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Bad Religion Biography

Home > Music > B > Bad Religion > Biography

Birth Place: Woodland Hills, California, United States
Years Active: 1979–present
Genres: Punk Rock, Melodic Hardcore, Hardcore Punk

Bad Religion is an American punk rock band founded in 1979 by Greg Graffin (vocals), Brett Gurewitz (guitar), Jay Bentley (bass) and Jay Ziskrout (drums). The line-up, at the time, recorded and released a six-song self-titled EP in 1981 on Epitaph Records (a label founded by Gurewitz). The EP, originally a 7" format was quickly re-issued as a 12". Some compact cassettes were produced, but they are rare.

“How Could Hell Be Any Worse?” is Bad Religion’s first full-length album. It was released in 1982, surprising the band by selling 10,000 copies in under a year. Ziskrout left the band soon after recording sessions began and was replaced by Pete Finestone. The sound of the record vastly improved on the self-titled EP. Greg Hetson (of Circle Jerks fame) played the guitar solo on "Part III." He later became a member of the band.

Bad Religion released their second full-length, “Into the Unknown,” in 1983, to less success due to poor production and a major change from their previous style, delving into progressive rock heavy in keyboards. During the recording of one song, Bentley and Finestone left the band and were replaced by Paul Dedona on bass and Davy Goldman on drums.

After the release of “Into the Unknown,” Bad Religion broke up, but reformed (without Gurewitz) to produce the 1985 EP “Back to the Known.” The EP features the return of the band's punk rock roots. Soon after, Bad Religion went on hiatus again.

Bad Religion underwent several line-up changes before the 1986 reunion of the “How Could Hell Be Any Worse?” Two years later, the now-classic reunion line-up recorded their highly acclaimed album “Suffer.” The album was a comeback for Bad Religion as well as a watershed for the Southern California punk sound popularized by their label Epitaph. This album also became the Epitaph's best seller and was the label's best-selling album for a number of years.

Bad Religion recorded and released two more albums, “No Control” (1989) and “Against the Grain” (1990), before Finestone quit the group once again in early 1991.

With Bobby Schayer as Finestone's replacement, Bad Religion's music would take a different direction on their next album, “Generator” (1992). For the album, Bad Religion also filmed their first music video "Atomic Garden", which was also their first song to be released as a single. Around 1993, Bad Religion parted ways with Epitaph and signed to Atlantic Records, who released their next album, “Recipe for Hate,” in the same year. While moderately successful, this was the first Bad Religion album to reach any Billboard charts and two videos for the album, "American Jesus" and "Struck a Nerve," were made.

Bad Religion rose to fame with their next album, 1994's “Stranger Than Fiction,” including their well-known hits "Infected" and "21st Century (Digital Boy).” To date, “Stranger Than Fiction” remains another one of Bad Religion's best known albums, with sales continuing seventeen years after its release.

After the album was completed, Gurewitz soon left Bad Religion to concentrate on the future of Epitaph, citing the increasing amount of time he was spending at Epitaph's offices, but it was well known that his departure was not on good terms.

Gurewitz was replaced by Brian Baker during the “Stranger Than Fiction” tour. During Gurewitz's departure, Bad Religion declined in popularity and released “The Gray Race” (1996) and “No Substance” (1998). In 1999, after a five year hiatus from the band, Gurewitz reunited with Graffin and co-wrote the song "Believe It," which appeared on Bad Religion's album “The New America,” which was released in 2000.

In 2001, while parting ways with Atlantic, Gurewitz was officially back in the band and Bad Religion resigned to Epitaph. As soon as Gurewitz returned, Schayer left the band and was replaced by current drummer Brooks Wackerman.

Now as a six piece, Bad Religion recorded and released the albums “The Process of Belief” (2002), “The Empire Strikes First” (2004) and “New Maps of Hell” (2007). Again waiting three years between releases, Bad Religion released their fifteenth studio album, “The Dissent of Man,” in September 2010, which marks the first time that a Bad Religion line-up had not changed in four consecutive studio recordings.