Picture: Lisa Johnson

Descendents changed the shape of punk rock in the late 70s by giving it something to laugh about. The Californian outfit wrote songs about refusing to grow up backed by the catchiest punk riffs, inspiring many bands to follow in their footsteps.

Next month, for only the second time in their 35-year career, Descendents return to Australia to remind fans of their winning formula.

"We're all fast approaching 50, but somehow singing about our callous youth and reasons why we don't want to grow up fit with younger and older fans," says guitarist Stephen Egerton, who also formed the band All and works as a record producer.

Egerton is also no stranger to our shores - he's a regular visitor to Perth because his wife has family here.

"I have been visiting Australia often over the years," Egerton says. "My mother-in-law grew up there as a teenager when her family migrated from Scotland and it's where she met her husband who was in the navy. As a result we have that Australian connection and I love Perth and am very excited to be coming back."

Descendents released three albums before Egerton joined in 1987, helping the Los Angeles outfit to write and record their fourth album, All. The band has since released the albums Everything Sucks in 1996 and Cool To Be You in 2004.

"We always make music on our own time," Egerton says of the long waits between studio albums. "I think that's why the group has always stayed together and remained united. We don't put each other under pressure to make albums quickly or for any reason other than we do this because we love the Descendents for what it is."

A few years ago the band's founding member and drummer Bill Stevenson was diagnosed with a brain tumour which almost claimed his life. The 49-year-old, who also drummed with punk legends Black Flag for a few shows in 1981, didn't quit rock. In fact, the experience gave him the strength to continue on with what he does best.

"Bill has survived some intense medical conditions," Egerton says. "He nearly died a couple of times due to some medical issues but he came through OK and it prompted us to want to play some shows and get on the road again. We took our time and found we really enjoyed this again. We all felt inspired to play and write again."

As far as a new album goes Egerton says it's definitely in the pipeline.

"We all agree it's something we want to do, it's just a matter of when it will work out logistically," he says.

"For now we're focused on this Australian tour and it's going to be a blast. Reuniting with some old school punks will surely be a lot of fun."


The West Australian

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