You know a book is good when you dream about it. The other night I dreamt about Greg Graffin, whose book on science and religion called Anarchy Evolution (October 5, 2010) we’re publishing this fall to coincide with Bad Religion’s 30 year anniversary tour. In my dream I imagined Greg as a boy sitting in science class. I imagined the graduated cylinders on everyone’s desk and the teacher wearing a mustard colored dress. I’ll let you conjure your own image from Greg’s words:
“I’ve always had a problem with authority. When I was in the third grade at Lake Bluff Elementary School just outside Milwaukee, my teacher, Wanda Rood, knew that I hated to be called by my full name, Gregory. I have always been Greg to my family and friends, and whenever Miss Rood called me Gregory to humiliate or intimidate me, I shook with fury.
Finally, one day when I was talking too much to my friends, Miss Rood said, ‘Gregory, do you have something to say to us all?’ I replied, ‘Don’t call me Gregory, Wanda.’”
1. When you started Bad Religion at the age of 15, did you ever imagine the band would be around for 30 years?
As a 15 year old, I didn’t even imagine where I would be in three years, so thirty years was inconceivable. The band started out as a channel for rebelliousness. We were creative non-conformists who relished provocation. We didn’t think there would be much of a future in that.
2. Why do you think your band has had such staying power?
Scientific knowledge has staying power and punk shares certain qualities with science, in particular, challenging dogma. Without the overturning of prior theories, science can’t progress. This was immediately appealing to me as a teenager, as it still is.
3. You write in the book that as a teenager, science kind of saved you. What do you mean by that?
Through my early reading in evolutionary biology and geology, the world began to make sense. I could answer the “big picture” questions that were lacking from my a-religious upbringing. I was never taught about the stories in The Bible. Science offered a fantastical narrative from which I forged my songwriting career, which also began in my teens.
4. What’s the best part about touring?
Visiting antiquarian bookshops all over the world. I spend more money on foreign postage sending books home from tour than I do on meals.
5. Will you promote the book during your tour? (Fans: pre-order here!)
I would like to meet as many people as possible who are interested in evolution and the worldview they take from it. For that reason, I hope to appear in many bookstores, coffee shops, and speaking venues on the same days that we play concerts in cities all over the world. What a privilege, talk about the issues during the day, sing about them at night. It’s a dream come true!