Bad Religion wrapped up a series of festival gigs earlier this month, as the band continued to support its 2019 album, Age of Unreason. At the Louder Than Life festival in Louisville, Heavy Consequence caught up with guitarists Brian Baker and Mike Dimkich, with the pair discussing the pandemic, how the political climate affects punk music, and progress on a new album, among other topics.
Both Baker and Dimkich are veteran musicians, having been members of Minor Threat and The Cult, respectively, before joining Bad Religion. As musicians who’ve been touring for decades, they had to adjust to the shutdown of the concert industry during the pandemic.
“The shutdown was when all of us assessed who we are as people, like, ‘Who am I?’ I’ve been kinda like faking my life playing music, but I didn’t really have time to ponder life’s complexities,” Baker told us in the video above. “And I did that for about three weeks, and then I went back to just being me, trying to write music at home. The bad part is that we couldn’t play for people who had bought tickets.”
Dimkich, meanwhile, at one point feared that live music may never come back. “I really had a deep think where I was like maybe if this thing doesn’t get under control, live music … would be a thing of the past. And it was pretty frightening.”
With the band’s latest album, Age of Unreason, being recorded and released during the Trump administration, and with some of the greatest hardcore music coming out during the 1980s during Ronald Reagan’s time in office, we asked whether the best punk music comes when right wing and conservative administrations are in power.
“Conflict has always bred good music,” responded Baker. “Punk is a folk music, so it’s the type of thing when there’s a party in power that stands for everything that you don’t approve of, that you feel is wrong, what better vehicle to speak out. And in Bad Religion, we’ve had a pretty good history of trying to point out things that are dangerous to the human condition.”
With three-and-a-half years gone by since the release of Age of Unreason, Baker says the wheels are turning on a new Bad Religion album.
“I just talked to [guitarist] Brett [Gurewitz] the other day, and he’s starting to dust off his writing boots,” Baker revealed. “And the process is the same as always. A new record comes once Brett and [singer] Greg Graffin have written enough songs that they want to share with each other and see, “OK, are we on the right path?” … It’s exciting that it’s gonna start. So, hopefully, we get something done next year.”
With Baker having been a founding member of legendary hardcore act Minor Threat, we didn’t want to let him go without asking about the legacy of that band. “My favorite part is how much the band meant to people. Because it was truly an after-school band. And no one had any long-term vision of this band still having so much significance to people so many years later.”
He added, “I’m incredibly grateful and also proud of it, because it was just a one-in-a-million shot. … And all these relationships I made [with other punk and hardcore bands] when I was 16 years old, I still have now, and that is invaluable. And that is thing I think that Minor Threat did the most for my life.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Baker also talked about the younger bands who are exciting him now, including Amyl and the Sniffers and Turnstile.
In related news, Baker’s supergroup Fake Names — also featuring Refused singer Dennis Lyxzén and Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty, among others — have just announced their sophomore album, Expendables, set for release on March 3rd.
Watch our full interview with Bad Religion’s Brian Baker and Mike Dimkich in the video above.
Trouble viewing the video interview above? Watch on YouTube.