THE SUMMER NATIONALS TOUR featuring the Offspring, Bad Religion, Pennywise
3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 16 | Exploration Tower at Port Canaveral, 670 Dave Nisbet Drive, Cape Canaveral | $35-$99
In 1993, the Offspring went to Europe to open for NOFX, and what they discovered was a revelation.
“We were sleeping on their bus. Those guys [in NOFX] would get hotel rooms – not great hotel rooms, but hotel rooms – and we would sleep on the bus,” Offspring guitarist Noodles recalls. “And we’re playing squats, small clubs. But these guys were actually making a living doing that. … We thought that was pretty incredible. You couldn’t do it in the U.S. But you could do it if you split it up between the U.S. and Europe, actually make a living.”
“I don’t think we really expected that to happen for us,” he says. “Maybe it was something we could do for a couple of years, but eventually we were still going to have to get real jobs, right?”
Wrong … and then some.
By 1995, the guys in the Offspring were not only able to quit their day jobs, they pretty much knew they would be able to make a more-than-decent living in the band for some time to come.
In 1994, the group released its third studio album, Smash. Years later, that album and Green Day’s Dookie (also released in 1994) are known as the albums that broke punk into the rock mainstream.
By the time the Offspring wrapped up its touring cycle behind Smash in late 1995, the album had sold 5 million in the United States alone (worldwide sales currently top 10 million) and spawned two chart-topping alternative rock hits, “Come Out and Play” and “Self Esteem” – a pair of singles that continue to get considerable radio play to this day.
It’s the 20th anniversary of their landmark album and an expanded edition is released in August. Meanwhile, the Offspring is playing Smash front to back on their headlining set on the Summer Nationals tour (with Bad Religion and Pennywise).
Smash was ignited when Los Angeles alternative rock radio powerhouse KROQ put “Come Out and Play” into rotation and saw the song generate a huge listener response. The band made a low-budget video for the song, and before long, MTV started airing it.
Today, Smash is seen as a key album in punk history, and Noodles is well aware of it. But he really thinks the punk explosion was inevitable, and if any band really pushed punk into the mainstream, it was Nirvana.
“I think it was bound to happen,” Noodles says of punk’s mainstream breakthrough. “I think Nirvana was the first one. I don’t think they just opened some doors, I think they blew them off their hinges. And it wasn’t difficult for bands like us, Green Day, Rancid, NOFX, Pennywise to come through those doors once Nirvana blew them off of the hinges.”
In the years since Smash, the Offspring has become one of punk’s most enduring bands. The group has had three different drummers join the core lineup of Noodles (real name John Wasserman), singer Bryan “Dexter” Holland and Greg K (Greg Kriesel), with Pete Parada holding down drums since 2007. The group has recorded and toured on a regular basis.
After a difficult split with Epitaph in 1997 – a saga that Noodles looks back on with considerable sadness – the Offspring signed to major label Columbia. Their 1997 album, Ixnay on the Hombre, went quadruple platinum and 1998’s Americana – which featured the hits “Pretty Fly (for a White Guy),” “Why Don’t You Get a Job?” and “The Kids Aren’t Alright” – nearly equaled the sales of Smash. The band’s popularity began to retreat after that, but the Offspring released four more albums on Columbia (2012’s Days Go By was the most recent release) while maintaining a popular draw live.
The Offspring has started work on a new studio album with producer Bob Rock, who handled those duties on the group’s two previous albums, and hopes to release the new CD next year.
For now, though, the Offspring is focused on its live show, which starts with the entire Smash album, followed by a cross-section of hits and album tracks. Noodles says he’s enjoyed revisiting Smash live and getting to play a few songs from the album that were either never played live (“Something to Believe In” and “Not the One”) or haven’t rotated into the set recently.
“Like ‘Killboy Powerhead,’ it’s been so awesome to play that song. It’s such a fun song to play,” he says. “And ‘Something to Believe In’ was probably the only real challenge as far as learning and getting it down again.
“So it’s been fun,” Noodles says. “It’s been a little bit of a challenge, but really fun. Other than that, everything came back pretty quick.”