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An Essay on Bad Religion

by OvDeath
1Bad Religion
How Could Hell Be Any Worse?

Everyone has a special band in their heart for one reason or another. Many of us grow out of our tastes as we grow older. I remember when I was in primary school, my teacher asked the class to make a time capsule with whatever we wanted to put into it. Interests, hobbies, thoughts, anything. He encouraged us to list our favourite music and assured us it would change in ten years time when we opened it. When I opened up my time capsule ten years later when I was 18, surely enough, emblazoned on the first page was BAD RELIGION.
2Bad Religion
Into the Unknown

My earliest memories of Bad Religion go back to when I was five years old. My older brother was an angsty mohawked punk teen who was every day blasting Bad Religion, Frenzal Rhomb, Black Flag, Ramones, Pennywise, Operation Ivy, The Clash, Sex Pistols, Misfits, Strung Out, Anti-Flag, Refused, etc. throughout the house. I remember it wasn't long before I was sneaking into his CD collection and flicking through what he had. I had a specific song in my head I remember hearing him playing in the car, Bad Religion's 'I Want to Conquer the World'. I had no idea it was Bad Religion at the time, I just remembered loving the song and wanted to hear it again. Going through his CDs, I picked one at random, which just so happened to be a Bad Religion compilation disc he put together. Track 16 was 'I Want to Conquer the World'. Every night for the next few years I listened through the compilation in full as I went to sleep. My brother didn't seem to notice or care that I took that CD.
3Bad Religion

I used to be made fun of a lot in school for my favourite band. I don't know why, but I guess people will make fun of you for anything. But I never stopped listening to them, and even though I was bullied a lot as a child, I never really gave in to try and fit in better. I remember my brother was also a budding street artist at that time and made a lot of stencils, and he made me a custom Bad Religion shirt that I used to wear way too much. I don't know where that shirt is now but I miss it.
4Bad Religion
No Control

In primary school every week we would have members of the church and local Jehovah's Witnesses come to our class and teach us about religion. As a young, impressionable child I basically took all of this for a fact. But the more I listened to Bad Religion, the more their messages started coming through to me. I won't pretend like I understood most of what Greg Graffin was singing, but they were the first influence in my life that taught me to question things I had previously been taught by people I thought were telling me the truth. It never dawned on me until much later in life just the massive impact that had made on me. If it weren't for Bad Religion, I might have blindly followed Christianity for a long time, and I very much do resent the fact that I was raised in an environment where it was almost inescapable.
5Bad Religion
Against the Grain

It might seem cliche to try and cite a band's lyrics for "showing me the way", but regardless of that, Bad Religion did teach me a lot about thinking for myself, the world around me and being my own person, more or less. I spent all my time studying punk music. I'd save up all my money growing up and scrounge through countless record stores looking for anything by Bad Religion. Today, I own all their albums, but it was a long chore finding their entire catalogue when I was young in suburban Australia. It was also around this time I was getting heavily into classic rock and heavy metal and became a diehard fanatic for Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, etc.
6Bad Religion

There was something about raw, heavy music that made me feel better about myself. My school life was rough. I was a depressed child. I was bullied physically daily, I had limbs broken, black eyes and even my best friends were more or less just the bullies that had "dibs" on bullying me. I found a lot of comfort in the fact that Bad Religion was comprised from a bunch of skinny, nerdy guys who decided to rebel from the norm and just play loud, angry, forward-thinking music. Even listening to many of their 80s records day, Bad Religions words have never stopped being applicable. As I grew older I got a bit bigger and learned how defend myself better, and am ashamed to admit that I became a bit of a bully in retaliation to what I grew up with. I don't look back proudly on the fact that I spend a few of my formative years hurting people weaker than I was, and it hurts to admit that I felt good because of it.
7Bad Religion
Stranger Than Fiction

I suppose it was in that time that I stopped truly understanding what these bands were saying, and I regret all of it. The answer in the face of adversity isn't to join your aggressors in hurting those who you perceive to be "below" you. I remember when I was entering my early teens, my brother was kicked out of home. I don't know the details surrounding it, but he was troubled guy from birth. Him and I are alike in many ways. We're both quick to anger, intensely private and solitary people. I remember him telling me one day in his car, listening to Bad Religion, that 'we are exactly who this song is talking about.' The song was '21st Century Digital Boy', and I remember reading through the lyrics word for word and identifying with it in every way, for better or worse. When studying the origins of the song later on is when I discovered the connection to King Crimson and progressive rock, and then heard the band's progressive rock album 'Into the Unknown'.
8Bad Religion
The Gray Race

Bad Religion opened me up to punk, rock, metal and progressive music. From there I just went further. Without them, I'm not sure what my taste would be like today. My brother and I aren't very close anymore, but that's just who we are. But I've always seen him and I as being very much the same, even though we are so different in many other ways, and I've always thought of us together as products of our time, both rebelling against certain standards, and both embodying the bitter irony of the lyrics from '21st Century Digital Boy'.
9Bad Religion
No Substance

I've gone through a lot of changes in my life. I've been a lot of different people, most of whom I dislike intensely. But through everything, nothing has changed about my love for Bad Religion. I remember distinctly my teacher telling me when I was eight years old that my favourite band would be different. I remember thinking that was bullshit. And eighteen years after the first time I heard their music, they remain the most monolithic and influential figure in my life. Every time I think of that, I think of the lyrics to 'No Direction' and wonder if I've gone against what Greg Graffin wanted when he told me "No Bad Religion song will make your life complete" and "you'll get no direction from me". I understand perfectly what he's saying so poignantly in that song, and I agree with it. Bad Religion didn't tell me what to be, but they did teach me to think differently, and question my surroundings a bit more.
10Bad Religion
The New America

Perhaps when I was younger, I didn't fully understand that though. I used to try and be exactly like my brother, and I did used to look for guidance from these people. But I have evolved into my own person, I suppose, since then. I've sought information from many corners into what interests me, developed my own tastes, thoughts, ideas. Some people will pose interesting thoughts and that will directly make me question something I previously thought I believed. There are so many conflicting opinions that it's all too deep to truly follow any one thought or person.
11Bad Religion
The Process of Belief

Bad Religion initially taught me about atheism, and for a long time I called myself an atheist. But in recent years I've become more spiritual and embraced ideas I used to scoff at. Sometimes it's not about "faith", but choice. And I choose to believe in some spiritual things, because my life feels fuller when I do. They were right when they said no Bad Religion song would make my life complete, but they have changed it for the better. I still struggle in many respects, but I would never take back everything I've gained from my specifically musical path in life.
12Bad Religion
The Empire Strikes First

I've seen the band live about four times now, and every time it's an unforgettably fun experience. I hope everybody in life finds a way to connect to something in the way that I have with Bad Religion.
13Bad Religion
New Maps of Hell

Hearing Brooks Wackerman's drumming for the first time is what made me want to become a drummer.
14Bad Religion
The Dissent of Man

I remember The Empire Strikes First was the first album I ever bought "day one" and waited actively for in 2004.
15Bad Religion
True North

And to this day I have a ten-year old hoodie that's fading and stretched with the crossbuster emblazoned on the chest that I still wear frequently.
16Bad Religion
Recipe for Hate

Somehow forgot this one when initially listing them all, my favourite Bad Religion album. Extra note: I remember one day I was out with my cousin and a group of his friends. We went to a local record store and I bought How Could Hell Be Any Worse? and my cousin's friends continued to heckle me for about two hours for the fact that I actually BOUGHT a CD, because why wouldn't I just download it? The concept of paying for music was so foreign to them that all they could muster was mockery. Fuck them.
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