Every once in a while the punk rock geniuses (we read a lot of Wikipedia, after all) here at Dying Scene like to unleash some noteworthy trivia. Today’s “fun factoid” is about Bad Religion re-recording one of their signature songs “21st Century (Digital Boy)”.
“21st Century (Digital Boy)” was originally taken from Bad Religion’s 1990 album Against the Grain, but was recorded again four years later on their hit album Stranger Than Fiction. Guitarist Brett Gurewitz has stated that the reason “21st Century (Digital Boy)” was recorded again is because Atlantic Records (their label at the time) did not “hear a single” and thought it would be a hit if they redid it. Brett commented, “Since we were selling out anyway I didn’t see any point in arguing”.
Another reason “21st Century (Digital Boy)” was re-recorded is that both Brett and bassist Jay Bentley were not happy with the Against the Grain version, the latter commented, “(We re-released the song) because we were playing it every night since 1989, 1990. It wasn’t that we weren’t happy with it. I was thrilled with it. I thought it was a great fucking song. Brett just happened to think that we were playing it better than we played it on the record. He just thought it was the one song of his that had a snowball’s chance in hell of being popular. I think one of Brett’s quests as a song writer was to write a pop hit. That’s hard to do when you’re in a punk rock band. He always thought that song could be a pop hit, and he fought for it to get on the record and to be a single. I eventually got tired of saying ‘that’s not what we do.’ That’s what he wanted to do when he was a member of the band at the time and we all went ‘well, OK, if you feel that strongly about it, we’ll put it on the record.’ We have a very democratic process which is that if 3 members vote one way, then it’s going to happen, unless one member feels so strongly about it, then we all just concede and say ‘that’s cool.'”
By 1994, Bad Religion had been together for 15 years, but the re-recorded version of “21st Century (Digital Boy)” was the song that made Bad Religion more famous, and it even helped Stranger Than Fiction achieve gold status.
You can check out the re-recorded version of “21st Century (Digital Boy)” and compare it to the original below.