In 1977, middle school friends Frank Navetta and David Nolte began writing songs on acoustic guitars with the intention of forming a band. They initially called themselves The Itch, until Navetta came up with the name Descendents. In mid-1977 they met classmate Bill Stevenson, who impressed them with his musical talents and becomes their drummer. In 1979 they met bassist Tony Lombardo in Long Beach, California and recruit him to the band. By that Spring, however, Nolte bowed out to join his brothers in The Last. The singerless "power trio" lineup of Navetta, Lombardo, and Stevenson recorded the band's debut single at Media Art studios and released it on their own label, Orca Productions, named after Stevenson's fishing boat. Navetta sang "Ride the Wild" while Lombardo sang "It's a Hectic World". Nolte produced and mixed the session, and his brother Joe turned the lead guitar level up, resulting in the guitar being very loud in the mix.
The band's music at the time was described by Stevenson as a "coffee'd-out blend of rock-surf-pop-punk music [...] The sound consisted basically of Lombardo's hard-driving, melodic bass lines, Navetta's tight guitar riffing, and my 'caffeinated' surf beats."Steven Blush, author of American Hardcore: A Tribal History, described the single as "a blend of Devo-style new wave and Dick Dale-like surf." Ned Raggett of Allmusic described it as surf-inspired power pop with a new wave edge: "Not quite Devo if they grew up on the coast, but there's something to that comparison." Stevenson sold copies of the single to fellow students at Mira Costa High School, attracting the attention of classmate Milo Aukerman: "One day Bill came to school with a stack of singles that he was selling," recalled Aukerman, "and I say 'What’s your band all about?' He said 'Oh, we're punk or whatever', so I bought one and I loved it. I came up to him and said 'I love this single. Can I watch you guys play?' He said 'Yeah, you can come watch us practice.'" Aukerman soon joined the band as their lead singer, and their music moved in a hardcore punk direction with shorter, faster, and more aggressive songs.
Cover versions of the single's two songs were later recorded by other artists for Descendents tribute albums. For Homage: Lots of Bands Doing Descendents' Songs (1995), Tru Zero covered "Ride the Wild" while Pavement covered "It's a Hectic World".Teen later covered "Ride the Wild" for Milo Turns 50: Songs of the Descendents (2013).