|Interview - Internet
|The Thanks List (Canada)
|Interview with Jay in which he talks about his favorite albums, tracks and artists Bad Religion has played with.
By CÉDRIC N., BEN F.
If ever there is a band that unifies both of us co-editors at The Thanks List, it is Bad Religion. The band was one of the first few ones to trigger our love for Punk Rock. For Cedric, that was collecting a $5 weed debt from a friend by picking up his How Could Hell Be Any Worse tape. For Ben, that was blasting his famed Side A-No Control/Side B-Subhumans dub tape in his walkman, while mowing lawns. Either way, they pushed us down the rabbit hole of underground music, in which we keep falling and finding new paths, 25 years later. Who knows, maybe we wouldn’t even be doing this website if it wasn’t for BR’s influence. From We’re only gonna die to Skyscraper to True north, their music still resonates with us and, in all likelihood, will remain in our heads until the end.
Needless to say, it was an immense pleasure for us to meet with their bassist Jay Bentley for a quick chat, this summer at ’77 Fest in Montreal.
Give a spin to Bad Religion’s latest record, Age of Unreason, out on Epitaph Records of course, and catch them live because, as Greg Graffin himself once said on stage, “(They) are like grandpa at Christmas, you just never know if it’s the last time you’ll see (them)!”
Can you tell us a bit about five of your favorites albums of all time and what makes them so important to you?
I’m gonna go sort of chronological from when I was a kid. The first record that I ever bought with my own money was DAVID BOWIE’s Rebel Rebel seven inch. I was probably eight. I didn’t understand it at all. I didn’t understand what he was talking about but I just liked it, and I played it forever. My mom bought me a guitar shortly after that and I imagined myself playing in David Bowie’s band. I don’t know why, I didn’t even know who was in this band. This is the memories that I’m having.
The next album that would have really made a mark on me would have been ELTON JOHN’s Madman Across The Water. That was from my dad. My dad and my mom split up and my dad moved down to the beach and one of the things that my dad always had going on was a record on the turntable. Always, always music, always a record on the turntable. One of the issues with that was, it would play side one over and over and over. So I knew side one of Madman Across The Water like the back of my hand, but I didn’t know side two at all. When I got it for myself, it was like having a letter from someone that you knew so well and you flip the page, and I didn’t know the rest of the letter. I think, for me, that would have been the moment that opened up my eyes to lyrical content, and how important the words were in helping you to imagine that fantasy world that we all go into with music before videos existed.
Do you have a standout track on that record?
I think Indian sunset may have been the one that really played a big part in in my life. Because of that song, I remember asking my elementary school teacher, what happened to the Indians? And she told me “oh, they just went away.” That was her answer and I’ll never forget it. “They just went away.” I had to eat it because I’m a kid, I don’t know what that means. It wasn’t until a few years later that I started a Punk Rock band and started looking into things for myself and I go, “God, fuck her for saying that.” I started learning that adults will lie to children all the time about anything. So anyway, that’s what I got out of Elton John, which was worth it for me.
The next thing that would have been my own was I bought KISS Alive I. That was me getting into Rock and Roll and wanting my own music. This would have been ’76-ish, I suppose? You know, it was me wanting to be a guitar guy and Ace Frehley was sort of a hero to me. I don’t know if I really understood much of it and looking back on it, it’s kind of dumb. It’s pretty first level Rock and Roll, let’s party all night, whatever. But I think at that age, 12-13 years old, you’re kind of like “yeah, I want to party all night!” I don’t even know what the fuck that means but it sort of set the standard for what I assumed playing live music would be like. Hearing the crowd and all of these things in my mind. We’re working toward this idea that I was going to be in a band one day and I don’t even know why I thought that.
When the PISTOLS came out with Never Mind The Bollocks, and I heard Bodies, and I heard that man say fuck on a record? I mean, my hair just stood up and I was just like “oh my god, that guy just swore!” That was IT! I mean, it was like every drug, every alcohol, every fucking…everything just injected right into me. I said this is it. I’m done. Fuck all of you, this is it forever!*Hahaha* For fucking ever. I am done! I can take this record to the fucking moon and just flip off the earth for the rest of my life! Fuck all of you! *Hahaha* And that just was it. If there was ever a fuse that lit off my rocket, that was it. That was undeniably important.
