Why Former Descendents' Bass Player Isn't Rushing Out to See the Band's New Documentary
South Bay pop-punk group Descendents are, by far, the best band to ever exist. Perhaps that sounds like hyperbole, but consider this: When done properly, rock 'n' roll is nothing more than adolescent rage on wax and no one ever captured the frustration of being a teenager better than songs such as "Parents," "I'm Not a Loser," "I'm Not a Punk," "Suburban Home," "Hope," "I Don't Want to Grow Up," "Silly Girl," "Sour Grapes," "Get the Time," "Coolidge" and "Clean Sheets."
So, as you can tell, it's about time someone told the band's story, which is what a team of four people did. The result is Filmage: The Story of Descendents/ALL, a documentary detailing not only Descendents, but also ALL, the group formed by three-fourths of the final Descendents lineup.
Simply put, Filmage rules and you should see it. The film is being shown twice Sunday at the Art Theatre of Long Beach, but you can't go because there was a raffle for tickets and the raffle is over. Thankfully, Filmage editor/co-producer James Rayburn says the movie should be online and on DVD in the recent future.
One person interviewed for the film is original Descendents bass player Tony Lombardo, who plays on the group's first two full-lengths (Milo Goes to College and I Don't Want to Grow Up and the Fat EP). The 68-year-old -- who quit the band in 1985 -- has lived in Lakewood for nearly 30 years and retired from the United States Postal Service in 2005. Considering I am a bass player from the South Bay (and that Lombardo is my bass hero), I had to talk to him regarding Filmage. Here's a snippet of what he had to say about the film (which he has yet to see) and his time in the legendary punk group.
OC Weekly (Ryan Ritchie):Bill Stevenson and Frank Navetta were teenagers and you were 34 when you started jamming. Did the age difference create problems for you or the other band members?
Lombardo: Because of where I was in my life, I was not fully mature and (because of) the music I loved, it really was no problem for me. I was never a hang-out guy, anyway. As far as the whole punk scene, I don't know if you're familiar with the song "I'm Not a Punk." I remember playing this one show in Redondo Beach -- there was something about punkers destroying the bathroom -- that whole thing turned me off. I just wanted to play the music and do it as best I could and I had a lot of fun doing that.
Your songs such as "Suburban Home" and "I Don't Want to Grow Up" take on a different meaning given the age you wrote them at.
My memory is shaky on this, but based on how I feel today, I would write a song like "I Don't Want to Grow Up" like, "I don't want to grow up because I don't want to be like certain adults that were negatively influencing the world." Not just I want to be a kid and live like a kid. I don't want to grow up to be like you. And "Suburban Home?" I think I wanted to get lost in suburbia, rather than embrace suburbia. I live in suburbia now and I'm still the black sheep on the block. I'm single. No kids. No barbecues. No picnics. My neighbors are hardcore Christians. Nobody bothers me. I couldn't stand to live on a place like Melrose, where all the cool people are coming by whenever they want, just dropping in. It's like "I'm Not a Punk." I want to be my own person.
According to the film, Frank and Bill overheard you playing in a garage and asked you to jam.
Frank's brother lived three or four houses away from me. I would play in the garage with the door open. One day they came by and said they needed a bass player. That's my recollection -- I've heard other takes of it. I was listening to Rodney on the ROQ and I probably was goofing around and trying to see if I could come up with anything original. I might try to do another person's song, which I've never been that good at picking things up quickly. It was random, but it was uncannily fortuitous from the standpoint of how much chemistry we had musically together. I'm not saying we were so virtuoso or anything like that -- Frank was Frank, Bill was Bill and I was me and together it was the Descendents. There was something chemical there that just happened to work out.
See also: Top 25 Greatest OC Bands of All Time