Volume 92, Issue 30
Wednesday, October 28, 1998
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Pioneering punk band All that
Photo by Jesse Fischer
By Sara Falconer
Two decades ago, Black Flag drummer Bill Stevenson joined forces with vocalist Milo Aukerman, bassist Karl Alvarez and guitarist Stephen Egerton to form the Descendants. They were pioneers of pop punk long before the term became known, let alone popular.
As it remains, their strongest influences are still their most relevant influences, Stevenson says, mentioning fellow SoCal neighbors the Alley Cats and The Last. After the departure of Aukerman, the band was reborn as All, with new singer Chad Price.
It's all in the name, according to Stevenson. "All is the total extent, or the utmost possible. We are in pursuit of it all."
Their philosophy as a band is not much deeper than that. "We don't get into politics in the traditionally accepted sense. The group puts out lyrics that are written from an extremely personal perspective. They seem to reach a fair number of people and I think they have an effect on the world, but it's not done by overt dogmatic political reference. It's more done from the inside out."
The hit "World on Heroin" is typical of this approach, he explains. "It's just a song about being me. It seemed like everybody was letting me down, everywhere I turned there was a slacker. The song is about my juxtaposition to that attitude."
All has been on tour since June, first on the Vans Warped tour and now with Less than Jake and Snuff. Unlike many other Warped tour features, Stevenson has no problem with the increasingly commercial aspects of the scene.
"I think that punk right now is the rock 'n' roll of popular culture. It equals what the Beatles or the Rolling Stones equaled in their day. A lot of people smelled money when some of the mall punk bands, like Nirvana, started getting radio play in the early '90s. That did change the basic make-up of the punk rock scene, but I don't think that in itself is necessarily an ill-motivated thing."
Stevenson enjoys being on the road for now, but he craves a balance between performance and being in the studio. "It's a real base-level thing you get from playing live shows. They are a lot more of a gratification to the ego, while recording is more of a gratification to the soul."
As for the future, he feels he has "All" he desires. "I think we're pretty much there. We're really happy. We just put out a really great record in our own recording studio [The Blasting Room] and we have a company that prints T-shirts on the side. Anything that I ever wanted in life I have. We can start to enjoy life a little more now that it isn't the terrible uphill battle it was the first 19 years of doing this."
Stevenson looks forward to returning to All's enthusiastic following in London. "The best thing about London is the last time we played, this guy just started screaming, verbally abusing us to come back out, like, 'You're not done yet, I'll tell you when you're done!' It was so killer, the best thing I've ever had happen onstage. We want to see him again maybe he'll show up and do something even better."
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