I mean, now my thing is wide open. I can go anywhere from what I like right now to what I liked back then. There’s a girl out of El Paso, Texas named Emily Davis and she has a band called EMILY DAVIS AND THE MURDER POLICE. She put out an album last year and I think it’s only on SoundCloud. I don’t think there’s a physical copy of it but it’s called Same Old World. She sent me a copy and you know, I get a lot of music and I kind of half-assed listen to stuff, and I got a CD and I put it in my car and that fucking record has not left my car. I don’t know why, there’s just something about her angst, her delivery, this band…it’s working for me. I can’t say I have a favorite song. There’s a couple. There’s one that she does that’s a cover from another guy, JAVIER MARTINEZ.
I can quickly give up on music, and go fuck, there’s nothing out there anymore. This is bullshit and everybody sucks. But then something happens, where you get a record, you hear a song, you know. The last time I got that feeling was when I heard a very early demo of the ARCTIC MONKEYS and I said “that guy’s fucking nuts. That’s great.” It was like the PISTOLS and the BUZZCOCKS all together. It was super smart ass. And fucking NIRVANA-ass guitars. I was like, that’s great. But then that feeling kind of went away and I spent another few years going, “everything sucks.” Then I find this girl, and we’re going to be on tour with her. I saw her when we were on our last leg at Camp Energy. She came to the show and I asked if she wanted to open for us on this round. She was like “Yeah!” So that’s me. That’s finding someone and saying like, I want to see you all the time, doing more of this.
What is the most impressive band you’ve toured with? The one that you just had to watch every night?
PLAGUE VENDOR. Brandon is a real deal frontman. My concept of a frontman is a guy that walks out and the minute that music starts, zero fucks. I don’t care, I’m gonna do my thing and you’re either with me, or fucking get out of the way. I would watch them every night and go like, “that’s a real deal.” You know, they’re not huge by any stretch of the imagination but they should be. They probably won’t be because that’s just how the music business is but that’s fine. We all do this because we love it. Yeah, I think they were on tour with us for almost six weeks and I think I watched them every night.
Do you have an artist that you love in a genre that you don’t usually listen to?
I think that all genres of music have great artists. When you say things like, “I hate Rap”, well, I don’t hate SNOOP. You know what I mean? It’s like, I don’t hate Rap, even though I might hate 99% of it. Or I might hate 99% of Country but yeah, I’m listening to HANK WILLIAMS, why not? Or JOHNNY CASH. I think that all genres of music have an artist that you’ll go, “you know what, that’s good.” Good may be subjective but you can’t deny it. You know, just because someone is famous doesn’t necessarily mean they’re good. They might be cute but that doesn’t mean shit. There’s someone good in every genre. Open yourself up and go find them.
What would you say are some of the most memorable shows that you’ve seen?
I saw The CLASH in 1979. I was 15 and that really set the standard for what I found possible. Up until that point, I had sort of been a fan of QUIET RIOT with Randy Rhoads and, you know, KISS and stuff that was sort of unattainable. The Clash was the first band to appear sort of like, “those guys are just guys.” They’re great but they were just guys. So that show was eye-opening. First time I saw BLACK FLAG, with Dez singing and it was like, “these guys are crazy!” You can be angry and do all this stuff.
I saw The SMITHS the first time they came to the States and really was taken aback by that. That sonic template that just didn’t exist until them. The memory of that show was they had like 500 car headlights behind the stage and when they walked on stage, they just turned them all on and it was blinding. You’re like, “holy shit!” Then they went into the song and they were just like these UFO dudes and I’m like, “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.” That was sort of a life affirming moment of live music.
Do you have any recent memory of a band you discovered live and that blew you away?
Sometimes I feel like I’m out of the loop, especially when it comes to European and UK artists. But a few years ago, we were on tour somewhere in Scandinavia and the headlining act on this festival was a band called MUSE. I had never heard of them and the people go, “Oh, yeah, I think they’re pretty big.” I went over and there was a lot of people, but I watched the show and it was phenomenal. I had no idea what they were doing and the music was whatever, but I was kind of blown away by them and that whole thing that they were doing. This is the shit that happens when you’re not paying attention. Kind of like FRANK TURNER who’s huge in Europe but he comes here and he just works his ass off. Then in Europe, he’s playing in front of 20,000 people.
German transcript updated
English transcript added
English transcript added
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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