The Offspring – Through The Years by Mark McConville

Punk Noir Magazine

The Offspring – Through The Years. 

When describing the early years of Californian stalwarts The Offspring, you think about snotty nose punk, blood boiling veins, sheer rage, with heaps of charisma drip fed in for good measure. The band came to the punk stage in 1989, stretching their strong muscles for the limelight that would shine on them years after. On the evidence of their debut, no one expected them to elevate as quickly as they did, no one knew the act had the balls to create listenable punk rock which was flooded with hooks and bravery.

That first album didn’t blow the walls down commercially, well it wasn’t on a major label, and it was released under the innovative but defunct label Nemesis Records. Nemesis Records functioned as an independent label, and had given The Offspring their push, their chance to taste the live-wire circuit. On that record, The Offspring didn’t reinvent the wheel; they didn’t score hits or twist the world into a frenzy, but it was a commendable start.

Ignition landed in 1992, and was a raw, punchy and a sincere effort. Ambitious in their output, 

The Offspring had found their groove and verve, and Ignition solidified them as a band to watch, a band to commit to if you were accustomed to the fast-pace sound. Guitars galore ingrained the record and frontman Dexter Holland sung with authority and great attention to detail. For being record number 2, it enticed the punk community dramatically. Songs like We Are One and Get It Right epitomised the punk rock energy of the 90s.

Stamping their name into gold was important to The Offspring. And in 1994 they secured this feat. Smash was their beast, their behemoth album, their tour de force. An album that would go up against the brilliance of Green Day’s Dookie. Both albums would sell considerably, but it was the beginning of the end for the independent record label which housed The Offspring. Epitaph Records, a label founded by punk legend and Bad Religion guitarist Brett Gurewitz. Not that Epitaph Records were disbanding; it was that they were losing a prized asset.

Smash, as a punk record, sounded more commercial and polished than previous albums. Its contents were still praised, and the opus goes down as one of the most influential discs ever created. But with all the acclaim came backlash from the punk community and Gurewitz. They weren’t exceedingly jubilant about the band signing on the dotted line to become a major label act. This decision didn’t faze The Offspring, it only added gasoline to the flames, hunger and intent to become one the biggest band’s on the planet. And there were so many hits on Smash. Those simple riffs were gratifying and the dark lyricism macabre in an honest fashion. The highlight songs were Self-Esteem and So Alone, which spearheaded The Offspring model and sound superbly.

Ixnay On An Hombre came as a major label inclusion in 1997. The Offspring’s first album under Columbia records. A rough around the edges release it was abrasive and punky. The riffs were pleasing and the punk aura knitted convincingly. It didn’t break boundaries or snatch away the brilliance of Smash, but it delivered those high octane moments.

Americana launched in 1998. Its aura pulsated, and it became a staple for the disenchanted. Polished and commercial in its significance, it proved to be a hit. Some fans dislodged themselves from The Offspring fever though and decided the record was too ‘’safe’’. In hindsight, those comments had weight and substance. But Americana smashed through the barrage and became a massive success. It sold over a 175,000 copies in its first week and had sold 10 million units worldwide. Not bad for a punk band.

The millennium would bring Conspiracy Of One into the atmosphere. A disc full of earworms and absolute bashfulness, it granted The Offspring more space and freedom to do what they wanted. Want You Bad was a song that embedded the minds of many music fans, a track simple with its effectiveness, blew the roof off. Also A Million Miles Away became hailed as a go to track. Holland as a songwriter swooped for glory and his poetry hit a sophisticated benchmark.

Conspiracy Of One had properly diluted the style which The Offspring used as their springboard. Yes, the songs on that record had the punk bloodline, but they were ultimately glossy. This didn’t slide The Offspring off the beaten track though, it made them even more of a household name, securing them colossal pay checks.

In 2003, The Offspring released Splinter. A cohesive album, but one that never reached the heights of prior records. Applauded for its direction and diversity, it has become a cult record to some. There were punk moments lashed into the album. Songs like Hit That and Never Gonna Find Me propelled the punk flag to an almighty height.

It would be 5 years before The Offspring released a full length. Rise And Fall, Rage And Grace, landed in 2008. With burning hits and great, brooding lyrics it did occasionally put fire the in bellies of fans were there from the beginning. Although it delivered some catchy numbers and instrumental bite, it was a mainstream monster many couldn’t look at. It also received mixed reviews by critics, many stating that the band didn’t move with the times. But, Rise And Fall, Rage And Grace, did span four singles, and those songs all reminded us they still had punk rock flowing through their veins.

Days Go By hit the scene in 2012. A highly powered LP, it had groove and energy. But, yet again, it received mixed review and didn’t hit the glass ceiling in terms of progressiveness or urgency. Not a terrible album by any stretch, but one that was under par. The Future Is Now is a highlight and is the song that opens the record.

Well, The Offspring have had an illustrious time of it, even when some records didn’t stand up against the past efforts. This doesn’t diminish their influence on the scene though, as they’re a band which held their own against some big names, especially in the 90s.