There is no denying that there has been a wave of ’90s nostalgia in the music world lately, and some of the most beloved bands from 20 years ago are reuniting and releasing music to cash in on the craze. But some bands from the decade have been consistently going strong and evolving without slipping into obscurity. One such band is The Offspring, those punk-drenched dudes from California with huge hits like “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)” and “Come Out And Play,” among many others.
The band is not only celebrating the 20th anniversary of its second album, “Ignition,” this year, but it also just released a disc full of brand new songs last month. The new record, “Days Go By,” could not be mistaken for anyone other than The Offspring, but there is unmistakable growth and experimentation in the music that keeps it from being stale or dated.
The Offspring will kick off its summer tour next week with a stop at Cleveland’s House of Blues Tuesday, July 17 followed by a show at Columbus Commons Wednesday, July 18. The band’s longtime guitarist, Noodles, called in from California to give Buzzbin the scoop on the latest record, tour and much more.
What are your expectations for the summer tour?
Noodles: We just wanna go out. We’re real excited. We have a new record out, and we’re hoping the new songs go over well with the fans. We’re slowly going to start working the new songs in as well from, you know, at least as far back as “Smash.” Every once in a while we’ll try to toss in some of the songs from the other records, but we’re just hoping to go out there and have some fun and entertain some fans.
Are there any bands in particular you’re excited to play with?
Noodles: I’m really interested in checking out Dead Sara, and I know we’re Sublime and Rome, and I haven’t seen them play with Rome yet so I’m excited about that. We’re gonna do some festivals with Korn, as well as checking out the Neon Trees for a couple of gigs.
You guys are playing in Cleveland next Tuesday…
Noodles: Yeah, it’s coming up real quick, then we’re heading into Columbus. It’s pretty much back to back.
Have you been able to explore around Ohio while you’re on tour?
Noodles: Well, Cleveland rocks, you know. * laughs * We have gotten to go to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame there, and that’s really cool. I know one time we played there when we were on Warped Tour, and we got these little motorcycles and got to cruise around a little bit. We had these jumps and stuff set up, and we got up there on these little Honda 50s, so it was really fun.
You guys were on Jimmy Kimmel recently. What’s it like playing on that kind of TV stage compared to a bigger venue?
Noodles: The TV stuff can be really weird. That was the first time we’ve ever done it, really, those talk shows in the U.S. We’ve done a couple in Germany, once in France and “Top of the Pops” in the U.K. We’ve even done some Japanese TV. It’s a little weird… a little intimidating. It’s not like going out and playing a gig. You get all the nervous energy and all the adrenaline going, and you just do one song usually, then you’re done. But the way Kimmel does it is great because he’s actually set up outside, so it does have a feel like you’re playing a gig, and we got to play a few songs after the show was over. So the people who came to the show at least got to hear more than one or two songs.
I saw you guys had an album release party for “Days Go By”…
Noodles: Yeah, we did that out here in Huntington Beach at Chronic Tacos and we just signed autographs for about four hours. We also had a taco-eating contest, and Kobayashi the food eater did a demonstration and ate 30 tacos. That was like two seconds for every taco. We had mariachis… we had free T-shirts, there were tattoo booths. The T-shirt thing was kind of cool because it was custom. People could put whatever Offspring design they wanted wherever they wanted it on their T-shirts.
Have you guys had album release parties like that in the past?
Noodles: No, we never had one. That was the first time we’ve ever done it. It used to be we’d go over to [bassist] Greg’s house and drink beer. Our record’s out, let’s go drink beer!
It’s cool that you guys had a party where you could get the fans involved…
Noodles: Yeah, I liked that. I liked that I could meet the fans and shake their hands and get their feedback, like what songs the fans are enjoying on the new record and stuff like that.
Can you tell me about the process of recording your new album?
Noodles: We just wanted to make a record. We had no preconceived notions, there’s no message to it, no theme. We had ideas of the things that were going on in the world that we might write songs about, but really we’d just start with a riff or a melody or a drum beat sometimes, and you just try to build onto that. But we worked with [producer] Bob Rock again, who’s great, we worked with him on the last record. He pushes us to make every song better. We’ll start with something, and he’ll go, ‘Ehh, the chorus is great, but let’s work on this verse.’ The verse might not be there, and you’ll be like, ‘All right, Bob. We’ll work on it.’ We push ourselves, and it will end up he’s like, ‘Now, that verse is great! But the chorus… let’s work on the chorus.’ * laughs * But when we do get something that’s really good, he gets just as excited as the rest of us. It’s really cool working with him.
And the one thing that’s different is we used to demo everything and just go in and record it, and things would always change in the studio. But this time, we kind of wrote right in front of the microphones.
How has your sound evolved from the last record and even previous records?
Noodles: I think if you listen, it sounds like an Offspring record. We tweaked things a little bit, trying out different guitar sounds and stuff like that, because the technology certainly has changed. It makes things a lot easier, but you can get too caught up in that. We try not to. I don’t think we know enough to get too caught up in it. I don’t think we’ve changed our sound too much, but I know we’ve experimented a lot on this record. We’ve always thrown a couple of songs that are different on all of our records, but there might just be a little bit more of that on this record… maybe four or five songs instead of two or three.
I noticed there’s kind of a reggae influence in some songs, like “OC Guns”…
Noodles: For sure, yeah. We experimented with that a little with songs like “Worst Hangover Ever” and even “Get A Job” a little bit, but this time we just took it a little bit more and even added some mariachi on it. So it’s a little bit different. We had a lot of fun with that song. It was kind of hard making the mariachi and the ska and reggae thing fit together, but once we got it, it was fun. Lot of fun doing that.
And you guys have a new drummer on this album…
Noodles: Yeah, Pete [Parada] has been with us for probably about five years now, but this is the first record he’s on. He’s been doing some live stuff with us, but this record we brought Pete on for about half of it because he doesn’t live here – he lives up in Nashville – but we’d send him a couple demos and have him come out and try it. But a lot of times things change and stuff, and if we were working on it that day, we’d call Josh [Freese] who’s like 15 minutes away from us, and he’d come down and lay it down.
This year’s also the 20th anniversary of “Ignition.” Are you guys gonna do anything special for that?
Noodles: We have been this year. The first show we did was this small show here at this bar, Alex’s Bar in Long Beach, that can hold about 300 people. With our crew and everything, we had about 250 fans who were able to get in, and we did this thing and we’d take a break and do some more songs from throughout our career. We did some in Europe too. We’d do big festivals and also some smaller venues where we’d play the “Ignition” stuff. It was a lot of fun mixing it up like that.
Do you like playing in the smaller venues or bigger festivals better?
Noodles: I like them both for different reasons. The big ones go by so fast. It’s kind of an out-of-body experience when you’re playing them. Some of the big festivals are like 65,000 or 70,000 people, and when you get them all there, some all the way to the back just singing and stuff, there’s no feeling in the world like that. But when you’re doing the club shows, it’s a little more intimate and you can screw around and joke around between songs a little bit more. And the fans are right there, you know? They’re a lot closer.
Are there any songs on the new album you’re really excited to play on the upcoming tour?
Noodles: Yeah, we’ve actually played a couple of them this year, “Dividing By Zero” and “Slim Pickens Does the Right Thing and Rides the Bomb to Hell,” the two of those we played back to back because they just kind of fit and roll right into each other. We had a lot of fun with those. They’re kind of fast and furious. And I’m hoping we can work out “OC Guns.” I think that would be really fun. Everyone’s just gonna start smoking pot. It’s just one of those songs. * laughs *
Written by Brittany Nader
Photo courtesy of The Offspring & Columbia Records