been around for more than 25 years, people have all kinds of questions
for the DESCENDENTS. We've listed some of them here along with answers
from either the band members themselves, or someone else who knows the
a question of your own? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What band is the song "Thank You" about?
A: It's about a lot of bands. Any band that inspires,
really. Karl wrote it and used to yell out different band names when they
would play "Thank You." A few of the bands names mentioned were
Flag among others.
was the song "Iceman" writen about? It almost seems to reflect
the mafia hitman Richard Kuklinski (aka the "Iceman") not only
because of the name but much of the lyrical content except certain key
phrases like "doesnt feel anger or pain" yet he was a very angry
man with a quick temper. Along with that were a few other contradictory
phrases but is there any relation or just mere coincidence??
A: "Iceman" isn't about any specific person. It's loosely based
on the play by Eugene O'Neill.
Q: When are the new DESCENDENTS records coming?
A: An EP titled 'Merican was released on February 10, 2004 and
a full-length, entitled Cool To Be You was released on March
23, 2004, both on Fat
Q: Will there be a tour to support the new albums?
A: There will be some shows, but nothing has been confirmed as of yet.
Any show or tours will be announced on the main
page of this site when the information
Q: What kind of drumsticks does Bill use?
A: (Bill) - History of my sticks: '81 - 5b regal, '82 - 2s ludwig, '83
- 3s ludwig, '84 - '85 - dc 17, '86 - '97 - regal 3-s, '98 - 2000 - classic
metal, '01 - present - Pro Mark "747B Super Rock". I am in a
major Afro-Cuban study at present, and have been using "pencil"
jazz sticks (Pro Mark - "Elvin Jones" model), since those beats/tempos
sometimes are extremely fast, and I am just learning. But when Karl and
I have been playing lately I am still on the "747B Super Rock".
Q: What is Bill's drum set-up?
A: For information on Bill's drum set-up, please visit his site at DrumOgre.com.
Q: Do you have any advice for how to deal with blisters from drumming
too much? Does grip tape help?
A: (Bill) - I think the grip tape gives you worse blisters, but I mainly
like it because I don't have to grip the stick so tight, so I can play
faster without having to worry about the stick flying out of my hand (sometimes
it still flies though). With the blisters, I usually just put neosporin,
and a band aid over it, and they heal pretty fast, and duct tape the band
aid on at practice the next day, then the day after they're gone. Maybe
the first week after I start back up I always have blister. You just deal.
Q: Why did the DESCENDENTS get back together again?
A: (Bill)- From the outside, it may look like a reunion, but we were really
all together, except for Milo. We've been playing as ALL since 1987 and
Milo wanted to start playing again, and that seemed like a good idea,
but we already have Chad as our singer for ALL. So, we decided that the
best thing to do would be to sorta have two bands, that way we could make
room for Milo without pushing Chad out.
Q: With Chad and Milo, is there any resentment?
A: (Bill)- No, no, no, no. Chad did all the backing vocals on Everything
Sucks and a lot on the new ones too. They help each other out, like
Milo did all the backing vocals on Breaking Things and Mass
Nerder. No, it's all totally good, it's just that when we are playing,
Milo couldn't be ALL's singer, cause Chad is ALL's singer. So, we decided
that we could be DESCENDENTS with Milo, and ALL with Chad. It's not really
a reunion, we've been together the whole time.
Q: What has Milo been doing since the DESCENDENTS break-up?
A: (Bill)- He's been doing bio-chemistry stuff; he's a bio-chemist and
he does research. Right now he does research on plant DNA.
Q: What does "1420" in the song "Hürtin Crüe"
A: In high school, Milo's friend Roger scored 1420 on the SAT, which meant
that he got in to West Point. So, he walked around school all day, gloating
and singing this song that he made up that went something like:"1420
- I am better than you - You are a piece of poo - I am better than you
- You are a piece of poo - 1420" Milo later inserted this song into
Q: How do you distinguish between the songs you will use for ALL, and
the songs youll use for DESCENDENTS?
