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Hello Cruel World… Meet Bad Religion’s Jay Bentley!!

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so let’s go out on a limb and say that it was reincarnation.

Hello and welcome my fellow kilSters! I want to tell you a story…

Back in 1995, I was 15 years old and I, along with my family went on an excursion to an outlet mall in Pennsylvania, and I had yet to pick up the latest Aerosmith record,so I figured I’d get it while I was out there. The only problem was that I only had five dollars to my name, so I knew that when I walked into whatever record store I was to find there, I was already prepared to be disappointed. I don’t care how discounted things are at these outlet malls, I still wasn’t going to be able to afford that Aerosmith record, but I love music, so as such, when I did find that Mom and Pop record shop, I was compelled to go inside. Sixteen fucking dollars for the Aerosmith record. Damn! There was nothing better to do, so I told my parents to just leave me there and to come get me when they were done with their shopping.

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As I was looking through all the CD’s this place had; not really thinking that I would ever find anything for under five bucks, I reach the “P” section, and lo and behold, I found something that costs four dollars. Are you fucking kidding me?? Yet, there it was. The CD was something called Punk -O- Rama Volume 2. First, the price caught my attention, and then it was the cover art. It was of this odd shaped monster thing which had an “E” for a face, pissing on a wall (The “E” was the trademark logo for Epitaph Records, but what the hell did I know? I was just happy that I was able to afford something music related.) Armed with my Discman (remember those?), I paid for my CD and I immediately placed it into my listening device and that was it. I was gone. Shot out into space. The song that opened up this compilation of awesomeness was “Coffee Mug” by The Descendents. This CD… this music … It was so loud, fast, and aggressive. It was for me. It was me. From that moment on, there was no other type of music that mattered to me. Without realizing it, Punk Rock, as it was called, was what I had been searching for my whole life, without actively searching for it. Punk rock found me, and I was overtaken. I was forever changed.

There I am, immersed in this new music when track 16 starts up. The guitar, bass, and drums blast through the headphones, and then finally the raspy voiced singer came in, “Hey everybody’s lookin’/But they never can see/All the angst, corruption and the dishonesty…” What the hell is this beast of a song? The song? “Give You Nothing“. The band? Bad Religion. Okay, let me die now. This was the punk band for me, and they sold me with this 2-minute track. Everything about Bad Religion was right to me. I loved this new genre that I had stumbled upon, but once I heard Bad Religion, I immediately became an instant convert to this band, and I knew that regardless of anything else, this is the band that I was going to latch on to show me the way, without knowing what way that was. Everything clicked for me when it came to Bad Religion, and 18 years later, it’s still very much about Bad Religion for me.

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On October 2, I had the honor and privilege of interviewing one of the founding members of this very influential, and for me, life altering bands that has ever graced my being. Jay Bentley. Bad ass bassist, and all around nice, fun loving guy. It’s very rare that one has the opportunity to speak with their heroes. Me? As I’ve stated in previous articles, I have two musical heroes, Local H and Bad Religion and I was lucky enough to interact with the both of them. Bucket list kicked, death imminent. Right now, I invite you, my fellow kilSters, to meet/reintroduce yourselves to Mr. Jay Bentley

kS: What was the contributing factor that made you want to make music your life’s work?

jB: I don’t know… I don’t really ever remember a time when I wanted to do anything else. I think everyone has that same kind of story where they were five or six years old where it was like, they had a guitar and they listened to music and they just wanted to play. Nobody in my family plays; music wasn’t really a big part of our lives. My dad would listen to music all the time, but that doesn’t mean anything, so let’s go out on a limb and say that it was reincarnation.

kS: Who were some of your influences growing up?

jB: The first real band that I really kind of wanted to emulate would have been KISS. When I was like 10 or 11 years old I was Ace Frehley for Halloween. My dad always listened to Elton John, so that was a big deal for me; but it wasn’t until I heard the Sex Pistols in ’77 that I said “That’s it. That’s for me.” I don’t know if I really wanted to emulate Sid [Vicious] as much as I just wanted to be that.

kS: Do you prefer the studio or the stage?

