|Interview - Internet
|Alternative Music Hub (United States)
Californian punk legends Bad Religion are gearing up for the release of their sixteenth album ‘True North,’ out January 25th through Epitaph Records. The album sees the band return to their “original mission statement of short concise bursts of melody and thought.”
Luke Bunworth caught up with bassist Jay Bentley to discuss the album, and what else has been happening since their chat earlier in the year.
So, how did you find the recording process of ‘True North,’ having put constraints on the album?
I actually think the recording process was probably the best of all of them. We really aimed to record short, fast, concise and stripped down punk songs. We didn’t really have the need to overthink and so we could focus on other things – the delivery and the conveying feeling of the tracks. I also think Joe Barresi (producer – The Dissent of Man, Pennywise, Queens of the Stone Age) had really gotten comfortable at the helm. We recorded on tape this time round, and I think that turned out really well.
I thought it was particularly interesting that it was mentioned that ‘True North’ is your “most emotionally accessible album to date.” What is your opinion on that?
The most emotionally accessible album to date…. Huh…. I guess with every album, you hope to have that emotional connection. I suppose I can see that if anger and pain are the most emotionally accessible feelings. [laughs]
That sounds about right to me, to be honest. [laughs]
How have you found the reception to ‘Fuck You’ and the title track?
It seems that a lot of people like it. I can’t force anyone to [like it] though. At the end of the day, if people like it, that’s great. If they don’t, that’s great too. They are entitled to have an opinion just as well. It’s always nice when they do though.
What is the meaning behind the title track?
It’s kind of how society has its way, yet you are finding your own way. You don’t fit in. It is just like how True North is considered just a little off magnetic North on the compass. Finding True North is a metaphor for finding your place in the world.
You said in our last interview, that with most of your albums, people claim it isn’t as good as ‘Suffer,’ and then they grow to really love it over time. What are you expecting the reaction for ‘True North’ to be like considering it has similar structuring?
I anticipate most people still saying it isn’t as good as our earlier stuff. [laughs] Then in a couple of years, people will be saying that The Process of Belief (2002) was the best record we ever made. Then even more years later, people will catch on and say “Wow, this is a really good record.” [laughs]
You also mentioned that the rush of recording ‘The Dissent of Man’ helped shape how the album turned out. Do you feel that was that the case again with ‘True North’?
Greg [Graffin – vocalist] had his teaching schedule, and Brooks [Wackerman – drummer] had tours with Tenacious D, so we didn’t have a lot of time on our hand. Greg was actually still writing his songs when we got to the studio. They were really incomplete, but it really worked out well. I guess the pressure was motivating but it wasn’t overwhelming. It was nice to have that push to get the record done, while at the same time, if the record doesn’t get done, that’s okay. It was just really fun and easy to make.
What would you say influenced you the most on this particular record?
‘Suffer.’ [laughs] I don’t know… I guess, as much as that was a joke, it really was a big influence. I kept looking back to it, to its structure, and the ideology of how we recorded back then. We wouldn’t spend a lot of time on it back then, we were really just mucking around.
The band was last here for the Soundwave Festival earlier this year. How did you find that tour?
Oh, it was great. It was a really good time. It’s always fun to come and play there. Festivals are always heaps of fun to play. Not that headline tours aren’t great, but with festivals, it’s always good how you can play your sets and not have to worry about the specifics of the tour yourself. And we got to play a couple of headline shows while we were there too, so it worked out really well. The shows were great.
Now with everyone in the band busy with their own thing these days – Greg’s lecturing, Brett [Gurewitz – guitarist] running Epitaph Records, Brooks and Tenacious D, etc – what can we expect from the touring cycle for ‘True North’?
It should be pretty standard actually. We will hit the road in the U.S. early next year and get a heap of touring in. We will then go to Europe and do the same. Then, Greg will probably return to teaching in the fall and winter. We will then probably start up again in the spring, probably hit South America and such, and I would say, probably tour the United States again in the summer. I can see us putting in about sixteen odd months of touring in the next two years.
How does it feel to influence so many people today in the same way that you have said you have been influenced by such names as The Clash and The Who?
I don’t ever think about that. That’s kind of weird. [laughs] I don’t think you’re allowed to really think about yourself like that. The moment you start thinking like that, you’re a dick. To me, I still think we’re still the kids playing punk rock in the Valley, doing what we want to do.
In our last interview, you were eagerly awaiting the birth of a baby.
Now born, and almost eight months old!
What are your plans for the holiday season?
I don’t know. Just kind of take it easy. We don’t have anything major planned. Everything has been really slow this past year. Soundwave was really the last thing we did this entire year. We did the tour, came home and maybe played five or six shows where we just flew in and out. This whole year has been off, which has been pretty weird. I don’t think we’ve had a summer off in twenty five years.
Have you still been keeping yourself busy?
If you can call it busy. [laughs] I’ve been surfing a lot and that’s kind of all I’ve been doing.
Nothing wrong with that!
Exactly, it still works for me. [laughs]
Now, as the year winds down, do you have any albums or bands you have discovered in 2012 that people should check out?
Not really. I kind of just turned everything off. It’s been kind of a weird year. My social networking has been kind of odd. I’ll go on, say something stupid and then go off. I’ll go on the NOFX tour page, and check out what my friends are up to. Really though, I haven’t been paying too much attention. I don’t know why. I kind of decided to have a quiet year and sort of turn everything down.
Well, while you have the chance, you might as well take advantage of it.
Yeah! It’s really weird for me to be able to ignore everything. I kind of liked it.
After all these years, you do deserve the rest. Now, where do you see Bad Religion in another twenty odd years?
Wow, well not here. [laughs] I don’t know. That is so far away. Two months is about as far as I can see right now. In two months, the record will be out and we will almost be starting our tour. Greg and I basically say that every show could potentially be our last. [laughs]
Having done so much in the band’s career, is there anything you feel you would like to achieve?
I think that everything that we wanted to do, we did really early on. We wanted to make a record, we wanted to open for Black Flag, we wanted to go on tour… we did all that. Some of the other things will never happen now. There are however heaps of stuff that I would like to do that don’t necessarily relate to the band. For example, I would like to go see Mount Rushmore. I think right now, the greatest thing is that everything we do is because we want to and its fun. When we’re booking a tour, we’re like ‘Oh, let’s go here. That will be fun.’ When we’re making a record, we’re like ‘Hey, what do you think about this song? That sounds like fun.’ It’s nice to be in that position.
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