Filmage: The Story of Descendents/All (2013) Movie Script

Descendents are the
best story ever.
They come from a different time in punk.
They come from a different world.
You have this idea that started in
seventy-something, and to see it still going?
That's totally cool!
A lot of what people listen to
obviously owes itself to the
fact that those guys made
records all those years ago.
I remember hearing the Descendents
for the first time and thinking,
Whoa, these guys
listen to the Beatles.
There was a sense of
melody and songwriting.
What instantly drew me into
the Descendents was how
much melody they had. How
catchy their songs were.
They were like the punk rock Beach
Boys. Their harmonies were great.
And this, like, shameless love
song aesthetic, you know?
None of the other bands
had the balls to do that.
Everyone was screaming
about Reagan or whatever.
I think the Descendents are possibly
one of the most underrated bands
that too often don't get the credit
for essentially creating pop punk.
They're a part of the
foundation, the fabric.
This sincere connection of pop
and angst at the same time
without it ever being this
thuggish tough-guy thing.
You have this singer who looks
like a fucking geek singing about
getting screwed over by a chick
with the gnarliest band behind him.
It was great.
And they worked
very few days off.
They're always, always
pushing themselves.
Almost militant work ethic.
It would be insanely sweaty
in the room. It was gross.
They're the most
precise band I think.
They were real players,
and prided themselves
on playing their instruments
very, very well.
With a fury, man. It's right
here in my heart to see these
guys again. This is Milo of the
Descendents and, I'm sorry
I'm Bill.
Bill is the brainchild
behind the Descendents.
It is trippy that they
were a drummer-run band.
Our whole goal was like,
"Yeah, it's cool, there's this
thing called 'punk rock.' Now
let's take it somewhere."
When I said, "I wanna go be a
nerd scientist geek," then they
said, "Hey, see you later." And
all of a sudden they formed ALL.
Since this band's
inception in 1978...
You're not gonna get one person...
You've probably never
heard of them...
...on this planet...
"They're formerly called the Descendents.
They're now simply called ALL." say they like ALL
better than the Descendents...
"Folks, give a nice
warm welcome to ALL!" fucking way.
People literally didn't know who they
were. They're like, "Who's ALL?"
And I was like, "Well, it's Descendents.
Same band, different singer."
So there's a different
singer, big deal, whatever.
There's no other band like them.
Doesn't matter which one they are.
The caliber of songwriting
and subject matter that is
so close and relatable to has
not wavered for 30 years.
I don't think there were any other
bands that could do what they did.
It's good to see that
those guys are getting
credit for what they, in
a lot of ways, created.
"But the show is far
from being over..."
It's just their time for
people to understand
that the Descendents
had a big place.
MALE VO: "Welcome the
Decendents!" [CROWD CHEERS]
MILO: "It's been a long
time for us, so... wow."
BILL STEVENSON: So going back
to before we had the bands.
Before Descendents, before
ALL, before Black Flag.
So, there was fishing.
Of all things to have brought
would-be future punkers together.
history with Bill goes
all the way back to the Hermosa
Tackle Box, which was a business
that my father owned on Pier
Avenue down in Hermosa Beach.
My recollection is him working for
my dad when he was about 14 or 15
and asking me,
"Keith, what music should
I be listening to?"
Billy just struck me as that goofy
kid that maybe needed some guidance,
maybe he needed somebody to point
him in the right direction.
I guess I was giving
him a list of things
to do to lead to
freakdom or whatever.
Little did we know that Billy was going to grow
up to be the drummer of not only the Descendents
and ALL,
but Black Flag in between.
See, we grew up where all of the
music around us was Top 40.
The Dooby Brothers
or the worst of Fleetwood Mac.
Most of it was pretty
bland, pretty boring,
and there was no bright spot.
With the exception of The Last.
JOE NOLTE: Basically,
I, like a lot
of others, was
really dissatisfied
by the state of rock music.
I was like 20,
had been brought up on
the Woodstock myth,
and I couldn't wait to
get out there and
start going to all
the great shows
only to find that,
as the early '70s
developed, all the
really good people died.
So I discovered there were these
bands with silly names
like the Ramones.
That was my big cue.
I threw a bunch of soundproofing
in the garage, and
at that time we came up with
the band name The Last.
KEITH: Through the Nolte
brothers, we happened to
meet characters
like Frank Navetta.
Total kook, total freak.
DAVE NOLTE: Frank came to
my school, America Martyrs, in sixth grade,
and I was friends with
him straight away.
We both had interest in music. We both
started playing guitar at the same time.
JOE: They were
just typical kids.
The next thing I know they're
deciding to start a band.
"Yeah, we're gonna call
ourselves the Descendents."
DAVE: Frank came up with the
Descendents. He had the funny spelling.
Thought he was clever.
JOE: Mid '77, we're hanging
out and this big kid
on this bicycle that's three
or four sizes too small...
My brother David goes, "Oh my god.
I know that guy."
DAVE: I had met Bill before.
He was in my Spanish class,
so I already kinda
knew what he was like.
And I thought if he could
play any instrument
he'd be great to be in a band with,
because he had just the right attitude.
BILL: Really I think I was a
bother to Dave. I would come
over every day and be like,
"Hey, you wanna hang out?"
You know, the friend that
just keeps coming over?
And you're like, "Oh it's cool."
And then Joe really, I think,
thought I was bother.
DAVE: At that time, The Last
was making their first album,
and I gave him tapes like rough
And that, he really
got into that.
He was really influenced
by our drummer, Jack.
BILL: Once I heard The Last
"She Don't Know Why I'm Here"
I was a totally
groupie of The Last.
I thought they were the greatest
band in the whole world.
JOE: What happened was
Bill was intrigued
by what David and
Frank were doing.
DAVE: Frank made a demo
of his songs, and Bill
took a tape and overdubbed
backing vocals on it.
JOE: David and Frank got the
tape back and said, "Oh my god."
"He may smell of fish,"
"and he may seem kinda weird,"
"but this is the guy.
He's better than we are."
DAVE: That was truly the beginning
of the band right there.
BILL: Frank got me
into punk rock proper:
Ramones, Dickies, Sex Pistols.
KEITH: Those guys
were like twins.
The double-whammy-ultra-mega
duo, Navetta/Stevenson.
BILL: Yeah, we really hit it off
and we would go fishing every day.
I was in awe of all these
great songs he'd written, and
he would play them on the
acoustic guitar really hard,
Johnny Ramone style,
all six strings.
He had this bitter resentment
that just drenched
every step he took and
every word that he spoke.
His songs were just filled
with that envy of people
that are better looking
and more successful.
It was just really inspiring
to just be around someone
that just hated everything
that much. It was just great.
BILL: It was not that long
afterward where it was trash
day and I was bringing my
trash out to the curb.
And one or two houses down,
somebody had stuffed this
bass guitar, it was sticking
up out of their trash can.
And at that point I had
only played drums, and I
was like, "Whoa!" And I
went and I got that bass.
And I wrote "Myage" on that.
I thought, "Well, Frank can write
songs, so fuck it, I can write songs."
DAVE: Soon after that,
we were rehearsing
in Frank's brother's
garage in Long Beach.
Walnut Street in Long Beach.
Frank's brother lived on
Walnut Street in Long Beach.
I played in my garage. I
played the bass by myself.
BILL: I guess Frank had heard
somebody playing bass down the alley,
and he's like, "Dude, I think..."
