Bad Religion – EP
Released: November 30, 1981
Label: Epitaph Records
Greg Graffin – Vocals
Brett Gurewitz – Guitar
Jay Bentley – Bass
Jay Zisktrout – Drums
06-World War III
I first heard Bad Religion played on Rodney on The ROQ in early December 1981. It was the title track Bad Religion. I was 15, three months from turning 16. Their sound was incredible to me. It had the power of Black Flag, but more polished, and a tinge of TSOL. The vocals, handled by Greg Graffin, were raw but sounded more under control than early Black Flag (prior to Henry). The guitarist Brett Gurewitz was on fire. I was really impressed with the lyrics, prior to Bad Religion I always felt lyrically, L.A. was a little bit behind British punk in its messages and statements (I say this after just listening to Black Flag’s Six Pack EP with my Brother for the first time in about 25 years). But Graffin, himself, only being 16 seemed to have a message and/or a point to make.
A day or two later I went to visit my Uncle at work. My Uncle, Rick White, was extremely famous in the early hardcore punk scene. He managed the Fallbrook Mann movie theater at the old Fallbrook Mall. He was known as the guy who wore a toupee to hide his Mohawk. Anyways, I show up and start to tell him of my new discovery, only to have him burst my bubble. It turns out he had been friends with a couple of the guys from school, Jay Ziskrout, and I believe Jay Bentley. A short while later he hung out with the guys from L.A.D.S (Los Angeles Death Squad) who seemed to be Bad Religions biggest followers.
After, all this information I went that weekend to Moby Disc and picked up the 6-song 7 inch EP (thanks to my Mom). I remembered the title track, as I had just heard it a few nights before . . . it was great, but the opening of Politics blew me away. The lyrics stayed in my head for years:
“Economy, technology, does it really work?
The guy running the government’s another jerk.
Try to teach some values and they all erode away.
You’re lucky if they listen to a single word you say.”
Granted, they may not seem as deep now, but in 1981, the Regan era, it was. A 16-year-old, talking (yelling) to another 16-year-old, it was what I was looking for.
Tracks 4 and 6 were also powerful for me, but track 5 nailed it for me. The tempo changes (fast and slow) and the lyrics were completely relevant to us young punks at the time, though I lucked out and came from a stable home, a lot of my friends were victims violent homes and/or drug and alcohol dependency so Drastic Actions was heavy for me:
“Heard a word, suicide,
Not from one, but from thousands that tried.
The lawyer’s wife and the teenage brat,
One thing in common, they all wanted out.
And it’s plain to see.
It goes for you, and it goes for me,
And all the screwed up little girls and boys,
All thrown in without a choice.
But I heard him say,
“I want out,
No complaints and no doubts,
Just a chance to go on.
I heard a word, suicide,
And not from one, but from thousands that died.
Want some attention and a little less regret,
A teenage fluff, little threat.
And there are those, there are those who think
That drastic actions will make them unique.
It’s really all the same,
That no one’s happy and nobody’s to blame.
And the moral to this story is old.
It’s quite taboo, seldom told.
The seed is reaped before it’s sown,
A bad choice was never resolved.”
This 7″ EP available through their online store, and can be found in its entirety on the Bad Religion re-release of How Could Hell Be Any Worse?” Crude and urgent, this is the sound that emanated from the garages of Southern California in the early ’80s. An additional note, I was always blown away by Jay Zisktrout’s drumming. If you listen to this, it’s equal parts drum and cymbal playing, crazy.
I apologize for any mistakes with my dates or names I may have mixed up; 30+ years ago . . . some things slip away. Another footnote, my Uncle Rick passed away eight to ten years back. He was in his early 40’s. Some may remember him for his scene in the Randy Newman video “I Love LA.” He and some other punks were jumping up, and down in front of Vinyl Fetish.
Born Frustrated is available now: http://goo.gl/n9ofGb