By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On Wednesday, February 5th, American band Bad Religion will make their way to Rio to take over the Circo Voador stage. Formed over thirty years ago in Los Angeles, California they are a rare example of a punk band still going strong after decades.
Continuing to tour in the wake of the wave of success from last year’s album release entitled True North , the band has a total of sixteen studio releases. Formed in 1979 as a quartet, Bad Religion grew as part of the infamous LA Hardcore punk scene in the 80s.
Influenced by and peers with the likes of bands Black Flag, The Ramones, Sex Pistols, Circle Jerks, Minor Threat, and The Clash, among others, Bad Religion’s style featured more intellectual lyrics delivered melodiously and with harmonies in short bursts over driving punk rhythms.
They are known for their socially consciousness yet not overtly anarchist lyrics and for their logo. The band originally chose a cross in a circle with a line drawn through it as their logo- to “upset parents”. Despite both the logo and their name, members say they do not classify themselves as antitheists.
Bad Religion frontman Greg Graffin is a Ph.D. graduate from Cornell University, an author, lecturer in life sciences and paleontology at U.C.L.A. and a firm believer in evolution. When asked by Scientific American in 2010 how evolution and punk rock were related, Graffin responded, “The idea with both is that you challenge authority, you challenge the dogma. It’s a process of collective discovery. It’s debate, it’s experimentation, and it’s verification of claims that might be false.”
It terms of experimentation within Bad Religion, Graffin has remained a constant. As other members left and returned, the band’s lineup went through its own evolution during the past three decades. Brett Gurewitz and Jay Bentley are two of the four the original members that remain in the band at the present time.
Gurewitz parted ways with the band shortly before the release of 1994 album Stranger Than Fiction, Bad Religion’s first gold record. Featuring hits including the title track, “Infected” and “21st Century (Digital Boy)” (a re-recorded track from a previous album), Stranger Than Fiction was proved to be Bad Religion’s entry into the Billboard 200 charts.
“By the time we put out Stranger Than Fiction in ’94,” Gurewitz, who left to run Epitaph Records told Spin in January of last year, “we were playing big, sprawling anthems. We had a gold record. We had a radio hit or two. And that’s allowed. Groups and artists need to evolve, and that was also really exciting, but that’s not who we are, and that’s not what we were ever aiming for. All we ever wanted to be was an L.A. hardcore band.”
Gurewitz later returned for Bad Religion’s 2002 release entitled, The Process of Belief and has remained since “We were bitterly divided during the Stranger Than Fiction record and that’s when I quit the band,” he explained. “When we came back together, we’d [Graffin and Gurewitz] both grown as people.”
They went on to release three more albums; 2004’s The Empire Strikes First; 2007’s New Maps of Hell; The Dissent of Man in 2010 before True North in 2013. It has now become is the band’s highest charting album to date. Praised by critics as well, True North was seen as a return of the band to their true punk-rock core.