INTERVIEW: Descendents

Published in The Music (NSW & VIC) and on, Jul 2016


With Descendents’ seventh record on the horizon, frontman Milo Aukerman tells Daniel Cribb why, at 53, his music career is only just beginning.

Getting fired isn’t usually a good thing, but for Descendents’ musician-turned-biochemist-turned-musician Milo Aukerman, losing his job at the start of the year couldn’t have come at a better time. “I just found the last few years were so miserable that I was considering just quitting and doing music full-time,” he tells, sipping on a beer in his basement. “Lo and behold, they laid us all off in January and the timing couldn’t have been better, because I was sick of it and we were recording [Hypercaffium Spazzinate].”

His scientist and punk rock frontman alter-egos have been at ends since before the band’s debut record, Milo Goes To College, was released in 1982. Aukerman’s always been the face of the seminal punk rock band — depicted in cartoon form as the band’s logo and on their album covers — but it’s a role he’s always considered a hobby. That’s about to change. “It’s actually the first time in my life that I’ve been able to treat music as a career, so the fact that I now have an opportunity to make it a career is an exciting thing for me.”

It took 12 years for the band to produce a follow-up to Cool To Be You, but with a reinvigorated passion for music and more than a decade to piece together the songs on it, it seems the wait will be worth it. “Bill [Stevenson, drums] and Stephen [Egerton, guitar] just really nailed it. I came in with like 12 songs early and felt pretty good and pat myself on the back, and then Bill came in with six and his six just totally destroyed my 12,” he reveals.

“It was totally humbling to see him come in with these six songs that were just kickarse. His songs were more challenging to for me to sing; he’s kind of a crooner and I struggle a bit with trying to croon his songs.

“The way we made it helped me out quite a bit in the vocal department; I was able to do the vocals over the course of three weeks and that means I could get much more aggressive about it and even risk blowing my voice out if necessary.”

2014’s Filmage documentary brought the band’s legacy into the spotlight with testimony from Dave Grohl, Blink-182’s Mark Hoppus and more. Aukerman’s modest take on the band sees them as one piece in a complex puzzle. “I see us as a link in the chain,” he tells, tripping over words as he tries to process his life’s work in a succinct few sentences. “To me, music is so important, and to watch it evolve in the past 20 to 30 years, I love being a part of it and that would be what I hope our legacy is, that we could be considered an important link and making a difference in people’s lives.

“I still like my music hard and fast — I can’t seem to get away from that; I’ll probably go to my grave wanting to hear fast punk rock.”