Who’s bad?

Bad Religion endures with
a high standard of punk rock

By Shawn "Speedy" Lopes

It's plain to see from the outset of "Process of Belief," Bad Religion's 2002 offering, that after more than 20 years and nearly as many albums and EPs, the revered old-school punk unit retains the same ideals it once shared as a teenage garage band in Southern California's San Fernando Valley.

At a time when its members ought to be spending their spare hours reclined next to their suburban pools sipping Evian and reminiscing over their crazy, wayward days, Bad Religion continues to tour the world, churning out a rousing, earnest brand of music that speaks with as much relevance to audiences half their age as to their own well-traveled peer group.

As one of Los Angeles' first generation of punk rock outfits, it didn't take long for Bad Religion to establish themselves among that city's punk hierarchy. In the early days, few hard-core bands were as efficient in merging buzz-saw guitars and breakneck rhythms with insightful, thought-provoking messages, and still fewer match them in that regard today. While many of their contemporaries have fallen by the wayside in fulfilling punk's promise of a short, fast existence, Bad Religion has not only endured an astonishingly long career, they've managed to expand their base of converts with each successive album.

Throughout the late '70s and early '80s, disenfranchised youth in suburban L.A. discovered the anti-social pleasures of punk rock through outlets such as radio station KROQ's "Rodney on the Roq" program and underground flier-advertised gigs about town. Like-minded mates Greg Graffin, Brett Gurewitz, Jay Ziskrout and Jay Bentley banded together to form Bad Religion in 1980 and released a self-titled EP on their Epitaph label in 1981. Their first full-length album, "How Could Hell Be Any Worse," came out a year later. In the decades since, the band has endured several lineup changes, adding such punk rock notables as Greg Hetson (Circle Jerks, Redd Kross), Tim Gallegos (Wasted Youth) and Brooks Wackerman (Suicidal Tendencies, The Vandals) to its roster, while amassing an impressive catalog of albums. (Gurewitz is also back in the band after a stint of running the Epitaph label as well as cleaning up some debilitating vices.)

From the experimental "Into The Unknown" (1983) to the groundbreaking "No Control" (1990) to the acclaimed "The Gray Race" (1996) and beyond, Bad Religion has managed to create a body of work it stands by to this day, for the most part by staying its path and ignoring musical trends. As expected, the latest "Process of Belief" carries on the Bad Religion tradition of vigorous melodies, tightly-wound machine gun rhythms and the emotive vocals of Graffin.

Their appearance at World Cafe tomorrow night is not their first in Hawaii, and judging by their outstanding perseverance and resolve over the years, it likely won't be their last.

Bad Religion

With local opening band The Quintessentials:

Where: World Cafe
When: 7 p.m. tomorrow
Tickets: $20
Call: 599-4450

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