Brace yourselves punk rock enthusiasts! One of the most irreverent bands ever to come out of the Southern Californian punk scene, Descendents are returning to Australia and New Zealand this October playing six headlining shows plus a highly anticipated performance at Wollongong’s biggest music festival, Yours and Owls.
Descendents have one of the most enduring legacies of any punk rock band in history. Known for their early, defining timeless classic albums such as Milo Goes to College and I Don’t Want to Grow Up as well as spawning hit songs, Hope, Suburban Home and Good Good Things, all of which fans can expect to hear on the band’s upcoming tour. Milo Aukerman talks to Hi Fi Way about the tour and overcoming some recent health concerns.
It is fantastic that The Descendents start their Australia tour this week.
Yeah. I think this might be our third time, maybe fourth. I’m not sure…
More importantly how are you travelling after your recent health concerns? Are you fighting fit again?
I was pretty much okay as soon as they put my stent in. I was in Barcelona and Bill was there with me, and they put the stent in. After a few days of that I checked out of the hospital and just walked down to the beach in Barcelona and went in the ocean. We had a great little Barcelona vacation for about a day and then came home. At that point I was just like, this is great. I feel great. I had this sensation when I got back to the States of being able to sing better. It was like, wow, I can sing better. I can’t really explain if it’s the increased wind than I get or what, but yeah, I’ve been doing great.
Was it a scary moment and a reality check in some ways?
Yeah, my family history’s really bad for this. My father had three open heart surgeries. My grandfather died at age forty five of a heart attack. So,I knew that I needed to keep an eye on it, and I thought I was, but I wasn’t being vigilant enough. I had seen a cardiologist in the past, but it had been a while since I’d gone to the cardiologist. I slipped on my dieting and exercise. I can’t say that I was in terrible shape, but I definitely was not in tiptop form when it happened. It’s one of those things given my family history, I have to be above and beyond healthy, basically at this point.
I saw you on our exercise bike via Facebook, does it feel like you have a new lease on life now?
I think so, the other thing is that the healthcare in this country is such that, the cardiologists weren’t saying, oh, come back in six months. They’d say, hey, come back whenever you want to come back. Once you’ve had a heart attack, it’s like, okay, you better come back in six months. I guess the silver lining in all of it is once you’ve had a scare like that, the healthcare system ratchets into full gear, and they get you in for those appointments and they get you in for all those tests that they wouldn’t have you do otherwise. So now I’m being surveilled at a high level, which is great.
With such a huge back catalogue what is the focus for the Australian tour?
It tends to be the ones that we really enjoy playing. There are some ones that we always play just because, first of all, they’re fun. They’re the fun ones that we never get tired of them. There’s the popular ones that people want to hear and luckily a lot of those we want to hear too. I think it’s a mix of old new. We definitely still play a lot of Milo Goes To College but we’re also going to play stuff off of Hypercaffium Spazzinate and we’re going to play stuff off 9th & Walnut as well. It tends to be a mix and it makes for a good show in terms of like, oh yeah, I remember that song from way back when and then some people want to hear the new stuff and we can play them some newer stuff, and that’s cool. I’m thinking it’s about fifty five minutes of fun.
Do you have an Australian tour story that always stands out for you
I do have a story that stands out, but not necessarily for a good reason, because it’s where I lost my voice in a really public way, just kinda lost my voice. I think we played Melbourne then Sydney, then Brisbane and I overindulged in coffee in Sydney and then I couldn’t sleep afterwards. Then we flew to Brisbane and because I couldn’t sleep, my voice was just flashed. In Brisbane, I went out on stage and nothing came out basically, it’s like a foghorn voice. I think some of the other bands on the bill were helping sing the songs and stuff. It’s a moment of infamy for me to think back on that. Thus far, I haven’t repeated that in Australia. I’ve always tried to come to Australia being very prepared for these kind of things. I guess it was my first time in Australia too, but it was lvery embarrassing. So, that’s a tour story, an embarrassing tour story, but a tour story nonetheless.
Where to next for The Descendents? Do you feel pressure to have to do new material?
We never really feel pressure to do it. I do feel the band is an outlet for getting out new thoughts, new emotions and new expressions. In terms of there being any pressure, it’s more like creative pressure to continue to create. If anyone in the band wants to create, it’s obviously a great avenue to do that. We’ve written a bunch of new songs, between Stephen and I, we’ve probably written and actually recorded about twenty plus new songs. There is no actual external pressure to create, they’re just there and they’re there for the release at any point, but we just haven’t pulled it together as a unit, as a band to release anything new. I think it’s time. For us it takes us so many years from record to record. I think it’s time and we’re waiting for the other two members to contribute their stuff because we don’t ever put a record until all four members have contributed. Bill’s songs are usually the best songs in the record. So, we’re not going to put a record out without any of Bill’s songs on it.
Interview By Rob Lyon
Catch The Descendants on the following dates, tickets from SBM Presents…