Where To Start With... The Offspring
One of the leading lights of California’s punk revival scene which also saw the rise of bands like Green Day, NOFX and Bad Religion – The Offspring first formed in the mid-1980s under the name Manic Subsidal with frontman Dexter Holland and bassist Greg Kriesel as the original founding members, later to be joined by drummer James Lilja and guitarist Kevin ‘Noodles’ Wasserman. (Noodles, rumour has it, was their school janitor and was allegedly hired partly on the basis that he was the only one old enough to buy alcohol).
After changing their name to The Offspring, the band self-released their first single ‘I’ll Be Waiting’ in 1986, but it would be another two years until the band signed a deal with small independent label Nemesis Records and began to work on their debut album, with Lilja leaving to pursue a career in oncology and a then 16-year-old Ron Welty taking his place behind the drums.
Released in June 1989, The Offspring saw the band team up with producer Thom Wilson for the first time and while the impact of their debut wasn’t huge, having been released only as limited run on vinyl and cassette, the Wilson connection would prove to be an important one and it was the producer who was instrumental in persuading Bad Religion guitarist to sign the band to his label Epitaph Records.
From there, things began to click into place. The Offspring’s second album Ignition, also produced by Wilson, was released in 1992 and saw them start to refine their brash yet anthemic sound which, combined with a year and a half of relentless touring, helped to earn the band a sizeable following.
But it was with their third album Smash which provided the breakthrough they needed. Yielding huge hits that included ‘Come Out and Play’ and the towering ‘Self Esteem’, Smash saw The Offspring break into the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, heralding a period of commercial success that would continue throughout the decade with follow-up albums Ixnay on the Hombre, Americana, and
Conspiracy of One.
The following decade saw their output begin to slow, releasing just two albums – 2003’s Splinter and 2008’s Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace – and while they’ve continued to tour intensively in the years since, their last full-length offering came in 2012 with their ninth studio album Days Go By. Even though a tenth album was being discussed by the band as early as 2013, its gestation has been an extremely long one, with projected release dates slipping further and further into the future. The prospect of a new LP began to look even more shaky in 2019 when the band parted company with bassist Greg K., the two parties subsequently becoming embroiled in legal action.
However, by late 2019 both Dexter Holland and Noodles had both given statements indicating that the new album was finished, and although a release date was eventually fixed for early last year, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed things once again.
This week, though, The Offspring’s long-awaited tenth album Let the Bad Times Roll finally makes its arrival in stores. Vetereran producer Bob Rock is manning the controls for the new LP, which features 12 new tracks including recent single ‘Coming For You’ and a reworked piano version of 1997 single ‘Gone Away’.
You can find the video for the new album’s title track below, beneath that we’ve rounded up five key tracks from The Offspring’s back catalogue to celebrate their return…
It could be argued that ‘Come Out and Play’ was The Offspring’s first real breakthrough hit, and that’s certainly true in America, but in terms of global reach – and especially in the UK – it was ‘Self Esteem’ that created the biggest impact. Loud, brash and with a sing-along chorus that still gets belted out at their live shows to this day, this is still one of their finest moments.
Given a piano-led reworking on the new album, 'Gone Away' was released in its original form in 1997 as one of the singles from Smash’s follow-up Ixnay on the Hombre and was the album’s only real hit, one that remains a fan favourite even now. The new version should mix things up when the band get back on the road, too.
‘Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)’
If Ixnay on the Hombre didn’t quite hit the heights of Smash in terms of songwriting and commercial success, the band’s shift to Columbia Records and follow-up Americana once again delivered several hits for the band, none bigger than this. Maybe a bit of a novelty track when weighed against some of their other work, this was nevertheless one of the band’s biggest hits ever.
‘You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid’
Outside of their 90s heyday, this cut from 2008’s Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace is probably the band’s most recent big hit, enjoying an 11-week run at the top of the charts in the US, and showing that even if they weren’t as prolific as they used to be, they still knew how to wring out a great song when they wanted to.
‘Kristy, Are You Doing Okay?’
Our final pick is one of the more introspective tracks in The Offspring’s catalogue and was written by Holland as a kind of apology, on behalf of himself and others around him, who failed to help a young girl in their neighbourhood who was being abused. If proof were needed, this shows that that was always more to the band’s songwriting than shouty, pop-punk anthems.
Let the Bad Times Roll is in stores now - you can also find it here in our online store...