Riley Breckenridge's Everything In Its Right Place: A Tribute to 'Recipe for Hate' On Its 20th Birthday

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Welcome to Riley Breckenridge's bi-weekly column for PureVolume, titled Everything In Its Right Place. The drummer—and founding member of Thrice—will be bringing us his musings on love, life, sports and whatever else. Follow Riley on Twitter @RileyBreck.

Bad Religion’s seventh full-length, Recipe for Hate, turned 20 years old yesterday. Besides making me feel old as dirt, the anniversary of its release reminded just how massive an impact the record had on my life as an 18-year-old kid on the brink of “adulthood.” And at the time, I had no idea how lasting an impact that would be.

I was, ashamedly, late to the punk rock game. Most of my teenage years (read: the late '80s/early '90s) were spent listening to rap, R&B, metal and a bit of classic rock, some of which was indisputably awesome, while most of it was embarrassingly awful. For every Eric B. & Rakim or N.W.A.,  there were 10 Vanilla Ices. For every Stevie Wonder or Boyz II Men, there were 10 Color Me Badds. For every Metallica or Pantera, there were 10 White Zombies. And I’ll spare you the details of the fringes of my music collection in the early '90s while assuring you that my taste was absolutely ghastly.

It wasn’t until I heard Bad Religion’s sixth full-length, Generator (released in 1992), that my music-listening world got flipped on its ear. That record was a game changer for me. It blended the melody and harmonies that drew me to R&B and metal’s energy and urgency with an angsty, “fuck the world” bent that resonates so well with teenagers who think they have the world all figured out before they’ve even seen a fraction of it.

Generator made me want to play drums and guitar, made me want to start a band and made me think I could learn to sing. (I learned later that I could/should only do a couple of those things.) It made me want to push the rap and R&B and classic rock aside for a while and dive headfirst into punk rock. So I did. I bought drums, I started a band, I started listening to every punk record I could get my hands on, I started going to shows, and I fucking loved it.

Recipe For Hate could have been a soul-crusher had it been a horrible record. I was fully invested in Bad Religion and punk rock (as “fully invested” as an 18-year-old teen from one of America’s most boring and soulless cities could be), and if it had been a turd, it could have flipped my music-listening world on its other ear and I’d probably be sitting here writing a column about the merits of Spin Doctors. On second thought, I probably wouldn’t be here writing a column at all.

Thankfully (for my long-term health and career path), it was anything but horrible. It was a slight departure from Generator—most notably in that it was the band’s first record for a major label (Atlantic) and had a couple of guest vocal appearances (Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder and Concrete Blonde’s Johnette Napolitano) and smatterings of cleaner tones and slide guitar)—and it was absolutely everything I’d hoped it could be and more. If Generator was the punk rock bait, Recipe For Hate was the fish hook lodging itself in my cheek.  

The record became the soundtrack for everything in ‘93.  Every drive I made by myself, every car ride I took with my friends, every party, every time I threw the Walkman on (note: that’s an analog iPod that could only play one side of an album at a time, youngsters), it was all Recipe For Hate all the time, as loud as it could be played, accompanied by a bunch of teenaged dorks singing along (mostly out of key). It scored some of the blissful moments of my life in late ‘93 and early ‘94.

And then September 18, 1994 happened. 

On that date, I lost my one of my best friends (and college roommate/teammate at Pepperdine) and two very close friends in a single car accident. A fourth friend (also one of my best) who I’d known since I was two and had spent 95 percent of my free time with since I was five-years-old was the lone survivor (albeit with serious injuries and trauma). I was supposed to be in that car. School and an overbearing ex-girlfriend had me in Santa Barbara at the time of the accident. And the friends I’d lost were the same ones who’d shared many a day and night singing along to Recipe For Hate with. 

When you’re 19, and feel invincible, and feel like you’ve got it all figured out, losing a peer (or peers, in this case) is the gut punch to end all gut punches. It changes everything. Forever. It not only changes life-as-you-know-it immediately, but it changes life at its core. It changes your wiring, changes your filter and changes your heart.

To this day, I cannot listen to Recipe For Hate without getting teary-eyed. “Skyscraper” (arguably the best song on the record) is, and forever will be, one of my favorite songs ever written. The tension held in the slight pause before Brett Gurewitz’s solo at the 1:20 mark carries more weight than any piece of music I’ve ever heard. And it’s dead silence. It reminds me of the fragility of life, the joy that our friends and family provide us, and the potential for life after loss.  

I realize that my relationship with Recipe For Hate is unique to my friends and me, but I guess what I’m saying is … we all have a record like this somewhere in our collections. We all have a record that has the magical ability to give us bliss and provides us with introspection and nostalgia. I can honestly say that I rarely feel closer to my fallen friends than I do when I listen to Recipe For Hate. And when I listen to it, I’m reminded that goddamnit … music is amazing. 

So, I guess what I’m saying is … thank you, Bad Religion. Not only for Recipe For Hate, but for everything.


—Riley Breckenridge

Riley Breckenridge's Everything In Its Right Place Archive
+ The Other Side of the Curtain
+ Riley vs. the Bud Light Straw-Ber-Rita
+ Grading Eight First Pitches Thrown By Musicians
+ Whoachella
+ 10 Frontrunners For Worst Album Art of 2013
+ Making S**t Up About SXSW
+ An Expert Swordsman I am Not
+ Three Horrible Last-Minute Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas

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