Do you remember what you were doing around this time last year? We do. Prior to their kickass show at Cleveland’s Agora in August 2019, Bad Religion members Jay Bentley and Brian Baker stopped in to blow the breeze on everyone from Minor Threat and the Damned to Sonny Moore and Unwritten Law.
Not really. But the good cop (Baker) and bad cop (Bentley) were a laugh riot to be around. So much so that we’re hoping that they would make this repartee a regular thing. APTV decided to make an “unboxing video” to get Bentley and Baker’s take on various points in their history.
The first item we had for Baker and Bentley’s perusal was a 1996 tour poster with support bands Dance Hall Crashers and Unwritten Law. As Baker cheerfully asks Bentley some specifics about the tour, the bassist shows his interest by blowing a raspberry.
“What year was this? 1996?” Baker asks.
“Who cares?” Bentley retorts. “Fuck that tour.”
“Every day I work with this man,” Baker says directly into the APTV camera. “And this is what you get. It’s The Gray Race tour, so it’s ’96…”
“Good for you,” Bentley fires back.
“It’s good to see that we had somewhat of a diverse bill,” Baker says cheerfully. “Of ninth-wave ska and Unwritten Law, who were sort of a rich man’s Pennywise?” Talk then turns to some of the diverse bands Bad Religion shared stages with, including From First To Last, Sparta and the Promise Ring. Bentley says teaming up with FFTL was typical record label business at work and apologized to everyone who had seen it. “I’m sorry that happened,” he says. “But [Sonny Moore] doesn’t care. Look at him now.”
“I’m not sorry it happened at all,” Baker says. “I thought it was kind of cool.” He then revealed his “best tour ever” lineup and wouldn’t mind reviving it.
The second item we had the duo unbox was a copy of Bad Religion’s Alternative Press cover story (AP 78) from 1995. Founding guitarist Brett Gurewitz had left the band, and Baker was enlisted to fill the spot. The band had also signed with Atlantic Records, an act that bunched a significant amount of punk panties in the underground. Bentley recalls that the photo was taken at the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin, Germany. It was Baker’s first tour with the band. Baker remembers it clearly. Bentley remembers walking out of it.
“That’s one of my biggest pet peeves, the backwards baseball cap,” Baker says in near-cringe position because that’s what he’s wearing in the photo. “The backwards thing? On a grown-up?”
“We stood in front of the Brandenburg Gate and caused trouble,” Bentley says. “They asked us to leave. I’m going to go on a limb and say this [story] was all about Greg [Graffin, frontman]. So I remember not being there.”
The final item to be unboxed was focused toward Baker. During his stint in iconic hardcore band Minor Threat, Baker had the pleasure of opening for his favorite band, the Damned. The last item was a framed show flyer and autographed photos of the British legends signed at a show in Washington, D.C.’s Ontario Theatre June 16, 1983.
The Damned were playing with noted U.K. punk hooligans the Anti-Nowhere League. (Baker: “Being that they’re the Damned, they don’t want to mention anybody [on the flyer] but themselves.”) The British delegation wanted Minor Threat to open, but the show promoters insisted that Minor Threat had to go in the middle. After ANL’s perfunctory set, Minor Threat came out and completely cleaned everybody’s clock, including the headliners’. “That caused a lot of tension between the British subjects,” Baker says. “But they did let that happen.”
Clearly Bad Religion’s history parallels that of American punk rock. If there’s still a moratorium on shows in 2021, we’re hoping a weekly livestream of Bentley and Baker becomes a reality. Because sometimes a living-room show ain’t all that, y’know? But wise guys in conversation? That’s a reaaaaaal close second…