How come every time you see a NOFX picture, someone in the band is wearing an Adolescents shirt? Because The Ads friggin' wrote the book on old-school, Orange County agit-punk, that's why. And talk about living fast: The band was signed to Frontier Records, recorded its now-classic self-titled album (better known as "The Blue Album"), and broke up, all in 1981. There have been various reunions over the years (and a few God-awful albums), and ex-Adolescents members did time in Legal Weapon, D.I., and Christian Death, but The Ads are back with a vengeance now. This week's Tempe show is the final performance of the longest tour the band's done in more than a decade. New Times spoke with The Adolescents bass player Steve Soto about reuniting, recording, and the catharsis of music.
NT: So why are you guys back together now after all these years?
Soto: We originally played a show because people like [Ads guitarist] Frank [Agnew]'s son had never seen us play, and we were just surprised by how many kids and new fans showed up. I thought it would be people my age reliving their past, but there were all these kids that were really into it, singing the words to the songs. We played some more shows, and it just rolled into what we're doing now.
Clubhouse Music Venue in Tempe
Scheduled to perform on Sunday, August 20
NT: Reunion shows and even a tour are one thing, but you guys put out a brand-new album [O.C. Confidential]. What motivated you to record now after 18 years of studio silence?
Soto: A lot of it was catharsis for [singer] Tony [Cadena]. He lost two brothers in one year, and he dealt with a lot of his feelings by writing about it. Four or five songs on the new album reflect Tony's loss, like "California Son," "Death on Friday," and "O.C. Confidential." Plus, when we started writing all of this, it was right on the heels of 9/11, so I guess we felt like we had something to say.
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NT: So you guys worked on this record for a while, quite a difference from the rocket-fast process of recording The Blue Album in '81.
Soto: Uh, yeah! Derek [O'Brien], our drummer, played in Social D during the band's Mommy's Little Monster days. He has a studio, and we were able to work at our own pace, so it was painless.
NT: How does being called The Adolescents and playing songs like "Pointless Teenage Anthem" work when you guys are in your 40s now?
Soto: Well, obviously, it's just a name and doesn't mean it's who we are. I don't think the Circle Jerks sit around and jack each other off. For us, it's a state of mind.