Looking back on almost 30 years in the music industry, Brooks Wackerman sees a life well lived. While his band has risen to prominence as one of punk rock’s greatest bands of all time, the Bad Religion drummer has also been busy mixing it up with bands such as Tenacious D and fronting his own band, Kidneys. It’s a busy life, he explains, but nothing gets in the way of playing for Bad Religion.
“Bad Religion is the band that I play in and that’s my main priority, so anything that conflicts with Bad Religion I pretty much cant do,” he explains over the phone from his house in Long Beach, California. “In May, I start touring with Tenacious D. That’s when Bad Religion goes on hiatus while Greg (Gaffin) and Brett (Gurewitz) start writing our next record”. So how does he find time to relax? Why, pre performance yoga stretches of course. “Playing in punk rock bands, I get a lot of knots on my back and shoulders,” Wackerman explains. “The stretches help my body to stay limber. With age, you just have to take care of your body, especially when you are playing punk rock music as a drummer”.
Known for their political and social commentary through their music, Wackerman preaches how important it is to be politically aware. “I think it is for some degree,” he says, “It’s made me definitely a well rounded person. I mean, If you watch the jersey shore the whole afternoon, maybe you should turn on CNN for half an hour”. So, is the drummer a fan of the hit reality TV show? “ I like Jersey Shore and I watch it for half an hour ,until I realize that I am wasting my time”.
Despite the importance of being politically and socially aware, Wackerman sees a world where musicians don’t need to share their political and social commentary views through their songs. “I don’t think everyone should,” Wackerman explains. “If we were as popular as Justin Bieber, it would be great to get our message across to the masses on a commercial level. But you can’t really tell Britney Spears to talk about Obama’s administration because it wouldn’t work and she would lose her fan base”.
With their release of their album, The Dissent of a Man, in 2010, the band toured extensively and saw themselves travelling to places where they have never travelled before. That place was an archipelago known as Indonesia. “It was very different and it was a great show,” Wackerman explains. “It’s good to see kid’s faces in the audience, people who are glad that we came. It took about 25 hours to get there; we travelled longer than our show itself. I mean, I still have fans from Indonesia emailing me asking, are you guys coming back? The reaction was positive and we had a great time.” So what made them travel to South East Asia for the first time? “There’s always a market that we haven’t tapped yet, and we were asked two times to play there. This opportunity (releasing the album) finally allowed us to take it on, and there are other places like South East Asia that we would love to come and play for… but there’s only so many days in a year to do so”.
Wackerman is humble when asked about how many bands they have influenced. From NOFX, to Rise Against, nearly all of today’s major punk bands have cited them as an influence. “That’s very nice of them, we’re honored”, Wackerman says, as he smiles.” When people honor us, it just reinforces what were doing and why were doing it. I’m humbled and flattered and it makes us want to stay as a band longer”.
Coming down to our shores as part of the massive line up for Soundwave Revolution, Wackerman lets in that the band will have a lot of gold moments ahead for their set down under. “ We’ve just started talking about the set list that will represent every era of Bad Religion. We will be in rehearsals next week and until then, it’s a mystery until we get there. Australia is one of the countries we love to tour around, and the sounds are going to be amazing. We’ll do what we’re gonna do,” Wackerman says mysteriously. As for what bands he’d love to see when he’s here for Soundwave, Wackerman shows his metal side. “System of a down, Slipknot… there’s about 5 or 6 bands I want to see. For us, Soundwave is a pretty metal festival, which is nice as we don’t normally do festivals with this much metal in it. Its going to be a nice diverse event”.
The Juggernaut that is Soundwave hits Perth on the 5th of March, 2011. Limited tickets are still available through oztix.com
By Athina Hilman