Ever since their formation in 1984, The Offspring have been a popular name within the punk community. Whether you remember their demo days, when they released what would be their most beloved album, Smash, or if you just heard “Self Esteem or “Come Out and Play” on the radio for the first time—The Offspring have made themselves a household name, maintaining relevance and momentum over the last few decades.
In my life, I remember listening to The Offspring all the time growing up—so much so that I can’t exactly pinpoint what age I was when I first listened to Smash, but I knew that I loved it. As my music taste has changed and developed over time, there’s no denying that bands like The Offspring and other pop-punk powerhouses of the ’90s and aughts make up the foundation on which it’s built, and that I return to these artists time and time again. Because they’re so crucial and influential on not only mine but the musical development of so many others, The Offspring are easily one of the most recognizable, prolific and long-standing bands of their time, as they influence generations of people.
Noodles, lead and rhythm guitarist (and original member), discusses what it’s like being in The Offspring after 35 years, the impact the band has had in the punk community, touring and what audiences can look forward to at the Sabroso Craft Beer, Taco & Music Festival this summer.
SLUG: At the beginning, did you expect The Offspring to become so popular? What was your initial reaction when Smash gained the popularity it did?
Noodles: It was crazy! We never expected it. Punk bands were always underground. We always thought we would be underground—it was something we thought we would just have fun doing for a few years before we all had to get real jobs and settle down and have families, and all of that.
We never expected Smash to do what it was going to do. Right before we made Smash, we toured Europe opening up for NOFX, and we saw that they were actually making enough money to live off of. So, we hoped we would get a little closer to that, but we never really expected to make it into a career.
SLUG: What was your mentality when the Offspring started? What influenced you to start the band then and how have those influences changed over time?
Noodles: The influences, at the time, were a lot of the local bands. The biggest influence on all of us in The Offspring is T.S.O.L. We all just love that band—everything from their early stuff to Dance With Me, all the way up to Beneath the Shadows and even into some of the Joe Woods stuff, we love, too.
When we got together as a band, we all really just loved music. I first started playing with a band called Clowns of Death, which we actually stole from Oingo Boingo when they were playing club shows to get some warm up gigs. When they were done using it, we stole that name. When Dexter first sat in with the whole band, [we were practicing] in my parents’ living room. Then a couple of months later, he asked me to join Manic Subsidal, but we would change it to be The Offspring a few months after that. We stuck with The Offspring because no one [in the band] hated it. It doesn’t nail anything down, it’s kind of nebulous, you can take it to mean a lot of things, and we ended up sticking with that.
SLUG: What is meaningful to you about The Offspring being in it’s 35th year as a band?
Noodles: Everyday that I get to go out and do this is a blessing. We thought that it would be something that we would do in our time off as a hobby. We never planned on it ending, but we didn’t think we’d be doing it forever, you know? We love music and we love getting together and doing it, so, now that we get to do it for a living, it’s just so much fun.
I remember being a little afraid when things started taking off with Smash because it’s like … this is my job now. But every night that we get to take the stage and play music or get to go into the studio to put songs together, it’s so much fun—it’s what we love to do—and that hasn’t changed. Everyday we get to do that is a blessing.
SLUG: What has been your favorite experience you’ve had while in The Offspring?
Noodles: Oh man, there’s been so many. One of the ones that sticks to my mind was around the time of Americana, I think. We did a couple of headlining shows at the Verizon Amphitheater, which is gone now. One of the shows goes off—it was crazy, packed house, local crowd. We loved them and they loved us, family and friends were there, and we did a big, long meet-and-greet afterwards. After the show, I was walking out to the car with my wife and [I remember] looking up into the bleachers and thinking, “What the fuck just happened?” It was crazy.
We just played four shows in Japan that were incredible. The venues were small, but the crowds were just as energetic as they’ve ever been. There have been so many great times.
SLUG: Out of all of your songs and albums, what are your favorites to play? Why?
Noodles: I always really like playing new stuff that we’re trying to work out, but I love all of them, really. I really do. I love it when we mix in deep cuts that we haven’t played for a while. When we were in Australia in December, we were playing Smash in its entirety, all the way through. So, we had to work out “Something to Believe In” and “Not the One”—songs that we haven’t really played in a long time. Those songs are always fun, but I love playing “Gone Away,” and “Kids Aren’t Alright.” “Self Esteem” is always fun, and “Come Out and Play” is super fun, too.
SLUG: What have you noticed in the mix of generations of pop punk fans who attend your shows? How do you feel when you witness the impact your music has on fans of all ages?
Noodles: The audience hasn’t really changed much, in the front. It might be a little greyer in the back, but in the front, there’s always been young, energetic people. It’s incredible because it’s never really changed. We, I guess, have. I’ve gotten older, but our crowd hasn’t, and we feed off of that energy, and it helps keep us young, too. I don’t really know how to analyze that we are reaching these people, but I know the feeling when we connect with the audience at our shows is like nothing else in the world. For me, it really comes together when we’re playing live. It’s the main reason why I wanted to do this.
I just know that when people are rocking out, whether they’re expressing their angst during a song like “Bad Habit” or just smiling during a silly song like “Pretty Fly for a White Guy,” there’s just no feeling in the world like that.
The Offspring are cruising by The Fairgrounds this Sat. April 27 with the Sabroso Craft Beer, Taco & Music Festival. Be sure to catch their set, grab some delicious tacos, a refreshing beer and keep your eyes peeled for their upcoming album that’s dropping sometime this year.