If I could go back in time and talk to the fifteen-year-old me," says ALL bassist Karl Alvarez, "the fifteen-year-old me would be so stoked with what I was doing with myself."
What Alvarez has been doing with fellow band members Bill Stevenson, Chad Price and Stephen Egerton, is churning out some of punk rock's most unmistakably highly caffeinated music. Full of frenetic guitar riffs and hokey pop-punk melodies, an ALL album will run you through the entire gamut of human emotion in under thirty minutes. Exploring break-ups, heartache, torment, politics and interpersonal relationships, the music of ALL walks the line between finely crafted pop-punk melody and the stiff middle finger of pure punk, while maintaining a sense of humor throughout.
ALL's history is a rather tricky subject to tackle, with more branches in the ALL family shrub than a Mormon genealogical tree. Sometime around 1980, Bill Stevenson formed the Descendents with guitarist Frank Navetta and bassist Tony Lombardo. Shortly thereafter, the Descendants acquired Milo Aukerman on vocals. By 1985, Navetta was gone and Ray Cooper was on the scene, and by 1986, Alvarez and Egerton were with the Descendents, bringing together what was to become, two years later, ALL.
ALL's first front man was Dave Smally, now of Down By Law fame. He was followed by Scott Reynolds, who did a three-year stint at the mike, and finally, Chad Price, who sings in the current line-up. To make things more complicated, the Descendents released a new album in 1996, with Aukerman back on a brief hiatus from his career as a bio-chemist.
Why all the changes? Alvarez likens touring with ALL to joining the Army - you enlist and travel full time. Smalley and Reynolds are family men and now have their own bands and consequently more time to devote to their families. Alvarez is married too, though in a unique position because his wife is ALL's tour manager and office master.
ALL currently calls Ft. Collins, Colorado, home, and are quite influential in their music scene. They own both their own recording studio (The Blasting Room) and their own record label, Owned and Operated; making them essentially self-sufficient as a band.
I've seen a lot of shows, some with 10 foot balls of flame and some wac-ass laser effects, but ALL, puts on the best live show I've seen yet, hands down. The sheer simplicity and intimacy is what makes an ALL show differnt from most, and of course sets them a galaxy apart from arena rock. "At one point in time," said Karl, "ALL had every piece of equipment on stage painted primer grey to put the emphasis purely on the people making the music."
On Friday, March 5, ALL hit Casper town with fellow tour-mates Less Than Jake, Good Riddance, and Limp for four hours of ROCK! ALL cranks out a tremendous live show, playing a set filled with the new and the old, and peppered with the occasional Descendents song. The performance is anxious and frenzied, and tight as hell. This was the third time I have seen ALL, and I assure you, they get better every time.
That is ALL.
ALL toured with the above mentioned lineup until early April, when they joined up with Lagwagon through the begining of June. Then, says Karl, they will hopefully play some European festivals.
Owned and Operated, (the band's label) is staying busy too. Releasing a Blasting Room Compilation featuring previously unreleased tracks by the likes of Lagwagon, MXPX and the Descendents, and featuring Cheyenne's own hardcore band, Truth.