... Frank has a really high
voice, so when I do Frank I
gotta go into the Frank voice:
"Dude, I think there's some dude
down there that plays bass.
Let's walk down there and see."
Sure enough, Tony...
TONY: They came over when
they heard me, and they were
standing there and asked if
I wanted to jam with them.
BILL: He appeared to be
somewhat older than us, but I
have to say he looked and
acted very young for his age.
TONY: I was in the band
when it was '79. I was
34 years old when I
started the Descendents.
And they were 15.
Now he looks at me
like, "Oh my god,
this guy's a fucking freak.
BILL: It all worked out.
There's me and Frank
being completely
ridiculous and asinine,
and Tony was in some ways the voice
of reason or the elder ambassador
that would yield a
modicum of propriety or
reasonableness to our
stupid arguments.
JOE: What happened with Dave and
Descendents, he was
playing in two bands.
So he couldn't commit
to practicing with
the Descendents, so
they kicked him out.
DAVE: It's not really the
Descendents as you know it today.
But I was there just
before it happened.
JOE: The birth of the
Descendents as a live entity
corresponds with the epiphanal
birth of the Minutemen.
MIKE WATT: We were called Reactionaries
then, we weren't Minutemen yet.
And the opening band was
somebody from Hermosa Beach.
One guy was kinda our age or even older,
but the other two were really young.
Their guitar man had fishing
boots, rubber fucking...
I hadn't seen cats like
that in other bands.
BILL: Milo was the
biggest Descendents fan.
At a certain point he would make me
pick him up and drive him to practice,
and he would just sit and watch us practice.
I mean I would pick him up every day.
MILO AUKERMAN: I think one day I was
watching them practice and I said,
"I think I could probably sing
'It's a Hectic World.'" And
they said, "Okay. Just go and
do it. The mic's all set up."
BILL: We were just in there, and
in between two songs Frank just
goes, "Fuck it! Let's just get Milo
to sing these fuckin' things!"
And we were like, "yeah!"
So Milo just got out of
his chair and started
singing and that was it.
It was like Frank saw the obvious
that none of us could see.
MIKE: One thing about
the old days was that
the people involved
were very individual.
They were all characters.
Frank's image was kinda neat.
It was kinda
A-frame, with his legs
and his guitar up high.
And he was kind of a shorter
man, but he was a hard-charger.
GREG CAMERON: The second
show I ever saw of the
Descendents was at the
Dancing Waters in San Pedro.
They broke into the set
and he was playing guitar
so hard and so angry that
his pants fell down.
He was an odd
character, for sure.
I can remember standing in
line at a Misfits show,
and all of a sudden he just
sat down on the ground
and started holding his head like
his ears were ringing or something.
And said something to the effect like,
"What am I doing here? Where am I?"
So that was Frank.
BILL: Oh, to understand Frank.
I don't know. I know he had a
rough familial thing growing up.
Just a lot of familial discord.
And I think that can
fuel a fire pretty well.
I never sat and went, "Wow,
what made this guys so weird?"
I mean, I didn't really
have any familial discord,
I just didn't have
any familial at all.
MIKE: Tony was a really good bass
player. Intense about opinion.
CHUCK DUKOWSKI: Tony brings a
unique style of bass playing.
Every time their on a
chord, it's a run.
ROBERT HECKER: He was such
a solid monster, you know?
He had that kill bass tone.
That growling bass sound.
It was just kill.
MARK HOPPUS: Tony Lombardo, his
bass playing on those albums of
the Descendents is only entirely
influential on my playing.
Just that eighth-note downstroke
powerful foundation of the melody.
His playing is phenomenal.
TONY: This is duct tape
with fishing weights.
I used to wrap this
around my wrist,
and I would play... all
downstrokes, mind you.
After you took those weights off,
you felt lighter, you felt faster.
Might've been psychological,
might've been a little bit to it.
Oh, cool. Headband.
MIKE: They all had an image,
but Milo, his image especially
I guess people didn't
expect of a dude in a band.
MILO: "While I'm writing
songs about girls, I'm also
having these things where I
need to rip things apart."
"So I have to write these songs about girls,
but I also have to, like, rip it up."
MIKE: He just became this
thing that was powerful.
The hand in the back pocket and
sing. This intense projection.
I don't think he thought about it.
He just was what he was,
but it came of being kind
of a "thing" that I loved.
DAVE: Most other singers
were macho or whatever,
or put on some vibe like,
"I'm a fucking weirdo."
But it wasn't that way. So kids
could relate to it. I did.
None of us were fucking getting laid... we
were listening to hardcore, you know?
Milo was like our spokesperson.
MILO: We were starting
to get into faster
paced music and drinking
a lot of coffee.
BILL: Give me my coffee.
TONY: Caffeine. It
makes you hyper.
BILL: Come to Stevenson.
TONY: In general, it makes
you want to play faster.
BILL: My glasses are fogging
up just thinking about it.
People have it easy
now, because you can
get killer espresso
on every corner.
They don't realize what it was
like back in the day to try to be
overly caffeinated. You had to
want it. You had to work for it.
Ten spoons of instant coffee
into water, so it was like mud.
And then put a bunch of sugar
in there. It would give
you the most hellacious
farts known to humanity.
MIKE: The scene was so
small in those days, stuff
just didn't come to you.
You had to make it happen.
BILL: Bands would get
together and rent VFW halls,
or rent Eagle's Clubs,
or Knights of Whatever.
The clubs that were
doing punk rock
at the time, the
ones in Hollywood,
they weren't down with us guys
with no punk rock appearance.
KEVIN LYMAN: Looks? There was
no image or looks for that band.
Back then it would, like, The Addicts
had a look, the Buzzcocks had a look.
But the Descendents? They
just looked like whatever
they slept in the van they
would come out and play in.
were these nerdy guys
that didn't give a
shit about an image
or trying to fit in with
somebody's click, and
not even trying to fit
in with their own click.
CHRIS DEMAKES: Working man's band.
Jeans, T-shirt, BOOM.
Steamrolled you from the
time they hit the stage.
TONY: We were just about the
music. And kicking ass.
Kicking ass musicially!
Then you can walk
out feeling proud.
BILL: "We were real fat people.
I weighed about 240 pounds, and
Frank weighed about 190 pounds."
BILL: "Yeah. We eat
hamburgers and stuff.
People thought, "Oh, they do
this funny thing."
"But we really into that.
We were into that."
"I wrote that song about going
to Der Wienerschnitzel,
because we were all into it.
We were like "YEAH!"
BILL: I just decided to
not write normal songs.
"I Like Food" and
I thought that was the
way of the future.
Like, "Yeah, these songs are
more cool than normal songs."
MIKE: Then they made an album
called Milo Goes To College.
And we were blown away by it.
BILL: By the time we recording
"Milo Goes To College",
the pendulum had swung
somewhere in the middle.
There's a lot of melodic
and pop elements to it,
but it also has that bitter resentment
I was talking about with Frank.
MIKE: The songs are like these little
films, the movies, these little adventures.
They're intense. "Catalina",
that's the big swan song on there,
and it's the epic voyage. We're
gonna go out fishing and shit.
BILL: You didn't get bored because
Tony's coming from way over their,
and I'm coming from way over there,
and Frank's over there, and Milo...
DAVE: Yeah, I think the Milo
record is their "Sergeant Pepper".
