The Untold Truth Of The Offspring

The Offspring have been around for a long time. Since the 1980s, the band has worked on several albums. Some of their most noteworthy songs include "All I Want," "Days Go By," "Gone Away," "Want You Bad," "The Kids Aren't Alright," and "Self-Esteem" (via NME). The punk rock musicians have seen several highs and lows through the course of their career and are guaranteed to take anyone on a nostalgic trip to the 1990s with their numerous hits from back in the day. Perhaps one of their most celebrated songs is "Smash," which is what first propelled them to fame. 

The band has some rather interesting stories to tell. They once helped out a fan by being unbelievably charitable. According to Kerrang, they blessed one fan by giving him $1 million after he won a contest that required fans to download the band's single, "Original Prankster." A 14-year-old won the competition and said, "It's overwhelming. I can't believe I won."

Over the years, The Offspring have witnessed several controversies, including major changes to their lineup. For instance, they suffered a huge setback when one of the cofounders, Greg Kriesel, left the band in 2018. Despite the roadblocks they've encountered, what is clear is that the musicians have played an instrumental role in shaping punk music as most enthusiasts know it. Here's a trip down memory lane with one of the most notable and underrated bands from the 1990s.

The Offspring first started their journey in the 1980s

The band's inception began with guitarist and vocalist Bryan "Dexter" Holland and their bassist Greg Kriesel. According to the New York Post, the duo got together in 1984 and created a band called Manic Subsidal, later renamed The Offspring. This was a time when musicians like the B-52s, Devo, and the Cars were ruling the space. Holland was intrigued by punk music and enjoyed the vibes surrounding it. "I always liked music but there was definitely something different about punk rock when it came out," he once explained.

Theirs was a humble beginning, and they didn't even have the right tools or equipment to work with. All they had was a dream. As per Louder Sound, Holland knew Kriesel from school, and they were inspired after they failed to see legendary band Social Distortion live at a concert. Slowly, the musicians started working towards creating music, creating their band with two other friends. They didn't know it yet, but they were going to have to brave through a long journey to taste success in the following years.

Dexter Holland was introduced to punk by his brother

As pointed out by a Rolling Stone piece, Dexter Holland didn't actually know punk music until much later during his years as a school student. He aspired to be a doctor and to please his parents, who were from relatively traditional backgrounds. While his dad was an administrator at a hospital, his mom taught was a teacher. He was also intrigued by sports and was class valedictorian.

Things changed when Holland's older brother introduced him to punk music in his senior year. He listened closely to a Rodney on the ROQ compilation album and was hooked, following bands like T.S.O.L., the Adolescents, and Agent Orange. These musicians weren't fixating on politics like some of their peers and appealed to Holland. Offspring co-founder Greg Kriesel found out about punk through Holland himself. Before that, he was considering what his father had in mind for him — law school. Like Holland, Kriesel was also big on sports and enjoyed it immensely.

Music took on a different meaning when Holland showed Kriesel what a remarkable space it could be. "Music wasn't something that meant a lot to me," he later said. "But I started listening to it because it was around, and I got used to it." Interestingly, Holland and Kriesel were amateurs when it came to playing music at that point and taught themselves, focusing on getting better every day.

Noodles was a janitor

As per Rolling Stone, Kevin John Wasserman, better known as Noodles, was a janitor before he became famous. When Dexter Holland offered Noodles a chance to be a part of the band, he agreed, but didn't actually have high expectations. "It was just punk rock," he said. "I loved the music, I loved the songs, but I didn't think it was really going to go anywhere. I didn't think it was going to be a career" (via Kerrang).

In fact, even while working with The Offspring, Noodles was still holding down his job at the Earl Warren School in Anaheim. He did take leave for about three years and was still working when the band got big, because he'd told his boss he would only leave after the school year ended. 

Noodles revealed, "There was this one high school girl that I knew [there] and she used to see me in the morning and say to me, 'Man, what are you doing? I just saw you on MTV!'"

