FREE MIXTAPE: Top Acts Cover Bad Religion

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Bad Religion
WRITTEN BY
SPIN Staff

In our November issue, SPIN celebrates 30 years of the iconic label Epitaph Records, tracing its rise from a DIY imprint founded by Brett Gurewitz to a powerhouse label that sent punk to the top of the charts.

Bad Religion - which included Gurewitz on guitar - were Epitaph's marquee band, so to commemorate the label's history, SPIN and MySpace Music rounded up top indie artists, including Tegan and Sara, Switchfoot, Ted Leo and New Politics, to record exclusive covers for a compilation album, Germs of Perfection: A Tribute to Bad Religion. Download the complete mixtape -- or stream individual tracks below.

Download Germs of Perfection: A Tribute to Bad Religion here.

  • SWITCHFOOT
    "Sorrow"

    From 2001's The Process of Belief

    Given the band's name, you might expect Switchfoot's Jon Foreman, a devout Christian, to have issues with Bad Religion. "You'd be right," says the singer-guitarist, who transformed the song's speedy spaghetti-western foundation into hushed, fingerpicked folk. "But that disagreement is what I love about music. I might not agree on everything with Bad Religion, but if there's a lesson to be learned from the band, it's the importance of thinking for yourself."

    LISTEN:

  • THE WEAKERTHANS
    "Sanity"

    From 1989's No Control

    Weakerthans main man John Samson is known for his novelistic lyrics, but it wasn't Greg Graffin and Brett Gurewitz's words that drew him to Bad Religion. "The first band I was in was me and a friend banging out [1982's] 'Voice of God Is Government.' It felt like an accomplishment to be able to get through it. It made me believe I could make music." That belief has morphed into bravado. Says Samson proudly of "Sanity," "I'm pretty sure we're the first to put bongos on a Bad Religion song."

    LISTEN:

  • WILLIAM ELLIOTT WHITMORE
    "Don't Pray On Me"

    From 1993's Recipe For Hate

    Count former Iowa farm boy William Elliott Whitmore as evidence of Bad Religion's reach. "I listened to Against the Grain on a Walkman when I was on the tractor mowing the field," says the folk singer, currently writing songs for an album he plans to release next spring. "For a kid like me, it was refreshing to hear stuff that wasn't dumbed down. I had to look in the dictionary to understand the lyrics. I'm stillnot sure what jurisprudence means."

    LISTEN:

  • TED LEO
    "Against the Grain"

    From 1990's Against the Grain

    Like Bad Religion, Ted Leo is well known for fusing forceful thinking with powerful melodic punk, but the hard-touring Garden Stater knows the danger of being pigeonholed as agitpop. "There are worse things to be called than political," he says, "but none of our songs are rallies. It's nice to be the soundtrack for someone working on big problems, but [politics] aren't where I begin a song. I want my songs to have lots of things for people to respond to."

    LISTEN:

  • RIVERBOAT GAMBLERS
    "Heaven Is Falling"

    From 1992's Generator

    Contributors to SPIN's Purple Rain tribute (July 2009), Texas rowdies Riverboat Gamblers are experts at covering their heroes. "We recorded 'Heaven' in Cincinnati during a day off from touring," says guitarist Fadi El-Assad. "The whole thing was done in hardcore fashion: a couple takes, two or three hours." This month the Gamblers head to Europe, where they're opening for Sum-41. "Then we take a break," sighs El-Assad. "I need a nap."

    LISTEN:

  • NEW POLITICS
    "Generator"

    From 1992's Generator

    For raucous Danish trio New Politics, whose self-titled debut album was released in July, this compilation was as much an opportunity to get acquainted with Bad Religion as it was to pay tribute. "Up until very recently, all we knew about them was that they were an American political punk band. There's nothing like Bad Religion in Denmark," says singer David Boyd, whose band just finished touring with Thirty Seconds to Mars. The verdict? "There's no shit going on. They rule."

    LISTEN:

  • COBRA SKULLS feat. FAT MIKE
    "Give You Nothing"

    From 1988's Suffer

    Cobra Skulls' pipelining, surf-rock take on "Give You Nothing," featuring NOFX's Fat Mike on backing vocals, met with some early competition. "We'd recorded the song and figured we'd try it out live at a gig with Bouncing Souls," says bassist-vocalist Devin Peralta. "So during their soundcheck, what do they do? They played 'Give You Nothing!' I went up to them afterward to see if they were also going to record it too." They weren't, and so, jokes Peralta, "our version is dedicated to Bouncing Souls."

    LISTEN:

  • FRANK TURNER
    "My Poor Friend Me"

    From 1993's Recipe for Hate

    "In the world before the Internet, which I'm just old enough to remember," says English troubadour Frank Turner, "I used to find out about new bands by cross-referencing liner notes to see who got thanked. If a band got thanked three times, I knew they must be pretty good and I should buy their albums. Bad Religion got thanked a lot. They were a seminal band. They still are." Turner is spending his November opening for another iconic punk act, Social Distortion.

    LISTEN:

  • POLAR BEAR CLUB
    "Better Off Dead"

    From 1994's Stranger Than Fiction

    Even though he's the one howling the righteously peeved lyrics to "Better Off Dead," Polar Bear Club singer Jimmy Stadt isn't the biggest Bad Religion booster in his Rochester, New Yorkâ�"based hardcore quintet. "Our drummer, Emmett [Menke], has a tattoo of the Suffer album cover-the one with the kid covered in flames," Stadt says. "For him, and a lot of people, Bad Religion was a door into punk rock. Once you open that door, it almost never closes."

    LISTEN:

  • TEGAN AND SARA
    "Suffer"

    From 1988's Suffer

    The duo are hoping they'll inspire a few females to pick up guitars the same way Bad Religion inspired them. "We wanted to play for people who don't often hear rock, especially women," says Sara. "Even though we don't think of ourselves as political, the idea of challenging yourself and your audience is something Bad Religion inspired us to do. They believe that music can be a changing force in society. So do we."

    LISTEN:

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