CHRIS SHARY: From the moment that I
heard the beginning it was like,
This is the music that I
have been waiting for.
TREVER KEITH: We made no
secret that Descendents
were an influential
band for Face To Face.
FAT MIKE: I heard "Kabuki Girl"
on Rodney on the Roq and,
kabam! There it is!
Descendents were definitely
one of my gateway
drugs to punk rock.
MIKE HERRERA: I wanted to
do what they were doing.
I wanted to sound like
they were sounding.
DONI/ZACH: It resonated with
both of us so much, and spoke
to us so much that it was
almost like this revelatory...
Holy shit!
JOEY CAPE: Yeah, it was just an instant
love affair. It just changed my life.
I realized that you could
make a punk record and have
that kind of pop sensibility
but also be intricate.
DAVE GROHL: If the Descendents
had made "Milo Goes To College"
in 1999, they'd be
living in fucking mansions.
That's a fucking amazing record.
JOEY: And don't even get
me started on the artwork.
CHRIS: It just started off to taunt
Milo. I mean it was just to taunt him.
Roger just did these
drawings on pieces of paper
and would pass notes to
Milo just to piss him off.
JEFF ATKINS: Bill shows up at my
house and says, "Dude, I need Milo!"
I go, "What do you mean?
He's with you." He goes,
"No I need the cover for the album.
You gotta do it."
I go, "Roger does the drawing."
He goes, "No, you gotta do it."
I said, "Okay, what
kind of Milo do you want?"
So I draw him a Milo. First,
it was the crew neck T-shirt.
Then I drew the polo shirt Milo.
Then I drew the Milo with a tie,
because he goes to college.
And he goes, "Oh, that's it." And it
becomes the cover of the first record.
MILO: Bill's known me since
high school, and he knows
that I've got this whole
dichotomy of desires.
I want to rock out and
be a punk rock guy,
but I also have this really strong
ambition to be a scientist.
INTERVIEW: "So what do you wanna
be when you grow up? A biochemist?"
MILO: "Yeah, I'd like to cure
the world of all known diseases
and solve the world's hunger
problem and solve war."
"I figure I should be able to
do that in 20 years or so."
BILL: There was never
the idea of Milo not
being a scientist and
staying in the band.
He was always real clear about being
into his science first and foremost.
MIKE: After that, Billy
becomes part of Black Flag,
and Descendents
kind of went on hold.
has the little boy.
He's this very high energy guy.
Childlike in all the
best sense of the word.
But who else he was was
this incredible work ethic,
just "I will lay down my
life to make this great."
Playing in a band when
you are not the leader
is a huge challenge, and it's a wonderful
exercise in how to be a better player.
MILO: Bill was recording
with Black Flag and he
invited me up to do backing
vocals for "Loose Nut."
And he pulled me aside and
said, "Hey, I got these songs,
but they're
not Black Flag songs."
"They're really more Descendents songs."
And I said, "Let me hear them."
So, it was just an instrumental
track and he sang over
it and sang "Silly Girl" to
me, and I was like, "Wow!"
MILO: He said, "I can't
do these in Black Flag,"
and I said, "Well maybe
we should do them!"
He and I and Tony. Frank had
already took off, so it was Ray.
BILL: At some point, Frank just
took off.
He put all of his
equipment in a pile,
and lit it on fire. And
then moved to Oregon.
Genius, right? Frank's a genius.
But he and I had a
very deep friendship
in the end and that says it all.
TONY: We recorded "I Don't
Want To Grow Up" in two weeks.
We learned the songs and
recorded it in two weeks.
MILO: We could've put a lot
more practice time into it,
but I think that the songs
themselves are really good songs.
We play them all better now.
BILL: I got a taste of touring in
Black Flag, and I wanted to take that
and spread that laterally to what the
Descendents would or could do.
TONY: Bill came. He had
just left Black Flag.
And he had a road
trip all lined up.
I had just bought this house
and the job and the girl...
It was a mistake. I did it.
It's my fault.
Bill always says,
"Well, you quit."
And it's true, but how long has
it been? Twenty-six years?
I've seen murderers get
off sooner than that
for punishment. Is
my attitude showing?
TONY: I feel like I was almost
born a Descendent.
It was the perfect
vehicle for me to
express my inner
emotions and attitudes.
It was the best time of my life, and
I'd still be doing it if I could
DOUG CARRION: Billy, I, and Milo
all went to the same high school.
That was Mira Coasta
High School."
Some time goes on, and I get
this weird note on my door.
And it says, "Hey, this Bill.
I'm thinking
about doing the
Descendents again."
"Tony can't do it, so I wanted to know
if you wanted to give it a swing."
So we practiced getting
me brought up to speed.
As soon as school
was ready to stop,
Milo jumped in the van, and
we started doing shows.
DAVE NAZ: "Milo Goes To
College" is the record that
you identify the band
with the most, maybe,
but with "Enjoy", wow. I don't
want to say they polished
their sound, but they
took it to another level.
a jazz musician, and
I was at Radio Tokyo
cutting my own demos.
And the owner of the studio said if you
want to learn how to engineer, I need help.
And finally I'm good enough and
he's ready to give me some clients,
and he says, "There's this
record that I want you to do."
And I'm like "Alright, a record!
I got a fucking record!"
And I go in to do it and it's the
Descendents and they're farting.
RICHARD: I'm a classically trained
musician. I learned to play piano at four,
and I went to a
conservatory for two years,
and I went to Berklee College of Music and
know all this stuff, and Bill's like,
Stick the microphone closer to my
ass so you can hear this fart."
It was terrible.
DAVE: I think that album
best represents them.
There's a lot of farting, and that goes on
when you're hanging out with those guys.
RICHARD: But as time went on, I discovered
that it's not about what you know,
it's about are you expressing yourself
authentically through the music.
And these guys totally brought
the idea of authenticity
to my fore and it changed
my perception of all music.
And to have that bing moment from
punk rockers was a real mind trip.
"Enjoy" line up so much.
I think "When I Get The
Time" is so amazing.
I regularly lump it in
my top greatest pop songs
of all time with "Hey Jude"
and "Under Pressure."
It is perfect. It
is a perfect song!
And maybe if it didn't
have a toilet paper roll on the cover,
it could've
sold 20 million copies.
DOUG: We left at the same time, but
we left for different reasons.
I wanted to keep experimenting and
that's it.
It was like, "Okay cool, you're taking
the ship north, I'm going south! Roger!"
And for Ray, I don't know.
He's not really the kind of guy who would
have that heart-to-heart with you.
A man of few words.
INTERVIEW: "Ray's bummed. He
has good reason to be, too."
RAY: "I'm not bummed."
not bummed anymore?"
RAY: "I've never been bummed."
just irritated?"
RAY: "No. You kidding? No."
DOUG: I don't think he wanted to be in the
center of the tornado of the Descendents.
MILO: So Bill and I are sitting
there wondering what to do now.
We don't have a band anymore.
And he must've had a
friend up in Utah, and he called him up:
"You wanna
do this bass gig with us?"
And said, "I can't do it." But Karl was
listening in and said, "Give me phone!"
"I'll do it!"
Which was great because he came
down and they locked in completely.
KARL ALVAREZ: Well, musicians
are a lot like people
in that sometimes they have
a chemistry thing going on.
And I think Billy and I
had a certain connection.
