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Bad Religion
Bad Religion.jpg
Background Information
Origin Woodland Hills, California
Genre Punk Rock
Hardcore Punk[1][2][3]
Melodic Hardcore[4]
Progressive Rock[5]
Years active 1980-1984
Label(s) Epitaph
Associated Acts Bad4Good
Black President
Circle Jerks
Dag Nasty
Infectious Grooves
Minor Threat
Suicidal Tendencies
The Vandals
Website http://www.badreligion.com
Greg Graffin
Brett Gurewitz
Greg Hetson
Brian Baker
Jay Bentley
Brooks Wackerman
Former Members
Jay Ziskrout
Davy Goldman
Tim Gallegos
Pete Finestone
John Albert
Lucky Lehrer
Bobby Schayer
Paul Dedona

Bad Religion is an American punk rock band, founded in Southern California in 1980 by Jay Bentley (bass), Greg Graffin (vocals), Brett Gurewitz (guitars) and Jay Ziskrout (drums). They are often credited for leading the revival of punk rock during the late 1980s, as well as influencing a large number of other punk and rock musicians throughout their career. In the 28 years since its inception, Bad Religion has had numerous lineup changes, and Graffin has been the only constant member; however, the band currently features three of the original four members.

To date, Bad Religion has released fourteen studio albums, two EPs, three compilation albums, one live recording, and two DVDs. Their 1988 album Suffer has been regarded by some critics as one of the most important hardcore punk albums of all time,[6] although it was not charted in Billboard. Bad Religion rose to fame with their 1994 major-label release Stranger Than Fiction, which produced their well-known hit singles "21st Century (Digital Boy)" and "Infected". Following Gurewitz's departure in 1994, Bad Religion declined in popularity and poor record sales continued until the release of The New America in 2000. Gurewitz returned to the fold in 2001, making Bad Religion a six-piece band, and contributed to their three most recent albums. The band has discussed the possibility of recording their next studio album, which is expected to be released in June 2009,[7] and will also mark the first time that a Bad Religion line-up had not changed in four consecutive studio recordings.

They are particularly known for their sophisticated use of style, metaphor, vocabulary, imagery, and vocal harmonies (the oozin' aahs), whether reflective on matters of personal feelings or of personal or social responsibility.


Formation and early career (1980-1982)[]

Bad Religion was formed in Los Angeles, California in 1980 by high school students Greg Graffin (Vocals, keyboards), Jay Bentley (bass), Jay Ziskrout (drums), and Brett Gurewitz, also known as "Mr. Brett" (guitar). James O'Hanlon from New York filled in on guitar briefly as well while Brett was in the hospital with a broken leg. The band's major influences stemmed from earlier punk acts such as The Ramones, The Adolescents, Black Flag, The Germs, and The Sex Pistols. Outside of the punk scene, their influences ranged from Elvis Costello, The Jam, and Nick Lowe to authors like Jack Kerouac.[8] Greg Graffin called his influences "pop sounding rock tunes that were not necessarily commercial."[9]

In 1981, the band released their eponymous debut EP on the newly-formed label, Epitaph Records, which was and continues to be managed and owned by Gurewitz. 1982 saw the release of their first full-length album, How Could Hell Be Any Worse?, gaining the band a sizable following. During the recording of How Could Hell Be Any Worse?, Jay Ziskrout left the band and was replaced by Peter Finestone.

Into the Unknown, Back to the Known and hiatus (1983-1985)[]

In 1983, the band released Into the Unknown, a keyboard-driven progressive rock album that was enormously unpopular with the band's core fanbase. It is now officially out of print, after almost all of the 10,000 copies were surreptitiously sold out of the warehouse they were being stored in by Suzy Shaw, an ex-girlfriend of Gurewitz.[10]

The record has since become a collectors item, and has also gained acceptance from some fans. It can be seen going for more than 100 dollars on eBay, but is often pirated. A common sign of a pirated version of the LP is the bluish hue on the cover, instead of the reddish hue.

