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Oui, j’ai parlé à Bill Stevenson de The Descendents

punkrockhardcorefolketc
8 juin 2011

Bill Stevenson. Oui, le Bill Stevenson qui est le drummer de The Descendents depuis 1978. Celui qui a joué dans Black Flag de 1983 à 1985. Deux groupes qui ont changé la face du punk rock assez solidement.  Le Bill Stevenson qui était derrière la console pour enregistrer des albums de Good Riddance, Lagwagon, Propagandhi, Anti-Flag, NOFX, Rise Against et j’en passe. Des albums que j’ai écoutés des centaines de fois. Puis on me propose comme ça, tout bonnement, de faire une entrevue avec lui. Ciboire. Moi tout ce que je voulais c’était faire des critiques de CD dans Emoragei et là 9 ans plus tard j’ai une discussion avec Bill Stevenson. Eh bien. The Descendents seront de passage au Rock Fest de Montebello le 17 juin. Manquez pas ça. Le groupe n’est pas venu au Québec depuis le milieu des années ’90. J’ai comme l’impression qu’on n’aura pas des tonnes de chances de les revoir.

Are you at your studio right now? Are you working on something?

Yes I am. I’m mainly just practicing this week. I just finished a long series of albums. I did Rise Against, Useless ID from Israel, The Swellers from Michigan and Joey Cape from Lagwagon. I just did a bunch of records in a row. So I’m just focusing on practicing on drum right now.

 They’ve been interesting records to work on?

Yeah, it is to me because I’m a music fanatic.

 What’s the most perfectionist band you’ve ever worked with in the studio?

All the bands are perfectionists in their own way. But I think that by the conventionally accepted definition of the term I think I would say Useless ID from Israel. And I don’t mean that because I just recorded them recently, I’m thinking that because of the first time we recorded them in 2004. They were really, really meticulous.

Is their new record better than The Lost Broken Bones?

I think it’s probably their best one. I’m not sure though ‘cause their records are really different from one another. I like the first one I did with them more than the second one. But then I’m glad I didn’t mad another one like the first one because I would have gotten bore with that.

What makes a good record producer?

I suppose it’s a mixture of half musicianship and half psychiatrist. You gotta know a lot about music and you have to know how to work with people.

Are you the kind of guy who gives a lot of ideas to the bands you work with or mainly they just come in the studio and they know what they want to do?

No, I give a lot of ideas. The way I look at it is: While they’re here at my studio, I’m in their band. So if there are four band members, I’m the fifth one. I get one vote. When we talk about whether a part is good or not I want them to listen to me. But I don’t want them to listen to me more that they would listen to each other. I just want a fair vote as if I were in their band.

Do you sometimes wish you had more time to write, play live and tour with your own bands? Do you consider Only Crime one of your bands?

Yes I do and Only Crime is actually the band who has suffered the most artistically by needing to stay home and produce records to pay the bills and feed my family. I love Only Crime but Only Crime never made any money so I couldn’t really rationalize spending two, three or four months on tour and com home with no money to feed my kids. The same is true to a lesser degree with ALL. ALL almost made enough money to live on. Like when I was single it was enough money. But you throw in a wife and two kids and it’s not enough.  1000$ of guarantee for shows, you split that up between a gas thank, a blown up transmission, four band members and  a couple crew guys and nobody makes any money. But with the Descendents, that’s what’s good about this year, we get to do some Descendents shows and we get paid fairly for those so I get to have time to practice and work on my drumming and do that stuff.

What were the circumstances that brought Descendents to play a few shows this year? How many shows will you play in 2011?

I think that by the end of the year it will be about 18. I don’t know what the circumstances are. It kind of seems like it went like this. It was like three things that happened all at once that made us think about doing shows again. One is that we were all kind of in contact with one another.  Last June, because I had just been very ill and had just gotten out of brain surgery, which was really successful, so I had a new life about me, a new tone of voice and we were all talking to each other and everyone was talking to me, basically just excited that I did not die. Combine that with Milo’s kids being in an age where they want to see him rock. His kids are actually going to be at those Canada shows. So he’s got a different motivation there with that.  Combine that with the fact that right when I got out of brain surgeries we got this offer to do these shows in Australia for a tremendous amount of money so I called Milo to ask him: Hey! What do you think about this? He was like: Wow! It’s kind of hard to say no to that. So it might be fun. Everyone’s doing well and is talking to each other. So let’s do it. Meanwhile, before the offer for the Australian shows, we got this random phone call telling us that a guy in Devo had hurt himself and they wanted to know if we wanted to play in Devo’s place and headline a big festival in Austin, Texas.  So I called Milo about that and he said: Let’s do that. After we played that one show in Austin we said: Hey this is fun isn’t it! Let’s do some more shows! And there you have it.

 I’m sorry to hear that you had a brain surgery. I was totally unaware of that. Did it change your perspective on life?

