When The Offspring's 'Pretty Fly (For
A White Guy)' zoomed straight into the UK Charts at Number
1 back on January 24 last year, the music-buying public were
immediately divided into two camps: those who were already
fully aware of the band, and who had followed their career
for many years, watching with interest as they first skyrocketed
into the major leagues with their third album 'Smash' in 1994,
(10 years after their initial inception), and those who thought
they were listening to a brand new act. Both camps took to
the song like a duck to water, and its success continued to
spread globally, reaching the top of the charts in practically
every country that has such things, and also becoming the
most downloaded song on the internet (a staggering record
of 22 million times in a 10 week period). The album from which
it was taken, 'Americana' has also sold over 10 million copies
Not bad for
four punk kids whose reason for originally recruiting their
guitarist Noodles (a former school janitor) was his ability
to legally procure alcohol at the time.
And now the band - Dexter Holland (vocals, guitar), Greg K
(bass), Ron Welty (drums) and of course the aforementioned
Noodles, are back with their new album, 'Conspiracy Of One'
which sees them further hone their innate ability to write
instantly-memorable and highly addictive songs.
The album kicks in, suitably, with 'Come
one of my favourite songs on the record," says Noodles, "a
fast, hard-driving, punk rock, melodic tune, and it's got
a great meaning behind it - that when things start getting
rough, and you start to get frustrated with the way of the
world, don't just let it run over you, but come out and fight
against it, and I love that kind of song. I love the feeling
of the music, and when it's got a good lyric behind it like
that, it makes it all the more worthwhile to me."
The next track
(which will also be the first single), 'Original Prankster'.
"This is one
of the more light-hearted, more 'pop' songs on the record
- I think there's definitely some punk rock attitude in there
as well - it's really just a fun song, not serious at all
- we try to do some tongue-in-cheek, just ridiculous, goofy
stuff, and I would have to say this song is more along those
lines! We used the rapper Redman's voice on this. With 'Want
You Bad', the song structure is almost like an old pop rock
song, it definitely has that feeling to it - I think it's
a great song, very familiar-sounding. 'Million Miles Away'
is another one of my favourites - one of the more mellow ones
on the record, and 'Dammit, I Changed Again' is probably my
[overall] favourite - it's fast, it's got some great guitar
hooks in it, great vocal lines and back-ups. It's about being
confused about right and wrong, just kind of struggling with
that, and with your own identity."'Living In Chaos' is I think
probably our biggest departure for this record,
I can't really think of an Offspring song that sets a precedent
for it, except that it's got that middle eastern kinda feel
to it. We wanted to come up with a song that just had the
crowd jumping up and down in unison in front of us," he laughs,
"and this is our attempt to come up with something that will
get them to do that - most of our stuff is really too fast
to get 'em to jump up and down together! Lyrically it's about
living in a society that seems to be running amok, or the
feeling that it is when things start to get to you. 'Special
Delivery' is just about a sick guy who's a stalker - one of
the first songs Dexter ever wrote had a real similar sentiment,
and was about a friend of ours, who is pretty harmless but
we made him really sinister in that song! But there are people
out there who are like this and that's kind of scary. The
song is slow, kinda chaotic and schizophrenic...
"Whereas, if you talk about a 'sing along
in the pub' song - that's 'One Fine Day'! I think that sounds
more like a 1977 British punk song than anything we've ever
done before. We'd just had the NBA finals or whatever, and
the Lakers won and there was a big riot in LA - and I know
that Europeans are no strangers to riots breaking out in their
soccer games, and it's even worse in some of the Latin countries
- this is about having a riot with your friends and it's kinda
poking fun at the phenomenon as well as rejoicing in it, I
offering to "just ramble and free-associate", as he talked
through the new songs, Noodles has built up a good head of
steam, but suddenly comes to a shuddering halt on the next
track, 'All Along' ("I think that was the first song written
for this record, and one of the first ones finished. I don't
know, what is that song about? I've totally forgotten, I'm
sorry!" he laughs helplessly.)He is firmly back on track for
'Denial, Revisited', however.
the slowest song I think we've ever done, I think we wanted
to take something like 'Gone Away' from 'Ixnay On The Hombre'
and take it a step further - it's about a guy who refuses
to accept that it's over, keeps thinking he can fix it, and
then all of a sudden is forced to realise 'Oh damn, you know
what? I've messed up for so long it really is over.'
is another of my favourite songs on this record, and strangely
it's a lot slower than the kind of song I normally like. Parts
of this were written back when we wrote 'Ignition' [the band's
second album, released in 1992]. For me, this song is about
somebody who thinks he's losing his mind in a relationship
- if things aren't going well, he thinks he's going crazy.
