Greg Graffin

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Greg Graffin
Graffin performing with Bad Religion in 2018
Graffin performing with Bad Religion in 2018
Background information
Birth nameGregory Walter Graffin
Born (1964-11-06) November 6, 1964 (age 58)
Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • evolutionary biologist
Years active1980–present
Member ofBad Religion

Gregory Walter Graffin (born November 6, 1964) is an American singer and evolutionary biologist. He is most recognized as the lead vocalist and only constant member of punk rock band Bad Religion, which he co-founded in 1980. He 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. His newest solo work is Millport, released in 2017.

Graffin obtained his PhD in zoology at Cornell University and has lectured courses in natural sciences at both the University of California, Los Angeles and at Cornell University.


Bad Religion[edit]

In 1980, at the age of 15, Graffin and a few high school classmates formed Bad Religion in Southern California's San Fernando Valley.[2] After making a name for themselves in the Los Angeles punk scene, releasing two EPs and two full-length albums, they disbanded around 1985. However, Bad Religion reformed in 1986 with a new line-up, consisting of Graffin on vocals, Brett Gurewitz and Greg Hetson on guitars, Jay Bentley on bass, and Pete Finestone on drums. In 1988, they released Suffer, which was a comeback for Bad Religion as well as a watershed for the Southern California punk sound popularized by guitarist Gurewitz's Epitaph Records. The reunion line-up made two more records before Finestone left the band in 1991.

Bad Religion has been known for its articulate and often politically charged lyrics as well as its fast-paced harmony, melody and counterpoint. Graffin and Gurewitz are the band's two main songwriters, though Graffin wrote the bulk of the material on his own for a three-album period in the late 1990s. Gurewitz had left the band in 1994 to concentrate on the future of Epitaph.

Graffin with Bad Religion in 2007 at the Starland Ballroom, New Jersey

After a stint with major label Atlantic Records ended in the early 2000s, Bad Religion re-signed with Epitaph and Gurewitz rejoined. They have since continued to co-write songs and recorded six records: The Process of Belief (2002), The Empire Strikes First (2004), New Maps of Hell (2007), The Dissent of Man (2010),[3] True North (2013), and their latest, Age of Unreason (2019)

Solo career[edit]

Graffin recorded a solo album in 1997, called American Lesion, which consisted of softer, more pop-oriented folk songs. Most of this album was written during the breakup of his marriage, and the songs reflect this in lyrics and style.

In 2005, Graffin recorded his second solo album, Cold as the Clay. The album is an amalgamation of new songs by Graffin and 18th- and 19th-century American folk songs. It was produced by Brett Gurewitz and released via ANTI- on July 10, 2006.

In a September 2015 interview, Graffin revealed that he had been working on his third solo album, on which he planned to continue the folk style of Cold as the Clay. That record, Millport, was released on March 10, 2017. It was co-written and produced by Gurewitz and features members of Social Distortion as backing musicians.[4]


Graffin attended El Camino Real High School, then obtained both his BA Biology, BS Geology and master's in Geology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He went on to earn his PhD in Zoology from Cornell University.[5] The PhD dissertation was supervised by William B. Provine.[6] After years of being out-of-print, the title of his dissertation changed to "Evolution and Religion: Questioning the Beliefs of the World's Eminent Evolutionists".[7]

Graffin returned to UCLA where he taught natural science courses.[8] In a June 2008 interview with Bad Religion bassist Jay Bentley, he mentioned that Graffin would be teaching there from January to March 2009.[9] In April 2011, Graffin revealed that he would return to Cornell University that fall to co-teach for 14 weeks.[10]

In 2011 the new type species Qiliania graffini of an extinct bird from the lower Cretaceous was named after Graffin "for his contributions to evolutionary biology, his public out-reach through music, and his inspiration to young scientists around the world".[11]

Work as an author and educator[edit]

Graffin received the Rushdie Award for Cultural Humanism from the Harvard Humanist Chaplaincy in 2008.[12][13]

Graffin sings the National Anthem at the Reason Rally, National Mall, Washington, D.C., 2012

Throughout 2003, Graffin was engaged in an ongoing email discussion with Preston Jones, a historian at the Christian John Brown University in Arkansas and fan of Bad Religion. The informal philosophical debate that resulted was published as a book titled Is Belief in God Good, Bad or Irrelevant? A Professor and Punk Rocker Discuss Science, Religion, Naturalism & Christianity in 2006.[14][15]

In 2009, Graffin announced that he had co-written a book with American author Steve Olson titled Anarchy Evolution, released on September 28, 2010 (the same day his band Bad Religion released their 15th album The Dissent of Man).[16][17] In his book, Graffin writes that he is an atheist: "I've never believed in God, which technically makes me an atheist".[18] Although Graffin is not religious, he prefers to identify as a naturalist rather than as an atheist. "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."[19] He also filmed and co-produced a television pilot called Punk Professor.

