It might seem surprising, but Dexter Holland, singer-guitarist of The Offspring, considers this summer’s tour the biggest outing of his band’s career and a sign that the Offspring are bigger than ever as a band.
“It feels like it’s getting better for us. We’ve talked about why that might be, is it a post-COVID thing and people are excited to be back, or just the fact that now we’ve had 30 years of people being used to our songs?” Holland said during a phone interview ahead of bringing the Let the Bad Times Roll Tour with Sum 41 and Simple Plan to FivePoint Amphitheatre in Irvine on Sunday, Aug. 6 and North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre in Chula Vista on Tuesday, Aug. 8.
“We’ve got people that are a little older, we’ve got kids that are just discovering us and they’ve created this bigger audience of more than one generation, I guess … but for whatever reason, man, it just feels really good right now.”
That’s quite a welcome reality for a band that has already had some periods of huge success. Formed in 1984 in Garden Grove, the Offspring broke through in a big way with their third album, 1994’s “Smash.” Featuring the hit singles “Come Out and Play,” “Self Esteem” and “Gotta Get Away,” it became the biggest indie album to date, with sales standing at more than 11 million worldwide.
With its energetic and fun punk rock songs, “Smash” joined Green Day’s “Dookie” as the primary albums that brought punk into the mainstream.
Then, after a follow-up album, “Ixnay on the Hombre,” which didn’t sell as well (it still topped out around 3 million copies sold), the next album, “Americana,” became another blockbuster. It featured the hit singles “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy),” “The Kids Aren’t Alright,” “She’s Got Issues” and “Why Don’t You Get A Job?,” and the album sold more than 10 million copies.
Still, this summer’s tour takes the Offspring to new heights.
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“I think it’s the biggest headlining tour we’ve ever done, actually,” Holland said. “We’re playing like 25 cities, all amphitheaters, tickets are selling really well, and we’ve got a great package.”
Fans can expect to hear the songs that have kept The Offspring on the radio and in a prominent place in the rock world for more than three decades.
“You get to the point where you’ve put out nine or 10 albums, it’s a lot of material to choose from,” Holland said. “But I believe you’ve got to play the songs that people want to hear, right? Sometimes artists can get a little obscure with their stuff. You’ve kind of got to play the hits. So that dictates a good chunk of our set.”
Far from resting on their considerable laurels, The Offspring, which includes Holland, guitarist and fellow founding member Kevin “Noodles” Wasserman, bassist Todd Morse, drummer Brandon Pertzborn and multi-instrumentalist Jonah Nimoy are acting like a band that’s still inspired and looking to grow musically.
While the five albums that followed “Americana” haven’t sold in the eight figures, they’ve generally done well commercially. There have also been almost another dozen Top 10 singles, including “You’re Gonna Go Far, Kid,” which has become the Offspring’s most streamed song.
That single is featured on the 2008 album, “Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace,” which was recently re-released for its 15th anniversary with a pair of live tracks added to the original album. Holland considers it one of the band’s best efforts, and an important album in the overall career. In 2005, the band released a greatest hits album, and Holland said the band wanted to prove the hits album didn’t mark the end of the road for The Offspring and that they were inspired and as good as ever musically.
“It’s an important record for us,” Holland said “And it’s something I’m really proud of, that that far into our career (we had) our most popular song.”
“Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace” also turned out to be a key project for the future of The Offspring. It was the first time the band worked with Bob Rock, who also produced the two studio albums The Offspring has released since then and became one of the most in-demand producers going for his work with Mötley Crüe and Metallica, among others.
Rock has been back in the studio with the Offspring just recently. The band is well into the process of making a follow-up to their current studio album, the 2021 release “Let the Bad Times Roll.”
“We’re on a roll. We figured let’s do it. Let’s keep on doing it now,” Holland said. “Because we’re in between tours all the time. We don’t really block out eight weeks. We go in for like a week or 10 days and we tend to focus on one song at a time. So we did another song and that makes six, not completely done, but they’re mostly done. So we’re four-ish songs away (from an album). I think we’ll get something out early next year.”
“Let the Bad Times Roll” was well received and seen as a classic-sounding Offspring pop-punk album. It was also praised for songs that reflected life and issues that arose during the pandemic.
It was also an album that was a long time coming, with the nine-year gap between the 2012 album “Days Go By” and “Let the Bad Times Roll” being by far the longest stretch without an Offspring studio album.
“It took a lot longer than we thought. And sometimes time just gets away from you because you’re on tour and all of that stuff and you realize it’s been nine months and you haven’t gotten into the studio,” said Holland, who noted he took time away from the band during this period to return to college and finish his doctorate degree in molecular biology.
“I finished the PhD in 2017,” he continued. “So I think in 2018 I finally looked around and said ‘Oh (man), it’s been like seven years since the last record,’ and then really got focused on that and then things came more quickly after that. But that’s a long time. I don’t want to take that long in between records. But I also feel like you don’t have to put one out every year because you should put one out. It’s got to mean something. It’s got to feel like you’re really speaking from the heart. Sometimes that takes a little while, especially after you’ve done a bunch (of albums). When you’ve only done one record, you’ve got lots of things to say. But sometimes you have to dig a little bit more for it when you have nine (albums).
Holland can’t say for sure yet how the next album will compare to other Offspring offerings, but it’s bound to have some of the usual musical and lyrical signatures.
“Sometimes you just start writing songs and you don’t realize how an album is coming together until it’s almost there,” Holland said. “Like on ‘Americana,’ ‘Americana’ was one of the last songs I wrote because I didn’t realize until then all the other songs like ‘Why Don’t You Get A Job?’ and ‘Pretty Fly,’ they were describing American society. I didn’t really realize that’s what the album was about until I got almost done and thought well, I’ll call it ‘Americana’ because that’s like ‘Americana’ means American culture. This was my vision of what I thought American culture was doing in the late ‘90s. We’re kind of still in that phase with the songs, but we’ve always liked the energy of punk music and the rebelliousness. What I’m focusing right now on is just melody. I want the songs to be really good.”
The Offspring’s Let the Bad Times Roll Tour
With: Sum 41 and Simple Plan
When: 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 6
Where: FivePoint Amphitheatre, 14800 Chinon, Irvine
Tickets: $79.50-$256 at LiveNation.com
Also: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 8 at North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre, 2050 Entertainment Circle, Chula Vista. $20-$145 at LiveNation.com.