Sunday, June 19, 2016
The proud, the few
I interviewed the Descendents this past Monday, the entire band at once, for this Rolling Stone feature (which also includes a premiere of their new video). This was a huge honor and an even bigger pleasure.
In this video, the band's drummer, Bill Stevenson, who produced a portion of Propagandhi's incredible 2009 album, Supporting Caste, calls this venerable Canadian punk group the "best band in the world." I basically agree with him. In terms of fully active touring and recording groups playing any kind of rock music and putting out new material with any regularity, my vote would go to Propagandhi as well. But only because the Descendents and their alter-ego band ALL aren't quite what I'd call "fully active" these days.
If you look at the past three-ish decades, though—a.k.a. my lifetime—I don't think any group aside from maybe Rush (with Ween a close third) has made more music that I value as much as the Descendents/ALL discography. In my relatively short feature, I tried to do justice to the way these twin bands unfussily incorporate the entire emotional spectrum in their work. (Something that Ween, of course, also excel at.) As Descendents age, their sad songs are only getting sadder, their silly ones if not more silly (it's hard to beat something like "I Like Food" in that department), at least more profoundly lighthearted. Joking around, in the Descendents' world, is a serious release.
I think the band's new album, Hypercaffium Spazzinate, is great. Same with the companion EP, Spazz Hazard. They may be part-time these days, but Descendents are still on a mission, their quest for all. A "legendary" band that keeps pushing, keeps creating, keeps redefining the aesthetic that earned them that status in the first place. A truly rare scenario, one to be toasted, celebrated, treasured. Long live 'em.
*2011 interviews with Bill Stevenson about Descendents/ALL and jazz, Black Flag, etc.
*My thoughts on the Descendents/ALL doc Filmage.
*DFSBP thoughts on ALL from nearly 10 years ago.