The Offspring's first hit had unconventional origins

The Offspring have always been unconventional and unlike their peers. For example, their first hit in 1994, "Come Out And Play," was inspired from Dexter Holland driving a bad car around the Watts and Compton neighborhoods when he was a student at the University of Southern California. The song was essentially about gang violence within the city and was created during the riots in Los Angeles that saw two groups, the Crips and the Bloods, fighting each other (via Kerrang.) 

A piece by All Music observed that "Come Out And Play" was similar to Nirvana's sound and garnered major appreciation back then, becoming popular on MTV and allowing the band to find success on radio stations. They'd play on alternative as well as album rock stations and were thus able to reach out to different types of listeners. Their second hit, "Self Esteem," was similar to their first hit in the sense that it had soft verses and a loud chorus. It became even more popular and was on the music charts for a longer period than "Come Out And Play."

Epitaph Records weren't keen on The Offspring at first

Epitaph Records weren't initially keen on working with The Offspring. As reported by Kerrang, the owner of the record company, Brett Gurewitz, refused to sign the band at first. "I was very familiar with them from the LA scene," he said. "They sent me their demos, periodically ... [but] I declined to sign them. I thought the demos were good, but not really good enough for me to want to take the plunge."

According to the Rolling Stone, The Offspring had to go through several rejections before they worked with a punk label called Nemesis. It took Dexter Holland and his bandmates more slogging and distributing their demos to several labels, during which they were trying to work on their next album, for Gurewitz to change his mind and give the musicians a chance. "It definitely had what people call the Epitaph sound," the music producer said. "High-energy, rebellious punk with great melodies and cool, economical song structures." Epitaph chose to release The Offspring's Ignition in 1992, an album that featured 12 songs from the band and was punk music at its heart and soul.

The Offspring took the music industry by storm in the 1990s

In the 1990s, The Offspring managed to make a splash with their original sound and by selling millions of albums, which was no easy feat for a band that was still trying to make an impact in the industry (via All Music.) The band managed to get mainstream attention when it released Smash, their third album in April 1994. Their edgy music managed to find a fan base of its own, and music enthusiasts in the United States as well as the United Kingdom found an appreciation for their sound. According to Louder Sound, the sales for the album were impressive — 11 million in a short period. 

Smash was a lot of work, and when it finally released, fans went mad. As highlighted by Kerrang, the release party was held in Los Angeles, and a photographer mentioned that the event was pretty nuts. "I'll never forget it," she said. "The walls were sweating — it was just so crazy. It was like a sea of people crawling over each other. And it was so sweaty and hot in there."

Moreover, the band wasn't ready for everything they were about to experience. For instance, Noodles described being on tour with Smash in 1994 and realizing that things were about to change in a big way when they were informed that Smash had gone platinum in the U.S. "It was a weird feeling. I guess it was good, but it's a life-changing thing," Noodles said.

The Offspring didn't have it easy

To get their unique sounds appreciated as a band took time and energy. Dexter Holland and his bandmates were acutely aware of the kind of struggles they had to endure to taste success. According to Rolling Stone, it was imperative for the band members to treat punk as their passion instead of looking it as a way to put food on the table. This meant that for a long time, the band had to spilt time between holding down their regular jobs and cementing their presence in the industry as musicians. "There were times when I was going to quit the band because I had too many other things going on in my life," Noodles said. "But I've quit school more times than I've quit the band."

A piece by Louder Sound highlighted some of the challenges the band members faced when they were trying to make it big. As an upcoming band, they were often forced to turn to unlicensed venues while playing in public, which meant that they weren't exactly safe. Holland explained that the spaces would be tiny without fire escapes, and everyone was packed into the room like sardines.

In fact, Noodles was once attacked at a show. According to Holland, some audience members showed up to mess around with members of the band, Final Conflict, and Noodles tried to intervene and help everyone calm down. In the ruckus, he was punched with a knife.

