Brett Gurewitz: "I spent the time between 1983 and 1987 developing a pretty phenomenal drug habit and learning how to be a recording engineer. I hadn’t been in the band for a few years but Greg had kept Bad Religion going through his college years. I ultimately got clean by April 1987, when I had a chance to play a show with the band again. The guys found me imminently more bearable when I was clean and said, “Hey, let’s make a record.” So Greg and I each wrote two songs a week and in a month we had Suffer."
Greg Graffin said Brett's return to Bad Religion in 1987 "really motivated Brett, and me too, that's why Suffer has so much life to it. Here was a bunch of guys that hadn't been together for a while, and then we find out not only do we have a better outlook on life and understand more about the world so we can write a little more lucidly, but we both sound better than ever. (...) At that time I wasn't trying to be punk anymore, I wanted to deliver a more honest representation of the lyrics, I had these ideas I wanted to communicate. I guess I was concentrating more on communication, than trying to define our sound or fit into a genre".
Jay Bentley: "I think you just get better at what you're doing. A lot of the early songs, when people say you're a three chord punk band, they're absolutely right. However, on Suffer there were songs that really were songs; verse, chorus, bridge, these are not three chord songs at all. I think that simply has to do with trying not to write the same material over and over again, so you have to write different kinds of music. It's not different styles, but just expanding on what you're playing, so they became more song like".
Bobby Schayer: "Suffer is what punk rock is about. I just think that over time you progress as a songwriter and all that, but for me Suffer was the rebirth, that was where How Could Hell... left off".
Suffer was influenced by the writings of Fyodor Dostoyevski. Brett: "(...) the whole concept comes from how Dostoevski felt that sublimation and catharsis can be achieved through suffering, how one can't really come without the other. Almost all his books have that central theme. It's not that suffering is bad, it's like you suffer and come out the other side purified, purged."
Suffer was recorded in April of 1988 in no more than seven or eight days.
To record his bass tracks, Jay used a Hiwatt SA212 combo into an Electro-Voice EVM12L speaker mounted in in a KK Audio closed back cabinet. The same method was used on all albums from Suffer through No Substance, except Against The Grain. In 2010 he again used the same gear on The Dissent Of Man.
The cover artwork was done by Jerry Mahoney.
Greg Graffin: "The image occured to me and Jerry while they were working as salad-bar hosts at an L.A. restaurant. That image seemed to capture the simultaneous anger, powerless, and defiane of my teenage years, emotions that fueled my songwriting and performances in the early days of the band"
Brett said that although the boy on the cover is in flames, he is not consumed by the fire. The flames are just a symbol for the burning questions and that living means to be able to suffer.
Jay: "If you look really carefully at the Suffer lyric sheet, you can see the Rickenbacker headstock coming out from the hole in the wall just around the lightswitch. That was my bedroom at my mom's house. The hole was from an old intercom system that didn't work anyway. I just took it all out, 'cause they would turn it on in the morning like an alarm clock."
The guitar on the lyric sheet is Jay's 1973 Gibson SG II. He bought it in 1982. He sold it to Greg Hetson after the release of Into the Unknown for parts. A few years later, he was helping Hetson move, found it all stripped out and bought it back. He remade the pickguard and installed the mighty mite pickup that came in the case. He bought a trapeze tailstop and found a junky bridge in his mom's garage. He installed some grovers and it began playing again. He still has it. 
The cover was since copied by NOFX ("Surfer", 2001) and the German band Money Left To Burn ("Sucker", 2011).
It was released on 9.8.88 and it sold 4,000 copies, which was cool to them considering how utterly insignificant Epitaph was at the time. In 1993 Brett said it was his favorite BR album.
In 1988 the album was voted best album of the year by the editors of Trust Magazine and Maximum Rock and Roll and by the readers (and the editor) of Flipside.
Greg Graffin: "I thought it was going to be a gold record and picked as the album of the year, but it only sold like 3,000 copies in the first year. It was the start of me recognizing that the Bad Religion sentiment really jived nicely with the scientific pursuits I was undertaking; I started to borrow a lot more concepts from academia and science for my songwriting."
Kerrang Magazine published a 100 must-have-albums section (year unknown!!). It ranked albums in categories such as 'old skool' punk, 'new school' punk, hard rock, metal etc. Bad Religion's Suffer came in 10th in the category of old school punk. The album description reads:
"At the end of the 80's US punk rock was in a shocking state: The violent had become toothless, the good had become something else and the bad had become heavy metal. Enter Bad Religion and their third full length album, two minute tunes, rodeo pacing melodies that stuck in your head like pop songs. At the time of its release Suffer sold 10 000 copies, which is really nothing. But it did more than this, it revitalised a scene in need of life and provided the blueprint for almost every Californian band of the type that came to follow."
There were rumors of an 8-track tape release of the album. However, Jay denied that rumor as Epitaph never released it. In fact It's said that no 8-tracks were released in the 80s at all.
|09/19||added jay's guitar info - By Stinger66|
|06/03||Added details about Jay's gear - By Marty|