It's time to locate the CD binder somewhere in a closet. Thumb through the inserts, and as nostalgia washes over, pull out 1994's "required listening" album for angst-filled teenagers and brush up on the Offspring's Smash. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the record that exposed the Huntington Beach, California, band to mainstream audiences and provided its sustained success thereafter.
How will the Offspring celebrate the anniversary? It is touring, stopping at Mesa Amphitheatre on Friday, August 29, and playing Smash live from front to back for the first time.
"The songs are as fresh as ever," says Offspring guitarist Kevin John Wasserman, a.k.a. Noodles, while acknowledging that many of the tracks have been staples of the band's set list for years.
Smash holds the record for bestselling album on an independent label (Epitaph), and its songs appeared in films such as American Pie 2, Orange County, and Idle Hands, and its videos enjoyed extensive airplay on Total Request Live.
Noodles looks back on the success and acknowledges that the Offspring "didn't expect to be on MTV at all!"
Then the backlash from self-proclaimed punkers rolled in.
"All the people calling us sellouts seemed to be young to the [punk] scene and wanting to keep [the scene] to themselves," Noodles says. "They thought, 'Nobody gets this stuff. I'm the only one who gets it.' Well, guess what? Twenty years after punk was originally heard, people get it, and it's not just you. Sorry, you're not as special as you'd like to think."
There is one way to describe a musician who claims to perform only for love of music: a liar. On some level, a glimmer of hope for fame and fortune exists within anyone who performs to other people. It all stems from that dream-big-and-you-can-be-president-some-day mentality inside us all that craves exposure. For those who disagree, what was the point of ever leaving the garage to perform then?
"You don't want fewer people to hear your music," Noodles says with a laugh when asked about the idea of musicians playing for popularity. "You hope your ideas resonate with people, and you hope people get it."
For most performers, that flickering light of hope is quickly extinguished and they're left shouting "sellout" at the exclusive few whose work does appear on a chart -- especially when that spot is alongside Sheryl Crow's Tuesday Night Music Club and The Lion King soundtrack (both albums shared the Top 10 with Smash in October 1994).
So, all you elitists trying to mask your jealousy and spewing "sellout" invective have only one thing left to do for the Offspring: Kiss their ass -- 16 million times, actually, once for every time Smash was purchased and yours wasn't.
Today, the Offspring name is a dated moniker attached to a group of middle-aged musicians responsible for raising children and supporting families -- the offspring of the Offspring, in the literal sense. As a result, the music has morphed accordingly for a band that redefines longevity in an adolescence-based genre.
"I don't think we ever dared to dream of playing punk rock as a career," Noodles says. "We thought we'd eventually have jobs."
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