It was March 1991, and I was already bored with hair metal, thrash and even grunge. I was really looking for something new. A good friend of mine who I had known for years, and who was something of a connoisseur of all things punk gave me a C90 tape of this American band who I had never heard of before. They were called Bad Religion.
The first track up was “Modern Man” (the album was “Against the Grain”) and on first listen it sounded to me like a bunch of lab scientists playing at melodic hardcore. The whole idea that a band could play that fast whilst adding in harmony vocals that sounded like The New Seekers, and with lyrics that had a profound angle on the human condition, was an epiphany.
These guys sounded like a folk band on amphetamine. Dr Greg Graffin’s words of wisdom and Jay Bentley’s grinding yet melodic Fender precision barrage tapestried with chord progressions straight from the song book of Richard Thompson offered me a new favourite band. Twenty five years later, they are still THE favourite band.
Very few of my mates at the time got them. It was only with the advent of the more vanilla bands of the melodic punk genre three or four years later that anyone else really caught on.
Having experienced the band live on nearly every occasion they have played in the UK since 1991, if anything over the years they have got better, diversified the song writing, reinvented their sound and explored new intricacies and sophistications. The addition of the mighty Brooks Wackerman on drums and Brian Baker on guitar in the late 90s and 2001’s monumental “The Process of Belief” album which heralded the return of Graffin’s songwriting henchman, Mr Brett, set Bad Religion off into a new golden age.
I think being able to relate to lyrics on a very personal level is imperative, and the fact the songs have such a degree of melody and aggression with Bad Religion also being a ferocious live band sealed the deal for me.
“Turn on the Light” from “Against the Grain”
“All Good Soldiers” from “Recipe for Hate”
“Stranger than Fiction” from “Stranger from Fiction”
“When” from “Suffer”
“Cease” from “The Gray Race”
“The Defense” from “The Process of Belief”
“Honest Goodbye” from “New Maps of Hell”