American Lesion was Greg Graffin's first solo record. It was released on November 7, 1997 and recorded at Polypterus Studio, Ithaca, NY from February through July, 1997. Greg played all the instruments on the record. Bobby is thanked on the record, however, he did not play on it. Greg used Bobby's drum kit that was in Greg's basement. It was mastered at Sterling Sound, NYC. 10,000 to 15,000 copies were pressed.
Asked about his motivation for doing the record, Greg answered: "To experiment. It was a way to perform some of my more emotional songs as opposed to Bad Religion which is still emotional but on a more worldly level." The disillusion of his marriage and the birth of his children have played a big role.
Before doing this solo album, Greg first asked the other BR members. It was okay for them because, as Graffin said, "we all support each others' creativity." He said that American Lesion is an insight into his writing process.
Graffin: "This concept relates to today's climate in our business-dominated society. You are seen as a pariah if you try to do something that isn't profitable, regardless of the emotional wellness it promotes. You become, in a sense, a lesion on the tranquil surface of prosperity that America stands for."
Graffin: "More and more people in every socio-economic class are working longer and harder to try and make ends meet. Paying the bills has become our most precious motivation. In this scramble for dollars we are becoming purely robotic, concerned with and motivated by mere black positive numbers, losing touch with our more sensitive human capacities. Our new national heritage is one of dollar signs and the trail of broken hearts that litter the way in our request for the gold."
The promo for American Lesion is pretty non-descript with no booklet, just a plain white rear insert with the listing. Another version is basically the album with some golden writing printed on the cover that reads "For promotional use only. Sale or other transfer is prohibited, must be returned on demand of recording company". No singles or song promos were released.
In November 1997 Greg played three concerts in support of the album:
In New York City, Greg played seven out of the album's ten songs, leaving out "Maybe She Will", "The Elements" and "In The Mirror". Acoustic BR songs played were Cease, Punk Rock Song, Struck A Nerve, Get Off and God Song.
The show in L.A. also featured acoustic / piano-backed renditions of BR songs such as Struck A Nerve, Punk Rock Song, God Song etc. Greg was the opening act for Nicklebag, whose singer was also a backup singer for the Rolling Stones. Therefore, rumor had it that the Rolling Stones were going to perform unannounced, so a lot of people not interested in Graffin's music attended the show. Pete Finestone was also there. On January 5, 1998 the American Lesion Cybercast was intended to be broadcast through the Internet to let everyone hear the recording of the gig, but it never happened. Originally, the cybercast should have been broadcast live but had to be cancelled due to technical difficulties.
On April 27, 1998 he played at CSUN (where he used to study), where he also played a few requests from the audience. There were a handful of hardcore BR fans, but most attendees were unaware of who he was.
On November 3, 1998 Greg played at the Knitting Factory in New York again. Setlist:
Pete Finestone: "I am so proud of him [Greg] that I almost feel embarrassed. A release [A.L.] full of recriminations but also cognizant of his own shortcomings. You need to get it."
Oklahoma Daily (1997; by Heidi Holeman):
"American Lesion is seemingly much happier than standard BR tunes, but this is a deceptive first impression of the music. Graffin's lyrics are characteristically critical of society and biting in nature. In reference to the album, Graffin said people who try to do something that isn't profitable, regardless of the emotional benefit it creates, become lesions on the placid surface of American prosperity. He goes on to equate our new national heritage with dollar signs and a trail of broken hearts. Despite slow, sometimes acoustic ballads, this attitude is apparent throughout most of American Lesion. The rest of the CD is more introspective than we've come to expect from the BR frontman. Fate's Cruel Hand for example, is a slow, bluesy tune about desperation in the face of complete confusion. Another standout is the piano version of 'Cease' from The Grey [sic] Race. Obviously, this CD reveals a much more emotional and personal side of Graffin, much to the appreciation of fans. And, never fear, the band hasn't broken up, this is just a side project of tunes written in the past ten years."
A remastered vinyl version (red or black, 180 gram) of American Lesion was reissued via Epitaph on July 24, 2020. Additionally, it was released to digital streaming platforms in April 2020.
The term 'American Lesion' appears in Tony Kushner's play Angels in America: Millennium Approaches. Prior and Louis are gay lovers and Prior talks about his lesions: "Lesion number one. Lookit. The wine-dark kiss of the angel of death (...) I'm a lesionnaire. The foreign lesion. The American lesion. Lesionnaire's disease." American Lesion is also the name under which the Adolescents, Suicidal Tendencies and TSOL publish their music (American Lesion Music).
|07/24||Added reissue - By Stinger66|
|11/22||Greg playing all instruments; bobbys drum kit. - By Stinger66|
|11/18||added blurb about CSUN show - By Stinger66|
|11/12||linked Joe Murry - By Stinger66|