Last month, Rolling Stone hosted the four members of Descendents in our New York City office. The main order of business was to talk with the SoCal pop-punk legends about Hypercaffium Spazzinate – their first album in 12 years, out today – but we also took a few minutes to get their expert opinions on the 40 Greatest Punk Albums feature we published in April. Descendents came in at number 16 on the list with their classic 1982 debut, Milo Goes to College, and the musicians offered their mock-outraged critique of the rest of the rankings.
There was no argument with the top choice: Ramones' self-titled debut. "Number One's … Number One," says singer Milo Aukerman. "Indisputably," adds bassist Karl Alvarez.
Most of the band's knocks on the list involved their California punk contemporaries. "If there was a glaring lack, it's the Adolescents," notes guitarist Stephen Egerton, referring to the Orange County band who released their snotty self-titled debut the year before Milo Goes to College. He also takes issue with the low placement of another early-Eighties punk staple: Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables by San Francisco's Dead Kennedys. "Fresh Fruit being the last out of 40?" Egerton says. "That's, like, top 10 for sure."
Drummer Bill Stevenson used the critique as a forum to ponder the scope of the punk genre. "It really comes down to what an individual considers to be punk rock," he says. "Could be about the haircut; could be about the political stance; could be about the tone of the music; could be about the actual way the music's being played. …" He goes on to wonder aloud whether the Kinks or even cult-favorite Sixties garage rockers the Seeds deserve to be classified as punk.
All in all, the band went fairly easy on RS' choices. "You're always gonna miss some," Aukerman says in closing. "You guys missed some, and hey, shit happens. Next time you'll get it right."
Below, watch a second video interview with the band, originally broadcast in real time on Facebook Live, in which Alvarez, Aukerman, Egerton and Stevenson discuss their respective first albums and shows, the best cups of coffee they've enjoyed and more.
Descendents begin a U.S. tour in support of Hypercaffium Spazzinate on September 2nd.