Also in 1983, the Mystic Records compilation album "The Sound Of Hollywood, Vol. 2" was released featuring two Bad Religion songs - "Every Day" and "Waiting For The Fire" which continued in the mellow acoustic/keyboard direction of the previous album. These songs are exclusive to this vinyl-only release which has been out of print for many years.

In 1984, Greg Hetson of Circle Jerks fame, who had played the guitar solo for "Part III" on How Could Hell Be Any Worse?, teamed up with Graffin on the song "Running Fast" for the soundtrack of the film Desperate Teenage Lovedolls. Originally credited to Greg Greg on the initial release, the 1997 CD reissue lists the artist as Greg Graffin and Greg Hetson. Soon after, Graffin reassembled Bad Religion with Hetson replacing Gurewitz, who had gone into rehab for his drug problem. Bad Religion returned to a somewhat mellower, rock and roll version of their original sound with the Back to the Known EP, but disbanded temporarily soon after.

In 1985, Brett Gurewitz released a 5-song EP on Epitaph Records under the name The Seeing Eye Gods. This psychedelic influenced record is long out of print and has never been released on CD.

Reunion and Suffer (1986-1988)[]

The band slowly reformed out of the 1984 Back to the Known lineup when Greg Graffin called Jay Bentley and asked him to return. Bentley's response was tentative, but after being assured that the setlist consisted mostly of tracks from How Could Hell Be Any Worse?, he agreed to return for one show, and ended up staying on because he had so much fun. A freshly rehabilitated Gurewitz was eventually convinced to come back aboard, and with Pete Finestone returning on drums and Greg Hetson on second guitar, Bad Religion was back.[10]

The reunited band released Suffer in 1988, cementing their comeback in the punk community. Not only is this album often cited as one of their very best by fans, but it is credited with "saving" the Southern California punk rock scene by fans and Bad Religion's contemporaries alike.[11]

No Control, Against the Grain and Generator (1989-1992)[]

During the Suffer tour in 1988, Bad Religion began writing "album's worth of material" and debuted a new song called "21st Century (Digital Boy)". After the Suffer tour ended in early 1989, Bad Religion immediately decided to commence work on their next album and entered the Westbeach Recorders studio in June of that year to record it. The resulting album, No Control, was released in November 1989, and ended up selling more than 50,000 copies. By the time it was released, the band had become one of the most critically-praised hardcore punk bands of the time, in spite of a lack of mainstream success.

Bad Religion's hardcore punk style continued with their next album, Against the Grain, which was released in 1990. While the album still did not break the group into mainstream audiences, it was the first 100,000 seller, and showed how quickly they were growing. The track "21st Century (Digital Boy)" off the album, which was originally intended to appear on No Control, is generally regarded the band's most well-known song, and is often a staple at live shows.

Bad Religion's sixth album, Generator, was released in 1992. Before recording sessions for Generator commenced, drummer Pete Finestone left Bad Religion early in 1991 to focus on his other band, The Fishermen, which had signed with a major label, and Bobby Schayer joined the band as his replacement.

To coincide with the band's success, Bad Religion released a compilation album, 80-85, in 1991. It is a repackaging of their debut album, How Could Hell Be Any Worse?, their two EPs, Bad Religion and Back to the Known and the band's three track contributions to the Public Service EP. This compilation did not include Into the Unknown. 80-85 is now out of print and has been replaced by the 2004 re-issued version of How Could Hell Be Any Worse? with the same track listings.

