Jay: We just got here from Vegas, that place sucks the life out of you.
Matt: So did you and the guys from Rise Against party non stop up there?
Jay: The guys from Rise Against don't really party.
Matt: Would you consider yourselves the life of the party?
Jay: I don't care what anyone says. They are always saying 'You guys are old,' but we party harder than anyone else.
Matt: How about on Warped Tour, is everything pretty crazy there?
Jay: It's usually NOFX, Vandals, and us that cause the most trouble. Everyone knows it. If the motocross guys aren't out there, then we are the ones causing the most trouble.
Matt: Well what kind of trouble do you guys cause?
Jay: Drinking and breaking everything, and lighting fires. Stealing motorcycles. Shooting fireworks at each other. That's a big no-no on the Warped Tour. It's just a rule, so we shoot fireworks.
Matt: I talked to Jay (the singer of the Suicide Machines) who were on Warped Tour two years ago. He said that he didn't like it very much and that the bands were really divided.
Jay: It's always like that. We actually park our busses in a circle and have a two foot gap in-between two of the busses and if you don't know us you can't come in.
Matt: Don't you think that is a little bit elitist?
Jay: Totally. I have nothing to say to anyone. If they want to ask a question that's totally cool. If they want to have a drink that's totally cool. If they want to sit around and talk shit, then I will fight them. It's mostly because I don't want fucking Good Charlotte near me. I don't want those fuckers anywhere near me.
Matt: Well just this last year it was Story of the Year, and-
Jay: Whatever, that guy was dancing around in dolphin shorts listening to Michael Jackson. I don't care what he does, just don't do it near me.
Matt: Anything in particular about Good Charlotte that caused this?
Jay: I don't like them. I don't like a lot of people. It's not just Good Charlotte; I can say flat out I hate almost anybody. That's my job.
Matt: Would you say that's in the job description of being in a punk rock band these days?
Jay: No, I think these days punk rock is being cute and trying to figure out a way to get into Hot Topic. And writing songs about breaking up with your girlfriend. Which pisses me off even more. Hating everyone is part of growing up as a human, because people suck. They will always disappoint you, and they will always do the wrong thing. Given the opportunity, they will do the wrong thing.
Matt: I remember the last time I was in Hot Topic I saw one of your shirts in there.
Jay: I don't care. I didn't try to make it happen. This is the concept of selling out which everyone is so worried about. Selling out means changing something that you do in order to have more popularity. I haven't changed shit. I have been doing the same thing for 25 years and now people are like, "Oh you are cool!" I say I am not cool; I am the same asshole that I was 10 years ago. If my stuff ends up in Hot Topic now, whatever, it means nothing to me. It's not great, it's not bad, it just is. I am not a man that goes out to have the maximum rock 'n roll theory of punk rock and fight every bit of success that is given to you. Why bother, that is just a waste of time. Why fight popularity, that is not a reasonable fight. The goal of it is to not embrace it and not let your head swell up so you can't get outside.
Matt: So what about Bad Religion being on the radio?
Jay: It doesn't bother me, we don't write singles. If they want to play a song that is on a record, then great. If they don't, then great. But we can't sit in the studio and think that anything we write is ever going to be a single. We are Bad Religion. We are not Hootie and the Blowfish, or, I can't think of another singles machine. Phil Collins. That's what they do, they just write hits. We write albums, and if one of the songs happens to catch someone's ear, and they play it, then that's great. I was more blown away that they played the entire "Empire Strikes First," song in the 3rd game of the ALCS, Yankees and Boston. That was kick ass. I am a huge Yankees fan. I am watching this and they are playing Bad Religion, and I am just going, this is not happening! This is the coolest thing ever.
Matt: How long do you think you will be able to put out records? Is it getting harder for you or easier for you to write records?
Jay: Exactly the same.
Matt: So you are going to go on as long as it is fun for you guys?
Jay: As long as it is fun and as long as it is relevant. There seems to be a reason to do it other than a contractual obligation. I don't know about the touring aspect of it, because that is getting harder. It's time consuming to be on the road. We have been on the road for 8 months out of this year. Not that that is a big deal, but you start thinking about, time to get a job. Time to grow up, because this is a really bitchin' life, but it is very Peter Pan. The reality of it is just not of the real world. It's easy to let yourself fall into ideology that the rest of your life is going to be like this. On tour you have someone running around going, do you need a towel, do you need some water? At home we don't have that. You are on your own. So the reality is, everyone in this band needs to start thinking about the second half of their life. This is not going to be screaming, "Fuck Armageddon this is hell," on the microphone.
Matt: It just seems so much fun to do that!