Well certainly. I had two emergency illnesses that almost killed me. Now I’m feeling wonderful. I’m feeling great. I feel like I’m 25.

What are the chances that we hear a new Descendents record in a not so distant future?

We don’t have plans right now but I think it’s not out of the question because we’ve been having fun doing what we’re doing. That’s really the whole point of it.

I would be pretty curious to hear a new record because I really loved Cool To Be You.  

Well, I don’t know. We make an attempt to keep the quality high. But, I mean, of course everybody’s opinion of what represents good quality is different.

What would you say is Milo’s best quality as a singer compared to the other singers you’ve seen perform in your bands?

It’s just everything. It’s just Milo. I mean, he’s my best buddy. It’s probably his heart more than anything. Milo is the most intelligent, the kindest, the most caring and at the same time the most cynical bastard that I’ve ever known. And if you’re gonna quote me there make sure you quote all of that, don’t just put the cynical bastard part. So he just got all that in him.

The Descendents formed in 1978 and you’ve probably been going to punk rock shows before that, I don’t know if you called it punk rock back then in California. Was there punk rock shows before you started the Descendents?

When we first started playing…you know, I think that the first day that we ever practiced together I think that it was that night that I went to my first show at The Masque. I’m pretty sure. Like, I had heard it, I had heard the Ramones and the Sex Pistols but I didn’t know about all the L.A. bands. Frank (Navetta) and Tony (Lombardo) kind of showed me about those bands.

Do you remember what the show was that night?

I can’t remember. There was easily like five bands. It could have been like The Germs, The Go-Gos, the X. Just a bunch of bands.

A lot of people that punk rock is too safe these days. That bands don’t sing about rebellion anymore. There’s no more Black Flag, no more Bad Brains. Personally, did you ever think that punk rock could change the world when you were younger?

I thought it might change a portion of the world which I think it did and is still doing. And more importantly punk rock changed my world. It changed my perception of life. It changed my outlook and my mentality regarding a lot of things. Even to do with my basics stand on politics and various other socio-political issues.  It reprogrammed me.

What would you say is the most dangerous show you’ve ever played or attended?

Ah! You’re asking the wrong guy, I mean, I’ve seen shows were people were shooting guns, rolling car through walls and stuff. I mean, fuck all of them. All the shows I’ve been were dangerous.

 

What was the most dangerous tour you did with Black Flag?

I don’t know. In 1983 there was a lot of awful violence at the shows. That seems to leave an impression on me more than any other years.

What’s the biggest difference between a Descendents show in 2011 compared to 1985?

I don’t know. I’d have to watch a video from one now and a video from one then. It feels about the same to me. Particularly because I’m in such a high spirit and high health right now that it seems like it is 1985 to me.

What’s the first thing that comes to you mind when I tell you:

Russ Rankin: Coffee. 

SST Records: Greg (Ginn).

Propagandhi: That song Without Love. It’s on the new one, Supporting Caste. Man, it’s just like the best song I’ve heard in like 5 years.

My War: I think of Chuck (Dukowski).

I’m a big fan of Propagandhi so I wanted to know what the biggest misconception people have about those guys is.  Are they really PC and serious all the time or really cool to hang around with?

I think they’re both. They believe in the stuff that people think they believe in. They’re really serious about their point of views and their stance on things but they’re also very cool guys to hang out with. I fucking love those guys.

Who’s the funniest guy in Propagandhi, Chris or Jord?

The funniest is Todd.

What do you think that 15 years old Bill Stevenson would think of 47 years old Bill?

Hum…ahah. I don’t know. I don’t even know what 47 years old Bill Stevenson thinks of 47 years old Bill Stevenson.

Let’s say punk rock was born in 1977. So it’s 34 years old this year. Do you think it grew up well?

I think it grew very well although it had some growing pain along the way.  Like all the mall punk bands in the ‘90s and the emo version of punk rock. Those were probably the two aberrations.

Would you refuse to work with a band that you consider being a bad thing for punk rock?

I would have to evaluate it on a case by case basis and figure out whether or not I would be something worthwhile or whether I would be doing something destructive.

It never happened before?

I mean, I contemplate these things artistically but then at the end of the day I have to pay my rent every day too.

What do you consider being the most interesting period for punk rock? The one that you kind of miss or that was really a revolution for the musical world.

I think that would have been 1977 to 1981. I was there and I can’t put it into words but it happened.

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Descendents sera au Rockfest de Montebello le vendredi 17 juin avec Hot Water Music, Pennywise, Joey Cape, Crash Ton Rock, Lamb Of God et +

www.descendentsonline.com

www.pnrockfest.com

Un commentaire
  • [...] j’attends avec impatience est celui des Descendents, un band que je n’espérais plus voir. Bon, l’entrevue d’Alexis avec le légendaire Bill Stevenson, aux baguettes, a confirmé que les gars étaient rendus [...]

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