The mid-‘90s were marked by reality talk shows, Kangol hats, butterfly hair clips and Californian punk rock. In 1994, Californian rockers dominated the music scene with the release of Green Day’s Dookie, Weezer’s The Blue Album and The Offspring’s Smash. While each band enjoyed platinum selling records, it was The Offspring that reached unprecedented commercial success, selling 11 million records worldwide.
The album’s catchy melodies and punk guitar riffs allowed the band to successfully disguise the pointed social commentary within their lyrics, making their music accessible to a mainstream audience. Their first single “Come Out and Play” addressed gang violence in schools and their second single, “Self Esteem,” detailed abusive relationships. Despite the album’s decidedly heavy content, Smash set the record for most albums sold by an independent label and garnered the band steady radio play.
Their 1997 follow-up Ixnay on the Hombre reached platinum but it was their 1998 album Americana that cemented The Offspring as one of the best-selling punk rock bands of all time. Featuring “Why Don’t You Get a Job” and “The Kids Aren’t Alright,” the album gave fans more of the same hard-hitting music they came to expect. The notable exception was the surprise hit “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy).” Written in response to cultural appropriation, the song peaked at number 53 on the Billboard Hot 100 and had white suburban kids happily singing “he’s tryin’ too hard, and he’s not quite hip but in his own mind, he’s the dopest trip.”
In a 1998 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, lead vocalist Dexter Holland explained the genesis of the album. "The songs on Americana aren't condemnations, they're short stories about the state of things and what we see going on around us. We want to expose the darker side of our culture. It may look like an episode of Happy Days out there in America, but it feels more like Twin Peaks.”
Although the band’s next two albums Conspiracy of One and Splinter went platinum and gold respectively, they could not match the band’s previous success. For the next five years the band would take an extended hiatus and go through two drummers before dropping Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace in 2008.
The album’s first single “You’re Gonna Go Far Kid” topped the Hot Modern Rock Tracks and quickly became one of the band’s most successful singles, proving that the band hadn’t lost its mojo.
With an anticipated tenth studio album reported to be released in 2017, The Offspring has been spending much of 2016 on tour. Over the past two months they have played in Japan, Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Mexico to name a few. On October 29. The Offspring will conclude their world tour with a pit stop at the Alaska Airlines Center. The concert will mark the first time the band has played on Alaskan soil in over 10 years.
“This will be our third time playing in Alaska and we’re really stoked about it,” said lead guitarist Noodles. “On our last visit to Anchorage our gear got stuck in Seattle and we had to borrow completely new and different gear from Mammoth Music, who were super cool about lending us all kinds of drums, amps and guitars. The audience was great and the show went off without a hitch. It was a really unique and fun evening. Can’t wait to do it again (hopefully with our gear this time)!”
*Originally published by the Anchorage Press