jB: Both and for very different reasons. The studio is just sort of a creating time. It’s a time of working, of making something out of nothing. Playing on stage is a cathartic release where you just get to beat on something and scream at the top of your lungs and really have at it for an hour and twenty minutes. They’re both amazing things, just completely different. I don’t think that you could really think that one is more important than the other. Maybe if you weren’t so interested in the process of recording, you would go, “Oh well, I don’t really give a shit about the studio“, but I care about recording. I think it’s awesome.

kS: As a bass player, what kind of basses do you like playing and why?

jB: Well, right now I’m back to playing Fender P-basses and the reason is that they’re the bass that you’re supposed to be playing. I know that sounds stupid but when I started playing, my rebellious nature said that everyone is playing Fender P-basses. Fuck that, I’m playing anything but a Fender P-bass, and I did that up until we made “Suffer” and at the time, the band just got back together and we were going to go and make “Suffer“, and I didn’t even own a bass at that time, so I went out and bought a P-bass for $400, and went, “Oh, now I understand why everyone is playing these things“. They’re the Chevrolet of guitars, they’re exactly what you want them to be. I’ve played other guitars recently because of weight. I can’t carry 14 lbs. of mahogany every night. It’s just kind of killing my shoulder and back, so I’ve played these hollow bodies, which I love really, but they’re not quite the same, so now I’m back to playing P-basses again.

kS: If you had a bucket list for Bad Religion, what would be at the very top of said bucket list?

jB: Opening for The Clash and it’s never going to happen.

kS: In your opinion, what was the greatest era for music?

jB: The ’70’s.

kS: If you could have any group open up for Bad Religion, active or non, who would it be?

jB: Oh, we would open for The Clash. If I could have anybody open up for us — The Clash, but that would be weird, wouldn’t it? “The Clash is opening up for Bad Religion”. That would be kind of odd.

It still goes back to the fact that there are too many bands that are relying too much on cute or gimmick and not relying on actual talent.

kS: Do you road test newly written songs?

jB: No, we don’t play songs until they’re released on vinyl or on the Internet. We used to do that in the past, in the way, way past like in the “No Control” era, but what we’d found is, we’d play these songs and people would just stare and go, “Fuck you! Play something else!!” and we’d go, “Oh, okay“. So playing songs that no one’s ever heard of wasn’t a lot of fun, but once they’re out in the ether, we’ll play them, and then chances are someone has heard them, but not until then.

kS: With the exception of True North, which would you say is your favorite Bad Religion record?

jB: (thinking… running through the BR albums in his mind) … I’m going to sayThe Process Of Belief“. That was hard for me to say, I don’t like saying that, but that would be it.

turn your computer on and read the first headline on your iGoogle, and go, “I’m so mad right now, I can’t read.” So it doesn’t seem like there will ever be an end of material to write about.

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kS: What’s your take on where the music scene is headed today?

jB: I don’t know. There are so many bands that are emulating the KISS/Motley Crüe thing and there’s pyro and the whole fucking flame works thing and they’re somehow attaching themselves to the punk rock band wagon and I keep going, “I don’t get this at all.” I’m just going to assume that punk rock is nebulous gelatin where everyone can just attach the name to their band. It still goes back to the fact that there are too many bands that are relying too much on cute or gimmick and not relying on actual talent, but of the bands that are relying on talent, there’s some fucking great music coming out right now. From all across Europe, we had some bands opening up for us that were just fantastic. There are people in the states that are coming up that are just so worthy of your time. So, I think right now were heading into that kind of 70’s era where people are going to do it because you don’t make record contracts anymore, you don’t make millions of dollars anymore, so other than the fame, chicks, and drugs aspect, people are starting to do it because they really love it. Take the money away from it and the only people that are left are the ones that couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

kS: After thirty plus years, how does Bad Religion keep that fire going?

jB: I think most of it is that we don’t take the band too seriously and we don’t think that what we’re doing is too important and we don’t get into these big fights about musical direction or ideology. We’ve all learned to sort of make space for one another and we get together and write these songs and there’s plenty of material. For a band like us, all you have to do is wake up and turn your computer on and read the first headline on your iGoogle, and go, “I’m so mad right now, I can’t read!” So it doesn’t seem like there will ever be an end of material to write about. I guess the other part is, over 33 years, we’ve come close enough to falling apart that we know what that feels like and so, we try as best as we can to avoid that. We don’t go down paths that we don’t understand, and when things start to get a little sketchy, we just put the breaks on it, we could just go home. We don’t have contractual obligations. We don’t have any other reason to do this other than we want to. It makes it pretty simple to not feel some sort of burden.

