|Category:||Interview - Internet||Publish date:||8/6/2019|
|Source:||Cleveland.com (United States)||With:||Jay Bentley|
|Synopsis:||Bad Religion revels in being ‘the thinking man’s punk band,’ with new album ‘Age of Unreason’ and Agora date|
By Chuck Yarborough, The Plain Dealer
CLEVELAND, Ohio — Bad Religion, since its formation in 1980, has been as much an observer of the social condition as a musical group.
In nearly four decades, the band formed in Los Angeles with singer and songwriter Greg Graffin and co-founders bassist Jay Bentley and guitarist and songwriter Brett Gurewitz and now including guitarist Mike Dimkich and drummer Jamie Miller, have tackled just about every subject — and usually from a liberal, or libertarian, point of view.
The latest album from the group that’s at the Agora on Saturday, Aug. 10, is no exception.
“Brett said, ‘We’ve got 300 songs,’ ” said Bentley in a call to his cellphone as the band was pulling into Boston for gig. “ ‘Everything we can say, we’ve said.’ ”
But that has shifted.
“As the political landscape has been changing over the past five years, Greg started writing more songs and all of a sudden, Brett said, ‘[bleep] this!’ ” Bentley said. “He and Greg wrote 25 songs.”
The result is “Age of Unreason,” a collection of politically savvy tunes that fit the melodic punk mode of Bad Religion that came out in early May.
“We made this record in no time because we felt like it was time to say something,” Bentley said. “Are we on the bandwagon? No, we’re the canary in the coal mine.”
The title of the album and the song from which it was taken actually were born five years ago as well.
“The idea of the ‘Age of Unreason’ was something we’ve been talking about musically and as gentleman scholars for a while,” Bentley said. “I wrote a tweet five years ago that said, ‘Man sailed into the Age of Reason and right into the Age of Unreason.’
“ ‘The Age of Unreason’ is an easy play on, ‘When did we lose our [bleeping] minds?' ” he said. “[Election Day], what that was was kicking the rock off the hill that kept all the [expletive] people in the dark. We’ve been losing our minds for a long time, but we were never at a point where people felt like they could express, ‘How crazy I am. Now I’m going to say whatever I feel!’ ”
“We’re realistic,” he said. “In 1980, when we did our first interviews, someone called Brett pessimistic. But he said if you’re on a ship that’s sinking and you’re yelling that it’s sinking, you’re a realist.”
Disagreement itself isn’t bad. In fact, it’s necessary, he said.
“We’re not a political band, we’re a socio-political band,” Bentley said. “It doesn’t matter whether you live in Bangladesh or Boston, you still wake up and think about how you’re going to feed your children and how you’re going to get through the day.”
It’s hardly what he hoped for back in the day.
“I wanted to believe that punk rock would change the world,” he said. “But at the end of the day, ‘It’s OK to have short hair and ripped jeans’ and that’s about it.”
And he’s realistic — there’s that word again — about the band’s future and his own.
“Everything I know about everything came from being in this band and came from some conversations driving in the van for hours on end,” Bentley said. “We’re just these guys who don’t want to stop asking why.
“We are what we are as Bad Religion,” he said, and he and his bandmates are content with that role.
“We’re the thinking man’s punk band, and that’s kept us out of the mainstream,” he said, then joked: “We’re writing smart songs, and that makes us dumb.”
Yeah, like Mensa dumb.
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