Bad Religion Wrestles With Politics On New CD
On its newly issued 14th album, "New Maps of Hell," L.A. punk stalwarts Bad Religion credit President Bush with ushering in a time in history that will be remembered as a low point.On its newly issued 14th album, "New Maps of Hell," L.A. punk stalwarts Bad Religion credit President Bush with ushering in a time in history that will be remembered as a low point.
Guitarist, songwriter and co-founder Brett Gurewitz tells Billboard.com the track "New Dark Ages" was "inspired by the pervasive anti-intellectualism in the U.S., which I guess is personified by the kind of macho religious-ity of George Bush."
The band, which is one of the main attractions at this summer's Vans Warped Tour, doesn't name Bush directly, but his administration's decisions in recent years have certainly had an impact on "New Maps of Hell."
"If anything, it's given a touch of sadness and a touch of resignation to our reflectiveness as a band," he says. "I think maybe now, while we're moving toward the end of Bush's term -- and having all the wreckage that he's created to deal with in his aftermath -- it's made us more sad than angry.
"Don't forget, we did a split 7-inch with [activist] Noam Chomsky protesting the first Gulf War, and now we find ourselves back in war," he adds. "It really almost makes you feel hopeless, like that nothing ever changes -- or that things change, but only for the worse."
Originally, Gurewitz was hoping that "New Maps of Hell" would be a two-disc opus. "I had this sort of grand plan for a really interesting record where we would use different kinds of recording techniques," he says. That included "going back to our old style, and actually doing some real garage-y, eight-track stuff like we did in the old days and then mixing that in with modern recording techniques, and having -- dare I say -- a punk-rock 'White Album' kind of thing -- a sonically inconsistent record."
While that idea wasn't realized, "New Maps of Hell" became one of Bad Religion's most raw records in years. Says Gurewitz, "I think our last three records hold up to our early works, or possibly surpass it at moments, and this record is about confirming that our original mission statement that we made when we were really stupid 16-year-olds still holds true."