kS: What’s your take on this government shut down? (Ed. Note: This interview was conducted on October 2nd, so that bullshit was still going on, so it was a legitimate question at the time.)

jB: I don’t give a shit. 7Eleven is open at the end so who gives a fuck, really?

kS: Are there any new groups that you’re a fan of? If so, which?

jB: My favorite newest new group is out of Denmark and they’re called Broadway Killers. They played a couple of shows with us, and I just went out and watched them play and they’re three guys from different bands who put this band together because they didn’t really seem to get along with what they were doing in their other bands and this thing clicked for them. I watched them play and I told them, “You guys are really good, as good as anything that I have ever seen.” They’re super passionate, super willing to be creative and do shit that’s way out of the norm. I really like that. I like bands that are willing to try something different. Another band—this is kind of weird. There’s a guy here who’s a friend of mine named (inaudible) Woodcock and he’s this pornographic ZZ-Top guy, who’s an amazing guitar player and he just writes songs about sex. It’s just like watching this amazing guitar player sing songs about doing shit and then he puts on this oven mitt, and you’re like, “cool, haven’t seen that shit before.”

Get the fuck out here! … Well, that means I’m not going to the moon and I’m not signing up.

kS: When you’re not playing bass, what are you doing on your down time?

jB: Usually surfing or just hanging out with my daughter. I have an 17-month old daughter right now, so it’s sort of a good time for me to be around. I have a 22 year old and a 20 year old boys. We’re working on getting them like, “What do I do?”, Well, okay lets working on that, and with the other one it’s just sort of play time.

kS: Aside from your profession, what would you like to do?

jB: Originally when I kind of got kicked out of school, I went to go sign up at the Air Force, because I said, “I’m flying up in a jet and I’m going to the moon!” I got there and I swear to God, I’m filling out all the paperwork and I said, “How soon before I can fly in a jet?” And they ask me, “Well how tall are you?” and I tell them, “6″4“, and they’re like, “Never.” Get the fuck out here! “5″11 is the max height, you can’t fly a jet if you’re over 5″11“. “Well, that means I’m not going to the moon and I’m not signing up“. That’s a true story. Other than that I was working at Orange Julius and I’d probably still be working at Orange Julius. I might be manager.

kS: What does the future hold for Bad Religion?

jB: There is no future for Bad Religion (laughs that Jay Bentley laugh of his…). You know, every day is the last day and we’ve been saying that for a long time. So you just never know, you might wake up one day, and everyone is just like, “That’s it we’re done.” So we really do enjoy playing, we really do enjoy making records and we’ve all said as long as we’re having fun, and we still feel like we’re relevant and not just some relic from the past, we’ll gladly continue, but there’s going to come a day where we just go, “Nah, we’re done.

kS: Are you guys working on anything now?

jB: The next thing thing that will be coming out will be something that I can’t really talk about, but it involves Christmas, so that’s going to come out. (– Ed. Note: See Hark!! O When The Atheists Come Marching In) … We recorded that back in July, and we’ll probably go on tour next year in the spring or summer. For right now, all I know is that we’re talking about going to South America in the spring.

… That was it. That was my interview with Jay Bentley. Bucket list complete. What does the future hold for Bad Religion? I’m hoping for 15 more years, but I’ll take what I can get. When I got into Bad Religion, I didn’t know that they were punk pioneers, I didn’t know anything. All I knew was that their songs made my heart race and I couldn’t help involuntarily throwing my fist in the air. That still happens because their permeates through my whole body and something else takes over. It’s that unyielding need to do something, achieve something. Through Bad Religion’s music, I found my voice and it’s been raised for almost two decades now. On a personal note: Thank you very much for your time, Jay. Your band’s music has meant so much to me over the years and just like when I was 15 years old and hearing it for the first time, Bad Religion continues to inspire me and reaffirms for me, the belief that I can do what I want. Case in point: I scored an interview with Bad Religion’s Jay Bentley, y’all. I call that a win, wouldn’t you?

3 comments

    1. Thanks for the kind words, Timothy! We try to embody that spirit of 90’s punk zines, so I’m happy to have the confirmation that we succeeded.

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