Greg Graffin

(Gregory Walter Graffin)

Greg Graffin
Greg Graffin
  • Born: November 6, 1964
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Musician, Singer-songwriter, Lecturer, Producer, Author









Gregory Walter Graffin is an American punk rock singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, college lecturer, and author. He is most recognized as the lead vocalist, songwriter, and only constant member of the noted Los Angeles band Bad Religion, which he co-founded in either 1979 or 1980. He also embarked on a solo career in 1997, when he released the album American Lesion. His follow-up album, Cold as the Clay was released nine years later. Graffin obtained his PhD in the history of science at Cornell University and has lectured courses in natural sciences at both the University of California, Los Angeles and at Cornell University.

Quotes About
Author Quote
Quote Topics Cited
A fossil is so powerful. It's moving. This is my ancestor. The naturalist is moved by the fossil... not the cross.
Academic scientists aren't generally interested in books for the public. So when one comes out, the authors can't expect much praise from scientists. My goal both as a singer and an instructor is to educate through provocation and entertainment.
Almost everyone shuts down when science becomes too technical; you've got to infuse it with entertainment and storytelling to make it effective. From high school on, science is taught in a very dry manner, which isn't as potent. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
As a scientist, of course, we have to believe there is no supernatural. There are only natural entities in the universe. And those are the things that we study as natural scientists.
Bad Religion has never been about criticizing people who are Christian. But we've always been about pointing out the irony and contradictions in Christian theology and the more extreme versions of Christians that seek to challenge modern secularism. Religion & God
Bad Religion took a long time to develop into gold-record-status artists. Along the way we learned and applied our knowledge, and Atlantic helped us every step of the way, since 1993. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training ;Time ;Religion & God
Bad Religion's tradition has always been to try and provoke people but hopefully lead them to a better sense of who they are and what they stand for. That's supposed to make them feel better. Religion & God
Every place has its own punk flavor, but they all borrowed ideas from SoCal. It's still a vibrant scene creeping into every crevasse of youth culture. When you hear grunge, you think of the '90s, but when you hear L.A. punk, it's timeless.
Folk music usually has an emphasis on the lyrics and melody. And those lyrics are usually relevant in some way. And it's populist in scope, which is also true of Bad Religion. So it's more meant to draw some parallels between the two. And I think even my voice and my delivery can be thought of as a little bit folky. Music, Chants & Rapps ;Religion & God
From a very early age, I was in tune with pop radio, and most of this listening was done driving. We had an old '67 or '65 Buick LeSabre, and whenever we would drive around, I would actually stick my head right against the speakers in the back and sing along to the music. Music, Chants & Rapps
I bill myself as a naturalist because if you say you're a naturalist, it gives people a conversation point to talk about what you actually do believe in, instead of when you say you're an atheist, and it's really just a statement of what you don't believe in.
I call myself a naturalist as opposed to an atheist, but there are different styles. Some people just like to be close to nature. And some people actually worship nature, which is too wishy-washy because - like a lot of religious believers - they don't depend on facts. Nature
I definitely was attracted to similar things in punk and science. They both depend on a healthy dose of skepticism. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
I don't bill myself as an atheist but as a naturalist. Naturalism is a belief system. A lot of scientists bristle at that. We all have to believe we can find the truth. Evidence is my guide. I rely on observation, experimentation and verification. Truth
I don't mind if other people call me an atheist, but I call myself a naturalist. Atheism doesn't tell you much about what I do believe in; the term naturalist opens up the discussion better.
I got interested in palaeontology and vertebrate history - sparked by books on human evolution - then vertebrate evolution. Studying with palaeontologists kindled my interest in fieldwork. History
I grew up playing football since the day I could walk; some of my greatest memories of childhood are playing touch football in all kinds of weather with my best friends. That's a part of the American experience that no corporation can destroy.
