Inspired as much by breakfast cereal and kiddie TV as by rock music, punk-pop cult band Redd Kross were the brainchild of Steve and Jeff McDonald, brothers from the Los Angeles suburb of Hawthorne (also home of the Beach Boys) who began playing music together before either had hit puberty. Fueled by a series of dubious visits to famed area rock clubs like the Roxy and the Whisky a Go Go, they formed their first band, the Tourists, in 1978; Jeff, then 15, handled vocal duties while Steve, 11, took up the bass. After rounding out the group with schoolmates Greg Hetson on guitar and Ron Reyes on drums, the Tourists played their first gig, opening for Black Flag.
Following a name change to Red Cross, they issued their self-titled EP debut in 1980. After the departure of Hetson and Reyes (for the Circle Jerks and Black Flag, respectively), the McDonalds enlisted a revolving lineup of underground musicians for their full-length follow-up, 1981's Born Innocent, which found the group's pop culture obsessions bubbling over on tributes like "Linda Blair" and "Charlie" (about Charles Manson, whose "Cease to Exist" they also covered).
Following the album's release, the band was threatened with a lawsuit from the real International Red Cross; as a result, the group became Redd Kross, and returned in 1984 with Teen Babes from Monsanto, a collection of covers of artists ranging from David Bowie to the Rolling Stones and the Shangri-Las.
On July 1, 2006, Redd Kross returned to the live stage after almost a decade’s absence. The Neurotica-era line up of Jeff McDonald, Steven McDonald, Robert Hecker and Roy McDonald performed a career-spanning set at the REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney/Cal Arts Theater) at Disney Hall in Los Angeles. The band has subsequently gone on to play at the Azkena Festival in Spain, the Detour Festival in Los Angeles, give a performance of their entire first EP in honor of Rodney Bingenheimer’s being awarded a star on Hollywood Boulevard, and a set consisting of the entire Born Innocent album opening for Sonic Youth (who performed Daydream Nation) at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles. They toured Spain and England in January, 2007. They have played a number of one-off shows including Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. In 2008 they played the Coachella Festival in Coachella, California; ATP vs Pitchfork festival in Sussex, England; and NXNE Festival in Toronto, Ontario. In 2010, Redd Kross headlined the Turbo Rock Festival in Spain. In 2011 they headlined the POP Montreal Festival.