The Descendents are an American punk-rock band from Hermosa Beach, California. They started in 1977, released their first EP Fat in 1981, and their first album Milo Goes to College, in 1982. They went through many lineup changes and there's even an entire separate band that has three of their members. They continue to tour today.
Their sound was more melodic than most punk bands of their generation (especially in the hardcore scene), and they sang about being losers, problems with girls, and other sensitive subjects, with a lot of nonsense and humor included. While nobody would mistake them for an emo band, they could be seen as a precursor for the genre, particularly its fusion with Pop Punk during the 1990s and 2000s – sensitive and melodic, but with edgier music. They're not as wangsty though, and a lot more fun. In addition to girls and other problems, the band sang occasionally about food and coffee, and in particular, not doing drugs (except for caffeine, of which they were fond). They even had at least one entire song about farting ("Enjoy").
The Descendents' original lineup was Frank Navetta on guitar, Tony Lombardo on bass, Bill Stevenson (presumably the Bill whose sperm is offered in "Der Wienerschnitzel", quoted at the top of the page) on drums, and Milo Aukerman on vocals (actually, Milo was not in the very first lineup, but he was added before the first album (which, to continue the digression, was actually an EP), and most fans would consider him one of the originals; some fans would even consider him the heart of the band).
Descendents have had many lineup changes over the years, with Stevenson always on the drums. An unnecessarily detailed list of their lineups is below.
Three of the Descendents' members formed the band ALL in 1987. Currently, both bands exist as separate bands; however, they share three members and play each others' songs at concerts, so the distinction is less than complete.
- Bill Stevenson (drums, 1977–present)
- Milo Aukerman (vocals, 1980–present)
- Karl Alvarez (bass, 1986–present)
- Stephen Egerton (guitar, 1986–present)
- Tony Lombardo (bass, 1979–85)
- Frank Navetta (guitar, 1977–83)
- Ray Cooper (vocals/guitar, 1982–86)
- Doug Carrion (bass, 1985-86)
- "Ride the Wild"/"It’s A Hectic World" (1980, single)
- Fat EP (1981, EP)
- Milo Goes to College (1982)
- I Don't Want to Grow Up (1985)
- Enjoy! (1986)
- Liveage! (1987, live album)
- All (1987; became the launchpad for the band of the same name after Milo Aukerman left)
- Hallraker: Live! (1989, live album)
- Everything Sucks (1996; first album since the band reformed following the hiatus)
- Live Plus One (2001, live album; also includes songs from All)
- Cool to Be You (2004)
- Hypercaffium Spazzinate (2016)
- Who We Are (2018, EP)
- "Suffrage" (2021, single)
- "That's the Breaks" (2021, single)
- 9th & Walnut (2021)
That's right! I'm not a Troper:
- Author Appeal: Food, coffee, and the band being losers.
- While he only wrote a handful of songs since he was only there for their earlier years, one can't help but notice a bit of a theme with Frank Navetta's "Parents" and "My Dad Sucks".
- Anti-Love Song: "Hope," which deals with some of the negative feelings of unrequited love as someone seems to descend into an abusive relationship.
- Book Ends: Their compilation album Somery begins with "All" and ends with "No All," though for all intents and purposes "My Dad Sucks" opens the compilation and "Descendents" closes it.
- Break-Up Song: "Pep Talk" and "Clean Sheets" both off of All.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Happens in a number of their songs on occasion.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: Their debut single, "Ride the Wild" / "It's a Hectic World", had more in common with Surf Rock and New Wave Music than Hardcore Punk. Also, as already mentioned, Milo wasn't in the band yet - Frank Navetta sang the A-side and Tony Lombardo sang the B-side, these being the only times either would ever sing lead on a Descendents recording. Neither Frank nor Tony considered themselves singers in the first place, and a key reason the single was made was to serve as a calling card to give out to potential vocalists. 9th & Walnut, being mainly recordings of early songs that never made their albums, features re-recordings of "Ride the Wild" and "It's A Hectic World" with Milo's vocals.