But I can't help but
think, "Well, yeah."
"Because I practiced
bass to his records."
MILO: So Karl says, "Hey, I think I
know where we can get a guitar player."
KARL: I met Stephen when we were
twelve years old in 1976
in Bryant Junior High School in Salt Lake.
I literally learned to play with him.
STEPHEN EGERTON: Karl joined the
band, and I called to congratulate him,
and that's when I found out
they needed a guitar player, too.
KARL: When I met Stephen, he lived in
the closet of a one-bedroom apartment,
and he owned a bicycle, his skateboard,
a guitar, and not much else.
He didn't have much money. And
the punk rock thing was tailor
made for guys like us, because
it's like, "Oh, all right."
We're not gonna get
anywhere in society anyway
because we're bottom of the pile.
All right!
Very easy to embrace
the idea, right?
STEPHEN: For me, meeting Bill, beyond
my massive love for Descendents' music
was my massive love for Black
Flag's music, and he had been in both.
So, the idea that it was Karl,
my oldest friend and I joining
this band that was so huge to us,
it was like living on a cloud.
We were like, "Uh,
just what happened?"
"Uh, we just joined the
Descendents. This is gnarly."
BILL: Stephen harnessed the job of trying
to expand some of the melodic boundaries.
And Karl is a creative dynamo.
So it was like, "Oh man, we're
gonna get some music done now!"
KARL: We moved into Descendents
Central Headquarters,
which was a storefront on the
PCH in Lomita, California.
We lived in a little room
with three bunk beds
that Doug, Ray, Milo,
and Billy had built.
We had practice space in
between the back room
and where the office was
and that was our life.
Those first tours were
very grueling in the
way that it is when
you're not used to it.
STEPHEN: There's no money. We're
playing these little, tiny shows.
KARL: And staying on the floor of whoever.
It's the typical punk rock house where
it's 3 in the morning, the
music is up on eleven,
and people are drinking
and shouting,
and you're trying to find
a place to sleep,
and this girl has this
brain-damaged mouse that can
only run in a circle in
the middle of the room.
This is the kind of
madness that was normal.
So sleeping in the van
was real popular.
BILL: Karl, I'm not sure if the
word 'savant' might apply,
but he is highly skilled
in very specialized areas.
And then normal people shit, he's
not as much into that stuff.
MILO: In late '86, we started working
up songs for the "ALL" record.
BILL: Well, the idea of ALL...
My friend, Pat McQuistion, put it into
motion when we would be fishing at night.
Orca was a 16-foot boat, and we
would fill it up until there
was this much room on each side
before it was going to sink.
And I'm like, "Pat, we gotta go
in." And he's like, "No. ALL!"
Seriously, I would have to force him
to not sink the boat with fish.
MILO: And Bill thought, "Yeah, ALL!
That's cool!" And so he started
bringing in this concept of ALL
and were like, "Yeah, ALL!"
BILL: The preposterousness
of it
might eclipse the realism of it which
is going for greatness.
Going for the utmost possible, the total
extent, where nothing is left undealt-with.
BILL: Descendents doctrine
predicates Milo has to quit the
band every couple years.
It's just part of the story.
MILO: The band was fun
I hadn't achieved ALL,
basically, in
music or in science.
And I got the opportunity to
go try to achieve ALL more
in science, and I decided
to take that opportunity.
BILL: I toured him to death. We
did all those tours in a row, and
he said, "I got to focus on my
studies and do something real."
I mean, we were making five or 10
dollars per day and that's it.
We had nowhere to live,
so you can see how a guy with that kind
of brainpower would say, "You know what?"
"I don't have to sleep next to Bill's
drum set in the practice room."
MILO: Part of it is that I never
really considered music a career,
and so whenever I would
leave the band it was like,
"I'm doing this for fun, and my
real career in this other thing."
And actually, the more
that the music started to
seem like a career, the
less I seemed to like it.
In '87 I left the band, and
we did the final tour.
There wasn't like, "Well, I'm gonna go do
this for a while and come back to the band."
It was like, "I'm embarking on
my life's career to do this."
KARL: At the end of the
day, his gift is science
and he chose that road,
and I think that's great.
But from the standpoint of the guy in the
band with him, there's that moment of,
"Oh fuck. What do we do now?"
JOEY: Somewhere in the late
'80s, things got really lame.
Their answer was to form ALL.
MIKE: I think Billy didn't push so
hard to become "new Descendents."
I think he wanted ALL
to be a new band.
DAVE SMALEY: I get off the plane,
and they're all in the van.
They drove me to Alfredo's, we ate at
Alfredo's, and we fucking practiced.
I'd been in a plane
for 30-million hours.
Alfredo's, practice, go!
BILL: Here's your spot on the floor.
Here's your microphone. Yeah.
DAVE: We've got three Descendents, a
Dag Nasty, and a Black Flag. ALL!
BILL: I wasn't writing
for a band name.
I was writing because some
girl was treating me poorly,
and I was expressing myself
about it. Catharsis.
It had nothing to do with Descendents,
ALL, Dave, Milo or anything.
MIKE: I know it was Billy
now in charge totally.
RICHARD: ALL is Bill, Bill is ALL.
The concept of ALL,
you focus what you want like a dog
on a piece of meat and grab it and
you don't let go until you've eaten
the whole thing plus the bone.
MIKE: He wanted to try this thing
where everything was very focused,
and nothing is derivative. No creeks
or streams coming off the river.
Just Niagara Falls.
KARL: Bill is very patient,
and part of the byproduct of
that is he will make you go
over the part as many times
as necessary to get it down.
And I think most people
aren't used to that.
STEPHEN: He would just push and push
and push and it could be really hard.
DAVE: I don't know what
you're talking about.
Just because I had to sing
"Just Perfect" for like four
hours in the studio before
he got the take he wanted.
BILL: He probably told you that
it was excessively meticulous?
DAVE: I said, "Dude, I'm really hungry. Let's
take a little break and I'll come back to it."
He comes back with
this big Snickers bar.
He tapes it to the other
side of the glass:
"When you're done
you can have it!"
And I'm like, "Oh my god!
Are you fucking kidding me?
All right, fucking push play!"
RICHARD: It was constantly
a battle with him.
He had ideas of the
way things should be.
Of the way the sounds should be.
Of the way the mix should be.
Of the way the songs
should be sung.
And it had to be his way.
It had to be his way.
And he was usually
right, I gotta say.
GREG: People literally didn't
know who they were when I'd say,
"Hey, are you going to the ALL
show?" They're like, "Who's ALL?"
Milo was kind of iconic.
He had his own logo.
And with ALL it just never
took off the same way.
DAVE: I was on the road for 9
and a half months in one year.
And I remember, we were
doing laundry, and
Bill started talking
about the next tour.
We were gonna get back in two weeks, and he was
already planning the next one and the next recording,
and he looked at me and said,
"You're not staying, are you?"
BILL: We just went out
and out and out and out,
and I think he did what any smart
person would do and moved on.
KARL: There's that instant thing
of, "Who do we get as the singer?"
And the obvious choice was
the boy next door literally,
because Scott was practicing
with his band next door to us.
SCOTT REYNOLDS: I had nothing back then.
I had no money. I was living in my car.
I couldn't even get a shower. I was
basically a bum, a homeless bum.
And to be on tour playing music
was the whole reason I left home.
