Do What You Want: The Story of Bad Religion

Hachette. Aug. 2020. 336p. ISBN 9780306922220. $28. MUSIC
From humble beginnings as a garage band of Southern California teenagers, Bad Religion has ridden a wave of thoughtful and well-crafted songwriting and performances that has lasted for four decades with no end in sight. Then-15-year-old singer Greg Graffin’s first recorded words into a microphone may have been “this isn’t art, this is suicide,” but career-wise he was sorely mistaken. Seventeen albums later, the band continues to tour the world and release energetic, in-your-face punk that both thrills and questions its dedicated audience. Bad Religion produced this insider story with Ruland (coauthor, with Black Flag’s Keith Morris, My Damage), who keeps things going at a pace that almost matches that of the performers. There aren’t many groups that can say they’ve been true to their muse for four decades, and there were hurdles to overcome, but in the words of cofounder Brett Gurewitz, the band “just won’t die.” Their story is here.
VERDICT An engaging chronicle of a band that has, remarkably, retained its founding spirit and relevancy many years on. A delightful read for fans of both the early days of punk and those curious about contemporary practice.

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