You went to prom. They dodged riot cops halfway through playing with Bad Religion. You finally made it to second base. They got wasted with she-males at Geza X's house. You kept your head down when you walked by the locker room where the jocks hung out. They got in a vicious food fight with the entire student body at Servite High School and vandalized the statue of the baby Jesus ("First Adolescent") on the way out. You thought your high school experience was worth commemorating with a yearbook? All you did was stagger through puberty. Frank Agnew and Steve Soto had to survive the Adolescents.
"I know this guy," says bassist Soto, "that I didn't meet until after high school, and he said, 'I used to sit in class and listen to you come in on, like, a Wednesday morning. You'd talk to the girls who sat next to you and be like, "Yeah, we were up in Hollywood last night—we played with Black Flag, and all this crazy stuff happened," and I would just think, "We're 16! We're not supposed to be in Hollywood! On a school night!" And I'd think you must be lying!'"
But it was all gruesomely true: for a foaming-at-the-mouth year and eight months, Soto and guitarist Agnew (with plenty of guidance from role-model band mates drummer Casey Royer, singer Tony Cadena and guitarist/brother Rikk Agnew) went through the punk rock wringer with their band the Adolescents, spitting vitriol in the face of pop culture by night but still limping into homeroom at Fullerton's Troy High School the next morning. They got their real education at the punk rock academy, says Soto, and now with their self-titled blue album turning 20, it's time for a class reunion at the Galaxy Concert Theatre—and, of course, a little reminiscing about what are supposed to be the best years of your life.
"Basically, our high school years were spent in the band—our evening and social life and nightlife, the whole thing," Agnew says. "We'd go to school during the day and be Adolescents at night. And it was quite an education."
So here's what they learned:
1. When your manager pays you in pills, you can sell the pills to your friends and make even more money.
2. When you go to record your first album, make sure you remember to bring a bass guitar.
3. If you tell your mom that you're going to sleep over at Frank's house, and Frank tells his mom he's going to sleep over at your house, and then you go play a show, you will have to sleep in Frank's car in the IHOP parking lot until you can sneak back home the next morning.
4. When Rikk Agnew is drunk, he will think she-males are females.
5. If you punch the Servite High School class president in the nose, he will pay you the money he owes you—if you have some scary old punks to back you up.
6. When your parents want to come see your band play the Cuckoo's Nest, give them bad directions and spare everyone some embarrassment.
7. If big cops with big mustaches are chasing you, yell to Chuck Dukowski, and he will hold the door open on the Black Flag van so you can jump in.
8. When Cadena lets you crash at his house, you will end up sleeping in an abandoned camper shell out back with spiders crawling all over you, huddled close together to stave off the bitter Stanton cold, and you will have to take the bus home in the morning.
9. If Posh Boy Records gives you a gold record to celebrate your 1981 hit single "Amoeba," it's probably just plastic made to look like gold.
10. If some guy offers you $200 or 10 percent of the door to play Northridge, take the 10 percent, otherwise you'll feel stupid when, like, 2,000 punks show up.
11. If your high school sucks, just start driving to Soto's high school and attend there—unofficially.
12. Eating a bunch of uppers, drinking yourself psychotic and getting on the same stage with Cadena is very bad for you.
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13. You will know you've finally hit the big time when the girls at the record store you've been shopping at your entire life recognize you from the back of the blue album and start asking you for music advice.
So maybe you wouldn't vote them most likely to succeed. Fine. But while no one remembers who bonked the prom queen back in 1981, all the little kids are still absorbing valuable life lessons from the Adolescents. Anything else you'd like to explain, professors?
"Nothing printable!" says Soto.
The Adolescents perform with Channel 3 and the Abductors at the Galaxy Concert Theatre, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana, (714) 957-0600; www.galaxytheatre.com. Fri., 8 p.m. $18.50. All ages.