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Do What You Want: The Story of Bad Religion

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  379 ratings  ·  53 reviews
From their beginnings as teenagers experimenting in a San Fernando Valley garage dubbed "The Hell Hole" to headlining major music festivals around the world, DO WHAT YOU WANT tells the whole story of Bad Religion's forty-year career in irreverent style. DO WHAT YOU WANT 's principal storytellers are the four voices that define Bad Religion: Greg Graffin, a Wisconsin kid ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published August 18th 2020 by Hachette Books
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Jul 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
Joe Strummer, Sid Vicious, Joey Ramone, Brett Geurwitz, Greg Graffin

These are just a few undisputed names of people who made the face of punk as it is today. No one can deny the impact that Bad Religion has had on the music scene since the late 80s. Do What You Want follows the many members of Bad Religion throughout the decades cataloguing their work on an impressive resume of work. Jim Ruland has done a great job at making you understand the grind and determination that got Bad Religion to the
Aug 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Are you a fan of Bad Religion? If so, you'll enjoy this book. The writing leaves a little to be desired, there are only so many words to describe music.

I was a huge fan of Bad Religion in high school, but haven't really kept up with their work since then. I also didn't know much of their history or the history of Epitaph. Those sections of the book were the most interesting.
Matthew Allen
Aug 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Read this cover to cover the day it arrived. I am quite a big Bad Religion fan though... he says with more than a little understatement :-)

Jim’s writing style is accessible and most people will find this to be an easy read in learning the 40 year history (so far!) of an incredibly influential band, without whom guitar music from the 80s onwards would be very different.

If I had one criticism it would be that you can tell Jim isn’t a huge fan of the band. It is clear that he likes the band, but a
Julie Suzanne
Sep 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"Bad Religion represents nothing less than the marriage of punk rock protest and intellectual inquiry....[their] legacy that champions questioning authority, challenging dogma, and resisting easy answers. For the last forty years, Bad Religion has urged its audience to think for themselves, and by doing so has made the world a more intelligent place, one lyric, one listener, at a time." (304)

I discovered BR as a 14-year-old swimming in outrage with no healthy outlets. The No Control al
Jesse Havoc
Nov 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
"And when your life endeavor evades your clever meddling,
It's only headphone weather, so get your head together."
Eli Hornyak
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
So glad I got an arc for this one. Bad Religion is still one of my favorite bands and still making great music!
J Earl
Apr 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Do What You Want: The Story of Bad Religion by Bad Religion with Jim Ruland is an enjoyable biography of the band.

Even though I had lived and gone to school in Van Nuys (a few years before the band members got together) and kept ties to the area, it wasn't until the Suffer album in 1989 or so that I heard them. Over the next 30+ years they have stayed on my radar even though I wouldn't say I was a diehard fan. But I did like their music a lot. Just wanted to preface my comments on the book with
David Wilson
Aug 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A lot of critics and music fans attempt to connect the dots between the "death" of punk in 1983 (end of The Ramones) to the "rebirth" in 1994 (Green Day). They often anoint Nirvana as the link, but for those who study musics history and what this book ultimately shows is that Bad Religion was the band who did this. 40 years on the "intellectual punks" still put out great music with a message, and do exactly what they want.
Oct 19, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amazing band, mediocre writing

I feel very conflicted about the book. I've been listening to bad religion since I was a teenager and I really looked forward to reading the ultimate biography of my favorite band. Unfortunately the writing seems like a high school essay, and not what I would expect from a band with such potential. Still it's a must read for bad religions fans, but if you want great writing and amazing stories about southern Californian punk you'd be better reading the NOFX book.
Leo  Sheehan
Oct 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If your a fan, read it. If your not a fan, read it anyways.
Sep 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Ruland's narration is well-done. He paces the narrative and tells the 40-year history of the greatest band on earth in a way that focuses on the creation of the music without devolving into soap-opera or anecdotal litanies of famous friends. The dramas of the group are told from the members' points-of-view and those that couldn't (or wouldn't) speak on their behalf were handled tactfully, much to the chagrin of the gossip-mongers.

On a personal level, Bad Religion has been such an important part
Sep 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
To me Bad Religion is the best and most important punkrock band in the world; and they've inspired me in many ways - not just musically. From wanting to play guitar in a punkrock band (and sorta copying their song structures) to working for their label (that is as legendary and of significance as the band) to sitting in the back of a classroom with an english dictionary and the CD booklets (to try and understand what the hell those big words meant) - Bad Religion has been part of my (punkrock) l ...more
Mizan Hashri
Oct 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Finally, there is a book about Bad Religion. I have to say this, with 40 years' experience and 17 records, this book is like an executive summary to their punk rock's dissertation over 40 years. Jim, you nicely nailed it with dramatic stories surrounding the band and the way Bad Religion operated.
Kevin Gentilcore
Sep 22, 2020 rated it liked it
I can’t think of a band that’s been such a big part of my life, consistently, for as long as Bad Religion, so fucking obviously when a new autobiography comes out about the bands history, it’s an instant read for me.

That being said, it was a fairly straight forward accounting of the bands long and legendary career. If you’re familiar with punk likely you’ve heard the stories of the west coast hardcore punk revival a million times, and there’s far more in-depth books and documentaries about that
Aug 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This is the perfect read for any Bad Religion fan. Chronicling the band's 40 year career this book starts at their creation and goes up to pretty much present day. It takes an approach that is a little different from other rock memoirs I've read by dealing with only the band, and the elements of the members lives that relate directly to the band's story. An example of this is explaining Greg's commitment to his education, and how that impacted their decision on when to tour. The book also doesn' ...more
The Kawaii Slartibartfast
Jun 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Ive been a fan of Bad Religion since high school so I probably am not a good unbiased source but I really enjoyed the insights into the band. They're one of those bands that is so on point that its easy to forget they existed years before Id even heard of them.