Even though I am too disorganized
and right-brained and
underachieving to ever be the
poster boy for the quest for ALL.
KARL: Scott's got a great voice.
I think he'd got a better
range than most of these
guys I see on American Idol.
STEPHEN: You can just
throw him anything in any
key and he can just sing.
He's just awesome.
BILL: It was like we had
discovered some great gem
sleeping in his car outside
our practice room.
RICHARD: It seems like on each album,
Bill would have the song that he
knew was gonna bring people to the
band and bring people to the record.
And "She's My Ex"
was one of them.
STEPHEN: That was where Scott got his first
taste of how absolutely particular Bill was.
SCOTT: I've never been in a band where phrasing
was so fucking important as this band.
Karl would do some of that, too.
Not as bad a Bill. Oh God, Bill.
He'd just stop the tape. And it's terrible
because you're going "She'll always be..."
and then all of a sudden
the tapes stops.
And you're like, "What?" And
he's like, "You're flat."
And he goes back. So we got all done
with this thing after days on one song,
and he goes, "That's awesome. We're done." And I'm
like, "Phew!" And he goes, "Okay, let's double it."
STEPHEN: "When Dave
was in the band,
we intentionally didn't do
any of the Milo songs."
And then we went ahead and introduced
a few into the set with Scott.
SCOTT: The first show I ever played, one dude was
yelling, "You're not Milo!" the entire time.
MALE VO: Hey! Where's Milo!
You're not Milo!
SCOTT: A lot of what we did was we called in
the Descendents crowd, come see this band.
And they'd go crazy when we'd
play "Suburban Home,"
but I don't think that a lot of people that
might have liked what we did
got to hear it, because the Descendents/ALL
thing, we just pounded it down people's throats.
MILO: It bothers me because
every single record they ever put out,
I just think why
isn't this top of the charts?!
If I could take a fan and
shake him and just go,
"No! That's not the way it is!
That's ridiculous."
SCOTT: To this day, I still get a
lot of that, "You're not Milo,"
and I love the Descendents,
don't get me wrong,
but we never found our
niche because we were
always trying to get back
into that other niche.
REPORTER: "In our first story tonight,
since this band's inception in 1978,"
"they've released over a
dozen albums,
they're headed for Australia,
Japan, and even Europe"
"to tour and yet you've
probably never heard of them."
"They're formerly called the Descendents,
they hail from Los Angeles, California."
"They're now out of Brookfield,
Missouri and simply called ALL."
MIKE: You know, they got this
thing, "We're gonna tour a lot."
"Why not start from the middle?"
So they move to Missouri,
this little fucking town and,
"we're gonna tour from here!"
KARL: That was a
financial necessity.
Because L.A. at the level of poverty we
were at was not that easy of a place to be.
We were living in a practice
space for crying out loud.
STEPHEN: I mean we made nothing.
It was just impractical for us
to live in California, and we
weren't there that much anyway.
So Bill came up with the idea, "Hey, my dad has this
house out here in rural Missouri where he grew up."
And it worked out to be really good
for us because it enabled us to
have bedrooms
and neat shit like that.
"To have your own room, that in of itself
is just like, "Wow, this is rad!"
"Where I guess a lot of people my age would
sort of be wanting to have a house."
KARL: The chemistry developed
and it was basically
go out and tour, make a
record, go out and tour.
We got to know each other
better than I think families do,
and I think
it very much is a family.
Bear in mind all this while that our fortunes rose and
fell together. We were all living in the same place.
Kind of like The Monkees on the TV
show, only with dirt and smell.
SCOTT: When I was in the band, it was
when we were at our most urgent.
We really needed it to succeed.
We were broke and filthy
and we lived like animals.
If you listen to Percolater, this
is where the rift started with us,
because our philosophies
began to diverge.
When we went to record
the "Dot" video,
it was apparent that Bill was
dissatisfied. He wasn't happy.
BILL: At that point I was idealizing
we would put our foot forward
visually with a song that had more
of an eighth-note drive to it.
But on that record I didn't have
any good songs, so it's like,
"Okay, a lot of lip from you, Stevenson! Where's
your good song? And it's like, "I don't have any."
SCOTT: The four distinct musical camps, and I
think they're all very strong in their own way,
made for a pretty eclectic
collection of songs.
STEPHEN: I think people didn't
react well to not having a
consistent sound and knowing
what the band sounded like.
SCOTT: If you consider music our child,
our baby, you got four different parents.
What are you gonna do? It's
gonna fuck up eventually.
At the end I just wanted so
badly to go do something else.
STEPHEN: We had a
great run with Scott.
BILL: He has the best sense of humor and
he's so sharp-witted and just so fun.
SCOTT: Every decision I've made since I
left the band has been the wrong decision.
On the one hand, I wanted my independence.
On the other hand, ironically,
that's why I'm a bar back now.
KARL: Chad was really good to have come into
play at that time because he was very laid back.
Chad's very laconic to the
point of speechlessness.
CHAD: Uh... it was killer. Uh,
I was a huge ALL fan... uh...
I grew up with Descendents and
stuff... uh... and whatnot...
STEPHEN: Chad had been sort of a fan
that we just got to be friends with.
KARL: We didn't really know
he was that good of a singer.
BILL: It was like wow, man.
Listen to those pipes!
It's quite striking really,
if you've never heard him
and then you just hear him
sing, it's like whoa!
STEPHEN: I'd say there
are few people with more
of a lucky, natural gift
for singing than Chad.
DONI: Bill told me about Chad.
He said Milo Got great.
It took him a while.
Chad Was great.
MILO: Bill said, "Hey, we're trying
this guy out for ALL,
what do you think?" And I heard his voice
and was like, "Yeah! Get that guy!"
BILL: "Breaking Things" was an
accomplishment for us. I think I was
harboring some yearning for that kinda
Black Flag power in the guitars."
But I don't think it has the intrigue of musical
diversity that "Saves" or "Revenge" has.
You're comparing and
contrasting these things,
but it doesn't' work that
way, cuz ultimately it's
just us expressing our ideas
in our bedroom and then
playing them in a garage together
and there's no direction for that.
There's no rudder. So the records
come out how they come out.
You have to keep moving forward
as a band. And sometimes in
order to get from point A to
B there's that middle point
where the result might not be what people expect
or what they want, but it's part of your journey.
Because, otherwise, are we gonna just
do "Milo Goes To College 19.0"?"
We don't wanna do that.
KARL: It was the 90's, they were just throwing
money at anyone who could hold a guitar.
INTERVIEW: Have majors been talking to you
and trying to steal you away from Cruise?
BILL: "Not blatantly, We've been in
the music thing and long, long time."
KARL: It was weird for us because
suddenly all these doors were open.
BILL: So it's funny, people are
like, "Oh, the major label..."
and it's like, no, we don't
think about that stuff."
The major label
bought this stuff.
STEPHEN: The money that we
got from the major label
deal, we just built the
Blasting Room with it.
Which was the single smartest
thing we ever did, really.
TV: "Next up it's a live performance
by ALL, who stopped by the studio
earlier this week and played a few
songs off their eighth album Pummel.
CONAN: "Ladies and gentlemen, Pummel
is the new album from my next guest.
Give a nice, warm
welcome to ALL!"
BILL: "We write about things that
we have gut feelings about."
"Not stuff that we've analyzed intellectually
and want to write a doctoral thesis on."
KARL: "In summation, we write about the way
you feel more than the way you think."
