|Origin||Manhattan Beach, California, USA|
|Years-Active||1978–1983, 1984–1988, 1995–1997, 2002–2004, 2010-present|
|Genre(s)||Punk rock, Melodic hardcore|
|Label(s)||New Alliance Records, SST Records, Epitaph Records, Fat Wreck Chords|
|Associated Acts||All (band), Black Flag, Only Crime|
The Descendents are a punk band from Manhattan Beach, California, a suburb of Los Angeles.
Descendents were formed in 1978 by guitarist Frank Navetta, bassist Tony Lombardo and drummer Bill Stevenson. Their first release, the only one with this lineup, was "Ride the Wild"/"It's a Hectic World", a double A-side of melodic surf-pop.
In 1980 they enlisted Stevenson's old schoolfriend Milo Aukerman as a singer, and reappeared as a punk band, becoming a major player in the hardcore scene developing in Los Angeles at the time. Their first release with Aukerman, 1981's Fat EP, was a furious six-minute barrage of teen angst and goofball humour, featuring such songs as "My Dad Sucks" and the eleven-second "Wienerschnitzel".
Their debut album the following year, Milo Goes to College, introduced an element of melody and sensitivity that set them apart from most other hardcore bands. They sang about being (and wanting to be) rejected ("I'm Not A Loser", "I Wanna Be A Bear", "Parents"), girls ("Hope", "Myage", "Marriage", "Kabuki Girl"), fishing ("Catalina"), and other subjects not normally discussed by their peers. Songwriting was shared among the band members, and Stevenson's songs in particular were to greatly influence the melodic punk-pop bands of the 1990s.
Milo Aukerman really was off to college, to embark on an education that would take him as far as a doctorate in biochemistry, while Bill Stevenson became the drummer for a while with fellow hardcore punks Black Flag. The band did not record again until 1985 with the album I Don't Want to Grow Up. This was much more sensitive than Milo Goes to College, despite silly songs such as the title track and "Pervert".
The band's lineup changed during the recording of I Don't Want to Grow Up. Navetta left the band during the recording to become a fisherman in Oregon, and Lombardo left after the recording as touring was incompatible with his career as a postal carrier. Ray Cooper, who had originally replaced Milo as vocalist, then replaced Navetta on guitar upon Milo's return. Doug Carrion, formerly of ANTI, replaced Lombardo on bass. Fans were overall somewhat disappointed with the change, but the album was still well received.
Enjoy!, their next album (released in 1986) was not well received by critics, but fans liked it. It was a mix of silly, nearly pointless songs ("Enjoy", "Kids", "Orgofart", the first and last involving band members farting into microphones), and emotional, mature songs such as "Get The Time" and a cover of "Wendy" by the Beach Boys. Presumably to mock crossover thrash bands such as Suicidal Tendencies and Dirty Rotten Imbeciles, the band even experimented with thrash metal on "Hürtin Crue".
After the Enjoy! tour, Ray Cooper got a job working in the emerging software scene and Doug Carrion left for other projects, eventually ending up in Dag Nasty. Stevenson invited Stephen Egerton and Karl Alvarez of Salt Lake City's Massacre Guys to replace them, and the now permanent lineup of the Descendents was in place.
The group released ALL in 1987, which, despite "Van", "ALL-O-Gistics" and the one-second "ALL", was the Descendents most mature 1980s album, and featured emotional songs such as "Coolidge", "Cameage" and "Clean Sheets". This would be the band's final album before their nine-year hiatus. On the reunion tour, the band that five years before had claimed that they "couldn't sell out a telephone booth" were selling out nearly every show.