A: (Bill)- Well, the way we did it for these two albums is we had a bunch
of songs, and you know how at recess with the two captains and everybody
lines up against the fence and the captains pick teams? Chad and Milo
just picked from the 30-40 songs, and thats how we came up with
our two albums. Then there are some more that are going to be mainly instrumental.
Q: How are the DESCENDENTS and ALL different?
A: (Bill)- The difference between the bands, to me, is not something you
can define. The differences are really song to song, not album to album.
We dont really put on the "ALL hat" and then change music.
It doesnt work like that, we change music depending on when we wake
up in the morning, what well be doing that day, or what songs we
have. It doesnt have anything to do with whatever band name we happen
to be hiding under at the time. In other words, you could say "Clean
Sheets" or "Silly Girl", which to me sound more like what
may be considered stereotypical ALL songs, or that "Uncle Critic";
"Original Me" sound more like stereotypical DESCENDENTS, but
its actually just the opposite. So theres not really a pattern
there. You could try to make one, but it wouldnt be logical.
Q: How much coffee do you drink, between the four of you?
A: (Bill)- Someone asked us the other day, so when we counted and it was
Q: What are your favorite of the older DESCENDENTS records?
A: (Bill)- "Milo Goes To College" and "Everything Sucks".
Q: What's your favorite DESCENDENTS song to play live?
A: (Bill)- "My Dad Sucks".
Q: Who have been some of your favorite bands to play with?
A: (Bill)- I really liked Shades Apart, Sensefield, The Lemons, Hagfish,
and the new band that the Hagfish guys have called Armstrong, which is
on our label (Owned
& Operated), Zeke, Judge Nothing, Monster Club, and Someday
I is amazing. Those are the bands Im into. I think its cool
to play with younger bands, it would be kind of lame, if it were us and
Leonard, The Dickies, or whatever out touring, that would be stupid.
Q: Would you say that tours get easier over the years?
A: (Milo)- Its weird. The shows after Everything Sucks were
a lot of fun - thats what keeps you doing it. So, emotionally, it
gets better, but now that Im married and my wife cant come
out along with me on the tour, theres half of my live thats
elsewhere and it makes it less of a party. It makes it more difficult.
And another thing is that it doesnt matter how good I get with my
singing, I still fuck up my throat a lot; I still end up getting respiratory
infections. I mean, youre singing, youre passing the mic out
to the kids, the kids are yelling back at you, its charged. I spent
the majority of the last tour, just sick - so, thats a drag. But
we were playing to 600 or 700 people a night and they just go nuts
that is not like what it used to be, when we would play to a little bunch
of kids who didnt know who we were, thats different.
Q: Milo, why did you go to college?
A: (Milo)- Umm... good question. I guess when I was in high school, I
had two passions. One being music, and the other being science. Stupidly,
I thought I could pursue both. Ive continued to pursue both, and
at this point, I really dont know what I want to do. Hopefully,
someday Ill decide which direction Im headed in.
Q: Milo, are you glad you went to college?
A: (Milo)- Yeah, Im glad I went. Its like something that hasnt
really lived up to all my expectations as far as what I would get out
of it. I thought that by majoring in Science, I might have gotten a career
out of it.
Q: How do you feel about all the punk bands of today sounding similar
with lack of originality, or is there no way around it?
A: (Milo)- Well, I think its a by-product of there being a lot of
bands. Thats one thing about music now, everywhere you turn the
corner theres new bands popping up. I think its good that
so many bands are around because they are bringing different styles with
them, but at the same time, there is that tendency for bands to be generic.
I think that more generic bands have the notion, that if one band makes
it big, then that is the road that everyone else must follow, and thats
what makes people start to not appreciate the originality of that first
band that started that sound.
Q: Whose idea was it to dress up in the condoms and go skateboarding
in the video for "Im the One"?
