Published Jan 01, 2006Whatever Brett Gurewitz's reasons for parting ways with Bad Religion in 1994 money, drugs, personality clashes it all seemed like ancient history when he rejoined the archetypal American punk rock band he co-founded 20 years ago. After leaving to guide his Epitaph Records label through its post-Offspring boom years and falling back into a cycle of stress and success-fuelled drug dependency, Gurewitz realised that despite his prosperous business venture, one of the most important things in his life was missing. He was first and foremost a songwriter.
"There's been a lot written about it and I know that I said some nasty things about Jay [Bentley, bassist] or about the band right around the time of the split," Gurewitz recalls, "but the real reason is that about the time I was getting ready to leave, Epitaph was exploding overnight with this incredibly disruptive violent growth with the Offspring and Rancid.
"In the course of doing that, a lot of things happened. I had some struggles coming to terms with my own success and coping with the changes in my life. On a personal level I handled them very poorly. I suffered a failed relationship and I relapsed into my life-long battle with drugs and I became reclusive. When you take all these things into account, there's no way I could have been in Bad Religion. It really took this long for me to get my head together."
But when circumstances permitted, Gurewitz "jumped" at the chance to be part of the band again and, for the first time in seven years, write music that mattered. "They say you don't know what you have until you lose it," he says without the slightest hint of irony. "I guess I didn't realise how much I missed writing and collaborating with Greg [Graffin, vocalist] until we picked it back up. I felt like it was the first time in several years where I was really getting some fulfilment." After contributing to one song on the 2000 major label swansong, The New America, he was back as a full-fledged member for the writing and recording of the band's 13th release and easily their best since 1990's Against the Grain. The Process of Belief is a throwback to the band's glory days. It was written and recorded at Westbeach Recorders where all the early records were made, in almost no time and finds them back at home on Epitaph, the label formed by the band in the early 1980s.
"There was a lot of pressure," Gurewitz admits. "I felt like a lot of people were going to look at this and if it wasn't good the verdict would be that I should have left well enough alone. Like so many reunions, people would say why don't you just have respect for the group and let it go."