Getty Images (2) There's going to be a Los Angeles punk assault on North…
- Posted on Feb 7th 2013 12:30PM by Lonny Knapp
But when the band took the stage for an intimate show at Toronto's Horseshoe Tavern recently, Bad Religion looked nothing like a band that was ready to pull the plug.
Leaning heavily on tracks from True North, its recently released 16th studio album, the So-Cal punks legends delivered a fierce set of up-tempo and hook-heavy punk rock for lucky contest winners and their plus ones.
Later, lanky bassist Jay Bentley dispelled break-up rumors. Sort of.
"Is it our last record, is it our last tour, I don't know. That's living outside of the moment, and fuck that plan," Bentley told Spinner. "It's like any relationship. We could wake up one morning and decide we don't want to be part of it anymore and then it's over. So we look at every show as potentially our last."
True North finds Bad Religion revisiting the stripped-down sound of its quintessential late '80s efforts Suffer and No Control and rallying against the government, the church and corporate America.
The band has been mining those same themes since 1979, and according to Bentley, the more things change the more they stay the same.
"We've come full circle," he said. "In a sense it's back to the beginning when we were really young and really angry."
But the members of Bad Religion are no longer a bunch of angst-filled teens, and that fact is not lost on Bentley. On stage at the Horseshoe, he couldn't help but compare his band to the Rolling Stones, who've been known to use the same venue for club dates to shake off the cobwebs before big tours.
In the past decade, the Rolling Stones have become a touring tribute to their own glorious past. While thousands around the world seem willing to dish a week's pay to see Mick Jagger and his geriatric cronies play the hits and gyrate like skeletal strippers, others find it a bit grotesque.
It begs the question, do bands have a best before date?
Graffin and Bentley are the only original members still touring with Bad Religion. (Guitarist Brett Gurewitz still co-writes most of the songs with Graffin and appears on the records, but he stays home to run the seminal punk label Epitaph Records.)
On stage at the Horseshoe Tavern, Graffin, who teaches evolution at Cornell University, looked more professor than punk icon, while Bentley bopped around the stage with a massive simile breaking through his bushy grey beard. Clearly, the band isn't young any more.
But over the past three decades, Bad Religion has avoided the fashion, fads, and glittery trappings that tie an act to the past, and have, instead, built a career on intelligence and integrity.
Those qualities never get old.
"You have to ask yourself, 'Do you a really enjoy what you are doing or are you just going through the motions for a paycheck?'," Bentley said. "Greg (Graffin) and I have an agreement: when this is over, it's over -- no farewell tours, no balloons, no bullshit, we'll just call it a day and we are done."