A: (Milo)- That was the idea of our director Dave Robinson. He kinda took
the idea of "Im The One" to mean "Im gonna
be your sperm, baby." When he told me the idea I thought, "
Oh no, shades of Woody Allen!", but when I got on that skateboard
in that sperm costume, I dont know, things just started to work
for me. Dont forget, we spend a lot of our time being incredibly
stupid and silly. (Karl: Dont forget sophomoric and juvenile.)
Q: What was the deal behind the whole reunion thing with ALL meeting
back up with Milo? Was it money?
A: (Milo)- It was really just my re-entry into the song writing, I had
been away for so long and I just wanted to make music which is what I
love to do.
Q: Are the '80s your influences?
A: (Milo)- I guess you could say that. A lot of our melody comes from
Q: Who is "Eunuch Boy" written about?
A: (Milo)- "Eunuch Boy" is a fictitious song. We dont
do a lot of fictitious songs. "Eunuch Boy" is the first song
I ever wrote, really. When we formed, Tony Lombardo, the original bass
player said, "Dude- you need to write some songs," and I had
never written a song before so I just wrote down some words and brought
it to him. He made the music for it. But, "Eunuch Boy" is completely
fake. We realize were kinda dissing the testicularly challenged.
Probably Marshall Applewhite also.
Q: Who draws the picture of you on all the albums, Milo?
A: (Milo)- This guy named Roger Deuerlein use to make fun of me all the
time in high school. I was like the school nerd and so this guy kept doing
like a comic strip with me in it. He usually used me to make campaigns
for people running for class office. I remember him making one that said
"Dont be a nerd like Milo, vote for Billy!" or something
like that. When we recorded our albums, we had him draw that picture of
me on the cover.
Q: Did he draw the covers for the newer albums?
A: (Milo)- No, luckily thats an easy thing to copy. The kind
people at Epitaph helped us out with Everything Sucks. Both of
the 'Merican EP covers were done by Jeff Hagedorn. The Cool
To Be You LP cover was drawn by Chris Shary. Ray did the cover for
Enjoy under the pseudonym "Scoob Droolins", and Bill did the
graphics for Somery and ALL.
Q: What would you say inspired you to start the band?
A: (Milo)- Thats kind of how I view that whole ongoing continuum.
How youre influenced by a certain other band or bands and how your
band will influence others. We really liked Black Flag, of course, X,
Germs, a lot of the LA punk bands in the 80s Thats exactly
what an influence is, its not like ripping somebody off, its
about being inspired. "Thank You" is a song Karl wrote. He refused
to divulge what bands hes talking about, I tried to beat it out
of him but he wont tell me. Obviously, that song is about a whole
series of different bands and when we play it live, hell scream
out a random name.
Q: What do you find more impressive about a band when you hear them:
Words, or their musical abilities?
A: (Milo)- I think both, I cant really answer for the rest of the
Descendents but for me, I definitely look at lyrics.
Q: How do you feel about authority in general?
A: (Milo) When you have to deal with that it is the worst. At some clubs
they have security there and they dont really seem to realize that
theyre really working for you and it can get a little frustrating.
Then, seeing the whole LA thing with Rodney King is just a whole other
thing. Everywhere you see that kind of disregard that the law has for
human beings in general. Like one night we were in Portland, this kid
came up beside the stage and one of the bouncers managed to get his ankle
and then grabbed him by the neck and swung him around. The kids
head landed right on the barricades between the stage and the audience
and knocked him out cold. And I didnt see it. I heard about it from
our guitar player and thats the kind of shit that happens. Id
want to be able to tell the bouncer to get out of the club because this
is definitely not something we want to see at the shows. But literally,
I can not see anything. I barely have the time to sing all the lyrics
and Im really focused on what Im doing. I dont have
peripheral vision with my glasses either which is a real drag because
I hear about this stuff after the show and I would have liked to have
said something. I have the mic. I could try to restore some order or whatever
but its difficult.
