Interview By Christopher Harris
2010 saw Perth in tears, upset and distressed for three main reasons. Uncontrollable hail stones leaving people in major despair with damaged vehicles, weeping in angst Justin Biebers’ ‘Baby’ for the first time thinking “he’ll never love me”, and The Descendents not visiting Perth as part of the ‘No Sleep Till’ festival. Well lucky for us, the later has been corrected in 2013. We caught up with one fourth of the DESCENDENTS, guitarist Stephen Egerton, whom after a day of “riding kangaroo’s with saddle’s on them” at Whiteman Park, reminded Perth to dry those eyes as the band will be performing in Perth in February this year for the first time – although as we find out, Perth is no foreign place for Egerton.
“I don’t know why we didn’t end up doing Perth, they sort of offered what they offered and we thought, well, we haven’t played in 9 years, why not?” Egerton and fellow band mates Milo Aukerman, Karl Alverez and Bill Stevenson played 3 shows in Australia on their previous 2010 visit, which left Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne in awe. 2013 will see The Descendents playing Perth for the very first time, although unknown to some, this isn’t the first time the punk rock powerhouse have visited this city before under a different name. Egerton, along with other Descendents members’ formed ALL, when lead vocalist Milo Aukerman departed in 1987 (for the second time) to pursue his chosen career in biochemistry. “ALL, our other band, have been over here a bunch of times” former Decendents members, Egerton, Stevenson and Alverez continued on as a band taking on the final Descendents record title “All” as their new name. “ALL actually did come to Perth in 94’, which was a while ago, but we’ve always had great times over here, it’s always been great”. Egerton explains.
No stranger to Perth, on a personal level Egerton has quite a connection to the city. “I’ve been over here a bunch of times, I spent my honeymoon over here in 98’- I think we spent a month here”. Even family are a point of conversation as he takes pride in being an adopted “Perthian”. “We try to get over here every couple of years, my wife is actually from Perth, and all her extended family is here. We have cousins, aunts, uncles and a bunch of good friends over here too.” As well as taking riding local kangaroos and watching koalas go surfing, Egerton has also had some time to take-in a bit of the local Perth music scene “more recently, I saw a band Grim Fandango, they’re a Perth band, I’ve become friends of theirs, we have a pretty strong connection here”. Egerton tells us.
Egerton and his family have been taking time off from his “punk rock dad” lifestyle, visiting more family orientated sites whilst being here, “we hit the beach pretty hard here, this time – North Cottesloe, Sorrento beach, we always take the kids to Whiteman Park, and Perth Zoo, we got to go down south this time too, got to use the boogey boards”. Although apart from tearing up the stage around the globe, having mud thrown at him at Pinkpop festival in 1997, four hiatuses, watching drummer Bill Stevenson recover from a life threatening illness, there is one thing that was on his mind he kept secret from his wife that made him a little nervous, “the day we were in North Cottesloe, someone saw a tiger shark, not too far out and at another beach we had been to that day, there were helicopters and everything that spotted them, I mean that’s pretty far out!”. listening to Egerton describe his fear of sharks over the phone, a faint voice of a distressed female could be heard in the background “sorry honey!, my wife’s having a heart attack cause she hadn’t heard this about the sharks yet” he explains as she sounded horrified.
The Descendents have some strong Australian connections through music, being talked up by the Hard On’s in the 90’s, as well as Egerton and Stevenson mixing Bodyjar’s ‘Jarchives’, and producing Frenzal Rhomb’s latest record, ‘Smoko At The Pet Food Factory’. “We have a close relationship with those guys, and Bodyjar too, we toured in the states with Frenzal Rhomb, and recently, Bill Stevenson, our drummer, produced Frenzal Rhomb’s latest album, but we both have worked with Bodyjar too. I got to see Frenzal Rhomb a bunch of times when they played with us in the states, they were fantastic – we’re all good mates”. Brisbane ‘No Sleep Till’ saw The Descendents with certain members of NOFX, Alkaline Trio, Dropkick Murphys and Frenzal Rhomb perform ‘Everything Sux’, “we had a whole bunch of different people come up, everybody sort of chipping in because Milo, I think after 9 years he had tried to practice a good amount for those shows, and he had practiced a fair bit, but I think when you get on stage, you just can’t prepare yourself for it. He got a little bit hammered there on that third show, so I think we’ll be starting with that song next time”.
Due to the fact Australia will be seeing The Descendents again this could only lead to one final question that fans have been waiting for since 2004’s ‘Cool To Be You’. “We definitely plan on doing another record, but we can’t really commit to a timeline for it either, because we’ve got too many jobs to do and between family, we have to sort of do it as we find time available to us”. Egerton and Co all reside in different parts of America, “everyone’s been writing songs and I think we have enough for a record, Karl and Bill live in Colorado, and I live away from there, and we’re all very spread out from each other” he said. Clearing up any curiosity about how it would all be done, “Bill has a studio, so does Milo, so that’s what we do, send stuff back and forwards to each other, then we can just get together and actually play them, get them the way they should be to record them. I would expect it to be done this year”. Egerton has assured us that we can expect it to be produced from himself and Stevenson, which is in trend with the usual way of Descendents recording, it’s only a matter now of wait and see.
You can catch the Descendents performing all their back catalogue, fighting sharks and riding kangaroos at Metro City on Sunday the 10th of February, bringing Bouncing Souls, Frenzal Rhomb and Bodyjar along for the ride.