Off­spring still truckin’

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Eguide Music - SAM KEL­TON

IN APRIL 1994, the mu­sic scene changed for­ever. The same month that one of grunge’s most revered front­men, Kurt Cobain, took his own life in the grim sur­round­ings of Seat­tle, a rel­a­tively-un­known Cal­i­for­nian punk band called The Off­spring ( pic­tured) re­leased Smash an al­bum that would break all the rules.

Now on the eve of the band’s ninth stu­dio ef­fort, front­man Dex­ter Hol­land re­mem­bers the true birth of The Off­spring and how ‘‘ punk’ stopped be­ing a dirty word.

‘‘ It changed very quickly for us,’’ Hol­land says of 1994.

‘‘ We’d been a band for about 10 years and we could feel some­thing go­ing on and more peo­ple were show­ing up at the shows, but when Smash came out and hit the ra­dio it took off real quick.’’

Hol­land knew the band mem­bers were on to some­thing when they were writ­ing the songs and at­tributes much of the cre­ativ­ity be­hind the band’s sem­i­nal al­bum to his old pick- up truck.

‘‘ We were very ex­cited about the songs,’’ he says. ‘‘ It felt like we were be­com­ing a bet­ter band.

‘‘ When I was try­ing to write the songs for Smash, I was driv­ing a re­ally old, beat- up pick- up truck and it was so old and di­lap­i­dated that the ra­dio didn’t work. But be­cause it didn’t work, it gave me time to drive around and think about the songs.’’

Eigh­teen years on, mil­lions more records sold and with the band set to re­lease its new al­bum, Days Go By, Hol­land ad­mits he still has that old, beat- up truck.

‘‘ I kept the truck, it was sen­ti­men­tal,’’ he laughs.

‘‘ I still have it and when life re­ally sucks some­times I’ll get in it and drive around. You got to get away from the reg­u­lar dayto- day stuff whether it’s driv­ing an old truck or pad­dling out for a surf.’’

More im­por­tantly, Days Go By finds the band sound­ing just as dan­ger­ous and pro­vok­ing as they were al­most two decades ago. ‘‘ The ma­jor­ity of the record is very much what peo­ple would think an Off­spring record sounds like,’’ Hol­land says.

‘‘ It’s fast, it’s melodic and ag­gres­sive. That’s the core of who we are, but it was fun on this record to push the bound­aries a lit­tle bit.’’

Push the bound­aries Hol­land did with the band’s first sin­gle Cruis­ing Cal­i­for­nia ( Bumpin’ In My Trunk), re­ceiv­ing very mixed re­ac­tions from the punk com­mu­nity be­fore the band pulled them back in with the im­me­di­acy and fa­mil­iar, punk- rock ethos of the al­bum’s ti­tle track.

But the singer ad­mits The Off­spring have al­ways di­vided fans.

‘‘ We ex­pected that a lit­tle bit,’’ he says of Cruis­ing Cal­i­for­nia.

‘‘ It’s ob­vi­ously a dif­fer­ent kind of song for us. It’s a fun song and we have some re­ally diehard fans who only want to hear su­per punk rock stuff.

‘‘ We love them and we’re glad to have them as fans but we’ve been mix­ing it up ever since we started so it doesn’t feel that dif­fer­ent for us as a Why Don’t You Get a Job and you know what? We got the same re­ac­tion back then when we put out that song or Pretty Fly For a White Guy, there was def­i­nitely some con­tro­versy but it’s just what we like to do.’’

Last in Aus­tralia for the 2008 Sound­wave Fes­ti­val, Hol­land ad­mits the band hoped to be in­cluded on next year’s line- up to re­turn Down Un­der with Days Go By.

‘‘ AJ ( Mad­dah, head of Sound­wave) was at a cou­ple of our shows and we chat­ted, so hope­fully things can work out and we can come back,’’ Hol­land said. ‘‘ We’ll def­i­nitely be com­ing to Aus­tralia ei­ther way.’’

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