Q: When you were younger, was your attitude towards the police different?
A: (Milo) when I grew up, I was a really introverted person. I actually
got into punk rock because it was something very exciting and obviously,
theres the notion that loud and exciting music has some kind of
unlawfulness to it, but wed go out to the shows to see the bands
we didnt even really have the time to be getting loaded or
committing crimes. We were just suburban kinds who enjoyed seeing bands
and thats what we did. I dont think Id go about
it differently like, "Jeez, I wish I would have broken more
" I lived a fairly well sheltered life until I was about
a junior teen and I was like fuck it all and I turned into punk rock,
joined the DESCENDENTS and when you get an outlook like that, you join
a band things like drugs and crimes and that kind of stuff has
very little force because you have an aim where all of your creative energy
is going and it being used up.
Q: Whats your favorite subject matter to sing about or hear sung
A: (Milo) Probably relationships, and also good. I like simple music,
like the Queers, The Ramones... that kind of stuff.
Q: Has punk rock changed much in your eyes? And do you think its
for the better or the worse?
A: (Milo) I think two things have changed for the worse and one for the
better. I think the thing thats changed for the better is that theres
just so much more awareness about Punk, its so much more widely
available and I think thats great because its a form of music
thats very grass roots, that everyone needs to hear and before it
was harder to find. Theres still much in the underground, you can
still dig deep and get down there if you want to, though. The two bad
things are when something gets popular, everything gets to be one certain
way. They go out and find other bands that are kind of ground breaking
and theyll do it until all the bands sound the same like,
everyone wants to sound like Bad Religion and you end up with this generic
Q: I heard there were about 9 songs that didn't make it to Everything
Sucks. Are we ever going to hear those?
A: (Milo)- Some of them came out in other forms. On the European single
for "I'm The One" we put two out-takes, "Lucky" and
a song called "Shattered."
Q: Were you expecting more from your Ph.D.?
A: (Milo)- Definitely, it's been one of the major disillusionments for
me. I knew that in Biology I had to do a post-doc. But I figured I would
do that and automatically I 'd be in line for a faculty position and then
ride off into the sunset. The post-doc was kind of slow moving and I didn't
make as much progress as I would have liked. Also the field is particularly
impacted right now in terms of the number of jobs that are available.
At some point in the middle of it I experienced a real loss of confidence/
faith/enthusiasm for it. I am hoping to return to it with a more realistic
perspective, and maybe a little more oomph.
Q: Has the transition of going back to the road been difficult? I know
what it's like to be working in a lab all day. Then, being on the road,
most of the time you are idle. I know that for a couple of days it can
be relaxing, but after awhile don't you get you the jitters?
A: (Milo)- I do one of two things. I either read, and I 've brought a
lot of reading material with me. Or I sleep. More often than not I try
to sleep because sleep becomes so incredibly important on the road. If
I don't get enough sleep, I get sick. I don't think there are many hours
where I 'm totally hopelessly bored. If I 've got nothing to do, I 'll
just jump in bed. But they are two totally different lifestyles, and never
the two shall meet. I 've tried to juggle the two, but you just can't.
I left the band and went to Graduate School. Within a year, I was like
"Argh I gotta get in a band." I was actually in a band for a
year and half called Milestone. But, inevitably I had to write a dissertation
and things came to a head and I just had to focus. Of course my priorities
had to be science at that point so I quit the band. The way that music
works for me is that, especially given my experiences with the DESCENDENTS,
if I do a band I have to be obsessed by it. It gets in my blood. I have
to really focus my attention on it a lot in order to get my full satisfaction
from it. The same thing is true of science, you can't do that half-assed
either. So you have these two things, and you can't do either of them
half-assed, so it's like fuck it, one of them has got to give.
Q: I notice that the Everything Sucks only mentions the concept
of ALL once. Are you leaving that up to ALL?
