Members: Greg Graffin, Brett Gurewitz, Greg Hetson, Brian Baker, Jay Bentley, Brooks Wackerman
Active: 1980,1984,1986 - present
Bad Religion is an influential punk rock band known for poignant, erudite lyrics, and biting social commentary. The band formed in Los Angeles, California in 1980 by high school students Greg Graffin (vocals), Jay Bentley (bass guitar), Jay Ziskrout (drums), and Brett Gurewitz (guitar). In 1981, the band released their eponymous debut EP on their own newly-formed label, Epitaph Records, 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 sizeable following. During the recording of How Could Hell Be Any Worse?, Jay Ziskrout left the band and was replaced by Peter Finestone.
Greg Graffin, the band's frontman, holds a masters degree in geology from UCLA and Ph.D. in zoology from Cornell University.
In 1983, the band released Into the Unknown, a keyboard-driven psychedelic rock album that was enormously unpopular with the band's core fanbase. It is now out of print, and generally disowned by the band. However, in past years it has become a collectors item, and has gained some acceptance from fans, many of which consider it a good album, just not a good Bad Religion album. It now can be seen going for more than 100 dollars on eBay, and is often pirated. A common sign of a pirated version of the LP is the blueish hue on the cover, instead of the reddish hue. In 1985, they returned to a somewhat mellower, rock and roll version of their original sound with the Back to the Known EP, but they disbanded soon thereafter.
The band reformed in 1987, accompanied by Greg Hetson of Circle Jerks fame. Suffer was released the following year, and cemented 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.
No Control (1989) and Against the Grain (1991) further increased the band's popularity, followed by Generator (1992). Before recording sessions for Generator commenced, drummer Pete Finestone left Bad Religion 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. Recipe for Hate (1993) followed shortly thereafter.
With alternative rock breaking into the mainstream, Bad Religion left Epitaph Records for Atlantic Records and quickly re-released Recipe for Hate on the major label. (In fact, Epitaph sold the rights to that album to Atlantic Records.) 1994's Stranger Than Fiction followed, but right around its release Gurewitz left the band. Officially he cited the increasing amount of time he was spending at Epitaph's offices as the Offspring became one of the biggest bands of the mid-1990s (see 1994 in music), but it was well-known that the departure was not on good terms, as he later accused the band of selling out for leaving Epitaph for a major label. Gurewitz recorded a song with his new band the Daredevils entitled "Hate You," reportedly directed towards Jay Bentley. Gurewitz, moreover, was struggling more seriously with heroin and other addictions that had plagued him for years. He discussed his drug use on the band's Suffer tour documentary, Along the Way.
Gurewitz was replaced as a guitarist by Brian Baker, former member of bands such as Minor Threat and Dag Nasty. Previously Greg Graffin and Gurewitz had split songwriting duties, which left Greg as Bad Religion's sole songwriter.
What followed were a series of moderately successful albums, The Gray Race (1996), No Substance (1998), and The New America (2000) (though The Gray Race in particular was well-received by many fans). As their popularity was not what it once was, Bad Religion departed from Atlantic Records in 2001 and returned to Epitaph. Bobby Schayer left the band following a serious shoulder injury and was replaced by Brooks Wackerman (Suicidal Tendencies) and Gurewitz rejoined the band in time to record The Process Of Belief (2002). The Empire Strikes First was released on Epitaph Records in June 2004. Both albums are were widely regarded by fans and critics as a return to form for the band, as opposed to their time on Atlantic. The band has also released (on Epitaph) digitally-remastered versions of several of their early albums, including How Could Hell Be Any Worse?, Suffer, No Control, Against the Grain, and Generator. The How Could Hell Be Any Worse? re-issue also contained all of their first EP, the Public Service EP (alternative versions of Bad Religion, Slaves and Drastic Actions from the self titled EP) and "Back To The Known".
In May of 2005, The Bad Religion Page reported Greg Graffin saying that work on a new album was to begin "later this year" for a release "sometime in 2006". Meanwhile, Bad Religion:Live at the Palladium is due for release on DVD in Jauary 2006 (Europe) and February 2006 (US)
1981 - Bad Religion EP
1981 - Public Service EP
1982 - How Could Hell Be Any Worse?
1983 - Into the Unknown
1984 - Back to the Known EP
1987 - Suffer
1989 - No Control
1990 - Against the Grain
1991 - '80-'85
1992 - Generator
1993 - Recipe for Hate
1994 - Stranger Than Fiction
1995 - All Ages Greatest Hits Compilation - Epitaph Years
1996 - The Gray Race
1997 - Tested Live Album
1998 - No Substance
2000 - The New America
2002 - The Process of Belief
2002 - Punk Rock Songs Europe-Only Greatest Hits of Atlantic Records
2004 - The Empire Strikes First