Mainstream success (1993-1995)[]

With alternative rock and grunge breaking into the mainstream, Bad Religion left Epitaph Records for Atlantic Records and quickly re-released their seventh full-length studio album Recipe for Hate (1993) on the major label. Also in 1993, the band recorded the song "Leaders and Followers" for the soundtrack for the Kevin Smith film, Clerks. Their next album, 1994's Stranger Than Fiction, subsequently became their most successful release, scoring hits with "Infected" and a re-recording of "21st Century (Digital Boy)", which was originally released on Against the Grain. To date, Stranger Than Fiction remains another one of Bad Religion's best known albums, with sales continuing thirteen years after its release. On March 4, 1998, it also became the band's first RIAA certified gold record for sales of over half a million in the U.S.[12]

Before the release of Stranger Than Fiction, Gurewitz left the band. He officially cited the reason for his departure as the increasing amount of time he was needed at Epitaph as The Offspring became one of the biggest bands of the mid-1990s, but it was well known that his departure was not on good terms. Gurewitz, along with many fans, accused the band of selling out for leaving Epitaph to seek greater financial success despite the fact that Gurewitz was making millions off of The Offspring alone.[13]

As tensions increased, Graffin would sing alternate lyrics during concerts such as "I want to know where Brett gets his crack" or "I want to know why Gurewitz cracked," on the song "Stranger Than Fiction".[14] These barbs referred to Gurewitz's struggles with crack, heroin and other addictions which plagued him for years. Brett discussed his drug use in an interview on the band's Suffer tour documentary, Along the Way, and is now clean and sober. In response, Gurewitz recorded a song with his new band The Daredevils entitled "Hate You", reportedly directed towards Jay Bentley.

Gurewitz was replaced as a guitarist by Brian Baker, a former member of bands such as Minor Threat and Dag Nasty. Since Greg Graffin and Gurewitz had split songwriting duties, Graffin was now Bad Religion's primary songwriter.

Sans Gurewitz period (1996-2000)[]

Bad Religion continued touring and recording without Brett Gurewitz and released three more albums for Atlantic, starting with The Gray Race (1996), produced by former Cars frontman Ric Ocasek. The album would score Bad Religion a minor U.S. radio hit with the song "A Walk" as well as the European release of "Punk Rock Song" (sung in both English and German). The band would find its greatest success in Europe, where the album would reach the German music charts at #6 and score the band their first European gold record for sales in Scandinavia alone.

Their next album, No Substance (1998), was not as well received by the critics or fans.[15] For The New America (2000), Todd Rundgren, an early musical inspiration for Graffin, was brought in to produce.

"Todd was kind of an underground sensation back in 1974. Here's a guy who was making pop music but in a way that you wouldn't hear on the radio. So much of my early musical identity was wrapped up in the way he conducted himself."

In the summer of 1999 they set out on a three month US arena tour opening for Blink 182.[16] Unfortunately, the experience might not have been all that Greg and the rest of the band might have hoped. Interest in recording the record waned, due to Rundgren's poor attitude. Jay Bentley reflects on this by saying,

"I didn't feel we were going anywhere and so did Greg. Todd didn't like Greg and that made Greg so mad! He met his idol and he was a jerk! I don't think Todd gave a shit about anything."[17]

Meanwhile, Bobby Schayer left the band following a serious shoulder injury and was replaced by Brooks Wackerman (Suicidal Tendencies).

Bad Religion departed from Atlantic Records in 2001 and returned to Epitaph.

Reunion with Gurewitz (2001-2004)[]

In 2001, Brett Gurewitz rejoined the band in time to record The Process Of Belief (2002). Graffin states,

"there was a little bit of disappointment on my part when he left the band, but we never had any serious acrimony between the two of us. I can't say the same for the rest of the band. But he and I, being the songwriters from way back, we really wanted to try again."[18]

Their next album, The Empire Strikes First, was released in June 2004. Both albums are widely regarded by fans and critics as a return to form for the band, as opposed to their time on Atlantic.

The band also re-released digitally-remastered versions of several of their early albums on Epitaph Records, including How Could Hell Be Any Worse?, Suffer, No Control, Against the Grain, and Generator. The How Could Hell Be Any Worse? re-issue, though reclaiming the original title of the band's debut LP, contained all of the same material as the previously issued 80-85 compilation, including their first EP, the Public Service EP (with different versions of the songs Bad Religion, Slaves, and Drastic Actions than the self-titled EP) and the "Back To The Known" EP.

