They called it quits after their fifth album, 1997's Show World. McDonald says by then the time had come to move on.
"By the time I got into my early 30s, I felt like maybe it was weird that I made career decisions about my adult life at the age of 11. Looking back on it now, I'm very proud of it; it's an awesome heritage. But I felt, being a young adult, maybe I should try my hand at other things as well."
He worked as a producer (for the Format and Fun.), a record label executive (for Warner Bros.), and a studio musician. Since 2009, he's been a member of OFF!, what he calls a "punk rock supergroup, of sorts" that includes Black Flag's Keith Morris, Burning Brides' Dimitri Coats (a former Philadelphian), and Rocket From the Crypt's Mario Rubalcaba.
Redd Kross stayed dormant for a decade before the brothers reconvened to begin playing occasional gigs, and those gigs prompted Jeff to write new songs, which eventually led to last year's CD, Researching the Blues.
The album, which Steve produced, is a remarkable return. It has all the chaotic energy and zippy verve of classic Redd Kross, and it rocks hard, with a youthful immediacy. When they were making it, though, the band wasn't sure what the reception would be.
"It felt a little bit like, who knows if anybody is going to care about a new Redd Kross record. We had no idea," says Steve McDonald. "We were just doing it because we thought it was great and we had to get it out of our systems."
They needn't have worried. The album is indeed great. Direct and timeless, with a healthy dose of Beatlesque harmonies, it's everything Redd Kross does best.
And now the band is about to embark on its first full tour in 15 years. They're back in the van and back in the clubs. On Sunday, they come to Kung Fu Necktie, which should be a great place to witness Redd Kross' jangly, punchy rock-and-roll.
"We kind of have no idea how it's going to go," Steve McDonald says. "We're going to take a swan dive into it. It really is back to the station wagon for us, which was how we first came to Philadelphia in 1985."
Redd Kross, Far Out Fangtooth, and Psychic Blood play 8 p.m. Sunday at Kung Fu Necktie, 1250 N. Front St. Tickets: $17. Information: 215-291-4919, www.kungfunecktie.com.