- Grief Song: "One More Day" dealing with the then-recent death of Bill's father. Despite the two's poor relationship, Stevenson had a lot of pent up emotion he released in the song.
- "Feel This" deals with Karl’s mother's death.
- Groin Attack: "Eunuch Boy"'s mention of a lawnmower is all you need to know. Possibly even more than you wanted to know.
- Holier Than Thou: "Shameless Halo" makes fun of a peer of the band with sanctimonious beliefs.
- Hidden Depths: Think the title Milo Goes to College was chosen because it was catchy? Well, it turns out that Milo actually was going to college in order to be a biochemist. The band now tours and records around his work schedule.
- 14-15 year old Stevenson worked as a fisherman for Keith Morris’s dad.
- Hollywood Tone-Deaf: When playing the song "Descendents" live, Milo often deliberately sings the line "Don't even know how to sing" way off-key.
- Intergenerational Friendship: Original bassist Tony Lombardo was 34 when he joined, twice as old as his teenage bandmates.
- Irony: Despite playing in a very well-known punk band, Tony Lombardo not only didn't like the punk scene, (he even wrote "I'm Not A Punk" about it) but as mentioned below, "Suburban Home" was a genuine plea for stability."I definitely wanted a home. I couldn't live in a place where all the people are cool. I don't like dysfunctionality. I have an abhorrence of dysfunctionality because my mother was an alcoholic, my parents are divorced, I just don't need that assault on my emotions and psyche."
- "I Want" Song: "Suburban Home" is, strangely for a punk band, a straight-faced one of these, opening with "I want to be stereotyped. I want to be classified."
- Lead Drummer: As stated above on the members' list, Bill Stevenson has been the only consistent member in the band's history.
- Long Runner Lineup: While they were a bit of a Revolving Door Band early on, since 1986 they've kept the lineup of Milo, Bill, Stephen, and Karl.
- Minuscule Rocking: Perhaps their trademark. Songs like "I Like Food" and "Wienerschnitzel" are barely above 10 seconds, while the "All"/"No All" pair takes up only four seconds. Across two songs.
- Nerd Glasses: Milo wears a pair.
- New Sound Album: Part of the mixed reception to Enjoy! and All is that both albums feature a lot more slower, heavier, more experimental songs that border metal, no doubt a result of Bill Stevenson's then-recent work with Black Flag, a band that went through a similar change in style. Everything Sucks and Cool to Be You, however, return to the more straightforward punk sound.
- No Medication for Me: "Limiter" is based off an argument between Milo and his son after the latter tried to not take his anti-hyperactivity meds.
- Pep-Talk Song: "Pep Talk", naturally.
- Pop Punk: Pretty much the Trope Makers for the genre as we know it today.
- Pun-Based Title: "Mass Nerder".
- "Marriage" arguably counts. A lot of their songs (especially on Milo Goes to College) add the suffix "-age" to a word, such as "Bikeage" or "Tonyage", with "Marriage" being the only real word that ends in "-age" on the album. On a similar note, there's "Coolidge" from All.
- Rockumentary: Filmage: The Story of The Descendents/ALL.
- Shout-Out: The outro to "Mass Nerder" is a reference to The Germs. The "We must read" bit is sung to the tune of their song "We Must Bleed", and "Somebody get me a book!" is a variation on Darby Crash's famous "Somebody get me a beer!". The song title is somewhere between a Shout-Out and a Call-Back - All had an otherwise unrelated album called Mass Nerder.
- "Tonyage" name-drops LA punk bands Fear and the Urinals. It also mentions Germs singer Darby Crash, alongside Crash's previous Stage Name, Bobby Pyn.
- Three Chords and the Truth
- Vulgar Humor: Overuse of this got a rather icy reception for "Enjoy!", with the opening track and "Orgofart" both being particularly fart-obsessed tracks. The toilet humor theme continued onto the artwork, with the front cover depicting a roll of toilet paper and the back cover having a list of slang terms for feces where you would expect a list of songs. The album still has its fans regardless.
- You want whale sperm with that?