New Maps of Hell (2005-2008)[]

On March 7, 2006, a live DVD, Live at the Palladium was released. This DVD featured a live show performed in late 2004 at the Hollywood Palladium, as well as extensive interviews, several music videos, and a photo gallery. During one of the interview segments, guitarist Brett Gurewitz said the band's next album would be a double length release, but this turned out not to be the case.[9]

Greg Graffin released his second solo album, Cold as the Clay, on July 11, 2006.

Bad Religion's fourteenth (and most recent) studio album, New Maps of Hell, was released on July 10, 2007. On June 29 of that year (Greg Hetson's 46th birthday), Epitaph Records started selling New Maps of Hell at the Warped Tour in Pomona, California. The album was a commercial success and spawned two hit singles "Honest Goodbye" and "New Dark Ages", and as a result, New Maps of Hell reached number 35 on the Billboard 200, marking Bad Religion's highest ever chart position. Bad Religion also joined the 2007 Warped Tour to support the album.[19]

Hetson formed a supergroup band called Black President, consisting of Charlie Paulson (from Goldfinger), Jason Christopher, Wade Youman (both from Unwritten Law) and Christian Martucci (from Dee Dee Ramone).[20] In the January issue of the magazine Alternative Press, it was revealed that their 14th album would be released in late spring 2007.[20]

In early March 2008, Bad Religion played several-night residences at House of Blues venues in Southern California as well as Las Vegas.[21] They also played at the KROQ Weenie Roast (y Fiesta) on May 17th along such bands as Flobots, Metallica, The Offspring, Pennywise, Rise Against and Scars on Broadway. Following that, they performed four European festival appearances in May and June.[22]

On July 8, 2008, Bad Religion released their first-ever deluxe edition CD, a reissue of 2007's New Maps of Hell. The deluxe version includes the original 16 song CD, along with seven new acoustic tracks recorded by Graffin (vocals) and Gurewitz (guitars/back vocals). Three of the acoustic songs are new, written specifically for this release; the other four tracks are new acoustic versions of BR songs. The release also includes a DVD with an hour-long live performance, music videos and behind-the-scenes footage.

30 Years Live, The Dissent of Man and beyond (2009–present)[]

In June 2008, Jay Bentley said in an interview at the Pinkpop Festival in Landgraaf, Netherlands that Gurewitz had already begun writing new material for the next Bad Religion album. Bentley stated that the band was planning to return to the studio after Graffin teaches UCLA to start work on the follow-up to New Maps of Hell planned for a June 2009 release.[23] However, according to a December 2008 report on the fan site The Bad Religion Page, Bentley revealed that due to Bad Religion's upcoming touring commitments for 2009, the band would not have a chance to record their new album until around the end of the year, for an expected 2010 release date.[7]

In August 2009, guitarist Brett Gurewitz sent an e-mail to a fan site mentioning he was writing new material for the next Bad Religion album.[24]

In December 2009, Bentley revealed to the fan site The Bad Religion Page that the band was expected to go into the studio on 26 April 2010 to start recording their new album. He stated that a few songs for the album had been written and "it feels like the songwriting is picking up momentum. Baker said he was going to drive up to Graffin's, Brooks and I are going to do some demos with Brett, so we have a pretty good jump."[25] According to Brett's Twitter, Bad Religion is aiming for a fall release of the new album.[26] In January 2010, Bentley revealed that Bad Religion would record their new album at a studio in Pasadena, California with Joe Barresi, who engineered 2004's The Empire Strikes First and produced its 2007 follow-up New Maps of Hell.[27] Despite the statement made by Bentley about entering the studio in April, he noted that the recording date was now 1 May.[28] On 6 April 2010, Bentley revealed in an interview with KROQ's Kevin and Bean that the date on which the band would record their new album is now 6 May.[29]

Bad Religion toured Southern California and Nevada House of Blues locations, in March & April. To commemorate their 30th anniversary Bad Religion played a 30 day tour, playing a 30 song set each night.

They also have plans for a tour of Europe from June to August.

