The Offspring come to Belly Up Aspen
If You Go …
What: The Offspring
Where: Belly Up Aspen
When: Thursday, July 16, 9 p.m.
How much: $155/GA; $375 reserved
Tickets: Belly Up box office and www.bellyupaspen.com
For ten years and two records before the breakout success of the 1994 album “Smash” — the one with the still-ubiquitous songs “Come Out and Play,” Self Esteem” and “Gotta Get Away” on it — The Offspring was a broke but hard-working punk band.
As lead guitarist Noodles recalled, they’d play clubs around Southern California and occasionally go on short tours, during which they’d ask the crowd for a place to stay between songs.
“We’d just say, ‘Hey, if you got a place to crash let us know,’” Noodles (given name Kevin Wasserman) said recently from a tour break at home in California. “‘We’ll drink beer with you and we’ll bring the beer.’”
After 1992’s “Ignition,” the band saw the crowds at their shows begin to grow and evolve from hardcore punks to a mix of punks and SoCal extreme athletes — snowboarders, skaters, surfers. Then, quite suddenly, the entire world started showing up, and with “Smash” — though they weren’t doing anything all that differently — The Offspring was squarely in the pop mainstream.
“It was being in the right time and the right place,” Noodles said. “But it’s also working hard on that record and Dexter (Holland) writing great songs.”
With “Nevermind” in late 1991, Nirvana had expelled hair metal and over-produced rock from the mainstream and opened young peoples’ ears to the sounds of punk. Bands such as The Offspring, Green Day, Rancid and Bad Religion found an unforeseen broad appeal in the mid-90s.
“The time was right for our music to go mainstream,” he said. “And we’d been touring hard and working hard so we weren’t afraid to show up. But we didn’t think we were laying the groundwork for any kind of career. For us it was a hobby. And we loved doing it.”
Noodles was a janitor at a Garden Grove elementary school when The Offspring was formed in 1984. Holland, the lead singer, was studying molecular biology at the University of Southern California (a field he’s continued to pursue — Holland is now a Ph.D. candidate working on the behavior of micro RNA in HIV genomes between Offspring tours).
As the band became one of the most recognizable in the world, The Offspring stuck with their melodic, hook-laden and likeable brand of punk rock. They could be as menacing as they could be satirical and ludicrous, as in the 1998 novelty hit “Pretty Fly (for a White Guy).”
The band has played Aspen once before — a memorable 2004 set at the Winter X Games.
“It was freezing cold, it was an evening show and pitch black out,” Noodles recalled. “It was a lot of fun.”
The Offspring released a new single, “Coming for You,” in January. It showcases a band still at home in its classic pop-punk sound — with hard-charging guitar riffs instantly recognizable as Noodles’ handiwork, an anthemic chorus, group vocals with “hey-hey” and “whoa” sing-along bits (and a music video populated by creepy, brawling clowns).
One-off surprise singles have been the band’s modus operandi for new music since it’s last full album —2012’s “Days Go By.” They’ve put off extended song work on a new record, Noodles said, because they recently redid their southern California studio and because they’re impatient about waiting to release new music they like.
“We want to do a record, that’s the plan,” he said. “But it’s taking forever. … We released this song because we felt good about it immediately. It was one of the first one or two songs we finished, so we were like, ‘If we wait on this it might be another year, year-and-a-half. Why don’t we just put it out and see what happens?”
In concert, they’ve been tooling around with an acoustic version of the new song. They expect to record and release a new album sometime next year.
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