Interview with Bad Religion. October 1993

Interview: Bad Religion


Intelligent, uncompromising, perpetually challenging the status quo: all of the above help to describe Bad Religion, the thinking-man’s hardcore act. Formed in 1980 by high school classmates Greg Graffin and Jay Bentley, Bad Religion finally hit the major leagues this year, culminating in a five-album deal with Atlantic Records. But before anyone cries “sell-out”, a 20-minute telephone interview with Graffin was more than enough to convince me that the band who wrote “Man With A Mission” is the self-same authors of “Quality or Quantity.” Their headlining set on October 13 with Greenday, Seaweed and Rancid is one of the year’s most eagerly awaited shows and anyone who misses it on the grounds of “sell-out” is making a big mistake. Following are excerpts from the candid conversation with Graffin.

Bad Religion is: Greg Graffin (Vocals); Mr. Brett (Guitars & Backing Vocals); Greg Hetson (Guitars); Jay Bentley (Bass Guitar & Backing Vocals); Bobby Schayer (Drums).

SLUG: I guess what everyone wants to know is why, after 13 years, did you go to the majors?

GREG: Well, actually, it was more like the president of Atlantic came to us, not vice-versa. Actually, year after year, we had a harder time balancing Bad Religion and our other careers. With this deal, we’ll be able to concentrate part of our time on Bad Religion knowing that it’s going to be the most important thing we work on. Also, we’ll now get distribution on our records everywhere. 

The five members of Bad Religion
Greg Graffin (Vocals); Mr. Brett (Guitars & Backing Vocals); Greg Hetson (Guitars); Jay Bentley (Bass Guitar & Backing Vocals); Bobby Schayer (Drums). October 1993

SLUG: Yeah, maybe if you get a larger audience you can get people into other Epitaph bands.

GREG: That’s Mr. Brett’s thing – “Mr. Brett” Gurewitz operates and owns Epitaph Records – but we’ve always felt that punk never reached its full potential. I’ve always felt that punk should bridge out to a bigger audience, and that our style of punk has that rare opportunity.

SLUG: I understand you guys always feel like you have to top each album. Does the new record, “Recipe For Hate”, reflect that? And how do the new collaborations fit? (Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, Concrete Blonde’s Johnette Napolitano and members of Clawhammer all put in guest performances on the new record).

GREG: Actually, we’ve always wanted to do collaborations, but we’ve never had the time. Most of our records have taken about a week, but this time it almost took us a month. That’s a long time for us, and we’re really pleased by this one.

SLUG: Unlike other Bad Religion records, “Recipe For Hate” has slower tempos and more intricate music. Why the change?

GREG: Well, as we get older, we’re slowing down. (laughs) No, really, we’ve made more than 100 songs now and not every one can be out raging. We have to have some slow ones. But “Lookin’ In” is as fast as anything we’ve ever done.

SLUG: You certainly don’t sound like you’re getting any less angry about what you see going on in this country.

GREG: No. And I hope if we ever get satisfied with everything that happens, someone will shoot us and put us out of our misery. I think our fans feel that way, too. I’ve always felt that punks, to a large extent, are more intelligent than most music fans. I just hope they’re not going to disappoint me. They’re the future.

SLUG: Well, I know a lot of these fans have been waiting a long time to see you live again. What can you do to reassure them?

GREG: They’re not going to be disappointed in us, I promise. And we’re not going to turn our backs on these fans. We wouldn’t be here if not for them.

SLUG: Greg, thanks for the time. And if you ever need a full-time P.R. guy, let me know.

Greg: I’ll keep that in mind. 


Read more from the SLUG Archives:
Interview: Jim Thirwell A.K.A. Clint Ruin of Foetus, INC. 
Interview: Lydia Lunch