That was the last boom time the major
labels shall see, so we got our licks in.
And I think we got out of it a lot
lighter than a lot of people.
STEPHEN: We'd gone through our normal touring
cycle, started writing a bunch of songs,
and just right after that
Milo approached Bill.
KARL: Said he had a bunch of songs and
wanted to do stuff. Simple as a that.
MARK: The Descendents were reforming.
That blew our fucking minds!
We were gonna get a chance to see
the Descendents actually play,
because I had never gotten a chance
to see the Descendents play.
BRETT GUREWITZ: I got a call from Bill saying,
"Would you want to do a Descendents record,
not an ALL record?" And I was
like, "Hell yeah I would!"
MILO: It was pretty exciting at that point
because we just had so much material.
It was like, how are we gonna pare
this down to the critical number?
But part of that equations makes you think
it's gonna be a fucking great record.
GROHL: When "Everything Sucks" came out, it was,
"Okay, this is it! They're gonna fucking happen!"
People are gonna finally recognize
that the Descendents are awesome!
HERRERA: Every song was amazing,
and it sounded so huge and
so present. The guitars were
right there in your face.
BILL: That's when Karl really, to me, stepped
up his songwriting. He just killed it.
SCOTT: I can't say enough about
what's upstairs with that guy.
CHAD: He just has this
huge bank of knowledge.
TONY: I consider Karl a
better bass player than me.
MIKE: A little more out of the
box. A little more out there.
DONI: This guy's killing it
night after night after night.
TIM: Just him playing, making
every other bass player just cry.
KARL: I mean, fuck, I've
been doing this a long time.
ZACH: Stephen Egerton is a
guitar player's guitar player.
TIM: To see the chords
that he pulls off.
DAVE: He plays these really
cool, demonic-sounding leads.
STEPHEN: What I do is filtered
through a lack of true
knowledge of music, just
an incredible love for it.
DAVE: He's a genuine
sweetheart of a guy.
SCOTT: I used to call him Poppy, because if I
had a problem, I could go talk to Stephen.
MARK: It's really gratifying when you
meet people that are your heroes
and they're actually as cool and
friendly as you hope they're gonna be.
Especially Stephen.
JOEY: He's also very smart.
Runs very deep.
It's weird that all those
guys are in one band.
It's almost unfair.
MIKE: It seemed like they were
embraced by the punk community again.
JIM LINDERG: Descendents were just
total heroes to us growing up.
I literally had the tennis racket,
pretending to be in the Descendents.
And then our band got really
popular in the second wave,
along with Offspring, Rancid,
NoFX, and Green Day.
KARL: This was an interesting thing
because it was a convergence
of pop culture and what Descendents
had always been doing.
DAVE: That's when you really
saw people appreciate
the Descendents the
way they should be.
BRETT: Milo is a great, integral
part of what the Descendents are.
TIM: He's the anti-frontman.
He's the underdog. The nerd.
MILO: A lot of the stuff
that we do with our music is based on
having people throw
food at you in high school.
Those are the people we address
a lot of our songs about,
saying you may think I'm a loser,
but you're the loser, really.
TIM: He's the antithesis of Axl
Rose or Bono fronting a band.
BRIAN BAKER: He's seminal. He's a
seminal American punk rock singer.
BILL: It was one year of fury and then he
wanted to resume back into his science stuff.
MARK: Why won't the singer of my
favorite band sing in my favorite band?
What are you fucking talking about you're
not gonna sing in the Descendents?
You'd rather go off and
do smart shit somewhere?
Why would you do that to me? It's
hard for people to understand.
study biology and
you go on to pursue other things,
you don't leave punk rock behind.
But then again, you do change
your worldview a little bit.
STEPHEN: At that point we just
dove right back into it with Chad.
CHRIS: Mass Nerder was a
huge, huge album for them,
because it was coming hot off the
heels of "Everything Sucks."
said "Descendents Mass Nerder"
on it, it would have been
"Everything Sucks" all over again.
The songs were so strong.
BILL: Well, on Mass Nerder we decided to
take a little bit of a different course,
and we started opening for bands instead
of doing our own headlining shows.
We thought we'll suck it up and see if we
can play to some of these younger kids,
because there aren't that
many people 40-year-olds that
are gonna come out and see
us because they have kids.
They're at home watching
"Mad About You."
So we thought if we could get in front of
some of the younger kids they might like us.
It might postpone
our obsolescence.
CHRIS DEMAKER: Our band was the
ska punk thing of the late '90s,
and we were riding that new
band, young band popularity,
and here we have ALL opening for us and going
out musically and crushing us every night.
But our fans, some of them got it, but
a lot of them just didn't get it.
BRETT: ALL never had the commercial success
of Descendents. They just never did.
Even though, as a label, we did the exact
same thing for one as we did for the other.
STEPHEN: I think by Problematic we
could see the shows were shrinking.
They were smaller
and smaller crowds.
CHAD: It is frustrating. You want to just keep getting
bigger and bigger and bigger. You just gotta deal with it.
JOEY: I think that you never really get
past when a band changes to something else.
CHRIS: Yeah and that's
all the power of a name.
BILL: We all know that ALL is the band
guilty of not being the Descendents.
SCOTT: Forever people have been saying, "I
like the Descendents, and I don't like ALL."
And to me, I get that. I absolutely get that.
I don't give a shit, I'm not angry about it.
But the point is that I'm in
the middle of it and I agree.
CHAD: I don't look at it that way.
Musically it is this THING.
And whether it's ALL or
Descendents it's the same thing.
KARL: Very simply to me it's a different singer.
But I'm not the guy buying the records.
STEPHEN: Milo really connects to an
audience. It's very peculiar to watch.
DAVE: Milo is Milo and you can't replace
him. The great singers you can't replace.
MILO: "People have kind of idealized
that whole period in th early 80's,
and I think that
explains a lot of it."
Bill's my best friend and it just bums when these
things that he did that I thought were amazing
and world-changing didn't explode into the stratosphere
and make his band as big as it should have been.
GROHL: "Believe me, it's hard to be in a
really big band and then start another band."
It's a weird position to be in. You
do it for the love of playing music.
You don't do it because you want to be
better than the last band you were in.
You just want to keep playing.
"So for a band like ALL, it was
just never gonna be easy."
BILL: But so what? Who cares? If 50 people
like your band then 50 people like your band.
There's nothing wrong with that.
That's not shameful.
Where is it said that every band has to be huge
like Michael Jackson? Where was that written?
BILL: "When you quest ALL you're
questing something much grander
and greater than getting up and
going to work at Winchell's."
BRETT: If you took the Stooges
"Raw Power" and did it with a kid
who was raised on "Help Me Rhonda"
what would that sound like?
BRIAN: It would sound like Bill.
RICHARD: You know it's Bill.
Bill was...
DAVE: I'm sure that every person who gets interviewed
for this movie is gonna say the same fucking thing.
JOEY: Bill, I think,
is a true anomaly.
CHRIS: He's a conundrum. He's
totally a mystery to most people.
GROHL: Oh God, Bill's so weird.
BILL: "He is Bill Stevenson.
We can rebuild him."
CHRIS: Dude, you wrote all these amazing songs.
They're so insightful and you're so brilliant.
Why are you talking
like a homeless man?
BILL: "Do you like to eat
dogs?" "Yeah, I do."
"How come I never see
you eating them then?"
