Bad Religion's Brett Gurewitz Exclusively Interviewed by (International) Noise Conspiracy's Dennis Lyxzén
Back To The Beginning
The History of Bad Religion: The Exclaim! Timeline
Review of the new album, The Empire Strikes First
Bad Religion: Rocking for the Free World
Brett Gurewitz is the co-founder of L.A.-based Bad Religion, one of America's most enduring and important punk rock bands. Dennis Lyxzén is the leader of fashion-conscious Swedish garage punks the (International) Noise Conspiracy and former vocalist for vanguard prog-core practitioners Refused. Although they hail from different continents and different generations, they are two of the more relevant political voices in contemporary music.
Exclaim! recently secured an exclusive interview with these two icons in advance of the releases of their respective new albums — discs that scream for change in the way the world works, starting with a (white) house cleaning in America's capital — and their respective bands' appearances on this summer's Warped Tour.
In part one of this hour-long discussion, Lyxzén talks to Gurewitz about the history of L.A. hardcore and the life-changing impact Bad Religion had on a kid from northern Sweden, who after listening to the California band's music, was inspired to pick up the writings of Noam Chomsky and other liberal authors.
For part two of the interview, check out the cover story of Exclaim!'s July issue, which hits the streets in late June.
Brett: Hi, Dennis
Dennis: Hey, what's up, Brett?
Brett: Not much. I hope you understand this is going to be a fluff piece.
Dennis: What is a fluff piece?
Brett: That's where you don't ask me any difficult questions whatsoever and you just talk about how great I am.
Dennis: Oh, okay. We'll see, we'll see.
Brett: I'll do the same for you some day.
Dennis: Okay [laughs]. We've talked a lot before and we've hung out so I want to start form the beginning. What's the first punk show you ever went to?
Brett: That would be the Ramones. I'm not exactly sure what year but I would guess it was 1978 or '79 and it was at the Hollywood Palladium.
Dennis: Who took you?
Brett: I went myself because I had just discovered the Ramones on my own through my local indie record store. There weren't any punks in my school yet but there were a couple of other guys who had just gone punk: my friend Tom Clement and this guy named Jay. They were literally the first two guys and they had the same idea around the same time I did. We got into the Ramones and the Buzzcocks, and I saw they were coming to L.A.
Dennis: When did you start seeing L.A. bands?
Brett: It was right after that. I got my driver's license when I was 16 and I started getting into punk when I was 17. There were no punk shows in the suburbs where I lived but immediately after seeing the Ramones I started going to local punk shows. The first one was the Germs at Flipper's Roller Rink in Hollywood during the last days of roller disco. This particular place was doing poorly so they started booking punk shows on weeknights.
Dennis: I'm just reading the Germs book Lexicon Devil. So you got into the Germs and they were the first wave of L.A. punk bands, right?
Brett: I just got onto the first wave as a kid at the end and I became the second wave.
Dennis: Then the second wave came with Black Flag.
Brett: [Black Flag founder and guitarist] Greg Ginn will argue that with you. He'll say he was part of the first wave but he didn't play the Mass because he wasn't cool enough. Brendan O'Brian, who books the Mass, tells me that's not true [that Flag were part of the first wave] and they have had a big feud over it. I'll compromise because that time I saw the Germs it was with Black Flag. They bridge the gap between the first generation of L.A. punk and the second generation, which was L.A. hardcore. Black Flag were the ones that had a foot in both. I would say the second wave, it was us in the Valley and then the kids from the beach cities like T.S.O.L. and early ones people might not have heard of like the Crowd, Agent Orange, China White, Middle Class. Middle Class were the fastest band around.
Dennis: Their seven-inch was considered, at the time, the fastest hardcore seven-inch.
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