|Category:||Article - Magazine||Publish date:||7/1/1992|
|Synopsis:||Article from a local newspaper, promoting the 07/16/1992 show in Toronto, Canada.|
Bad Religion step up to the punk altar but preaching is not part of the sermon.
By Chris O'Connor
When you're drowing in a sargasso of commerciality, swimming to the nearest available beacon.
Back in the Dark Ages that beacon happened to consist of four Bo Diddley freaks who called themselves the Clash - " the only band that matters" - at least until you could Cut the Crap with a knife.
Today, in these Even Darker Ages, the guiding lights are winking out even more quickly - Rollins gone to Gap ads, Social Distortion gone to the AM dial, Glenn Danzig just gone to hell. Sometimes it seems as if there's only one beacon still burning purely after 13 years.
These days, California's Bad Religion are "the only band that matters."
What? You want objective proof? Hmpf. Well, they're still completely self-managed and marketed thourgh the indie label (Epitaph) they founded and continue to run, and they actually back up their socially consicous lyrics with university degrees
We're talking dessed-down normal types who have kept wilfully oblivious to alterna-trendiness, yet have managed to sell over 100,000 copies of their latest album, Generator. They are, in short, several scads more punk than anyone in the buss cut: Heck, only real survivors of the SoCal hardcore scene would actually deny being punk.
"I question its revancy today," allows bassist Jay Bentley, taking a quick break from paperwork at the Epitaph fortress in Hollywood. "I see a lot of what we're doing as being closer to angly folk music than what most people consider punk rock. But as far as turning our backs on a scene, I think we've come further than we ever could've imagined, so there's not any desire to turn away and say, " Well now we want something bigger."
And even though Bad Religion are rivalled only by Fugazzi in the DIY Purity Stakes, there are still cries of "Sellout!" from the moshpit.
"We've done exectly the same thing for 13 years," insists Bentley. "We haven't changed, we're still on the same label. But you're always gonna get that; we've even had people complain about things as miniscule as the album covers. But you accept that, because it's unhealthy for anyone to like everything you do - then they'd be totally mindless."
Bad Religion have also inspired, well, religious devotion, and even though the average BR song has more lofty concepts than the stardard Papal speech, Bentley still feels the miter's a little too big for their heads. On "No Direction," they throw it right off and back at the feet of the devoted: " No Bad Religion song can make your life complete/Prepare for rejection/You'll get no direction from me."
"A lot of the lyrics are like beacons, so maybe instead of being like moths drawn to it, you can figure it out for yourself. That's somethingwe all have to deal with: jeez, I'm confused every day. When I was 16, I told everybody, "I know it all, you don't have to tell me jack shit." Then years later and I'm saying, "God, I don't know anything, and I never will, but I'm gonna keep learning. Sometimes I even wonder what this band's about. I think if I ever knew, I'd probably quit, because that world of confusion is what keeps me searching, because if I knew what we were doing, it would eliminate all the other possibilities."
If Bentley's figured out anything, it's that Bad Religion might exist "to create someting with meaning and relevance. You can paint a picture of a flowe, or one of a battlefield. And some can say both are art, and others can look into them a bit deeper, and say " They're both real, but some things are realer than others".
Just as some bands matter more than others.
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