It's All Good

All's experimental edge hasn't dulled with age

That, according to Stevenson, is the basis for a solid evening's entertainment — a principle he learned as a fan of the diverse drummers in L.A.'s punk scene.

"Robo [Black Flag's original drummer] was my mentor. He still is, actually. For all his technical shortcomings, if you want to view them as such, he was one of the most unique drummers in punk. But then there was Charlie Quintana from the Plugz, John McCarthy from the Alley Cats, D.J. Bonebrake from X, Don Bolles from the Germs — man, that was a great period of rock there. You could go out, pay five dollars and see five great bands that didn't sound anything like each other."

Now older, more experienced and more confident, the Descendents/All collective has attempted to replicate that kind of eclectic roster on its own label. And though it would be odd for an up-and-coming band not to be familiar with that collective's history, Stevenson is happy to report that the musicians he's encountering aren't simply replowing the field.

Hard core: The core of All has a twisted saga, with roots in the Descendents and, before that, Black Flag.
Hard core: The core of All has a twisted saga, with roots in the Descendents and, before that, Black Flag.


Scheduled to perform on Friday, June 28. Showtime is 8 p.m.
Nita's Hideaway in Tempe

"I think, at one point or another, almost anybody who's in a punk or indie rock group comes into contact with the Descendents or All. Sometimes they're influenced by it directly. But sometimes it's just a respect-from-afar situation, where they like it, but they don't really want to make that kind of music, since the world's oversaturated with it now — punk or indie rock or whatever you want to call it."

So All's current project, as far as the label goes, is to release as much disparate music as possible. And when he starts talking about O & O Records' lineup, Stevenson becomes positively energized, comparing it to former bandmate Greg Ginn's seminal punk label.

"Remember how SST was in the very beginning?" he asks. "Who were the first dozen bands on that label? Okay, you had Black Flag, the Minutemen, Meat Puppets, Saccharine Trust, the Huskers — no two bands sounded anything alike, and it's cool that way. With O & O, we're trying to take it even a step further. Our Upland imprint releases a lot of country, sort of old-timey music — blues meets ragtime — like the Stop & Listen Boys, and Drag the River, which is [All vocalist] Chad Price's country band. I would call them alt-country, except that doesn't mean much now, either."

Stevenson and company have worked diligently to produce and record younger, unknown bands for the past eight years — a project sparked by their move from California to Fort Collins, Colorado, where they've managed to put down healthy roots.

"We built our studio, the Blasting Room, in 1994. That's been great; it makes you real comfortable when you don't have to rent time in someone else's place. But there's a danger to it, too. It can make you very extravagant and encourage you to try to get everything just perfect. I mean, come on, Charlie Parker never did more than three takes; you just know he didn't. When you realize that those guys just pushed 'em out, and you can't even play through the verse without making a mistake, it's pretty lame," he laughs. "So really, you feel like an idiot whenever you record, whether you're rushed for time or indulging yourself."

He catches himself again: "Wow, what is it, like, a law that once you get over 35 you have to bitch and gripe about everything? No, you know what I like best about having our own studio?" he asks seriously. "I like being able to walk into a room and know, absolutely know, what it sounds like. I like not having to guess about that."

He thinks for a moment and — it doesn't take long — finds a downright warm thought to end on.

"Plus the fact that it's right down the block from my house. That's really nice."

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