By Ian GormelyBad Religion often suffer from the kind of casual dismissal that comes from a 30-year career of releasing solid albums at a regular clip. Yet, while their records certainly boast a sonic unity, the L.A. punks have travelled an incredibly varied career path.
Hot on the heels of their 16th full-length, the excellent True North, Exclaim! delved into the band's storied history for this month's Timeline feature. Below are five highlights, detailing some of the odder moments in the band's long career. For the rest of the band's story, find an issue of Exclaim! near you.
Five Noteworthy Facts You May Not Know About Bad Religion:
5. Concrete Blonde guitarist James Mankey produced the band's first album, How Could Hell Be Any Worse?
Bad Religion record a self-titled EP. The record is mastered at Goldstar Recorders in Hollywood, where future Concrete Blonde singer Johnette Napolitano works as a receptionist. She likes the band's music and suggests they use her boyfriend, one-time Sparks guitarist and future Concrete Blonde guitarist James Mankey, as producer on their next album.
4. The band's second album was a full-blown, keyboard-driven prog-rock record.
Singer Greg Graffin gets his hands on a Roland Juno-6 keyboard and starts writing what will become the next Bad Religion album. The keyboard ends up being a prevalent element on Into the Unknown. Bassist Jay Bentley walks out after a day of recording. "The record was kind of backwards to me," Bentley tells Goldmine. "We did one song where I thought 'OK, let's go on to the next song.' But we spent the next eight hours doing overdubs, putting little bits and pieces on it. And I thought, 'Why are we doing this?'"
3. Until the release of Suffer in 1988, the band rarely toured outside of California.
Bentley and drummer Pete Finestone are eager to tour, but guitarist Brett Gurewitz and Graffin aren't. Complicating matters, Graffin continues to spend his summers back in Wisconsin with his father, effectively putting the band on hiatus for two months a year.
2. Eddie Vedder sings back-up vocals on Recipe for Hate.
Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder sings on "American Jesus" and "Watch It Die." "Eddie used to live in San Diego, and he always came to our shows," Bentley tells Goldmine. "Then all of a sudden he's in a huge band."
1. Singer Greg Graffin once appeared on Politically Incorrect.
Graffin appears as a guest on Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect alongside Star Trek: The Next Generation star Marina Sirtis, author Christina Hoff Sommers and actress/comedienne Julie Brown. The topic of the episode is feminism. Graffin barely gets a chance to speak.