Bad Religion

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Bad Religion


“You can really break it down to one of the first songs that we ever wrote, which was actually quite funny. It was a song about when man first hit man,” laughs bassist Jay Bentley.

“Why? What was going on there? Was it like, ‘I’m not sharing my toys with you, that’s my food, [so] I’m going to hit you on the head with a stick? We’re not really so far removed from that same ideology of like… ‘What’s going on in peoples’ mind that allows them to behave the way they behave?’”

Despite frontman Greg Graffin and guitarist Brett Gurewitz handling the lyrical content, Bentley says the band usually see eye to eye when it comes to the subject matter they preach.

“If there’s anything super far outside the bubble of what we would consider ourselves able to stand behind [individually]…  it just needs to change. But out of our 220-something songs, that’s only happened once.”
Bentley says the band will persevere in a similar lyrical direction on their sixteenth studio album due later this year – the only details the band can presently disclose about the forthcoming release. 

“We’re going to do an operatic album, and it’s going to be all soprano,” quips Bentley, dissolving into laughter.
“No, I think what I’ve found, historically, is that any time we’ve every talked about ‘hey we’re going to do this,’ it ends up not being that – things can change… [The album is] so embryonic right now, Brett [Gurewitz] has a couple of songs that he’s happy about, and Greg [Graffin] is digging his acoustic guitar out of storage, it’s kind of how we work.”

Rumours have been circulating, originally derived from comments made by the members themselves, that Bad Religion’s upcoming record would be their last – an untruth Bentley quashes quickly when asked if the band are approaching the end of the road.

“No. It’s just funny to say stuff like that,” he laughs, always the comedian. “Before that we were carrying on with this aneurism joke for about two years, like ‘one of us is going to have an aneurism on stage, and that’s going the end of the band’… that didn’t happen.”
All pranks aside, Bentley admits that when Bad Religion do call it quits, they’ll go quietly. 

“I don’t think we’re going to announce it, I think it will just happen. You’ll say ‘whatever happened to those guys?’ Then you’ll Google it and be like, ‘Oh, I see. Okay.’”

Despite being well accustomed to life on the road, Bentley foresees himself able to assimilate into a regular routine once the band do throw in the towel. “I’m one of those people who has this bizarre pride in my craft – no matter what it is. If I’m waxing a car, or digging a ditch I want it to be perfect.”

But Bentley says as long as the band continues touring, a permanent occupation is rendered impossible to maintain.

“I couldn’t go on the road for 18 months and maintain some sort of a job where I had any kind of responsibility because that would be just completely unfair to the people I was responsible to. My last job at Epitaph, I actually fired myself, it was amazing. I wrote a nice long letter, and I handed it to myself and I said, ‘You’re fired!’”

While adjusting to a regular lifestyle doesn’t faze Bentley, he is more concerned about who will take the thrown in today’s music industry when the stalwarts wrap it up.

“The problem with the ‘punk rock crown’ is that when alternative music became main stream, the question arose – alternative to what? Punk rock bands used to do it out of pure hatred – and there was never the idea that you were ever going to be popular, or make a dime, because everybody hated you and you hated them right back – [but] that has been replaced with management, and record labels and money. To me, that ‘punk rock mantle’ will be owned by the person who’s driving around in a Volkswagen, busting an acoustic guitar, playing in coffee shops, and saying ‘I just don’t fucking care.’”

Bentley asserts that it’s not as much labels or commerciality that poses the problem, but the approach of artists’ themselves.

“One of the most important bands in the world, the Clash, has the CBN logo on the bottom left hand corner of all their albums. That didn’t make the albums any less important. It’s only when you start letting that company have a say in what you do, and you start compromising because they say, ‘Hey, you’d sell more records if you dress this way, hey that song isn’t poppy enough, you say “fuck” too much’ – when those things start to happen, then you have a problem.”

Bentley affirms that acts with integrity, committed to the music and not fashion or fame, are what today’s music industry is left wanting. “Because punk rock has been around for long enough now, there are different genres and time frames of fashion,” he scoffs.

“I watch bands and I see their boots and their jeans tucked up and they’re wearing their braces, so they’re obviously ‘Oi!’… I just want to see guys who are standing like ‘I’m wearing a shirt that my mum made for me, awesome!’”

Luckily the veterans don’t plan on going anywhere soon, and will grace us with their presence at Soundwave Festival this Friday March 2, where Bentley says Aussie audiences will be affronted by “angry, screaming, loud guitars, with some political rhetoric thrown in between.” Can’t wait.