“I’m Nicole Alvarez. Are you guys ready to welcome our family and our friends? We call them Bad Religion!”
Bad Religion, the Godfathers of Southern California hardcore punk rock and truly KROQ family, are inspired rather than impeded by their age. After more than three decades of rocking out and sixteen albums under their belts, Bad Religion tackled a plethora of artistic and business endeavors (including guitarist Brett Gurewitz’s popular Epitaph Records), but the process hasn’t quelled their rebellious humors or their rage against the man. Even, if now, the man is themselves.
“Basically the only thing that’s changed as you get older is basically everything on stage after a concert,” said frontman Greg Graffin in an interview with Alvarez before the band’s performance at the Red Bull Sound Space at KROQ. “Every part is in pain and it gives you plenty of anger for the show you have to do tomorrow, so it’s not hard at all to maintain an angry disposition.”
After years of unmitigated commercial success, a rare thing for a punk band to accomplish, Bad Religion now have children to shave off the thorny bits of themselves, including young daughters that have inspired a bit of feminism.
“The truth is that feminism is something I didn’t think much about until about 18 years ago when I had a daughter and now she’s in college,” admitted Graffin. “Luckily, we can talk about those things. A lot of the guys in the band, Jay, Brett, now have little daughters as well… Bad Religion, a long time ago, played Rock For Choice at the Palladium. Great moment in our career. Any feminist groups that want to get Bad Religion to support their cause call Cathy our tour manager.”
The amusingly acerbic band has just released their 16th album, True North. Instead of slowing down like one would imagine from a band that’s been putting albums out since 1982, Bad Religion were inspired by Epitaph buddies Pennywise and their super-sized, super-charged punk sound.
“I thought it was a return to their greatest record,” confessed Gurewitz. “It really inspired me and I thought, ‘We can do that.’ It made me want to write a tough record.”
Judging from some of the provocative titles of the sixteen songs on True North like “F**k You” and “Land of Endless Greed,” they did. When asked about how he brings his hardcore Minor Threat roots to the new album, guitarist Brian Baker joked that when you hear a backing vocal on any records that have come out since he’s been in the band that sounds like a grunt “that’s the hardcore coming through. “
“On the new record, you’ll hear that this comes through about five times,” continued Baker sardonically.
Since their inception, Bad Religion has always had a, shall we say, spicy sense of humor. Alvarez lists off band names that could have been like Head Cheese, A Really Good Band From The Valley, and Bad Family Life quoting bassist Jay Bentley that once they decided on Bad Religion it was because “it felt like it was offensive enough to mean something.”
“Have you offended enough people?” Alvarez countered. “Not anywhere close. We’ve got a long way to go,” replied Bad Religion. We’re sure Bad Religion fans wont be offended by another thirty-something years of Bad Religion’s raucous, confrontational sound.
Bad Religion’s True North is out now on Epitaph Records.
–Nadia Noir, KROQ Los Angeles