HAVING DISAPPEARED FROM view, much like the scenes it charted, youth culture documentary trilogy The Decline Of Western Civilization is being released again for the first time as a box set – and MOJO tells the story behind the films in our latest issue.
Released in 1981, The Decline Of Western Civilization Part 1 followed Los Angeles’ native punk bands after filmmaker Penelope Spheeris – who would go on to direct Wayne’s World – started attending the scuzzy gigs in 1978.
“I went, Wow I gotta do something about this,” Spheeris tells MOJO’s Phelim O’Neill, recalling her first exposure to punk. “I think it had a lot to do with tearing down the tradition of rock’n’roll, like no love songs, no guitar solos, no more than three chords.”
The director followed up her punk salvo with a second instalment in 1988 (Part II: The Metal Years) that captured ’80s LA’s heavy metal explosion, before returning with a final edition in 1998 that focused on the homeless “gutter punk” community that subsequently evolved.
Despite acclaim and popularity as VHS rentals, the films didn’t make the jump when DVD came along. However the ‘lost’ films remained cult viewing, with fans continuing to post various key scenes online.
Celebrating the series’ restoration and re-emergence, we speak to Spheeris and some of the bands featured in the current issue of MOJO (September / #262), on sale now in the UK, about the music scenes they uniquely captured.
To whet your appetite, watch our ‘online bootleg’ featuring several memorable moments, plus a new trailer for Part II: The Metal Years.