Punk musicians are smarter than you think. And older.

I was just watching an episode of “Guitar Sessions”, which is a performance/interview show. I just caught the end of the interview with Bad Religion and I was so impressed. If you are not familiar with them, they’re  a punk band with great lyrics about politics and world issues. I love them.

The interview was with lead singer Greg Graffin, who is also a part time professor of biology and paleontology at UCLA (his undergrad degree was in anthropology and geology – how could I NOT love him?) and the guitarist Brett Gurewitz, who also owns Epitaph Records. There are two reasons I found this interview impactful:

1. I don’t think I’ve ever heard so many seamlessly used multi-syllabic words in a live interview. Dang, those guys are smart. It’s one thing to have beautiful language in a song lyric where you’ve had time to address construction and get feedback. It’s something else to have that kind of language at your disposal in a conversation. And not to knock musicians, but really. They aren’t the most erudite bunch.

2. The interviewer asked Gurewitz about how he chose which bands to represent and he said that he had to listen with his heart and not be afraid to like something because he thought it didn’t match the market or that it might make him uncool. He said he couldn’t explain what made great music, but that it somehow stirred his soul. He didn’t use those exact words, but that was the gist of his comment.

This really grabbed me, especially with my recent decision to scrap the project I’ve been working on for the last three years. I want to invest my time in a project that stirs my soul. In fact, I want to write that phrase on my wall in fancy calligraphy.

An additional point is that these guys are not cool looking. They must all be in their late 40s or early 50s now and they just looked so normal. Like, balding, glasses, normal-guy clothes… And then they performed a great punk standard like  that. It was jarring. In fact, it was kind of like watching my nerdy geology professor playing. Or my dad. Very weird.

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