back in West Beach working from 10 o’clock in the morning to 4 o’clock in the morning because we didn’t wanna leave. We’re just having fun on this record and I think it show. And I hate what we do! I listen to the record in my car and I’m like, "Damn, man! That’s a good song!" It worked for us on that level and it worked for us on a level that we’ve always been on in our songs. "How do you get to where you are in terms of what you believe?" No one is born believing anything. You’re taught all of this and you go through processes of all of this whether it’s with your parents, teachers, reading, or something that makes you believe everything that you believe.