I guess rock stars are role models for the kids who listen to that music. My role models have all been geologists - you know, the guys who are doing fieldwork until they're 70. Music, Chants & Rapps
I have great hope and faith, but it's a humanistic faith based in facts; you have to believe that facts exist. We can all arrive at the same facts if we engage in the process of experimentation, observation, and verification, which can solve more of the world's major problems than a debate over whether God does or doesn't exist. Hope ;Religion & God
I struggled to keep one foot in music and one in academia. I had worked on my Ph.D. for three years full time before I realized Bad Religion could be a legitimate career. Time ;Music, Chants & Rapps ;Religion & God
I think English punk died in '79 or '80. Maybe '82 at the latest. As far as American punk goes, it wasn't the same as English punk. It wasn't a working-class movement that was protesting the conditions under which this class had to work. I don't think American punk ever died. Work, Workers & The Labor Force
I view music as entertainment. When I'm on stage, I don't look at that as a platform for sharing ideology. Otherwise I'd be a zealot myself. That's why, when people ask me, 'Do you think you can change the world through your music?' I say, 'I doubt it.' Music, Chants & Rapps
I want some fact-based evidence about where we came from. Things we consider mysterious need not be attributed to a deity.
I was in a choir as a kid. It was from those early days that my outlook on harmonies and arrangements were nurtured. I always took that with me, even on the earliest Bad Religion record, which strangely was only about six years after that. Religion & God
I was never raised with the traditional story of creation in religion, and because of that I think I had a lot of questions. And evolution, the evolutionary narrative, helped provide some of that for me. Religion & God
I would say there's a lot of similarity between folk and punk. It's written for the common man.
I wouldn't say there's a need for the Spice Girls, but I'd say there's a place for the Spice Girls. There's certainly a place for them, but you don't promote the Spice Girls at the expense of promoting what I think are good role models for girls. You need to create some kind of equality. Equality & Equal Opportunity
Ideologically, the pursuit of science is not that different from the ideology that goes into punk rock. The idea of challenging authority is consistent with what I have been taught as a scientist. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
If you can believe in God, then you can believe in anything. It's a gang mentality. Religion & God
If you go back far enough and get a wider enough picture of history, we have let go of many things that follow a religious narrative. We don't burn witches anymore. Most people would consider that barbaric. We don't sacrifice human beings, which was a religious act practiced by numerous cultures on this planet. History
I'm saying that there were many great naturalists before Darwin's time who were very pious people and who knew more about nature than most of us. These were great naturalists; people I would admire for their knowledge of natural science given the time. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training ;Time ;Nature
I'm trying to champion the naturalist's worldview and show it's not as heathen as most religious people would make it out to be.
In the 1970s, we had Carl Sagan, and he was so suave with his turtleneck and his tweed jacket. And he was, you know, he made science look cool. And in punk rock, we haven't had that. We haven't had the Carl Sagan of punk. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
In the family, in interpersonal relationships, even in friendship, faith is tremendously important. If you have a partner who you believe is a good person, then it is your duty to have faith in them until the end, despite the fact that they might have done some bad things. And you have to support and believe in your children. Religion & God ;Friendship ;Families, Children & Parenting
It's been an objective of mine since I started writing songs to include both intellect and energy.
It's not a random chance that we have Alanis Morissette. She didn't evolve out of a null and void. She came from a former template. She borrowed styles and sounds from a very limited set of other artists.
I've always been on a quest to use science in an artful way. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
I've known a lot of people who were punkers who went on to get academic degrees. Very few of them, however, continued their active role in the punk community. Most of them hung up their leather jacket when they did so.