A: (Milo)- I think that was just a matter of song selection. We didn't
go out of our way to write a song with the concept of ALL in it. Bill
had these words for Coffee Mug, and that's a very worthwhile topic of
course, coffee. But we didn't go out of our way to promulgate it. We haven't
been writing many, of what I would call, tongue in cheek songs; like the
"ALL-O-GISTICS". I wrote a song called "Mass Nerder,"
that is on Cool To Be You. That's about the only funny song I've
written in a long time. The rest of my songs are all "Oh, baby"
Q: What's the difference between the DESCENDENTS and ALL? Are they
the same band?
A: (Bill)- They're 75% the same band at this point, no more, no less.
The only real difference is that Chad sings for ALL, and Milo sings for
Q: What does Stephen do to warm up?
A: (Stephen's wife Nat)- To warm up he does stretches (but that's just
so that he can look rock), but he tries to specifically loosen his right
wrist and warms up by playing different fast strumming patterns (an example
he gave was the beginning of "Teresa" - he said that the chords
don't matter, just the strumming). He also said that he never really worries
about his left hand as it "usually always does whatever I want it
Q: What's Stephens equipment set-up?
A: Currently it's a 100-watt Marshall JCM 900 head, various Marshall cabinets,
and Music Man Axis Sport guitars with DiMarzio Super Distortion humbuckers.
At least one of the Marshall cabinets was previously owned by Uriah Heep.
Q: What do you think of the TonyALL record?
A: (Bill)- Special to me is one of my all time favorite songs of Tonys.
He was so sad about all that with his younger girlfriend, and I swear
nothing has ever been more heartfelt. I get teary just thinking about
it. Its so positive and so negative - when it goes into "and
I love you, even though I know, too...", it's like the saddest thing
Ive ever heard. But there really was a tremendous age difference.
Q: How do you get your snare drum sound?
A: (Bill)- Start with a deep drum - at least 6 1/2". With a thick
head (those emporer x things work real well - but with alot of deadening
- I guess Aquarian makes one similar too), medium tuned, not too tight,
some deadening - so it's not too boingy. Either tape here and there or
maybe even go so far as to use one of those ring things (not a real thick
one though), bottom head medium tuned. Hit it real hard and always use
a rim shot. Mic with a Shure 57 on top, sort of aimed going across the
drum, about 1 1/2 inches off the rim. Use whatever on bottom, positioned
so it's not miking the snares themselves - usualy directly below the top
mic. Maybe add some upper treble (maybe 12 k and up), and quite a bit
@ about 150 hz.
Q: I heard that with Everything Sucks, you paid Tony Lombardo
his share with studio time for the Spiffy recordings. Is any of that true?
A: (Bill)- No, we just did Spiffy for free because we are friends. There
is a whole formal way of accounting royalties. Who wrote? Who played?
Who produced? Its all kinda standardized.
Q: Who wrote what songs on the Enjoy! album?
A: "Cheer", "80's Girl", and "Kids" were
written by Bill. "Sour Grapes" and "Green" were written
by Doug and Milo. "Days Are Blood" and "Enjoy" written
by Doug, Milo, and DESCENDENTS. "Get The Time" and "Hürtin
Crüe" written by Milo. "Orgo 51" And "Orgo Fart"
written by DESCENDENTS.
Q: Who's the other singer on the song "Green"?
A: (Bill)- Me.
Q: How did Stephen and Karl end up joining the band?
A: (Stephen)- Karl and I had first met Bill in '84 on the My War
tour. We had been huge DESCENDENTS fans for years before this. I was living
in D.C. in '85 and '86, and Karl was playing in a couple of bands in Salt
Lake. He was doing a show in Boise, Idaho with one of the bands he was
in, and Bill called a guy who Karl's band was staying with, to see if
he was interested in playing bass. This guy was unable to do the bass
thing due to family commitments, and hooked Bill up with Karl. Karl went
to LA and he and Bill played for a while, and Karl joined then. A couple
of weeks later I called Karl to congratulate him on joining, he told me
they needed a guitar player. I went to LA, and we jammed for three days
in late August '86. I joined then, and moved to LA in October '86. We
left on tour six weeks later and did a few shows that were the end of
the Enjoy! tour.
