FARGO — Despite famously singing “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up,” The Descendents have aged remarkably well.
Forty-two years after forming, the punk quartet finally makes its Fargo debut Sunday, Oct. 13, at the Sanctuary Events Center.
After four decades together, some touring bands are a reflection of the act in name only, but the lineup hitting the stage Sunday will be the same it's been since the mid-1980s.
With age comes some wisdom, and, even for a punk band, peace of mind.
“The 56-year-old us compared to the 15 year-old us, a lot has changed,” says founding drummer Bill Stevenson. “I noticed I’m a lot happier. I have more fun playing. I used to get into it, trying to prove what a great drummer I am. I don’t think like that now. We’re just really up there to have fun and enjoy it. Now it feels more like it does in the practice room.”
While the group was always drawn more to melody and energetic hooks, their outlook is even more optimistic now. For Stevenson, part of that comes from surviving a brain tumor in 2010, which led to what he calls “my happiness.”
“When I didn’t die from the brain tumor, that made me happy and grateful,” he says from his studio, The Blasting Room, in Fort Collins, Colo. “I just think we’re all at an age now where we’re all having fun and at ease with ourselves.”
Aging shows up in their lyrics, as the group has produced tunes like “When I Get Old” and “No Fat Burger,” a humorous response to suggested diets.
The group’s vice of choice seems to be coffee, going as far as selling their own brand online.
“Dude, our coffee is killer,” Stevenson exclaims. “It’s the best. It’s dark, black greasy beans, the best kind. It’s like a French roast from hell.”
Despite the love for caffeine, Stevenson admits he used to get grumpy, but over the past few years he’s learned how to chill out. Still, he won’t share his tips because they’re “too lame and spiritual for a Descendents interview.”
Stevenson doesn’t like talking about himself and prefers to talk about the band, which is spread out across the country. Stevenson and bassist Karl Alvarez live in Fort Collins, guitarist Stephen Egerton lives in Tulsa, Okla., and singer Milo Aukerman lives in Delaware, each recording their parts to songs in their own home.
While they may be far-flung, the group remains tight and Aukerman showed his love for Stevenson writing “Comeback Kid” and “Smile” on 2016’s “Hypercaffium Spazzinate” for the drummer after his surgery.
“Milo has been the greatest friend anyone could ask for,” Stevenson says. “Our songs are usually about personal stuff between us, or our personal relationships. It’s weird to make them public, but that’s what we’ve always done.”
Still, the group threw some fans for a loop in 2017 with the release of single “Who We Are.” Written in reaction to the election of President Donald Trump, the tune lashes out against racism, sexism, and other forms of prejudice.
“Shout it loud as you can / We won't let sexism or bigotry stand,” Aukerman sings.
Stevenson has heard about some fans who thought the band should not get involved in politics.
“From my perspective, ‘Who We Are’ is not a political song,” he says. “For me it’s a song about being a good human being. What’s political about that? That’s just trying to not be a (jerk). Most people dig it but for whatever reason there’s always a few, weird, little right-wing people that hang out in the punk rock scene. I think they should find a new place to be.”
Opening up about their core beliefs may seem like a departure for a band that won over fans in the 1980s with tunes like “I Like Food” and “Silly Girl,” but Stevenson sees it as a progression.
"We didn’t become Van Halen, or something,” he says. “But we’re not the same Descendents we were when we were 15 and started the band. It would be weird to me if we were trying to be that. It would be false. We’re not trying to be The Descendents. We are The Descendents.”
If you go
What: The Descendents, with Joyce Manor and Night Birds
When: 8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13
Where: Sanctuary Events Center, 670 Fourth Ave. N., Fargo
Info: Tickets for this ID-only show are $34; jadepresents.com