Bad Religion have probably been around longer then most of the people reading this interview have been alive. Their first album "How Could Hell Be Any Worse?" was released way back in 1980. Since then they have released close to a dozen albums and toured the world more times then I think they even know. I had a chance to talk to founding member and bassist Jay Bentley at the Vancouver stop of the 1998 Warped Tour which they are headlining this year. Captain Haircut was present.
James: You live on Bowen Island now, don't you?
Jay: Uhhh, no comment (laughter).
James: Are you having problems with fans stocking you?
Jay: I stay there.
James: How do you like living there and being a Canadian?
Jay: It's okay. I'm not a Canadian but it's a great place to have my kids. My wife is happy there and the kids go to school. It's a nice place.
James: I've heard that you've been getting involved with the community there.
Jay: I'm helping to build a community preschool. Everybody's chipping in with whatever time they've got to drywall or roof or whatever.
James: You guys have everything you've ever put out currently in print right now except for the Into The Unknown EP (This eight-song EP was released in the mid-eighties and features Greg Graffin playing synthesizer. Reportedly Jay walked out during the recording of this album.). Are there any plans to release that?
Jay: When we're dead.
James: It's an album you don't want re-released while your still walking this planet?
Jay: (Laughing) When we're dead! It can come out.
James: Speaking of Into The Unknown, I've noticed it and a lot of other stuff coming out on bootlegs. How do you guys feel about all the bootlegs?
Jay: If it's CD's and stuff it's kind of an honor that someone would go to the trouble of making a bootleg CD of your band. As long as it's not a copy of your studio stuff. If it's live or something off of the radio then that's kind of an honor. I'm not a big fan of the shirts though. Bootleg shirts are usually not the best quality. People buy them and they wash them once and the print comes off and they blame me, "I bought this shirt and it sucks!". Well, it's not mine. Shirts I see as a little more thievery then CD's. CD's are kind of collectors things, not everyone buys them. But shirts are something that are just out there.
James: I guess with the bootleg CD's, people who buy them have already gone and purchased all of your other albums.
Jay: Maybe they haven't bought any of our albums but people collect things or maybe they just want an idea of what do these guys do. I personally wouldn't buy a live bootleg CD of a band I didn't know, I wouldn't take a chance on it if I didn't like the band. But if I did like the band and I had a lot of their material and I thought, "Wow this looks pretty interesting. There's maybe 35 or 40 songs on it, I'd be OK, cool!".
James: You we're one of the original members of the band, right?
James: You guys started back in 1980?
James: You've been together for almost twenty years now.
Jay: Twenty years in the year 2000.
James: Are you guys planing anything for that?
Jay: (Laughter) Breaking up! Just exploding into nothing! That's it. We'll just all implode on stage. Other then another record and another tour I don't really see.
James: No box sets are anything (laughter)?
Jay: I'm not really think of that. It's too far away.
James: Doing this band for the last nineteen years of your life do you think you've changed as far as your motivations for dong the band?
Jay: I'd venture to say that the motivation for doing the band hasn't changed. It's just fun. I never wanted to do it for a living. I am now, but I always wanted to do it. I learned that right away. Sure, when I was 12 or 13 I wanted to be in a band and do it for a living because that was cool. But when we started Bad Religion and I was 15 and you do a couple of things and you realize this isn't about doing it for a living. That just gets wiped away because the chances are more likely than not that your not going to be doing this for a living. Which is why most bands break up, because they're not making a living doing it. I didn't make a living playing in Bad Religion until five years ago. So I spent the better part of twelve years just doing it because I really, really enjoyed doing it.
James: You guys have a new album out now called "No Substance". Is there any story behind the title of that album?
Jay: Well, it goes with the idea and concepts of the songs about how we see things now. Everything that we're being handed is just a fast quasi answer to so many problems. It doesn't solve anything. The photos we depict in the album are phone sex lines, psychic networks, an "I'll help you to be a better person" guy. It's just this just add water better humanity kind of society that we've developed here in Western culture.
James: Everyone wants an instant answer to their problems, but it doesn't work?
Jay: Yah, it's like drink this and everything will be good, it's BS.
James: Instead of change your life and change the world around you?
Jay: Maybe a little more education and a little less funding of the marketing of "Ok, everyone's got a problem, let's capitalize on it.". As far as America goes it's the highest population of overweight people, how do we capitalize on that? Let's put out some videos. You've got ideas like the internet, which is a wonderful information transferor, it sends information in the blink of an eye. But instead you spend eight hours looking at naked women. You could do something productive with it, but it doesn't seem like many people do. You sit in a chat room and your like, "Hi I'm Jay Bently." But I become someone else. All of a sudden I'm someone else, I'm not me anymore. I don't have to look at anybody in the eye. You never have face problems, you never have to deal with reality.
James: Do you think there are any solutions out there?
Jay: Everybody's solution is different, that's the problem. It's not just a one size fits all issue. We're trying to make it like that. We had a song like that, "The Answer". "If you've got enough naivete the answer's perfect for you.". If you think that's the right thing then great, perfect.
James: You guys seem to take a bit of a stand against organized religion, with the graphics on your shirts and the title of your band. What are your views exactly on organized religion?
Jay: I don't have a problem with religion until it turns violent, which it always seems to do. "My god's bigger then your god, your religion sucks! We have to wipe you out because you're the heathen scum of the universe". Don't you think the idea of religion is harmony? To me it is.
James: Yah, the idea behind most religions, is that they'll make this world a better place. But people take it and twist it to serve their purposes.
Jay: What it turns into is that it's a better place for the few of us that believe this. I don't agree with that obviously.
James: Speaking of religion, you guys just came off of a European tour with MxPx. They're obviously a band that holds a different view point regarding religion then you with them being Christians. How did that work out?
Jay: Fine. Not to say there wasn't jokes being thrown back and forth. They're great guys. A lot of people get the idea that we are almost Satanic in our views and that's the furthest from the truth because if you look at Greg, Greg would be an agnostic before he's an atheist. He's like, "I'm not sure. I'm a scientist, so prove it to me.". My beliefs are pretty solid in "Do unto others" and that's my religion and that's good enough for me. Everybody has different views. Once we set that out with them they went , "Oh, that's cool".
James: I noticed that Greg had a solo record come out. Do any of the rest of you have side projects going? Jay: We all do. But not anything that would come out as an album.
James: Just stuff that you do as a hobby in your spare time?
Jay: Bands that we play with out on the side. I'm always doing something. Bad Religion probably takes up about eight months out of my year, so the other four months I like to spend with my family. But I'm always kind of fooling around with something.
James: So music is a big part of your life?
Jay: It seems to be a big part of my life.
James: Your one of the few bands who over an eighteen year period have had a steady increase in the number of people that listen to you and the number of albums that you sell. As a result you guys tour all over the world. What's it like playing in other markets compared to North America?
Jay: You notice differences in cities even. It's not so much based on when your playing because the response when we're playing is generally the same. It's the discussions you have with people before and after, when your just kind of hanging out, talking with people. The things that they want to talk about with you. European audiences seem to ask a lot more questions based lyrically and want to talk about political structures. Things that I have to say to them I don't live here. "What do I think of East Germany with the wall coming down?". I don't live here. It seems to me to be a great thing, but I don't live here.
James: You have your own country and government to worry about.
Jay: I have my own problems.
James: You've been together for almost twenty years now.