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10 Hilariously Unpunk Revelations from the New Descendents Interview

Milo Aukerman

It’s hard to age gracefully in the public eye, and punk rockers have it rougher than most. It’s easy to bask in eccentricity for all time like our pal from OFF!, Keith Morris. But let’s say you’ve graduated from a pioneering Los Angeles hardcore-with-hooks act into a respectable biochemistry career — shouldn’t you still be allowed to get the old gang together for a romp from time to time? Absolutely, so it’s with tongue planted firmly in cheek that we give Descendents front-doctor Milo Aukerman a gentle ribbing for his new interview with Pure Volume. Therein, he lets slip that a new album from the festival-friendly pop-punk pioneers could be on the way. Of course, they’ve gotta ask for the time off first. Below, for fun, we’ve excerpted the 10 least punk things about this illuminating chat.

1) Rehearsal by Karaoke. Asked how they pull of pre-show prep, Aukerman says: “I do karaoke! I [press] play [on] instrumental versions of all our songs, and sing along to them. Stephen also plays guitar along to a recording of Bill and Karl rehearsing. They both live in Colorado.”

2) Asking for Vacation. “Why don’t we play more often? We all have regular jobs at this point. The primary factor is just clearing everyone’s schedules to line up the dates. I have to use vacation hours to play shows (if they don’t fall on a weekend), so that tends to limit our ability to tour ‘for real.’ “

3) File-Sharing (not the cool kind). “We are all writing new stuff, and there is definitely a commitment to record at some point. But… any recording will likely be stretched out over a long period, as we share files and fit things in around our regular schedules.”

4) Making Dad Jokes. Asked which Periodic Table element he’d choose to be, he quips: “I’m a very gassy person, so being a ‘noble gas’ really appeals to me. Actually, I’m super gassy, so I’m going to choose krypton.” Really? When there are so many good heavy metals to choose from?

5) Casual Fridays. While dude’s job is about as punk as chemistry can get (DNA work, cloning), he doesn’t exactly sell it that way: “Certain tasks can be repetitious and mundane, and for those I do put on music in the lab. Everyone in my lab listens to music all the time, so it’s a fun atmosphere.”

6) Mobile Labs (also not the cool kind). Has chemistry come in handy on tour? “I’ve often felt the urge to swab certain ‘hotspots’ of microbial activity (my microphone, for example, or Bill’s shoes) and inoculate a Petri dish to see if I can figure out what bacterial species populate our stage and van.”

7) Pro Tools and Drum Machines. Aukerman’s home studio: “Bill and Stephen hooked me up with some Pro Tools gear. I know the bare minimum to cut a demo, at this point. Plus, I can barely play guitar, and I have to use a drum machine (I don’t own any drums). But it’s fun.” Fun!

8) Physical Fitness. Gone are the days over over-imbibing, when a rocker could subsist on drip coffee, cigarette butts and backwashed whiskey, toning his body through a strict regimen of neglect and road-dogging. No, “Physically, I try to stay fit by running/walking, swimming, biking, etc.”

9) Marriage (Straight). On Descendents fans today: “We still get the ‘diehards’ but also we get the more ‘casual’ fans. Maybe they came to get laid, or see some other band, or just wanted to party. That’s all cool with me; that’s why I’m there too! (Except the getting laid part… I’m happily married.)” Aww.

10) Espresso Machines. Okay, so Aukerman still loves his caffeine, but it sounds like he’s traded his mug for a daintier cup: “Peet’s Espresso Roast, ground and brewed in a Gaggia automatic machine. The building that my lab is in has this arrangement, and it’s free. I can’t wait to show up every morning.”