KARL: A mathematician brain
trapped in a caveman's body.
KIM SHATTUCK: He's built like
a wolf with all that hair.
STEPHEN: He can be
very intimidating.
BILL: "You fucking shut up! I'll
fucking kick your face in!"
"What's the deal here? I don't
record you when you talk.
What's the deal?" "Yeah, because
I'm not Bill Stevenson."
"You're not fucking
filming me, are you?"
ROBERT: He's the greatest
drummer on Earth!
GROHL: He's a legend. He's
a fucking drumming legend.
DAVE: The great drummers are the
ones who have their own signature:
Keith Moon, Stewart
Copeland, Neil Peart.
And you can put Bill
Stevenson in that category.
GROHL: Watching Bill Stevenson play the
drums, he's in his own fucking world, man.
MIKE: That kind of drummer
ain't that common.
GROHL: I fucking
worship that dude.
CHUCK DUKOWSKI: He's really a great player,
both an inventor and absorber of ideas.
CHRIS: You can always see the
hamster wheel going up top.
STEPHEN: Remember in The
Terminator movies how if you're
looking at something from the
perspective of the Terminator?
That's what I think happens in Bill's brain.
You say something to him, and he goes...
and he starts thinking about all the
various ways that might impact everything.
And so during that time,
he may be doing this...
KARL: But, man, the stuff he expresses
through music has always moved me.
He's more reliably delivered goosebumps
to me than almost any songwriter.
He will not bow
under to be clever.
He will not bow under to
making a cheap rhyme scheme.
And he will take the trouble of making you very
uncomfortable in the name of making you feel something.
BILL: I don't know a lot about politics. I don't
know a lot about important socio-economic things.
I just don't. I feel like it's my job to
only write something if it really matters.
Even if it only matters to me.
STEPHEN: The great thing about
his songs, everything must
absolutely be tied to a real
experience in his life.
BILL: I don't ever have a
guitar on when I write a song.
Right when I wake up in the morning, the first
30 seconds, the melody will come with the lyric,
something that I have been
ruminating upon in the subconscious.
For instance, "Even though you'll
never come clean you know it's true;
Those sheets are dirty
and so are you."
Okay, that was a complete thought. A
melody, lyrics, and chords in my head.
The way you hear it on the record,
I heard that when I woke up.
I didn't strum around or plink around. It was
just like, "Oh that's "Clean Sheets". Done."
BILL: The song has to come out of me in
order for me to be healed or to stop,
grieving or that kind of thing.
The last song I wrote that was
murderous was "One More Day."
CAMERA GUY: Do you want to talk
about your dad a little bit?
BILL: Ugh, I'll try. I get very upset.
Eh, I don't wanna talk about it.
CAMERA GUY: That's alright.
BILL: I don't want to
talk about my dad.
STEPHEN: His father was a
complicated man in many respects,
and I think they had a very
complicated relationship.
BILL: I was born when my father was 50, so
when Milo Goes To College came out he was 69.
He was a good man, but he
was very cruel, very cold.
He would sleep for one hour in the
morning when he got home from work,
and then he
would go to his other job.
And then he would sleep for one hour in the evening
after giving me dinner to go to his night job.
So he would sleep for two hours a day, one
hour in the morning and one at night.
He did that for a lot of years.
My mom put us into financial ruination,
because she was an alcoholic.
So he had to catch up, and he
stepped up to the plate and
did what had to be done so
we wouldn't lose our house.
I had so much admiration
for him because of that,
but at the same,
he was such a cold man.
And that made it really to have
a father-son relationship.
STEPHEN: There's no questions
that his father did his best.
But he was very demanding. He
had high expectations of Bill.
BILL: He had a good plan for
me, and I think it worked,
but he about killed me trying
to implement the plan.
STEPHEN: At a certain point,
Bill figured out there was
anything in the world that he
couldn't figure out how to do.
He embraced the grassroots, build
it from the ground, DIY ethos.
He lives, eats and
breathes that.
There's certainly some parts of his
upbringing that bring him to that place.
STEPHEN: When his dad got really sick, he
brought him out from California to Colorado,
and their relationship
unfortunately didn't end well.
BILL: We never had a good relationship, and I
tried to take care of him when he was sick.
I would carry him
to the bathroom.
I would have to roll him over to change
positions to sleep, because he couldn't move.
You know, carry him
and all this stuff.
You know, I did that the last
year and a half of his life,
and he hated me every single
second I was doing it.
STEPHEN: They moved him to a nursing
home, and he died within a couple days.
Now, I've always felt that it was pretty likely
that Steve didn't want to die in front of Bill.
So "One More Day" was just...
His relationship with his
father was so complicated.
BILL: The song offered me
closure, but it took a few years.
Time heals all wounds I
guess is what it is.
BILL: Everyone at some point in their life wakes
up and goes, "Ugh, I gotta get a real job."
At the point where we were opening up
for Pennywise making $300 a night,
it was like, "Hey guess
what-we need a new plan."
STEPHEN: Bill was married. I was
married. Karl was becoming unmarried.
KARL: I had just been divorced, you
see, so it didn't matter to me.
It's like, "Oh, we got a big, empty
hall to play to. Big fucking deal."
BILL: We were trying to figure out how
to pay the bills and still be in a band,
and we had children
coming along.
Once you have kids, the priorities
immediately just reshuffle themselves.
KIDS: Our dad smells.
He farts a lot.
He's awesome. And he kicks
my butt at basketball.
He doesn't care what people think
of him, which is a good thing.
BILL: "I already had a pretty good foot in
the door in terms of producing records,
so I started saying yes
to more production work.
STEPHEN: There was no intentional
hiatus. It became kind of impractical.
And maybe that would've changed,
but I decided to move to Tulsa.
My inlaws were here, and I wanted my
family to have extended family close-by.
Descendents or ALL? Descendents!
KARL: When we started the band, none of us
really expected to make a dime out of it,
and we were just happy to be able to afford the
burrito the next day and gas to get the next town.
Hit a point where people have wives and
children and they start having expectations.
Suddenly I had no wife and no band. Two things that I
thought were permanent factors of my life were gone.
STEPHEN: I sent songs to Bill. Said,
"Hey, here's a bunch of new stuff."
The way I saw it, if nothing else
we could still make records.
But by the time I was sending him stuff, I think
he was starting to head into being pretty sick.
TIM: We were doing a record almost
at the height of Bill's illness.
And we didn't know
what was going on.
We just knew he was really
unhealthy and getting unhealthier.
DAVE: Every time I saw
Bill he was looking worse.
ZACH: Everybody could tell
something was a bit wrong.
KARL: I thought it was a nervous breakdown,
because he's a workaholic kinda guy."
BRETT: The last time I had spoken with him, he
seemed like he was in outer space or something.
CHAD: He started getting mellower.
Started putting on weight.
MILO: He wasn't going
to the studio anymore.
He was sitting in front of the TV like a
vegetable and getting incredibly large.
He peaked out at 385 lbs.
TIM: We were worried about him but
completely clueless as to what to do.
GREG: I heard this story about
how the neighbor saw his dog
out front and went and knocked
on the door to check on him,
and Bill was out of it. Called an ambulance,
and the next thing, he's in the E.R..
MARK NEAGLE: I got a call
from the E.R. doc that there
was a guy downstairs who
was in pretty bad shape,
who had a pretty large
pulmonary embolism, which is a
blood clot that traveled up
to the lungs and got stuck.