In 2010, he commented on the project, "It's sitting on someone's shelf waiting to be developed. I'm not actually pursuing it. I said, yeah, I'll shoot the pilot, then it's out of my hands."[20]

On March 24, 2012, Bad Religion headlined the Reason Rally in Washington, D.C., where Graffin performed the U.S. national anthem.[21][22]

Another book entitled Population Wars was released in September 2015. It had been in the works since at least April 2011 and Graffin spoke about it to be "a bit more in depth about the process of evolution".[23] In a November 2015 interview with PopMatters journalist J.C. Maçek III for Graffin's book Population Wars, Graffin stated "I've made a lot of mistakes, but you can't dwell on mistakes because life is about an adventure. It's about discovery. And you learn from your mistakes so unless you're completely shut down to improving your life, I believe you can continue learning until you're very, very old. You have to look at those past missteps as learning experiences."[24]


Bad Religion[edit]

Studio albums



See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hartmann, Graham (March 10, 2017). "Bad Religion's Greg Graffin on New Solo Album 'Millport' + Finding Inspiration Through Religious Music". Loudwire. Retrieved May 14, 2017.
  2. ^ "Bad Religion (name) | The Answer | The Bad Religion Page - Since 1995". Retrieved November 7, 2021.
  3. ^ "New album title revealed!". Retrieved October 7, 2010.
  4. ^ "New solo album Greg Graffin?". The Bad Religion Page. September 26, 2015. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
  5. ^ "Greg Graffin". The Evolution Institute. Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  6. ^ Graffin, Greg. "The Cornell Evolution Project". Retrieved June 5, 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ "Cornell University Library Catalog".{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ Feinberg, Paul. "Reading, Writing and Rock 'n' Roll". UCLA Magazine. Retrieved June 23, 2012.
  9. ^ "Bad Religion looks ahead to 2009 album". Retrieved October 7, 2010.
  10. ^ "UPDATE: Bad Religion to be playing the Punk Rock Holiday Festival". Retrieved May 12, 2012.
  11. ^ Ji, Shu-An; Atterholt, Jessie; O'Connor, Jingmai; Lamanna, Matthew; Harris, Jerry; Li, Da-Qing; You, Hai-Lu; Dodson, Peter (2011). "A new, three-dimensionally preserved enantiornithine bird (Aves: Ornithothoraces) from Gansu Province, north-western China". Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 162 (1): 201–219. doi:10.1111/j.1096-3642.2010.00671.x.
  12. ^ "Greg Graffin (Bad Religion) talks about humanist award". Retrieved June 23, 2012.
  13. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Greg Graffin's Lifetime Achievement Award Acceptance Speech". YouTube. Retrieved June 23, 2012.
  14. ^ tor on (August 16, 2007). "Greg Graffin: Punk-Rock Ph.D." Retrieved October 7, 2010.
  15. ^ "Preston Jones / Greg Graffin – Is Belief in God Good, Bad or Irrelevant?". Retrieved May 12, 2012.
  16. ^ "Graffins new book | News from the front | The Bad Religion Page – Since 1995". Retrieved October 7, 2010.
  17. ^ Anarchy Evolution. September 28, 2010. ASIN 0061828505.
  18. ^ Graffin, Greg & Olson, Steve, Anarchy Evolution: Faith, Science, and Bad Religion in a World Without God. It Books, September 20, 2010. ISBN 978-0061828508
  19. ^ Draper, Electra (November 12, 2010). "For punk rocker and professor, Greg Graffin, faith's in the fossil". The Denver Post. Retrieved June 23, 2012.
  20. ^ Chaplinsky, Joshua. "The Naturalistic Worldview of a Punk Rock Professor". The Cult: The Official Chuck Palahniuk Website. Retrieved June 23, 2012.
  21. ^ "Bad Religion in lineup for March 24 Reason Rally in Washington, D.C." The Los Angeles Times. March 21, 2012. Retrieved April 5, 2012.
  22. ^ "The Reason Rally Official Schedule". Archived from the original on June 17, 2012. Retrieved June 23, 2012.
  23. ^ "Punk rock paleontologist: Greg Graffin pursues music and science". Ithaca Times. Retrieved May 20, 2016.
  24. ^ Maçek III, J.C. (November 24, 2015). "Adventure and Discovery, An Academic Discussion With Bad Religion's Greg Graffin". PopMatters.

External links[edit]