Bad Religion Bio
Preeminent punk band Bad Religion have released True North on Epitaph Records. In a world still brimming with rampant anti intellectualism, inequality and oppression, the band’s signature brand of sonically charged humanist dissent seems as relevant as ever. On their newest record, the storied band deliberately revisits and refines the powerful and melodic Southern California sound they helped to define on albums such as Suffer, No Control and Recipe For Hate.
“We went back to our original mission statement of short concise bursts of melody and thought,” co-songwriter and guitarist Brett Gurewitz explains. “The intent was to record stripped down punk songs without sacrificing any conceptual density.”
The band began in the sprawling suburbs surrounding Los Angeles. As insurgent teenage punks they offered an impassioned musical counterpoint to a dystopian culture of consumerism and anti intellectualism. Founding members Greg Graffin, Brett Gurewitz and Jay Bentley were eventually joined by guitarists Greg Hetson from The Circle Jerks, Brian Baker of hardcore pioneers Minor Threat and a supremely talented drummer named Brooks Wackerman. In the following years the band was a major force in reinvigorating the modern punk movement, produced beloved international hits such as “Infected,” "21st Century (Digital Boy)" and “Sorrow” and has maintained an impassioned worldwide following of young and old who continue embrace a music that gives voice to, and celebrates, their dissent.
Produced by the band and Joe Barresi, True North celebrates the power of cogent punk in the face of personal pain and adversity. It is one of the band’s most emotionally accessible albums to date. Beneath the bristling guitars and surging drums exists one of the most cathartic works of the band’s career. “I think working within certain restrictions took away the mental aspect and let us devote more attention to conveying feeling,” co-writer and guitarist Greg Graffin says. “We all go through pain and the best elements of punk give us hope in those dark times.”
There are tracks which, as the band has continuously done throughout their career, ardently address world issues. There is the hard charging “Robin Hood In Reverse,” "Land of Endless Greed" and “Dharma And The Bomb” which features guitarist Gurewitz singing over some classic Southern Cal punk. As Gurewitz explains, "The song’s lyrics speak about the danger of radical religious movements inheriting the fruits of science (like nuclear weapons) without the benefit of its liberal traditions."
The album’s first single is a joyously propulsive anthem succinctly called “F*ck You.” As Graffin explains, “If any band should have a song with that title it should be us. It just sounds like a perfect Bad Religion song.”
Other tracks like mid tempo “Hello Cruel World” veer into a far more expressive terrain. The album’s title song “True North” utilizes a wall of guitars and charged beat to explore issues of alienation and loss informed by Graffin’s recent life experiences. “The song is written from the perspective of a kid who is running away,” Graffin explains. “He says ‘I’m out of here, I’m off to find true north.’ It’s about recognizing that you don’t fit in and trying to find a truth and purpose. Those are all classic punk themes. We still remember exactly what it feels like to be a disaffected kid in this world. And I think we were able to convey that particularly well on this album.”
His cohort Gurewitz adds, “I think we both really responded to the challenge of writing short and fast songs on this record. The constraints set us free. Like moves in a game of chess, there are really as many variations as there are stars in the galaxy.”