Descendents

Milo Aukerman: Vocals, Ph.D.

Stephen Egerton: Guitar

Bill Stevenson: Drum Ogre

Karl Alvarez: Bassmaster General

The DESCENDENTS invented pop punk. Overstatement? Perhaps, but spend ten minutes scanning FM or the idiot box and you're bound to witness a ditty or video that tips its hat to a musical genre that was refined to a high art -- if not created outright -- by the 'Dents. Formed in 1978 against the fertile musical backdrop of Los Angeles' South Bay scene (see: Black Flag, Minutemen, SST Records, etc.), the caffeine-addled crew released their first 7" single "Ride The Wild" as a trio in 1979. Not long after, the boys recruited one Milo Aukerman (microbiology Ph.D. in waiting and poster boy for adolescent ne'er-do-well alienation) for vocal duties.

Milo's fervent mic delivery coupled with his knack for hitting the lyrical nail on its heartrending head plunged him headfirst into the band's fold, and together they released the "FAT" EP in 1981. 1982 saw the release of the stellar "Milo Goes To College," a penultimate fusion of hooks and heartache which inspired the LA Times to write, "perfect for the little guy who was ever called a nerd and never got the girl... (its) earthy humor conveys what is often an inarticulate rage". And Milo really did go to college, leaving the practice room for the hallowed halls of higher education. Drummer Bill Stevenson went on to beat the skins for Black Flag while the guys temporarily hung up the DESCENDENTS moniker, only to reunite with Aukerman for 1985's "I Don't Want To Grow Up" and 1986's "Enjoy!"

The two releases comprise the perfect case study in the dualistic, yin/yang nature of the band's output. While the former is a veritable user's manual for post-pubescent angst, sizing up the themes of life, love, and uncertainty with infectious wit and dizzying energy, the latter is perhaps most notable for its testaments to the, umm... follies of flatulence. Their cover of the Beach Boy's "Wendy" on "Enjoy!" is at once familiar and revelatory, the perfect amalgam of pop sensibilities and punk execution that would earn them fans the world over.

With the introduction of new members Karl Alvarez and Stephen Egerton on bass and guitar respectively, the release of 1987's "ALL" full-length saw a band that had truly come into its own. While the tongue in cheek delivery remained intact, the music had become at once visceral and from the gut, a complex balance of straightforward delivery ("Clean Sheets", "Coolidge") and fringe-y, free jam inflections ("Schizophrenia", "Uranus"). The band toured incessantly throughout the mid and late '80s; all that time on the road paid off in spades in the form of two live albums, "Liveage!" and "Hallraker." And then Milo went back to college. The extant members went on to form the band ALL with ex-Dag Nasty vocalist Dave Smalley, continuing their prodigious musical output while maintaining a hectic tour schedule. It was not until 1996 that we'd see another DESCENDENTS release with "Everything Sucks," a perfect return to the pop punk form that the band had become known for.

Fast forward to 2003, and lo and behold, the DESCENDENTS are back in the saddle with two new efforts slated for the release in 2004: a four song EP entitled "'Merican," and a bona fide full-length LP's worth of new material that goes by the name "Cool To Be You." Seeing as how punk is now a household name, and the ubiquitous "girl song" milieu infests the airwaves, will the DESCENDENTS reclaim their title as Kings of the Lovelorn Anthem? Only time will tell, but this much is certain: If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, the DESCENDENTS must go to sleep with flushed cheeks every night of the week.

A Wilhelm Scream

Melodic hardcore punk band from New Bedford, Massachusetts, USA. Originally formed under the name Koen in 1993 and changed their name to Smackin Isaiah in 1997. The band became known as A Wilhelm Scream in 2002.

The story of PEARS is not exactly an incredibly long one: The hardcore punk band came together just over a year ago, in early 2014, after its members had kicked around the New Orleans punk scene for long enough before finally wising up and realizing they were meant for each other. However, it is a story that is remarkably fast-paced: The band’s first demo, …In Diapers, was released days after their first practice. The band’s 10-song debut album, the absolutely electrifying Go To Prison, was written over the course of 14 hours and recorded a mere five weeks after the band formed. Really, there’s no way PEARS should be as good as they are—something frontman Zach Quinn fully realizes. “The big secret is that me and a couple of the guys were in a band called the Lollies for a few years,” Quinn says. “That band broke up, we took some time away from each other and then just tried to do it right this time. I guess we really kind of lucked out. We didn’t make the same mistakes—the same mistakes being really too fuckin’ drunk to do anything.”
Of course, coming out of the NOLA scene, it’s tough to be anything but debaucherous. “The city is so decadent, it’s a great place to be a piece of shit,” Quinn says. “There’s plenty of punk rock. Not a lot of it is very good, but everybody’s having fun.” It’s that anything-goes attitude that informs Go To Prison, an album that straddles the line between in-your-face hardcore and sugar-sweet traditional pop-punk that’s surprisingly lighthearted. It’s evident in their logo (some might call it an homage to Fear; “I haven’t heard from Lee Ving’s lawyers yet,” chuckles Quinn), all the musical easter eggs scattered throughout the record (including references to Descendents and Suicidal Tendencies), plus an absolutely ripping cover of the Ramones’ “Judy Is A Punk” that is one whole second shorter than the original (a feat we didn’t even think possible). But just because the album comes off as humorous at times doesn’t mean PEARS don’t take themselves seriously. “I definitely take what we do very seriously, but it doesn’t mean it ain’t funny,” Quinn explains. “Humor is an aspect of everything. People without a sense of humor are either dead or lying. There’s humor in everything if you know where to look.” Take, for example, the band name. “The name ‘PEARS’ came from this really terrible mushroom trip I had,” he admits. “I ate way too many mushrooms and things just got really bizarre. Pears and bananas became archetypes for everything that is good and pure and everything that is terrible and shitty—pears are the terrible and shitty things. After that bad trip, pears became slang between me and my friends for bullshit: ‘That shit’s pears.’ I suggested the band name, and everybody thought that was dumb, but I talked ‘em into it.” The band were lucky enough to befriend Off With Their Heads frontman Ryan Young, who loved the band so much he put out Go To Prison on vinyl on his own label, Anxious And Angry, last year. Since then, PEARS have been on the road nonstop, supporting the likes of the Dwarves, the Queers, Teenage Bottlerocket and Strung Out, all leading to the re-release of Go To Prison on Fat Wreck Chords on July 24th. That’s no excuse to stop working, though: While their first album might finally be hitting a record store near you this July, the band will be back in the studio recording its follow-up with none other than Fat Mike in the producer’s chair. (“I never thought anything like that would ever happen,” Quinn says of Mike’s interest in his band. “I remember buying The Decline when I was 12—it’s really weird that I have anydegree of separation from that.”) While 2015 might be the busiest year of PEARS’ short existence thus far, it’s clear 2016 has potential to be even bigger.
“Honestly, what we have done up to now, I hadn’t even dreamed of,” Quinn admits. “I’m not gonna stop climbing. I wanna see how insane this can get. We’ve always said the last thing we’ll do as a band is play North Korea. Then we’ll be done. That’s the ultimate goal—even if we sneak in and play to nobody. I don’t care. I can’t wait to see what I get to do.”

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