To coincide with the band's 30th anniversary tour, Bad Religion announced a live album called 30 Years Live, which was a released as a free download for those who had signed up on the mailing list at Bad Religion's website. It consists of songs recorded during their House of Blues tour during March and April 2010 which also includes some new songs from their 15th studio album, before the new album was released. 30 Years Live was released on 18 May 2010.

At the House of Blues concert in Anaheim, California on 17 March 2010, the band debuted a new song called "Resist-Stance", which will appear on their upcoming album and is included on 30 Years Live.

On 1 May 2010, Brett posted an update on his Twitter saying, "threw me a going away [to the studio] party and all my friends hung with me tonight – thx everybody, I love you guys."[30] This adds fuel to the possibility of the band's new album being recorded the first week of May. According to a report on thebrpage.net, the band started recording on 5 May 2010.[31]

On 12 May 2010 (which happened to be Brett's 48th birthday), bassist Jay Bentley posted an update on their Facebook page regarding the recording process of the album: "first week of recording at joe's house of compression and brooks gets the medal for superasskicking. brian has finished 14 basics... a couple more to go. i started getting some good bass sounds late, late last night, the liver wins the shootout again. brett is playing late night tracks on his birthday, some way to celebrate! happy birthday bg! quote of the day; BG "what percentage of the sound is coming from the snakeskin?". haha... working of album titles and ideas today. it's all coming together. joe says the corn flavored kit kats are gross, but the wasabi ones are quite delicious.... get back to work. work work work. will send photo's soon".[32]

In June 2010, The Bad Religion Page reported that the new album would be released on September 28, 2010. Jay (who goes by jabberwock in The Bad Religion Page) mentioned in the site's message board that Bad Religion had finished recording their new album and was mixing it. In an interview at the Azkena Rock Festival on June 26, 2010, the band members announced that the new album would be called The Dissent of Man.

On August 30, 2010 the album version of the song "The Resist Stance" was released on Bad Religion's MySpace page.

On September 21, 2010 the full album was made available for streaming on Bad Religion's MySpace page.

On 7 October 2010, The band began a North American tour that will continue through early 2011.[33]

The Dissent Of Man was released on September 28, 2010. The album debuted at #35 on the billboard 200 chart and at #6 on the Billboard Independent Albums chart.[34]

On 18 October 2010 Bad Religion released a Vinyl box set of all their albums that is limited to 3000 copies, including Into The Unknown, the first time the album has been officially reissued.

Style and influences[]

Brett Gurewitz acknowledges attempting to emulate The Germs singer Darby Crash early on in Bad Religion's lyrical style. "He wrote some intelligent stuff, and didn't shy away from the vocabulary, which I thought was cool."[35] In addition to their use of unusually sophisticated vocabulary for a punk band, Bad Religion is also known for their frequent use of vocal harmonies, which they refer to in their album liner notes as the "oozin aahs". They took their cues from The Adolescents, in the way that they used three-part harmonies. Bassist Jay Bentley says, "Seeing The Adolescents live, it was so brilliant. So, in a way, the Adolescents influenced us into saying we can do it too, because look, they're doing it."[10][36]

Many of Bad Religion's songs are about different social ills, although they try not to ascribe the causes of these ills to any single person or group. Greg Graffin believes that the current political situation in the United States can make it difficult to voice these concerns, as he doesn't want to feed the polarization of viewpoints.[37]

The band contributed a song to the Rock Against Bush Vol. 1 series organized by Fat Mike's Punkvoter, a political activist group and website whose supporters are primarily left-liberal members of the punk subculture.[38]

Brett Gurewitz attributed his anger towards former U.S. president George W. Bush as the major inspiration for The Empire Strikes First. "Our whole album is dedicated to getting Bush out of office. I'm not a presidential scholar but I don't think you'll find a worse president in the history of the United States. He's probably one of the worst leaders in the history of world leaders. I just hate the guy."[37]

In 2008, while at the San Diego, California stop of the Vans Warped Tour, the band autographed a Gibson Guitar for the non-profit Music Saves Lives and assisted in their goal of raising the nation's blood supply.

