The Offspring grows up

Punk band explores whims on new album

By John Benson

In case you haven’t noticed, over the last two decades The Offspring has become the Tom Petty of punk rock with one catchy hit song after another.

“I see what you’re saying and, wow, that’s pretty cool,” said guitarist Noodles, calling from his Huntington, Calif., home. “That’s high praise, as Nicolas Cage would say. What I’m stoked about is in this band we can have a song be a huge hit like ‘Pretty Fly For a White Guy’ — just a dumb silly song — and a song like ‘The Kids Aren’t Alright’ or ‘Gone Away’ that’s a lot more heartfelt.

“Those songs really move people as well. When we wake up on the wrong side of the bed we can write a song that’s serious or how we’re feeling down and then the next day we’ll just write a funny, light-hearted thing to just get people moving.”

Since the band’s 1994 album “Smash,” which remains the highest-selling indie album of all time with sales of more than 6 million copies, The Offspring has been moving people around the globe with its punk-infused, radio-friendly sound. In addition to the aforementioned tunes, the Southern California-based band is known for rock anthems “Self Esteem,” “Come Out and Play (Keep ‘Em Separated),” “Hammerhead” and “You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid.”

Now you can add new song “Days Go By” to the mix. It’s the title track off The Offspring’s recently released ninth album, which found the band returning to the studio with famed producer Bob Rock (Metallica, Motley Crue, The Cult).

“Working with Bob has been a little different,” Noodles said. “We’re writing in front of the mics more. We’re spending a lot of time creating stuff, rather than demo-ing and then thinking about it. Going into the studio we didn’t have any kind of preconceived notions of what we needed to do, we just wanted to make a record.”

What The Offspring made with “Days Go By” is another typical eclectic album that ranges from the reggae-sounding “OC Guns” to the straight-ahead title track and the tongue-in-cheek “Cruising California (Bumpin’ In My Trunk).” Noodles said the latter song, which is the group’s latest single, was the band’s shameless attempt at writing a pop song.

The notion of catering to creative whims and creating various soundscapes within each album is nothing new to The Offspring. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why the outfit often garners the “sell out” label from punk diehards.

“We’ve definitely been called sell outs from the minute ‘Smash’ started selling,” Noodles said. “We got attacked with that and it was mostly punkers who weren’t into us in the first place.”

Those fans still into The Offspring know the act keeps its ear to the ground. Noodles said the inspiration for the lead track came from the tough economic times facing the country. While the CD’s cover features a kid and an old man sitting apart on a park bench on a gloomy day, the guitarist said the album’s message isn’t obvious.

“It’s a cycle from a young man to an old man, where you experience good times and times when you’re struggling,” Noodles said. “With things we see going on in the world, we’re trying to point out that days go by and things will get better. You just have to hang in there. Also, if you unfold the CD cover it’ll reveal a sunny day eating away at a dark, grim forest. So we have some optimism. It’s not all nihilism and ‘Drink up pal because tomorrow you’re dead.’”

Hmm, a message of optimism? Perhaps The Offspring did sell out.

“I don’t know, maybe we’re just getting a little bit more hopeful for the future,” Noodles said. “Standing together and picking your fights wisely and moving toward making a better future — those are punk rock values.”

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