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Greg Graffin Essay, Research Paper

Greg Graffin

The band Bad religion was formed in the

early eighties and has now been around over

15 years and has released over eight albums,

the lead singer has continued his schooling

and now has one bachelors degree ,a masters

and is working on his Ph.D.

Greg Graffin was born in 1965 in

Wisconsin. His mother and father were

divorced after his birth. In 1976 his mother his

brother and him moved to San Fernando

valley California, which is now the punk rock

capital of the world. “Like millions of other

victims of divorce in the seventies I had to

deal with the fact that my father was now

living far away(In Racine, Wisconsin) and that

I would not get to see him very much.” While

his father was in Wisconsin he began work at

the university of Wisconsin as a professor. He

still works their today. Greg was often picked

on in high school because of his “Punkness”.

“There were three people at my high school

who were punkers, I mean I got beat up

everyday by long haired people who listened

to Rush and would beat me up because I

didn’t. When he was fifteen he started a band

with other social outcasts who didn’t quite fit

in. They settled on the name BAD


Bad Religion does not pertain to any kind

of sacrilegious activities or the like. Instead it

is a statement against any establishment that

promotes dogmatic thinking or punishes

individualism and rewards followers. Greg

once said in an interview “Instead of

rewarding uniqueness we, for some reason

probably because of cultural and social

necessity, we chastise unique behavior and

reward conformity”. On 15/10/93 Greg said

BR has 108 songs and 5 or 6 are about

religious issues.

Greg has a very different view point about

education then most punks. When the band

broke up in 1983 he moved back to Wisconsin

and attend the university of wisconsin-

madison. soon the administration had found

out that he was not an official resident any

longer so he was kicked out. (he had recently

spent several years as a California resident)

He traveled back to California where he was a

resident and attended school at UCLA. in

1987 he received his masters degree in

geology. He had previously received his

Masters degree in Anthropology and a his

B.Sc. in geology. This work was very field

oriented since he had to study fossils to get the

degrees. In 1990 he transferred to Cornell

University (in Ithica where he currently lives)

for a Ph.D.. It will be a biology degree, but

since he studies fossils it will be evolutionary

biology-paleontology. Because

of touring with his band the Ph.D. is on hold.

Currently he still has to write his thesis on

bone tissue , finish up some of his actual lab

work and take the orals. He is planning to

due this in 1997. He was a teaching assistant

in The evolutionary department at Cornell

university. He taught mainly pre-medical

students when they took a course in

comparative anatomy. His Ph.D. is in

evolutionary biology but he sometimes refers

it to Zoology since the fossils he studies are

from vertebrates. The actual Ph.D. is on bone

tissue he has been referred to as one of the top

five bone paleontologists n the world. He has

had one of his papers printed in a leading

scientific journal. He says that he plans to

stay involved in science for the rest of his life.

He said “if I could make a million dollars with

Bad Religion , I would start an institute that

would be for research on early vertebrates ,

that is what I study.”

Greg says he chose punk rock as his

medium because he saw a vacancy in the

music. “Maybe that’s what attracted me to it. I

saw that there was definitely a vacancy.

People didn’t perceive (punk) as valuable, and

I like challenges … What better thing to do

than use a style of music that the media

characterizes as all negative and use it for

something positive?” says Graffin. “There has

always been this problem because the media

stigmatized punk from the earliest days. I

think what they were concentrating on was the

fashion. When you say ‘punk’ people

automatically think of spiked hair

and leather jackets and violent people. And

that has nothing to do with what I thought of it

in the early days, (which was) really thought-

provoking music with a great melody,” says

Graffin. In fact he considers the music he and

his band make as folk music. “The music is

very sparse, the guitars aren’t Multi-layered or

processed. It’s not elaborate; it’s something

that anyone can play in their garage. It’s very

populist oriented. Even the things we talk

about are populist in scope. So it’s very much

like folk music. A lot louder of course…”

At a concert in ‘96 Greg announced in a

Philadelphia concert: “This is about half

over…….not the show, our career. We’ve been

around 16 years and we plan on being around

16 more!!!” So hopefully they will be around

to inspire more people to use their minds for

exploration and to create great music.

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