With the release of ALL, the Descendents introduced to the world the driving concept behind their career's work, from which the album derives its title, the philosophy of ALL. The song "ALL" was actually written at the time of the philosophy's conception around 1980, in the midst of the song-writing fury that produced a number of the tunes from the "Fat" EP, including "I Like Food." Stevenson co-wrote these songs with best friend/fishing buddy/Descendents "Fifth Member," Pat McQuiston. The two came up with the concept while working a late night on the water, and fishing (Fat's "Mr. Bass") and coffee ("Enjoy!"'s "Kids" and "Everything Sucks"'s "Coffee Mug") remained themes for Descendents songs and spiritual aids in the quest for ALL, which they define quite conventionally as "the total extent." The idea of ALL as a concept beyond this conventional definition is one of endless self improvement. "The total extent" is an all-encompassing greatness, the pursuit of which is endless and impossible, but which is also the source of all real happiness. Thus, "No, ALL!," speaks to the fruits of this "endless quest," and "happiness is the pursuit of ALL" is the viable credo which is often lost in the midst of the Descendents' slightly more conventional dual-motif of off-beat humor and girls.
Milo left after the back-to-back '"ALL" and "FinALL" tours in 1987 and the remaining Descendents reformed with singer Dave Smalley (later replaced by Scott Reynolds, who was followed by Chad Price) and reformed under the name ALL, and continued the legacy until 1996, when they reformed again with Milo Aukerman, now a full-time research biochemist, to record and tour in support of the album Everything Sucks, a bit of a return to their early-80s punk style (with Frank Navetta and Tony Lombardo making appearances on "Dog House" and "Eunuch Boy"). A reunion of sorts occurred at ALL's quasi-annual Stockage festival in Fort Collins, Colorado, in the spring of 2002. Frank Navetta joined Tony Lombardo and Bill Stevenson to play songs from when they were a trio, before Aukerman joined the group.
In 2004 the band released the 'Merican EP and their newest full length Cool to Be You, which is among their more emotional releases to date. Containing songs not just about the regular Descendents lyrical themes, but also political commentary ("'Merican") and a more mature view on relationships, ("Talking, Anchor Grill") and break-ups ("She Don't Care").
The future of the Descendents is uncertain, as the Descendents now are scattered all across the country. Aukerman apparently is living in Newark, Delaware, Stevenson and Alvarez live in Fort Collins and Egerton lives with family in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Stevenson currently runs The Blasting Room recording studio in Fort Collins while Egerton hones his recording chops at Armstrong Recording Studio in Tulsa. 'Merican's "I Quit" leaves only question marks as to whether Milo will ever return again to record or tour with the Descendents. Meanwhile, ALL remains dormant with two albums left on the back burners as works in progress. Bill Stevenson is drumming for his new band, Only Crime as well as an outings with bassist Alvarez in The Last and Evan Dando's Lemonheads.
The Descendents have collaborated with Vans in mid-2006 to create a Descendents signature shoe.
In November of 2006, Tony Hawks Downhill Jam was released for Nintendo's Wii console sporting a rerecorded version of the song "Myage", originally released on the Descendent's debut album, Milo Goes to College. This has raised more questions as to the band's recording of a new album, as it was supposedly recorded in 2006. According to the forum administrator of DescendentsOnline.com, the band's official website, "we initially planned to use the original version of myage, but as the deadline grew near, and for whatever reason, SST Records had not responded to the Tony Hawk people's inquiries about using the original, Bill put this new version together just in time using Milo's vocals compiled from various alternate recordings of "Myage" that we had on hand, and Bill just playing everything else himself, due to the deadline." All instruments on this version were performed by Bill Stevenson.
- Milo Goes to College (1982)
- I Don't Want to Grow Up (1985)
- Enjoy! (1986)
- ALL (1987)
- Everything Sucks (1996)
- Cool To Be You (2004)
- "Ride the Wild"/"It's a Hectic World" (1979)
- Fat (1981)
- "Enjoy!" promotional 7" (1986)
- "Clean Sheets" promotional 7" (1987)
- "When I Get Old" promotional CD (1996)
- "I'm the One" promotional CD (1996)
- "When I Get Old" (1997)
- "I'm the One" (1997)
- "Sessions" (1997)
- 'Merican (2004)
- Bonus Fat (1985): contains the Fat EP and the band's debut single
- Two Things At Once (1988): contains Bonus Fat and Milo Goes to College
- Liveage (1987)
- Hallraker (1989)
- Live Plus One (2001): double split album with ALL