Diary of a Day With Bad Religion

By Darby Sawchuk

We exited the car on the chilly, windy
afternoon of May 15 and headed straight for the backstage entrance
of the Max Bell Arena. There, we introduced ourselves to Keith,
the promoter of the show who was to knight us with our coveted
backstage laminates.

The bands were due to be arriving that
afternoon, but all was not going according to schedule. The music
business isn’t known for its punctuality. We spent a while wandering
the bowels of the arena, watching the rodies prepare the stage,
and waiting (and acquainting ourselves with the friendliest security
guard in the world).

Eventually, the musicians began arriving
and the sound check, in all its glory, was upon us. Sans vocals,
Bad Religion repeatedly stumbled through "Heaven is Falling"
which had obviously gone unpracticed for some time. Afterwards,
we were permitted to join Brian Baker and Jay Bentley in their
dressing room while NUTV conducted an on-camera interview.

Baker’s good-natured sarcasm and Bentley’s
enormous smile and raucous laugh appeared frequently as the two
answered questions regarding their responsibility to up-and-coming
bands, the Bad Religion Scholarship, and teen violence.

"[Violent teens] are fucking morons
with bad parents," Baker replied caustically when asked
about teen violence and the blame that has been attributed to
the music industry. Bentley continued the thought, "If my
kids had a bunch of shotguns and pipe-bombs, I would sure as
hell know about it."

When the interview was completed, we
continued to chat with the laid-back musicians. Bentley hobbled
around the room later explaining he had suffered a torn ligament
in his right knee the previous day while playing in a charity
hockey game. Baker occasionally quipped, "What do you want
to do for the next four hours?" Bentley, incongruously,
suggested they go check out the tractor sale he saw on the way
to the hotel. Instead, they remained in their room while we departed
to look at the merchandise.

With a $45 Bad Religion sweatshirt in
hand, we prepared to watch Belvedere, the Calgary act who won
Bad Religion’s contest for best demo CD. The crowd was accumulating
in front of the stage as the band began its set of speedy punk
which alternated between melodic and hard-core vocals. Though
not the most original or tight, Belvedere’s set drew hearty cheers
from the ever-growing crowd.

Loudmouth was next to take the stage.
The four hard-rockers resembled the aftermath of an explosion
in a wig factory, but played with spirit. Crunchy, yet musical
riffs echoed through the arena more slowly than those of the
other acts on the bill. The crowd was appreciative of Loudmouth’s
rapport with the crowd featuring the words "Thank you Calgary!"
screamed dozens of times while devil’s horns were pumped into
the air. Leather pants, big hair, and metal clichés aside,
Loudmouth made an impression on the predominately punk audience.

The building was still not yet at capacity
as Strung Out leapt into sight. Pounding out pop/punk with the
energy of Speedy Gonzalez full of Mountain Dew, the California
quintet played a solid, exciting set. Though marred by the sound
in the Max Bell, the members of Strung Out scissor-kicked their
way through songs off their three albums. Their set was cut short
to make way for the headliners, but most of the crowd was satiated
by Strung Out’s sweaty set.

The sound problems did not clear up
for Bad Religion’s set, but no one in the crowd was willing to
let that dampen their spirits. Pressing mightily against the
barrier in front of the stage, the audience hoped to come as
close as possible to their punk heroes. The human trash-compactor
rejoiced in unison as Bad Religion drove through an hour-and-a-half
set which featured songs spanning their 19 year career.

Greg Hetson’s compact frame ricocheted
to and fro like a rubber ball. Brian Baker’s hair occasionally
wafted up as he passed in front of a cooling fan in moments which
seemed scripted by a video director. Bobby Schayer relentlessly
pounded out rhythms to guide the band. Jay Bentley bounced and
flailed despite his ruined knee, only grimacing when he attempted
to get to his feet after playing a song on his back. Greg Graffin’s
vocals were solid and unwavering as he shouted out anthems to
the eager audience.

Old favourites such as "Generator,"
"Do What You Want," and "Fuck Armageddon, This
is Hell" found 4,000 extra voices singing along. More recent
songs were equally well received. Happy to welcome Bad Religion
to Calgary for the first time, the crowd revelled in every moment.

As the band departed, fans hoped for
more and chanted for an encore which was not to be. The house
lights rose and the arena was drained of satisfied, sweaty people.

After the show, we waited while the
bands took a rest in their dressing rooms. Soon enough, they
joined a few lucky fans for the post-show meet-and-greet. We
briefly met Greg Hetson and Greg Graffin, then got Bobby Schayer
to sign a drumstick. We then chatted further with Brian who relaxed
in one of the arena chairs.

We also asked Jay Bentley about the
pyjamas he has been wearing to shows for the last couple of years.
The story runs as follows: they were doing a video shoot and
he had nothing to wear; he saw the pyjamas for $17 and couldn’t
resist; when he showed up in the set, he received the jeers of
his bandmates and so, in retaliation, he spouted, "You watch,
I’m going to wear these to every show from now on!" He chuckled
as he told us how he failed to wash the grungy garb for the first
few months of their existence, then they were pilfered by a tour
manager who could not let the stench brew any longer. The comfy-looking
outfit has served Bentley well-it has become a home for him.

We giggled with Bentley, then said our
farewells. The day was a long, but fulfilling one. It is not
often that a favourite band comes through Calgary, and even less
often is there an opportunity to meet and talk with them. Even
more rare is when they are friendly, accommodating people willing
to share their time with you.

Related Links:

The Bad Religion
– The place to start for information
on Bad Religion. This page has News, pictures, links, a biography,
interviews, tabs, etc.. If you read everything on this page,
you can probably consider yourself a Bad Religion expert (well,
you have to listen to the music too).

The Official Bad Religion
– Here you will find all the Bad
Relgion merchandise you could ever want. Also, for you science
majors out there, this page has information about Bad Religion’s
scholarship program.

All Music Guide Profile of Bad Religion

– The AMG features a bio and some good information about the

The Ultimate
Band List Entry for Bad Religion

The UBL will get you hopping around to even more Bad Religion

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