This was a clot about a foot and
a half long. It was enormous.
I recall at the time showing
someone the CT scan,
"Hey, look at this." And they were like,
"Oh, did you get the autopsy?"
And I was like, "He's alive!"
When it became apparent that he was
gonna live through this thing,
I started talking to him and said, "You said you
were in the music industry. What did you do?"
And he said, "I was in a band, I played the
drums. Some people would call it punk rock."
At which point, I'm very interested. I
said, "Anybody I would've heard of?"
And he said, "Black Flag. And
the Descendents. And ALL."
I was like, "You're hallucinating." And then I looked
down at the chart, and it said John W. Stevenson.
And I said, "So you're Bill Stevenson." And he
said, "Yeah." And I'm like, "I know who you are!"
Because he's looking at me as some
dorky doctor, not as someone who,
back in the '80s was a huge Descendents
fan or anything like that.
MILO: I went and visited him and he was
better but still out of it a little bit.
MARK: It became apparent when he a came back
to see me that everything was not okay.
And that was when he had the MRI done of his
head that revealed he had a meningioma,
which is a benign tumor about
the size of a tennis ball right
in the middle of his head,
compressing both frontal lobes.
The cure for the tumor is surgery.
You can't do surgery on someone
when they're on blood thinners.
And when somebody has an enormous blood
clot in their lungs, you have to wait.
At five months, I said,
"I know if we're gonna get him any better," and
boom, he was in the operating room in three days.
There was no guarantee that taking this tumor
out was going to bring back his personality.
He might get worse, or he
might make no recovery.
ZACH: For us, he's this
unsinkable person.
TIM: I couldn't imagine
not having Bill around.
MIKE: It's fucked up.
BILL: So they put me under,
and they sawed my head open,
and they removed a 6.5 cm
meningioma out of my skull,
and bolted my head back together
with titanium plates. And here I am.
MARK: We were all prepared for a long
rehab process, but that didn't happen.
ZACH: He survived two things
that would kill a normal person.
BILL: When I came up out of the anesthesia, I lifted
my head out of the pillow and I remember going,
"Yeah! Yes! I knew I
wasn't getting old!"
MILO: He called me two days
after they removed it,
and he was on cloud nine. It was
like a veil was lifted.
CHAD: It was like BAM! That's the
Bill I met when I joined the band.
BILL: Because it had grown exponentially
in a parabola over years,
I had acclimated to that pressure and I just
thought that's what a person's head feels like.
And that that's what I was gonna be like. I
was gonna be an old, lame, huge, fat guy.
So it was so cool when they got it out of
there. Everything just became really easy.
BRETT: It was literally a rebirth. His
personality was back where it had been gone.
DAVE: He's really rejuvenated and excited about
playing and excited about life. And he should be.
KARL: And he's drumming
better than he has ever.
MARK: It's almost like a novel.
BILL: I woke up,
and this Black Flag fan had saved my
And he lives a block
from the studio.
It was so awesome. He made
being sick really kick-ass.
MIKE: But I think it put in him, if there could be
such a thing, even more drive, more earnestness.
You know, I gotta get done what I
gotta do with the time I have.
BILL: I'm a lucky man. I'm lucky to
be here, and I'm happy to be here.
And it's just rad.
It's rad to not die.
STEPHEN: With Bill's health
issues now resolved and the
massive debt that was incurred
when Bill couldn't work,
with medical bills stacked on top
of that. I think Milo was like,
"Maybe we ought to
take a few shows."
REPORTER: "At FunFunFun Fest
today we have the Descendents!"
MILO: I really wanted to see
him back on the drumset.
I wanted to be able to turn around
and watch him doing the Bill thing.
MILO: Which, sure enough, that's how
it's been. It's been incredible.
I look back and he almost always has a
smile on his face. He's back there like...
As you might expect from someone who almost lost
their life twice. He has a new reason to live.
He's living it back there on the drums with
this big shit-eating grin on his face.
STEPHEN: Milo figured out, "I can do this in this
limited way and it works for me, and it's cool."
Just blast in there, have a ton of fun,
and then go back to my science thing.
KARL: It's fun, man. It's easier now because a
lot of the problems that might have existed
personally and professionally don't exist
now. We certainly all have separate lives,
and we get together and do this music.
It's a little bit like a time machine.
Part of you is still existing in the
time and space where you wrote the song.
BILL: We can bring our kids to our
show and be like, "Check me out!
I'm rockin'!" Miles is like,
"Yeah, my dad shreds on drums!"
MILO: I figure I gotta do it now
before, A) I'm too old, and
B) they're teenagers and what
to have nothing to do with me.
DAVE: They still sound amazing.
Just as powerful as they have been.
It's nice to have the
audience really dig them.
JOEY: They're maybe even better than
they were, which I don't understand.
DOUG: It's not like, "Wheel out the geezers
and let them play!" These guys are doing it!
That's difficult music to play!
And they're blasting!
SCOTT: I didn't even watch any of the show. I
sat just facing the audience the entire time,
because I just couldn't get over it. It
was like fucking Van Halen or something.
MIKE: They've got such passionate fans.
They've got fans that will die for them.
FAN: The best fucking songs. They
were some of the fastest players.
FAN #2: How cool is it to
have a song about fishing?
FAN #3: Descendents really spoke
to me, and I felt like they
must be exactly like me because
this song is exactly how I felt.
FAN #4: They wrote the stories
of a lot of people's lives.
FAN #5: It was like the
soundtrack to our youth.
FAN #6: I can't tell you enough
about what they've done for me.
FAN #7: If I had a child,
his name would be Milo.
FAN #8: He's a scientist and punk
rocker. What cooler thing can you be?
GROHL: Thankfully there was
a point where popular bands
were influenced by bands that
actually meant something.
The Descendents were a positive
influence on generations of musicians.
MIKE: I got to put out a Descendents record
on my label. How fucking awesome is that?
MARK: As far as I'm concerned, they invented pop punk
for me. That attitude and that musical sensibility.
I won't say that I entirely ripped
it off, but heavily influenced.
GROHL: Those lessons that we learned
from them back then were important.
To this day I bet you I can play that whole fucking
"Milo Goes To College" album, note for note.
That's how I learned
how to play the drums.
BUG: There's no other band
like them. It's doesn't
matter which one they are.
There's just not another one.
CHRIS: They were ahead of their time. They were
making music that these band's that hit in the '90s
wouldn't have been making probably if
it wasn't for ALL and the Descendents.
TIM: Much of the world may not realize
that it all started with the Descendents.
MILO: It's just been a bunch of best friends
who come in and out of each other's lives.
MILO: I just wanted Bill to get some fruits from his
labor, his toil. Because he has toiled for many years.
MARK: I think he feels himself
a bit of a square peg,
and the way he made his path in
life was by forging it on his own.
Had he been a poser, he would
not have been who he was.
CHUCK: Humanities big gains, including
rock bands, are about group efforts.
If an individual can find a
group of people who will share
that enthusiasm and hard work
and focus and keep that going,
you get incredible
productivity from it.
BILL: It's a good time right
now for us. We're having fun.
And Milo and I, when we were walking
in Austin, I remember going,
"Oh, so if we want to hang out, all we have
to is book shows and we get to hang out."
And he's like, "Yeah! Why
didn't I think of that?"