An interview with Penelope Spheeris, the director of the Decline of Western Civilization films


Filmmaker Penelope Spheeris made the three films in the music documentary series The Decline of Western Civilization, which are currently screening at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, after having recently been restored for their release on DVD and blu-ray by Spheeris and her daughter Anna Fox. Spherris has an eclectic filmmaking career having made independent documentaries and dramas, as well as studio family films and comedies, including the original Wayne’s World. The Decline of Western Civilization was shot in 1979 and released at the start of 1981 and was her feature film debut, with its raw and often confronting portrayal of the Los Angeles punk scene at the time.

This interview was recorded on Sunday 28 February 2016 and then played on Plato’s Cave (Triple R, 3RRR 102.7FM) on Monday 7 March 2016 as an hour long special that included music from all three films. You can listen back to that special via Triple R’s Radio On Demand service and here:

Alternatively, you can listen back to the podcast version of the show, which just contains the interview with Spheeris:

Download link

Thank you to the Australian Centre for the Moving Image for arranging this interview. The Decline of Western Civilization films are screening at ACMI until 13 March 2016. Go to for screening times.




Black Flag

‘Let’s Have a War’

‘Cradle to the Grave’

‘Under My Wheels’
Alice Cooper featuring Axl Rose, Slash & Izzy Stradlin from Guns N’ Roses

‘Smash the State’
Naked Aggression

‘Race To Eternity’
Final Conflict