Formed in 1988 after the demise of the Bay Area punk band Crimpshine, from day one Fifteen forged punk-pop songs with strong social messages. Singer/guitarist Jeff Ott's lyrics focus on social justice and issues such as homelessness, drug abuse, environmental destruction, and government strong-arm tactics. Many of the themes that his songs deal with seem to be pulled from his own experience; sexually abused as a child, he left home at 13 and lived the life of a gutter punk on the streets for 11 years. Other bandmembers had their own struggles; their 1999 album Lucky was named after a former bassist who killed himself after suffering from an amphetamine addiction. Other albums included three apiece for Grass and Lookout Records, as well as their self-produced album, Extra Medium Kickball All-Star. In the summer of 2000, the band released an EP with Sub City Records, Hush. Fifteen followed up several months later with the full-length Survivor. Kickball All-Star was reissued in fall 2003 with appended tracks as a benefit for the organization Any Positive Change, which worked to prevent the transmission of HIV and hepatitis C through needles.
~ Stacia Proefrock