What’s this site all about ?
I don’t know who’s gonna care. I don’t know if it was worth spending months on translations and the design of this site. I don’t know if I did it for the French-speaking fan community as I’ve been waving it around, or if I just didn’t do it for myself.
In order to understand, you’d have to try to imagine what it would be like to be guided by a band for 28 years. I have to explain that for a long time now, I believe that it has nothing to do with music anymore. I have to tell.
1993. I’m 17 and I don’t know what punk rock is. I don’t listen to it and nobody around me has introduced me to it. In the suburbs of Valence, France, at that time, you just do with what you got.
However, some friends introduced me to Metal. From heavy metal to death and trash metal. My favourite band for a long time was Suicidal Tendencies. In high school, I used to carve the ST logo on the back of my hand with a box cutter. I’d get a tattoo with the crust on it. Call me the rebel !
While wandering around the only music shop in Valence, looking for new bands to discover, I came across a compilation from “Fnac Music” called Crossover. The first song is a track from Suicidal Tendencies, so I figure the rest will be in the same vein, I buy it.
I go home to listen to it. Ah no, not so fast, I need to explain something else. At that time, there was no TV at night, so my thing was to listen to CDs with headphones in my room, lying in bed in the dark, just before going to sleep. So that night, I play the CD.
Songs are coming and going: Soundgarden, Alice in chains, Burning Heads, Rollins Band, Biohazard…then comes the last song. It’s Generator from Bad Religion. “Like a rock, like a planet, like a fucking atom bomb…” And then something happens. Please believe that I’m not writing this for style or to sanctify this moment any more than I should. Something strikes me musically. It’s punk-rock (I didn’t know that and thinking back what the fuck was it doing on that CD?) and it speaks to me, or rather, it screams at me.
From memory, my first reflex was to turn on the light again to find out who was singing because at that moment, I don’t know where I stand in listening to the CD. Then, I feel the need to sit up in bed and press the “Repeat” button. Once, twice…I can’t remember, maybe 8 or 10 times. To explain, it’s as if every guitar riff, every drum beat, every intonation in Greg Graffin’s voice, has been put together for me. Just for me.
Then well, it’s 1993, so no, I don’t take my smartphone to know the complete biography and discography of Bad Religion. I go to school the next morning and tell my friends. One of them advises me to go and talk to what’s-his-name-the-skater. What’s-his-name-the-skater (Fabien C. if by any chance you’re reading these lines…Thanks) brings me back a tape the next day with Generator and Against the Grain (not all of it, it didn’t fit on a tape of two times 30 minutes) then, before my insistence, No Control and Suffer. And that was it.
But it started slowly because I couldn’t get more albums for a long time. At the music shop, there was no trace of a band called Bad Religion and no Amazon to order any albums. I had to wait until I started my studies in Grenoble to discover everything, and even then I had to import the CDs I wanted so badly.
Here, I could tell the rest: the gigs in France, in Italy, in New-York (there, it’s clearly to show off), the BRML (Bad Religion Mailing List), my tattoo, the chance I had to shake hands or chat with several members of the band, but I’ll stop there with my forties memories.
My vain attempt to go on stage at the Bataclan, Paris 2010.
As I wrote above, Graffin’s voice intonations touch me (it’s very interesting to listen to the changes in his voice from 1980 to 2020). So I had to understand what he was screaming in my ears.
I had already done this meticulous work in the mid-90s with my Robert & Collins dictionary.
Translating Bad Religion. A heady, difficult and perilous mission, as the texts of Graffin and Gurewitz are so complex, sometimes twisted. Many literary, biblical, biological references (Graffin has a master’s degree in geology and a PHD in paleontology)…a calvary at the age of 25.
Twenty years later, there are 6 more albums to be translated. But for a long time I had been thinking about starting this work again, in full awareness of how long it would take. With the help of online tools, I hope I did better. Even though I know that a lot of translations would need to be reviewed. In fact, I feel like changing a word every time I proofread a text…
But here it is, 276 songs later, it’s done. I am proud (allow me to be) and very happy.
“You might not think there’s any wisdom in a fucked up punk rock song“
The question then was, what am I going to do with all this? I figured there might be a few people interested. I just became familiar with the power of Divi for WordPress, so here we go again for a website.
Subtitling the videos was also an idea that had been in my head for years. What better way to perceive the power of these lyrics than to add Greg Graffin‘s voice to them?
I had already made a website with my translations in the early 2000s (it still exists! http://badreligion.free.fr/index2.html), then a redesign in 2004 (disappeared for lack of payment). The idea at the time was to gather a community of French-speaking fans. It had worked well, there were more than 200 French, Quebec, Belgian, Swiss members and a forum to administer. Then I gave up for lack of time.
20 years later, I’m less interested in the community aspect. That’s what social networks are there for. Nevertheless, after a hundred hours of translation and web design, the pleasure of sharing this site is the same. There is a « Contact »page, all feedback is welcome.
In my experience, I’ve often heard people say that they listened to Bad Religion during their teenage years but that, well, they’ve got over it. For me, it won’t pass. Put it down to a lack of maturity.
Bad Religion is with me every day, all the time. I always have a song in my head, on my bike, at work or in my bed. It won’t pass and that’s fine.
The members of the band are not so young anymore and I know that one day (but in a long time!) there won’t be a new album to discover. Then I’ll juggle with the 20 or so albums and the 300 songs.
Anyway, as I explained above, I think that for a long time now it’s not just about music anymore. I found answers in their lyrics, ideas, a way of thinking, a humanity. Bad Religion built me up.