Many of today's punk groups cite Bad Religion as an influence, including AFI,[39] All,[40] Authority Zero,[41] The Bouncing Souls,[42] Death by Stereo,[43] Lagwagon,[42] NOFX,[44][45] The Offspring,[46][47] Pennywise,[48] and Rise Against.[49]

Band members[]

For more details on this topic, see List of Bad Religion band members.

Current members[]


Main article: Bad Religion discography
Year Album US Chart position Vocals Guitars Bass Drums Label
1982 How Could Hell Be Any Worse? Never charted Greg Graffin Mr. Brett Jay Bentley Pete Finestone /
Jay Ziskrout
1983 Into the Unknown Never charted Paul Dedona Davy Goldman
1988 Suffer Never charted Greg Hetson Jay Bentley Pete Finestone
1989 No Control Never charted
1990 Against the Grain Never charted
1992 Generator Never charted Bobby Schayer
1993 Recipe for Hate 14 (Heatseekers) Epitaph
1994 Stranger Than Fiction 87 Atlantic
1996 The Gray Race 56 Brian Baker
1998 No Substance 78
2000 The New America 88
2002 The Process of Belief 49 Mr. Brett Brooks Wackerman Epitaph
2004 The Empire Strikes First 40
2007 New Maps of Hell 35
2010 The Dissent of Man 35

External links[]


  1. Bad Religion: New Maps of Hell - Music - Citysearch
  2. Bad Religion Biography: Contemporary Musicians
  3. Bad Religion, page 1 - Music - Westword - Westword
  4. Bad Religion "The A to X of Alternative Music" by Steve Taylor (2004) (ISBN 0826482171) pp. 22–23
  5. [1]
  6. Bad Religion at IMDB.com
  7. 7.0 7.1 Bad Religion looks ahead to 2009 album Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "nextBRalbum" defined multiple times with different content
  8. Bad Religion's Punk Prosody
  9. 9.0 9.1 Bad Religion Live at the Palladium Epitaph Records 2005
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Addicted to the Opiate of the Masses
  11. Suffer
  12. RIAA Certification (type in "Bad Religion" in the artist box)
  13. The Higher Calling
  14. Stranger Than Fiction
  15. Ankeny, J: "No Substance" review
  16. The Atlantic Records Bad Religion Bio Page
  17. Bad Religion: The Process of Labels
  18. The New State of Bad Religion
  19. Bad Religion Sign On For Warped Tour
  20. 20.0 20.1 Greg Hetson, Charlie Paulson form Black President
  21. Bad Religion (California / Nevada)
  22. Bad Religion announce European festival appearances
  23. Bad Religion looks ahead to 2009 album
  24. 15 in 2010
  25. Bad Religion plans to hit the studio in April for a fall release
  26. Brett Gurewitz (OblivionPact) on Twitter
  27. Minor League news #12
  28. Album diary
  29. UPDATE: Bad Religion on KROQ - Download available + pics | News from the front | The Bad Religion Page - Since 1995
  30. [2]
  31. Bad Religion + studio = a lot of awesomenimity | News from the front | The Bad Religion Page - Since 1995
  32. 2010 Album diary | The Bad Religion Page - Since 1995
  33. Tours & shows | The Bad Religion Page - Since 1995
  34. Music Albums, Top 200 Albums & Music Album Charts | Billboard.com
  35. A Conversation with Mr. Brett
  36. Acting Their Rage
  37. 37.0 37.1 Brett Gurewitz Interview
  38. www.punkvoter.com
  39. AFI at Allmusic.com
  40. All at Allmusic.com
  41. Authority Zero at Allmusic.com
  42. 42.0 42.1 Lagwagon at Allmusic.com
  43. Death by Stereo at Allmusic.com
  44. Q & A | Read fuck Answers | NOFX
  45. NOFX at Allmusic.com
  46. The Offspring at The Gothic Theatre
  47. The Offspring at Allmusic.com
  48. Pennywise at Allmusic.com
  49. Rise Against at Allmusic.com

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