Todd Rundgren was one of Greg's childhood idols. His album A Wizard, a True Star (1973) is one of Greg's favorites and Another Live (1975), an album by Todd's band Utopia, was of great importance for Greg's future musical style. Bobby once said about Into The Unknown that "if you like Todd Rundgren, you'll love this album; it's very Utopia."
He was the producer of The New America. Greg said that he was able to see some of Todd's negative personality traits and that the other band members didn't like Todd's style of production. However, Greg really admires his talent for guitar playing and song crafting, and still considers him an inspiration and a friend.
Greg Graffin: "All the negative rumors didn't pan out. The rock history books are full of them, and Todd is in every one. 'He's a prick in the studio; he's an egomaniac; it's his way or the highway,' all that. But the people who were hurt, they were oversensitive egomaniacs themselves. Who gets offended by an egomaniac unless their ego was trampled? I have a pretty healthy ego. I am a secure egomaniac, and if anyone is going to try to trash me, I come at 'em with both barrels. He can pick me apart, and I'll be just as incisive back. So we got along great. He has a sharp tongue, and so do I. He has a resilient character, and so do I. He used to be my hero, and now he's just my friend. He said very plainly, 'You've been around for 20 years, and the only thing you're afraid of is changing.' He came on strong: 'You talk about change, but what about yourselves changing?' What was I going to say? He produced the first punk record ever, if you accept the New York Dolls as the first punk band.
I respected what he was saying, but I took it with a grain of salt. Anyone who listens to us can't say we haven't changed. But he helped instill an ethic in us not to be afraid of change, or of how the punk elite will take it -- how to be authentic. And it's time, with the millennium, our anniversary, to make a statement about ourselves. We've done every kind of social analysis possible, and it was time to focus on our concerns. I know how to make records, I didn't learn that from him. But what I learned, it's like having a good editor to be a great writer. He challenged me to be as clear as possible. And he and I spent more time laughing than anything else. If people didn't get along with him, it was because he picked on their insecurities...
You gotta own your feelings. That's a therapy word. Don't externalize things that bother you. If you don't like hearing the truth about your own shortcomings, don't talk to Todd. That's what happened to Andy Partridge. He's probably still moaning about [working with Rundgren], but even he would say Todd helped him make the best XTC record ever. I'm not whining and moaning about it. Most producers suck your dick: 'You're the greatest, you rule.' That's why most records suck: You're not challenged. But we were legitimately challenged. He would be very honest. I'm pretty immune to criticism. It's kinda like taxes -- how can you let it bring you down? If you want to misjudge me, though, you'll be in for a good fight."
Recording The New America has been one of the most controversial experiences for Bad Religion, and in particular their experience with producer Todd Rundgren. Although Greg Graffin has been a long-time fan of Tod Rundgren and says to have enjoyed Rundgren and the studio time with him, other band members have quite a different opinion. Around the release of The New America, no one said anything bad about it, but after some time (when promotion for The Process Of Belief began) they opened up in interviews.
Here are some of the 'better' descriptions of Rundgren:
"We're on Hawaï, it's raining and Todd Rundgren needs more beer because he only had like 50 that day. Rundgren doesn't have a car, because his wife has it. So we see him riding a ladies bike, wearing a poncho, in the rain, with a basket full of beer cans. At the same time he's trying to drink; he takes a nose dive, almost gets hit by a car and on his hands and knees tries to find his beer. That's our producer..."
"Todd Rundgren is a talentless piece of shit. But Greg thinks he's Ok, so that makes it alright. I've never understood why he needed to produce The New America."