Q: Whatever happened to that one guy who used to be in the band?
A: Frank Navetta burned all of his equipment and went to Oregon. He and
Tony Lombardo played on a couple of songs from Everything Sucks
and at the 'STOCKAGE
festival in 2002. His current whereabouts are unknown, but it's suspected
that he may be on a walk-about. Tony got a "real" job with the
post office and is still there. He's had a few bands over the years including
Nuclear Bob, Boxer Rebellion (with Scott Reynolds), Spiffy, and Launch
Pad. Doug went to Doggy Style and then ended up in Dag Nasty until they
broke up. He's also been in quite a few other bands including Six Degrees
of Right, For Love Not Lisa, Ultrahead, and Kottonmouth Kings. There's
a comprehensive discography for Doug over at the Dag
Nasty website. Ray Cooper headed up north on some sort of hot
romance. He was in Spiffy with Tony Lombardo back in 1996/1997.
Q: Whats with the primer gray equipment?
A: (Bill)- Frank, Pat and I used to do a lot of fishing. Our boat, Orca,
was gray, so it sort of came from that.
Q: What was your first musical instrument?
A: (Stephen)- The first instrument I had I built myself...it was supposed
to be a guitar, but when I put the single string I had on it, the "neck"
bowed from the tension, and the only way to play something on it was to
bend the "neck" back and forth, and make these twangy sounds. My mom finally
said, "Okay, we'll get you a guitar".
Q: Are the DESCENDENTS straight edge?
A: (Karl)- Descendents were around before the song "Straight Edge"
so it's really a moot point. The answer to the question is no, though
Bill's never done any drugs at all.
Q: Why is the guitar so damned loud on Ride The Wild?
A: (Joe Nolte, The Last)- David (Nolte) produced & mixed Ride The
Wild. They recorded at mixed at Media Art, two doors down from the
Church. I was drinking beer & walking by while they were mixing on
a Sunday afternoon and thought the lead guitar on Ride The Wild
should be louder so I reached over & bumped it without asking. They
kept it. It's all my fault. They knew I did it; they watched me do it.
Q: What did David Nolte, from The Last, have to do with the beginnings
of the DESCENDENTS?
A: (Joe Nolte, The Last )- "David Nolte and Frank Navetta were surfin'
buds, hangin' out at the beach and listening to Led Zeppelin, etc. Clearly,
something had to be done. I moved back to Hermosa in September 1976 and
introduced David to the wonderful world of punk rock, which in those pre-"Anarchy"
days meant Ramones, Pere Ubu, Dictators & Modern Lovers. He was instantly
hooked, and turned Frank on to the stuff. In '77 they began playing (2
acoustic guitars) & writing together, calling themselves The Itch
(which I had thought I thought of but I think David may have come up with
that name). Frank subsequently came up with The Descendents, which kinda
stuck. They hadn't gotten any more band members by the end of '77, and
The Last suddenly found themselves with a bass player about to bail, so
brother John gave David a bass for Christmas and David joined The Last,
effectively relegating the Descendents project to the back burner. In
mid '78 a schoolmate of theirs named Bill Stevenson began playing drums
in an attempt to join another local band called Panic (later Black Flag).
That didn't happen, so Bill and Frank joined forces, subsequently hooking
up with Tony. David stayed in the newly revitalized Descendents as vocalist,
and sang with them at a few early gigs, including the famous San Pedro
thing with Black Flag and the Reactionaries (later Minutemen). By spring
'79 The Last were getting pretty busy (recording the first album, etc.),
and David ended up leaving the DESCENDENTS.