I've written almost 200 songs with Bad Religion. No matter where you look in our history, the focus has been trying to instill some of these disturbing realities about the world, some of the implications of evolution into an artistic format that can be interpreted by people who may never study evolution. History ;Religion & God
Let's face it: There are people who are extremists in every corner of society, and whatever flag they're waving is something Bad Religion has stood against. Society ;Religion & God
Most songwriters who have been lucky enough to have their song on the radio or be heard widely don't know anything about science. The best songs have a strong dose of metaphor. Most songs about science don't have that. Like 'She Blinded Me With Science.' It's a stupid song, no offense to Thomas Dolby. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
My science teachers always encouraged their classes to 'go out and discover something' because all scientific endeavors depend on observation and experimentation. Through such pursuits, anyone can find something new to science, and if it's truly novel, the entire edifice of science might have to be restructured. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Naturalism teaches one of the most important things in this world. There is only this life, so live wonderfully and meaningfully. Life
One of our great thematic traditions in Bad Religion has been to question human nature. Nature ;Religion & God
One of the things that all religions have is a narrative of doomsday. There has to be some kind of overarching fear of the future. If there wasn't, none of the religions could invoke this important thing - that science has no evidence of, by the way - called free will. Future ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
People are still very uncomfortable with the idea that humans are not specially created species. I believe we are a fantastic species. But we are not created specially. That's very hard for people to accept in their day-to-day routine.
People who are creative, who do it as a lifestyle, it's kind of silly to make that claim you're done, because you just never know when that spark is going to hit you again. You can't necessarily predict how you're going to feel. In ten years I'll be 58, and I might still feel like making a punk record.
Science is the first expression of punk, because it doesn't advance without challenging authority. It doesn't make progress without tearing down what was there before and building upon the structure. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Science is very vibrant. There are always new observations to be found. And it's all in the interest in challenging the authority that came before you. That's consistent with the punk rock ethos that suggests that you should not take what people say at face value. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
So much of the habitat destruction and pollution is based on the simple principle that we somehow have been given free license over other species to degrade the planet.
The naturalist worldview is a good way to feel grounded and feel part of something that isn't based on fairy tales. It's based on observable facts in the human and in the biological history of the planet. I think that can be a source for comfort. History
The thread of culture that runs through the entire history of punk is also a dedication to challenging the authoritarian. History
The thrill of science is the process. It's a social process. It's a process of collective discovery. It's debate, it's experimentation and it's verification of claims that might be false. It's the greatest foundation for a society. Society ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
The trick is: how do you talk about natural selection without implying the rigidity of law? We use it as almost an active participant, almost like a god. In fact, you could substitute the word 'god' for 'natural selection' in a lot of evolutionary writings and you'd think you were listening to a theologian. Religion & God
The vocal arrangements are a big part of the formula for a Bad Religion song - layered harmonies and background vocals. So when I start to describe the elements of Bad Religion's sound, it starts to sound like a Christmas choir. Religion & God
There are so many ways to characterize evolutionary success. If one criterion is the number of millions of years that the species persists, we're still just infants. We're way too young of a species to tell if we were a creative fluke or if we have any staying power. Power ;Success
Unfortunately, science cannot be reduced to short, catchy phrases. And if this is all that the general public can comprehend, it's no wonder that we spend so much of our time in the interminable debate about belief in God, or lack thereof. Time ;Religion & God ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Unfortunately, the average guy on the street believes that studying evolution leads to atheism.
We delude ourselves into believing that morality comes from somewhere else, whereas in reality we behave as we've been told to behave.
When I was a teenager, science meshed with my developing ideals - such as the challenge to authority that was central to punk rock. In science, anyone from any walk of life could make a discovery that would overturn prevailing hypotheses. And that was a cause for celebration among scientists. Life ;Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
Whether you reach a lot of people or have a profound impact on a few people, their memories of you are your afterlife.
You can look at Bad Religion, and, really, almost everything I've ever done was an exercise in creativity. I've always had a desire to challenge and question authority, and that's where the fire inside comes from. I challenged authority out of a desire to make things better, not to be nihilistic about it. Religion & God
You can't let your personal disposition be dictated by the world around you.
You can't take up all the music bins at a CD retail outlet with Spice Girls CDs and leave nothing for the Joan Jett catalogue. Music, Chants & Rapps