In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing. This week: Songs about food.
In 1981 hardcore punk was just beginning to gain a foothold in Southern California, and, almost immediately, a wave of violence began to characterize the burgeoning scene. While Black Flag was spending its time fighting police both in song and at shows, the hardcore/pop-punk hybrid Descendents gave the movement a much-needed injection of playfulness in the midst of all that aggression.
Formed in 1978 as a surf-rock trio, it took the addition of bespectacled vocalist Milo Aukerman—and a shit-ton of coffee—for Descendents to find its identity. 1981’s Fat EP was Aukerman’s recorded debut with the band, and this simple five-song suite set the template for the band’s career. Rushing through songs with neurotic, caffeinated energy, Fat’s longest song barely breaks two minutes, with the majority of the tracks lasting mere seconds. Two of Fat’s five songs discuss food directly, and it’s a topic that would be revisited again and again throughout the band’s discography.
The glorified skit that is “Weinerschnitzel” sees then-bassist Tony Lombardo playing a drive-thru attendant bombarded with the band’s shouted, lightning-quick food order, but it’s “I Like Food” that has become part of the band’s canon and a staple of its live shows. In all of 16 seconds, Descendents offer up a pop-influenced hardcore jam that boasts the simple hook of “I like food / Food tastes good,” a mission statement of turning “dining back into eating,” and Aukerman’s goofy threat that if you don’t get out of his way he may just eat you, too. Descendents’ full-length follow-up, 1982’s Milo Goes To College, honed the band’s sound and heightened its profile, but it was Fat that first offered a place for the less-violent hardcore attendees to call home. Even if that place was just a fast-food joint with the greasiest fries.