Bad Religion was formed in Los Angeles, California in 1979 by high school students Greg Graffin (vocals) and Brett Gurewitz (guitar). The band considers their first show to be a gig in 1980 when they opened for Social Distortion in an empty warehouse.
In 1981, Bad Religion released their eponymous debut EP on their own Epitaph Records imprint. The label is still managed and owned by Bad Religion guitarist Brett Gurewitz.
Bad Religion released their first full-length album Into the Unknown in 1983. The record was a departure from the Punk Rock the band became known for, driven by keyboards and influenced by the Progressive Rock bands that were popular at the time. The album is now out of print and is hard to find as only 10,000 copies were ever pressed.
In 1984, guitarist Greg Hetson left his band Circle Jerks to play in Bad Religion. He had previously played the guitar solo on the song "Part III" which appeared on Bad Religion's album How Could Hell Be Any Worse?
Bad Religion took a break from touring in the beginning months of 1989 to record a new album. The disc was eventually called No Control and it cemented the band's legacy as one of the most influential Punk acts of the '80s, selling more than 60,000 copies upon its initial release.
Released in 1990, Against the Grain became one of Bad Religion's best selling albums. The record was their first to sell more than 100,000 copies and spawned a hit single called "21st Century (Digital Boy)." The band has played the song at almost every live show since 1990.
Bad Religion left Epitaph to sign with Atlantic Records in 1993. That same year, two of the band's songs landed on Billboard's Heat Seekers chart, "American Jesus" and "Struck a Nerve." Bad Religion also recorded a song called "Leaders and Followers" for the Clerks soundtrack in 1993.
Brett Gurewitz left Bad Religion in 1998 to focus on his successful Epitaph Records label. Epitaph had a major hit with The Offspring's Smash album and Gurewitz wanted to spend more time promoting and selling it.
In 2001, Bad Religion parted ways with Atlantic Records. The band returned to Epitaph and guitarist Brett Gurewitz rejoined the band. Shortly after, the band got to work on their twelfth studio album. The disc was called The Process of Belief and was released by Epitaph on January 22, 2002.