The Defoliants were influenced by hardcore punk, surf/garage music and pop culture. They were known for a strong live show and a nerdy sense of humor, belting out a speedy hybrid of alien punk-pop mated with surfy instrumentals.
Appearing often with Chicago punk mainstays such as Naked Raygun and The Effigies, their songs and sound struck a (reverby) chord with disaffected loners, rock and roll essentialists, hardcore kids and others found in the under attended 1980s Chicago punk scene.
Their finest moment may have been opening for Fugazi’s Chicago debut at Club Dreamerz.
The band released one cassette, one 7″ (“Hang Ten”, Pravda Records, 1988) and one LP (“Grrr”, 1989 Angry Fish Music) in five years together, making possibly 40 songs.
They appeared on a WNUR Northwestern University radio compilation. Recorded an LP with the legendary Iain Burgess (Black Box Studios) engineering, which was released by West Berlin record label Angry Fish Music.
They wrote and performed the music for a TV commercial soundtrack for a Schwinn BMX bicycle. Their song "Steakhouse" was in the movie “The Borrower” starring Rae Dawn Chong.
They started recording a second LP to be called "Menthol" in Chicago with Burgess in 1989. That year, after touring Europe they came back home to Chicago and broke up in 1990 without completing the second LP.