I know I've been in relationships where I've been thinking:
'Is it me? Am I just totally crazy? What's going on - somebody
please tell me I'm okay!'
Of One' itself is about this kind of lone rebel madman guy.
Now that there are really no superpowers that are threatening
the planet with annihilation, this is about a lone guy who
does it - just gets a bomb in the back of his car and brings
the whole world to its knees, just starts the spark that sets
the whole thing aflame."
have always had a very strong ethos about giving as much back
to their fans as possible. In the US, people who download
the single 'Original Prankster' from the band's own website
are automatically eligible to enter a draw to win $1 million,
which is coming direct from the band's own pockets. They had
hoped to make eligibility for the draw worldwide, but were
unfortunately frustrated by the laws governing such things
in different territories. There are some definite extra bonuses
in store for everybody who buys a copy of 'Conspiracy Of One'
however, as Noodles explains.
"We filled up
all the extra space on the CD with the CD Extra. There's some
videos and some interactive stuff at the end that you can
tap into via your computer, you don't have to be on the internet.
But for fans who are, who have the CD and who log into a special
part of our website, we're going to periodically release downloads,
video clips, photos and other stuff. That's one way we were
trying to just experiment with the internet, to see if there's
ways to keep kids interested in buying CDs, and also to just
keep them interested in the net, and in the website. You know,
we want kids to have free access to all our music, and we
trust that the ones that enjoy it will still buy the CD -
I mean we really do, I think that the internet is a big promotional
tool, rather than any kind of way to circumvent buying a record."
A UK tour is
currently being planned for early next year, probably in January.
This would be exactly two years after 'Pretty Fly...' mania
gripped the nation. The band were on tour at that time also
- what was that like? "The single was just coming out, and
our album in the States reached #2, so we were calling that
'The #2 Tour' - or 'The Smells Like... #2 Tour' - I thought
that was pretty funny! And then we did another tour later
on that was mostly festivals, and we played a [fan club] show
at The Garage in London. That was so fun, really cool - we
like to do stuff like that. Smaller clubs are just really
cool, very fun... And then I went to the London Dungeon, and
I caught the Plague from the Plague exhibit! And I got really
sick, flew to South America and was sick the whole time I
was there. Oh okay, I don't know if it was actually the Plague,
but it was something equally severe, it was just horrible....
But we had a great year of touring, all last year - the shows
were as good as they've ever been, and the festivals - we
played Leeds and Reading, and that was just awesome, just
super fun, we played with such great bands. I wish we could
have festivals like that in the US but it just doesn't happen,
it's just impossible. Most of the festival-type shows there
are sponsored by radio stations - just their big way of promoting
the station by getting a bunch of bands to play short sets.
So you get thirteen mediocre sets by pretty well-known bands,
as opposed to a few really great sets by great bands at the
The promo video for 'Pretty Fly...' was
hilarious, featuring the lankily inept Guy Cohen as the eponymous
'hero' alongside the band. What's in store for 'Original Prankster'?
really kind of a similar feel - the song is light-hearted
rather than serious, so we did the same kind of thing. There's
a character in it who's the original prankster, and he's kind
of wreaking havoc, presumably in the LA area. Concurrent with
that there's this hip hop beach party - of course! Which [laughing]
makes perfect sense for a punk band from Orange County, to
be playing the hip hop beach party at Venice Beach. But because
it's a ridiculous song, it has a ridiculous video to go along
with it. No, we haven't got Guy Cohen back for it - he's outgrown
us, he's way too big for us now. Actually, I think he ended
up having to get a job at a computer store - he probably wears
a little tag with 'My name is Fly Guy' - he's a shameless
self-promoter that one!"
And finally, are you enjoying all this,
I'm incredibly stoked to be in the position that I'm in. I
get to play music that I love with guys that I love, all around
the world. Making records is great, it's an obsessive - sometimes
frustrating - process, but it's just wonderful: I just consider
myself so lucky to be able to do it for a living. I certainly
wouldn't change my problems today for the problems I had seven
years ago - it doesn't even take me a moment's thought. I
wouldn't change it for the world..."