Fat (EP)

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Fat EP
A white album cover shows a pen-and-ink illustration of a cartoonish cheeseburger with a bite taken out of it. The band's name "The Descendents" is printed across the top in large, thin capital typeface. At the bottom is the title "Fat" in quotation marks in wide, black, hand-drawn capital letters, followed by "E.P." in thin, uneven typeface.
EP by the Descendents
Released 1981
Recorded March 1981 at Music Lab in Hollywood
Genre Punk rock, hardcore punk
Length 4:37
Label New Alliance (NAR-005)
Producer Spot
Descendents chronology
Fat EP
(1981)
Milo Goes to College
(1982)

The Fat EP is an EP by the Manhattan Beach, California-based punk rock band the Descendents, released in 1981 through New Alliance Records. It was the band's first recording with singer Milo Aukerman and established their presence in the southern California hardcore punk movement, with short, aggressive songs that represented a shift in style from their previous new wave and surf sound. The EP was re-released in later years as part of several compilation albums.

Background[edit]

The Descendents formed in late 1978 with an initial recording lineup of guitarist Frank Navetta, bassist Tony Lombardo, and drummer Bill Stevenson.[1] This trio released the band's 1979 debut single "Ride the Wild" / "It's a Hectic World", with a sound that blended Devo-like new wave and Dick Dale-style surf.[1] Lacking a lead singer, Navetta and Lombardo provided vocals on the single. After a six-month trial with a female singer, they recruited Milo Aukerman as their new vocalist.[1] The addition of Aukerman and the consumption of large amounts of coffee led the band to write shorter, faster, and more aggressive songs in a hardcore punk style.[1] Stevenson attributed the change partly to the band's invention of the "Bonus Cup": "We took ⅓ of a cup of instant coffee grounds, added some hot water, threw in about 5 spoonfuls of sugar, and proceeded to play 10 second songs. The Bonus Cup became a part of everyday Descendents life."[2] Aukerman later recalled: "We started drinking too much coffee; 'cause of that and the addition of me, the music became very quick and all about bursts of energy. It's interesting: we started very melodic, then moved to hardcore, but melded the two at a certain point and became melodic hardcore."[1]

Another factor influencing the band's style was the concept of "All", invented by Stevenson and friend Pat McCuistion during a late-night fishing trip on Stevenson's boat, the Orca.[1][2] According to Aukerman: "While drinking all this coffee in the midst of catching mackerel they came up with the concept of All — doing the utmost, achieving the utmost. The more they got into it the more it turned into their own religion; it's partly humor, but it's also an outlook on how to conduct your life: to not settle for some, to always go for All."[1] Stevenson described the concept of "All" as "the total extent" and recalled that "The quest for All became the main catalyst of the band, and we adopted this omni-ambitious way of life, for better and for better."[2] He and McCuistion quickly wrote several very short songs that would later be recorded by the Descendents:

Pat insisted that we quit writing "stupid girl songs", and start writing about things that really matter -- like food and fishing. So he and I wrote "Weinerschnitzel", "All", and "No! All!" in a fit of Allular frustration. The songs were only seconds long, but that was all the time we needed to make the point. We temporarily put aside all of our so-called "girl songs" and recorded the Fat EP. This is the only record we ever made without a single love song on it.[2]

Of these songs, "Weinerschnitzel" was used on the Fat EP while "All" and "No, All!" were later recorded for the 1987 album All.

Recording, themes, and releases[edit]

The Fat EP was recorded in March 1981 at Music Lab studios in Hollywood with producer Spot, and was released later that year through New Alliance Records.[3][4][5] "Weinerschnitzel", titled after the fast-food chain, is the shortest song on the EP at ten seconds, with Lombardo playing the role of the restaurant's counterman while Aukerman shouts his food order at him.[6][7] The sixteen-second "I Like Food" also takes food as its topic, with Aukerman shouting out the names of various foodstuffs.[6][7] "Mr. Bass" tells the story of a bass being caught during a fishing trip on board the Orca and being mounted on the fisherman's wall.[7]

Following its initial release on New Alliance, the EP was reissued in several versions and as part of compilation albums over the next ten years. In 1985 New Alliance re-released it as part of the Bonus Fat compilation, pairing it with the tracks from "Ride the Wild" / "It's a Hectic World" and "Global Probing" from a New Alliance/SST Records compilation titled Chunks. In 1987 New Alliance was sold to SST, who re-released Bonus Fat on EP, cassette, and compact disc. In 1988 it was paired with the band's debut album Milo Goes to College as Two Things at Once. "My Dad Sucks", "I Like Food", and "Weinerschnitzel" were also included on the 1991 career retrospective Somery.

Reception[edit]

Music journalist and culture critic Greil Marcus used the Fat EP as the introduction to his "Food Fight: Real Life Rock Top Ten 1981", remarking that "if a more perfect disc has appeared this year, I haven't heard it."[6] Ned Raggett of Allmusic gave the EP three stars out of five, calling it "quick, immediate, goofy, fun" and "a hyperspeed trashing of modern youth Kultur circa 1981".[7]

Track listing[edit]

Side A
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "My Dad Sucks"   Frank Navetta, Tony Lombardo 0:35
2. "Mr. Bass"   Navetta 2:05
Side B
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "I Like Food"   Bill Stevenson 0:16
2. "Hey Hey"   Lombardo 1:31
3. "Weinerschnitzel"   Stevenson, Pat McCuistion 0:10
Total length:
4:37

Personnel[edit]

[4][5]

Band[edit]

Production[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Blush, Steven (2001). American Hardcore: A Tribal History. Los Angeles: Feral House. pp. 79–80. ISBN 0-922915-71-7. 
  2. ^ a b c d Stevenson, Bill (1989). Hallraker: Live! (CD liner). Descendents. Lawndale, California: SST Records. SST CD 205. 
  3. ^ Blush, p. 310.
  4. ^ a b Somery (CD liner). Descendents. Lawndale, California: SST Records. 1991. SST CD 259. 
  5. ^ a b Two Things at Once (CD liner). Descendents. Lawndale, California: SST Records. 1988. SST CD 145. 
  6. ^ a b c Marcus, Greil (1993). In the Fascist Bathroom: Punk in Pop Music, 1977–1992. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. p. 204. ISBN 0-674-44577-5. Retrieved 2010-02-02. 
  7. ^ a b c d Raggett, Ned. "Review: Fat". Allmusic. Retrieved 2010-02-02.