Considered by some to be the backbone of the band, Brian Baker started Dag Nasty in August of 1985. He has played with the band consistently since that time. He is currently playing guitar in Bad Religion and living in Washington D.C.
Brian Baker started his journey when he got a rented acoustic guitar at age eight, right around Christmas. During that same time, his best friend (who would later be the guitarist in S.O.A. and the Faith and Embrace) got a guitar as well. They quickly formed a band, kind of like The Everly Brothers, but they hardly knew how to play. He has never NOT had a guitar since that age. He began his "official" career back in the early 1980s in the DC hardcore band Minor Threat. There he played bass by default, but also guitar once the band added a fifth member to play bass.
In the mid-80s, when the Misfits split (around the same time as Minor Threat) Glenn Danzig set up Samhain, and Brian played at some early jams and rehearsals, together with former bandmates Lyle Preslar and Jeff Nelson. He was an actual member of the band too, for about 10 minutes. From there, Brian went on to the seminal Meatmen before leaving to form Dag Nasty.
After Dag Nasty's demise, and being involved in numerous projects, he worked as a sort of "guitarist-for-hire". He had just finished a stint with Tommy Stinson's Bash and Pop and was working in a pool hall when he was asked (and had accepted) to fill in for Peter Holsapple of R.E.M. In preparing to join R.E.M.'s Monster Tour, he got the call from Bad Religion offering him a place in the band to replace Brett Gurewitz.
He considered R.E.M. one of the biggest bands in the world, but also considered BR one of the biggest punk bands in the world. So two days after Greg's call he phoned R.E.M. again to tell them he was joining BR. He then packed his bags, sold his car, and left the Hollywood bar scene to move to Washington DC. and begin his new career; or as he puts it "that's me in the corner, choosing Bad Religion". "Touring for 19 months with one of the biggest bands in the world isn't exactly a shitty offer, and I was absolutely blown away that these R.E.M. people even knew who I was. My best friend Nathan [ex-Careless] got the gig. After the Monster tour ended, Nathan bought a house and built a home studio in the backyard. He's happy. I rent a one bedroom apartment and record my songs with an acoustic and a boom box, but I'm in Bad Religion. I'm happy". His first gig with BR was at a festival in Germany. Greg at a DC concert (4/96): "This is our new guitarist, Mr Brian Baker - don't you think he sounds a lot better than that other guy?".
Brian says his only real influence, the one you can still hear when he plays today, is Captain Sensible from The Damned. He heard him and that's how he wanted to play guitar. He wanted to look and sound like him, and learned every single note he ever played. And according to Brian, everything he plays to this day is a combination of Captain Sensible and Angus Young.
Brian says that if someone ever writes his biography, the title should be "Arrogance and Affluence: the Rise and Fall of Brian Baker". And another thing... his earliest childhood memory is falling out of the back of a convertible and cracking his head open when he was 2 years old.
Brian's guitar stats
"I'm wireless, but the wireless is plugged directly into the Marshall 100 Watt head. I have no effects of any kind. Nothing. I have two completely stock JCM 800 Marshall heads and they go through two Mesa Boogie cabinets. I know they have Celestion speakers, but I don't know how many watts they are. My main guitar is a completely stock '90 Les Paul Standard. It was a factory second and says 'Not for sale' on the back of the headstock. I got it in a horse trade a couple of years ago."
For the "Field Day" lp and tour, Brian played a 1967 Gibson Firebird 12 string, a 1988 Charvel Model 4 with EMG 81 pickups, and a 1986 Gibson SG with EMG 81 pickups. His amps were two Marshall 100-watt heads, four Marshall cabinets with 35-watt Celestion speakers, and a Roland JC-120. He also used an Alesis Midiverb 2, Roland SDE 1000 delay and Samson Stage Series wireless.
Brian and guitar influences - he says his only real influence, the one you can still hear when he plays today, is Captain Sensible from The Damned. He heard him and that's how he wanted to play guitar. He wanted to look and sound like him, and learned every single note he ever played. And according to Brian everything he plays to this day is a combination of Captain Sensible and Angus Young (AC/DC).