Jay: It is, I am certainly not saying it's not. I am not allowed to complain about this, this is the job everyone wishes they had. I have had shitty jobs. I never thought I would be able to rely on this band as a means of income. I have always had a job, because that's what you are supposed to do, and now I can't have a job because we tour so much. I can't go, hey boss I will be back in 8 months, they would be like, "You are fired."
Matt: What was your last job?
Jay: My last job was at Epitaph. I was the production manager, it was just me and Brett. Every record that was made, I made it. Every record that was shipped, I shipped it. That was the running joke, back when we used to make vinyl, I would tell someone, "If you go out and buy a No Control vinyl, my thumbprint will be on it. I touched every record that went out of that warehouse.
Matt: That's cool, I actually work with Epitaph, that was the only way for me to get this interview, and...
Jay: I am very open person and I will walk around on the street and I know people want to go through the right channels to get interviews. Generally they get doors slammed in their faces. But I can't tell you how many times people come up to me and ask me for an interview. I say, "We are standing right here, press play and record and let's go. We are talking, what do you want to know?" Then it goes from having a cool conversation to, "How did you come up with the band name?" Read maximum rock n Roll 1988. Volume 64. All your answers are there. They need something new, like where Bad Religion is at now and where we are going. What we are talking about right now.
Matt: Yeah that's true. It's hard interviewing bands, especially bands at your status.
Jay: Yeah exactly and what are you going to ask that someone hasn't asked before? Part of that falls onto me as well as to help you to do your job, because you have a job to do to try and promote whatever you are a part of. I have to be apathetic to you and try to help you as well. Most bands don't want to do that, they just have one word answers.
Matt: Well I was going to ask you about your opinion about pop bands turning political.
Jay: That's fine, better than political bands turning pop. I just don't want people bailing out and say, "Fuck it, we are going for the gold!" I think a lot of it was a little too late in the game to be jumping on the political bandwagon. But it was for a good cause. I think that most people have given up on whatever concept they had on politics now that the election is over. But he is still there, that doesn't change anything. To be honest with you, the only band I have ever had any kind of irritation with was the Dixie Chicks.
Matt: Really, why?
Jay: Because they spoke their mind then re-canned it, because they thought their record sales would suffer, then a month out they start Bush bashing again.
Matt: So bands like Green Day turning political doesn't bother you as much?
Jay: I don't care. We aren't political as say Anti-Flag or Propagandhi. We are a social-political band, we talk about what it's like to be a human being, not what its like to be an American. I think this latest record is our most political record by far. It has a sense of speaking directly of America's bullying in the Middle East. Maybe Suffer we had more un-American lyrics. I think what we did with Suffer is explain, this isn't the land of milk and honey like everyone thinks it is. It wasn't really a political record, it was more a statement of the side of America that no one wants to talk about.
Matt: So many people look up to you as a great political punk band. You were young when you wrote, How Could Hell be Any Worse?, who did you look up to when you wrote that album? You guys came out around kind of the same time as DK and other LA punk bands, which are all bands people look up to, how was it to start that movement?
Jay: I think for us, the political side of it was just; we sat down and said we don't want to be another punk band that says fuck the cops. We want to have more substance, we want to have more meaning. So we talked about it, and thought about what kind of band we want to be. Lyrically I think we just opened our eyes and strayed away from what was currently thought of as punk rock. Our melodies and harmonies were everything from Neil Young to the Adolescents. Just taking things that didn't seem to make sense, and singing versus screaming.
Matt: Did you ever write any of the lyrics with Greg or was it mainly him that wrote them?
Jay: It was him and Brett, they both write their own songs. Greg doesn't write all the lyrics. I wrote a handful of songs 20 years ago. Pretty much when someone comes in with a song, whether it is Brett or Greg, if its one of those songs that are making a pretty sharp statement, we will talk about it. In 20 something years I can only remember two songs that I was like, no way.
Matt: Are those two songs on a Bad Religion record?
Matt: So every song on every Bad Religion record you are 100% behind?
Jay: No, but I am not 100% opposed to. A perfect example is Brett wrote "Hooray for Me and Fuck You," on Stranger than Fiction. I laughed about that sentiment. I don't subscribe to that. I don't feel hooray for me and fuck you. But that's cool; I can't say I am not going to play that song because I am opposed to it! If someone comes in and says hail Satan and... I would be like okay, stop right there, because that is just, you know. If someone has a personal idea about how they want to live their life that's fine, but if you are attacking someone else, that's when we have to say lets talk about it.
Read more of Matt Pierce's interview with Bad Religion at http://sandiegopunk.com/throwback-interview-bad-religions-jay-bentley