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Members include Bryan "Dexter" Holland, vocals, guitar; Greg "Noodles" Wasserman, guitar and vocals; Greg "Greg K." Kriesel, bass; Ron Welty, drums. Addresses: Record company--Columbia Records, 550 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10022-3211.
Achieving superstar status with their repertoire of punk songs that cross the border into tuneful pop, The Offspring have carved out a unique place for themselves in rock music. "We've approached the punk-rock thing as a legitimate style of music, and we try to play it like a real band and write lyrics that people can identify with," claimed the group's songwriter and lead singer Dexter Holland in Rolling Stone. Jon Pareles acknowledged the group's versatility in the New York Times, calling their music "a grab-bag of Southern California rock: speedy punk and ska, twangy surf- rock, hefty hard rock, nasal grunge melodies and ardent new wave." Offspring became one of the super groups on the alternative rock circuit after scoring a surprise number-one hit with "Come Out and Play (You Gotta Keep 'Em Separated)" in 1994 from their widely popular Smash album.
Unlike typical punk music stars whose anger was ignited by urban blight, the members of The Offspring were more geeks than rebels, and they grew up fairly well-to-do in the suburbs of California's Orange County. Group leader Bryan "Dexter" Holland was valedictorian of his high school class, became a pre-med student in college and is currently close to earning his Ph.D. in microbiology. He first became enamored with punk music in his senior year at Pacifica High School in California, after hearing music by T.S.O.L., The Adolescents, and Agent Orange. "Something about those bands at the time made me really excited, and got me interested enough to want to start a band," said Holland in RIP. Holland and Greg Kriesel, both of whom ran on the school's cross- country team, formed the group Manic Subsidal with two other teammates in 1984 despite not knowing how to play any instruments. "Bryan and I both learned together, and he wasn't even playing chords at the time, so he'd play on one string, and I tried to do the same thing," Kriesel told Rolling Stone.
After graduating from high school, Holland and Kriesel went off to college and were limited to rehearsing on weekends. Kevin Wasserman, an older Pacifica graduate who was working as the school janitor, came into the group when their guitarist left the band. Ron Welty took over drumming duties permanently after frequent stand-ins for the regular drummer, who was attending medical school and was increasingly unavailable. Meanwhile, Holland was venturing into songwriting and the group was eager to get into the studio.
In 1987 the group used their own money to record a seven-inch single, but then couldn't sell it. Two years of rough times followed before they landed a contract with Nemesis, a small punk label distributed by Cargo. With Nemesis they produced another seven-inch single called "Baghdad" and their first album called The Offspring in 1989. Producing the album was Thom Wilson, who had also produced songs for T.S.O.L., The Vandals, and The Dead Kennedys.
Offspring's first recordings were standard punk songs. "All punk bands back in '84 wrote about was police, death, religion and war," said Holland in Rolling Stone. "So that's what we did." As the group began sending out demo recordings to the full gamut of punk labels, they attracted the attention of Brett Gurewitz, the guitarist with Bad Religion who also owned Epitaph Records. Epitaph signed the group and released its Ignition LP in 1992, which sold over 30,000 copies. Word got out on the potential of Offspring, resulting in a bidding war between major record labels, but the group decided to stay with Epitaph.
"You could tell as the tracks starting going down that there was something kind of neat going on," Holland told the Los Angeles Times about the recording of Smash in 1994. "And like when we got done we thought, 'Wow, we made a neat little record.'" However, no one in the group anticipated the tremendous impact that the album had on the music world. When Epitaph tried to promote airplay of the album's "Come Out and Play" on the Los Angeles alternative- rock station KROQ, no one in the band felt that the song was that special, according to the Los Angeles Times. Before long the song was being played frequently on many commercial stations, as well as on television. After "Come Out and Play," which Rolling Stone called "worthy of the best rock-songwriting tradition," soared up the charts, the Offspring soon became superstars whose fame rivaled that of punkdom's Green Day. The singles "Self-Esteem" and "Gotta Get Away" from Smash also proved popular, helping boost worldwide sales of the album to over nine million and making it the top-selling LP ever on an independent label.
After the release of Smash, the Offspring toured extensively in the U.S., Europe, Japan, and Australia. In 1996 they signed a contract with Columbia Records after disagreements with Epitaph. Their first release on the new label was Ixnay on the Hombre in 1997. The release was produced by Dave Jerden, who had worked with Social Distortion and Jane's Addiction. As on Smash, the group offered a mix of hardcore music, hard rock, pop, and ska on the new album. Ixnay on the Hombre also featured much experimenting with different tempos and rhythms. "Gone Away" starts slowly, luring the listener into thinking it's a ballad before erupting into ferocious rock, and mideastern guitar riffs add an exotic flair to "Me & My Old Lady."
Although known as tireless performers who gladly take to the road, Offspring has not embraced their current fame without reservation. "Sometimes we feel the spotlight," Holland told the Los Angeles Times. "It gets kind of uncomfortable, you know, having people watch you all the time."
by Ed Decker
First began rehearsing as a band (Holland and Kriesel), 1984; began performing at 924 Gilman Street club in Berkeley, CA, 1986; paid to release its first single, 1987; signed recording contract with Nemesis, 1989; released first album, The Offspring, on Nemesis, 1989; signed contract with Epitaph Records, 1990s; released Ignition on Epitaph, 1992; scored first hit single with "Come Out and Play," 1994; generated biggest sales of all time for an album on an independent label (Smash), 1994; performed as opening act for telecast of the Billboard Music Awards, 1994; re- released The Offspring on their own label, Nitro, 1995; performed in Reading Festival, U.K.; Bizarre Festival, Germany; and Pukklepop Festival, Belgium, 1996; signed recording contract with Columbia, 1996; released Ixnay on the Hombre on Columbia, 1997.
- Selective Works
- The Offspring, Nemesis, 1989.
- Ignition, Epitaph, 1992.
- Smash, Epitaph, 1994.
- Ixnay on the Hombre, Columbia, 1997.
- Entertainment Weekly, August 12, 1994, pp. 54-55.
- Los Angeles Times, January 29, 1995, p. 8 Musician, August 1994, p. 90.
- New York Times, February 22, 1997, p. A17.
- RIP, October 1994, pp. 8-10.
- Rolling Stone, November 3, 1994, pp. 25-27; February 9, 1995, pp.
- Spin, November 1994, pp. 47-50; March 1995, pp. 24-25.
- Additional information for this profile was obtained from publicity materials from the Mitch Schneider Organization released by Sony Records.
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