Maty’s Corner #21
Milo Finished College and Got Saved by Allroy:
A Story of Descendents and All
1978 Hermosa Beach California, something is stirring that would effect the whole of Southern California punk rock and be a pillar of an early label. Fishing would be the initial spark behind the 2 most seminal bands in pop punk and 1 of the most in punk as a whole. Bill Stevenson (Drummer and overall mastermind behind both bands) worked at a bait and tackle shop under Keith Morris’ dad. Bill asked Keith about music, from there he got turned on to Ramones, Sex Pistols, Dickies and most importantly The Last. Bill and Joe Nolte of The Last became fast friends. They then met Frank Navetta, who came up with the name and wrote many of Descendents’ best known songs. Joe left to commit to his initial band and Tony Lombardo was randomly found near 9th and Walnut in Long Beach. 1980 would see Milo recruited and this was the real start of Descendents rockin and rollin every night.
1982 brought us Descendents best known and one of the South Bay’s most important albums, Milo Goes to College. This was the beginning on the South Bay powerhouse of SST Records. This whole album is utterly stand out. From Navetta’s I’m not a Loser and Parents, Milo’s Hope, Lombardo’s Suburban Home to Stevenson’s Bikeage. This band is far from a one man show. This is in the list of most solid albums from California punk rock, nothing bad and everything good.
1985 dropped off I Don’t Wanna Grow Up. This is opens up with the Descendents self titled theme song. This was born out of the few years Stevenson spent in Black Flag while Milo was learning to save the world with science. Bill had a batch of songs he wrote the wouldn’t work with the Flag. This also gave us Silly Girl and Good Good Things. It’s good that they weren’t trying to re-do the Milo album.
1986 dropped out Enjoy. A different album from the previous 2. There’s some darker heavier tracks, but still Descendents nonetheless. There’s a few of the excellent punk love songs on this like Get The Time, a cover of Beach Boys’ Wendy and Sour Grapes. From here a new idea would be born.
ALL was birthed in 1987. This album introduced the philosophy of ALL! It’s punctuated with some great standard Descendents songs as well. Including one of the groups most heavy heart songs Clean Sheets. For those who don’t the All-O-Gistics they are:thou shalt not commit laundry
thou shalt covet thy neighbor’s food (all)
thou shalt not create ties with the scathed (no all)
thou shalt always go for greatness
thou shalt not commit adulthood (all)
thou shalt not partake of decaf (all!)
thou shalt not suppress flatulence
thou shalt not commit hygiene (all!)
thou shalt not have no idea (all)
thou shalt commit thyself to an institution (no all)
thou shalt not take the van’s name in vain
thou shalt not allow anything to deter you in your quest for all (all!) you may achieve all
and not wallow unknown for eternity,
all you have to do is do it! all!(we shall achieve all) he who bears the most gas, let him also bear forth his ass, and cast forth the first frap
Nine years later in 1996 the Descendents came back on a new label, Epitaph Records. They gave us Everything Sucks. This spawned 2 video singles for When I Get Old and I’m The One. The influence of ALL showed in the songwriting, this is their best album since Milo went to college. Another stand out on this is Coffee Mug, the tribute to the container for the elixir of God.
There would be another 8 year hiatus until 2004’s Cool To Be You. This came out on Fat Wreck. It’s a great enough album to be worth the wait. The Descendents/ ALL sound were fully merged into one unit as of this release. This is their most current. Descendents are still active with live shows.
During the Descendents’ breaks Stevenson and the other members minus Milo have been nurturing ALL starting in 1987. This is on of the most underrated bands as they’ve always had the stigma of the singer not being Milo. They’ve had a revolving door of some great vocalists including Dag Nasty/ Down By Law front man Dave Smalley. They even had an album on Interscope Records. It’s a different sound from Descendents and very worth the time to check out. For more to feed your Milo and Allroy addiction get the documentary Filmage. Now get to know these bands’ music, drink of the bonus cup and go for ALL!
Maty’s Corner Issue #5
Henry had a T.V. party, D felt like a gringo and Milo went to college
A Story of SST Records and the South Bay sound
SST which stands for Solid State Transmitters was started by Greg Ginn in 1966 as a business that sold electronics equipment. It would not become a record label until 1978. 12 years to go from slanigin’ electronics to the label that would form an entire sound and scene. Now, we cannot quite tell the story of this label without proper focus on the big 3 bands of the South bay. Those were Descendents, Black Flag and Minutemen.
Black Flag formed up in 1976 in Hermosa Beach, CA. They put out SST’s first release which was the Nervous Breakdown EP which boasted a pre Circle Jerks Keith Morris wielding the mic. Black Flag tore through 3 different singers before finding Rollins in 1981. Rollins had gotten off work at the Haagen Dazs and sang the song Clocked In with the band. They offered him a spot and Ian MacKaye told him to go for it and Henry relocated to Hermosa Beach, CA. Rollins would be their longest lasting vocalist going from 81 to 86 when they broke up. Black Flags’ aggressive style and constantly evolving music would be the birth of South Bay punk and an influence on everything in hard core music since its inception. Today Black Flag is back with Ron Reyes on vox and has new album coming out. I personally have reservations about the new music I’ve heard, but every fan should at least give it a chance then have an opinion.
The Descendents were a sonic blast out of Manhattan Beach, CA. There’s actually a Norm’s restaurant in the area with the Milo caricature spray painted on it. Descendents were not initially an SST band. They were on New Alliance until it got bought out by SST. I think the South Bay scene is better off for it. They had a number of eps and released the widely known full length Milo Goes To College in 1982. It would be 3 years until they recorded again as Milo was in the beginnings to his PhD in Biochemistry. They recorded with SST until 1986. They then became active with Epitaph and Fat Wreck. Milo and crew are credited as being one of the largest influences to the skate and pop punk scenes of the 90’s era and early 00’s. Later this year the documentary Filmage which covers both Descendents and All is due out.
The strange near funky sonic blast coming across the bridge from SST was the Minutemen out of San Pedro. Their first release which was equally as important as Nervous Breakdown and Milo was the Paranoid Time EP. It was hardcore with a punk vibe and really weird high minded vocal blasts. About the best way to get music from the guys is getting a hold of the Post Mersh 1-3 discs. Minutemen and Black Flag tore the South Bay apart with endless local shows. One main venue was an Alano club that’s right on the bay in San Pedro. Yeah, the recovering alcoholics love their good punk rock! Minutemen were much more short lived than they should have been due to D. Boone’s death in a van accident in ’85. More can be learned about the Minutemn by checking out the We Jam Econo documentary for free on you tube.
Another rock star of SST who only briefly played bass in Blacg was Raymond Pettibon who is Greg Ginn’s brother. Some may be wondering about this man’s importance. His artwork adorns most of Black Flag and Minutemen’s recordings, including the famous 4 bars of the black flag. Other than birthing an entire sound and scene and putting out other great punk like Saccharine trust, SST also put out some bands of importance to the alternative scene being Soundgarden, Husker Du Sonic Youth and Meat Puppets. If this article is anyone’s first exposure to SST bands, go check thos big 3 out right now! As D. Boone once said, “punk rock changed our lives.”