The Offspring were once mistaken for Green Day

Even when The Offspring managed to work on their brand and achieve success, they weren't immune to awkward situations. For example, as Rolling Stone explained, when the band showed up a rock radio station in San Francisco, the DJ accidentally referred to them as Green Day when he spoke abound the band. Dexter Holland retorted by stating that listeners should proceed to send vulgar faxes, and the winner would be given free tickets to the band's show that was scheduled for the following night.

As far as Holland was concerned, his band wasn't stereotypical and would never be. He cited his own example. "I liked running cross-country and getting good grades in high school," he said. "And I liked listening to punk music. Getting good grades was setting yourself apart — it was kind of cool to me that I was different in that I could do this as well as have my own music and my own identity."

The Offspring powered through a lot

For The Offspring, music has always been a conscious choice and something they haven't taken lightly as a band. According to Billboard, whenever people have exclaimed that the band has been together for the longest time, what they don't realize is that for a decade, music was a hobby for the musicians, and they paid out of their own pocket to tour and perform during the summer holidays. "We spent way more money than we ever made doing it, just because it's what we love to do, it's fun," Noodles said. "So now, to be able to do it and make money at it, it's just gravy. We feel like we're just super lucky to be in this position."

Plus, as musicians, they've chosen to get out of their comfort zone while making music. While they've experimented with genres like hip-hop, they don't forget their roots and what inspired them in the first place. Dexter Holland explained that punk remains at the core of what they do. That said, they have felt the need to experiment with their sound a bit to avoid boredom and keep things fresh.

The band didn't always know that they'd be able to take risks, though. According to them, when they worked on slower songs, they were unsure how their fans would react. But luckily, they found a lot of success with songs like "Self Esteem" and "Come Out and Play."

Dexter Holland has a PhD

Dexter Holland is a man of many talents. According to Kerrang, after the success following the release of Smash, Holland took a break from his studies in molecular biology at the University of Southern California. His mom wasn't too pleased, and his professor felt like his student was doing something reckless. However, he did live up to their expectations and eventually finished his doctorate studies. As per Rolling Stone, Holland's work focused on the HIV virus

He said in a statement, "My research focused on the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, the virus which causes AIDS. I am interested in virology and wanted to contribute in some small way to the knowledge which has been learned about HIV and AIDS."

At the same time, Holland acknowledged that his work wasn't supposed to be a cure, but he hoped to contribute to the field by adding what he'd learned about the disease. He also hoped to continue his research work in the field and make a difference in his own way. While referring to a cure for the deadly illness, he added, "I believe that by adding to the vast amount of information that we've learned about HIV in the last 30 years or so, we'll get there."

The Offspring fought with each other

The Offspring have run into some controversies in the past, especially in terms of changes in their lineup. For example, in 2019, their ex-bandmate and bassist Greg Kriesel alleged that he wasn't treated fairly by his bandmates. In fact, Kriesel sued his former bandmates and said that they were part of a conspiracy to basically chuck him out of the band and that he wasn't even compensated. He alleged that they wanted to "seize the business, business opportunities, and assets of the [band's] Partnership" (via NME).

Dexter Holland and Noodles denied these accusations and said that Kriesel agreed to leave after speaking to them, when it became clear that they had creative differences. In the complaint filed by Holland, it was revealed that the bassist had been offered shares in "Offspring, Inc." However, Kriesel chose to end those negotiations and filed a lawsuit instead.

The Offspring faded over the years

Despite being popular and leaving a definite impact in the music industry, the band has faded in popularity over the years and are not as active as they once were. A Forbes piece highlighted the fact that pop music by itself has witnessed highs and lows over the years.Trends majorly influence what works and what fails to capture the imagination of audiences. 

The piece noted that The Offspring's style has worked at times. For example, in "Pretty Fly," they chose to rely on satire and tackled trends in a witty manner, which helped the band regain its popularity. However, they struggled to stay relevant over the years and weren't as impressive when it came to such songs as "Cruising California (Bumpin' In My Trunk)." As per Forbes, they weren't memorable with "Cruising California," and the end result was a messy affair that didn't quite take off or help them achieve more recognition.