Its a fantastic read about a much beloved band.
Mar 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book does a great job of profiling the personalities involved and the band and the times surrounded them as matured from a high school punk bank to one of the leaders of American punk rock.
Aug 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It begins to feel abridged towards the end, but even as a die hard fan I had plenty of revelations
Oct 24, 2020 added it
As someone else wrote here, this is basically an extended Wikipedia entry; it won’t tell you anything you won’t already know if you’re a fan of the band and have read a little about them over the years. You’d think given the brains behind the band that something creative and interesting could have been done in the style of NOFX’s Hepatitis Bathtub or Motley Crue’s The Dirt. But this is about as by numbers as it gets. It gets the job done but I’m left wondering what could have been.

The early yea
Sep 17, 2020 rated it liked it
This book is clear and concise. I feel like Jim Ruland did a wonderful job of setting the scene of the start of Bad Religion. There was a lot of detail for the beginning as far as what was going on in the world, around the band members, the band members themselves, and the overall feel and excitement of the situation. Maybe after that, Ruland got overwhelmed with doing the same with the following 41 years. The rest of the story felt more like a detailed timeline. It was more about the music, wit ...more
Oct 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
I don't normally read biographies like this, but Bad Religion is my favorite band so my husband gave me the book. I love the band for its songwriting--great punk songs with meaningful and intelligent lyrics (plus vocal harmonies!). I'm not the type of person to know the names of everyone in the band or even the names of all their albums. So I enjoyed learning more about their background and especially the details of some of their songs. Plus, as someone who grew up in Southern California a few y ...more
Sep 08, 2020 rated it liked it
I love the band. Love them to pieces. And the book gave me many insights I never had. I especially enjoyed learning about Mr. Brett, as I always gravitated to his songs. The author, however, is a fan, and it is written like a fan - lots of praise and his loving opinions. While I agree with all of it, I much prefer reading facts, and letting the bandmates tell the stories that make the book. Their opinions are much more heartfelt and meaningful. In fact, they should have let the band write the bo ...more
Sep 20, 2020 rated it liked it
For big Bad Religion fans like me, I'd give this four stars. Others may find this moderately interesting, but it's definitely aimed at fans. As a fan, I loved the book because I learned a lot about the members and their career that even I didn't know (and I knew a lot about them already!). One thing in particular that stood out to me was the way they create their set lists for each show. I had always noticed that there was at least one surprise song each tour, but I didn't realize all the reason ...more
Sep 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
A really solid biographical account of one of the best bands to come out of the punk scene. One of my top favorite bands in general. I've been listening since I was 16, back in 2002, and have kept up with them every step of the way. They helped get me into punk rock and have continued to release fantastic albums that stay relevant no matter how much time passes.
The book is pretty well written, with many stories and accounts right from the band members. It tracks them from their beginnings right
Chris Wedman
Nov 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
From the perspective of a Bad Religion fan; this book is a pure joy to read. You have the 40 year history of the band with no album or band member left out. Every era of the band is covered in great detail without it becoming tiresome.

For the most devout BR fan it leaves you wanting more but it rides the line between entertaining and informative. Casual punk fans and the most hardcore BR fans can find a lot to enjoy in this book.

I would highly recommend reading the first Greg Graffin book as a
Oct 09, 2020 rated it liked it
***1/2: 40 years, 17 full-length albums, one of the best live shows I’ve ever saw in 2002, and an imprinted intellectual legacy that started when I first discovered them at age 12 in 1990. Bad Religion is more than just another hardcore punk band and this biography does justice to that. It is lucid, detailed, very well-written and, unsurprisingly, holds back nothing. I learned more than I expected and came away immensely grateful, with a renewed interest in a band I’ve always loved, respect, and ...more
Brett buckner
Oct 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Bad Religion is one of my Top 3 All Time favorite bands. Their music has inspired me, challenged me, a d increased my vocabulary. But BR is not the most enticing subject for a biography. I mean, Greg Griffin, lead singer, has a ph.d in evolutionary biology. And while Mr.Brett had his drug issues, they were tame as compared with say any other guitarist in the late 80s early 90s. The Dirt, this book ain’t.

Still, it gave me an excuse to revisit classic records and the newer stuff that I’ve taken fo
Sep 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What starts as a group of friends sweating out music in a garage turns into one of, if not the most important band in the world of punk rock. Not simply for their musical influence on the scene, but for record label one of their members established right after dropping out of high school. Anyone interested in the history of modern American Music will find a fascinating insight into the hard rock genre.
Robert Underwood
Sep 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020-read
Fun, fast moving account of Bad Religion's formation, struggles, and changes. More attention is paid to the early albums (pre Stranger than Fiction) than later and it moves quickly toward the end. Also the reasons for Greg Hetson's exit are never explained. However if you are a fan of the band (they are one of my favorites) there is a lot to like here and good insight from most of the band members past and present.
Scott Delgado
Sep 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
What can I say? If you like Bad Religion, you're going to like this book. It was illuminating on some topics I wasn't aware of. I didn't know the substance abuse that took place for Jay and Brian. You also get a bit of an explanation as to why Hetson and BR parted ways. And you get great insight into your favorite albums.

Love the band, you'll love the book. Go read it, what you want.
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