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The Offspring, Bad Religion, Pennywise And More Headline LIVE 105’s Punk Rock Picnic

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California Über Alles: All-star lineup of old-school California punk bands, including The Offspring, to play Live 105’s ‘Punk Rock Picnic.’

California Über Alles: All-star lineup of old-school California punk bands, including The Offspring, to play Live 105’s ‘Punk Rock Picnic.’

When Orange County punk rockers The Offspring released their third album, Smash, on Epitaph Records back in 1994, they had no idea that it would go on to be a massive success, paving the way for worldwide fame, or that it would eventually become the best-selling independently released record of all time.

The quartet from Huntington Beach—who will perform Smash in its entirety at Shoreline Amphitheatre on Aug. 31—still had day jobs or were in school, and had no grand aspirations for commercial success when they made the record.

“You have to understand, we didn’t really have a following—if we could draw 20 people in California, we were doing all right,” says Offspring guitarist Kevin “Noodles” Wasserman over the phone before a tour stop in Vermont. “We’d been playing for 10 years, and our biggest following anywhere was in the Bay Area, at Gilman Street. We could headline there and that was about it. Punk rock still wasn’t really allowed in a lot of places, certainly nowhere nice.”

The rapid success of the aptly-named Smash was propelled by the album’s first single, “Come Out and Play,” which first started getting play on the band’s local rock radio station.

“We were surprised that it even got played on KROQ—it was like, ‘Whoah, this is rad!’” Noodles remembers. “So we called in to keep them playing it, we didn’t think it was going to last.”

Punk Rock Reunion: The Offspring are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their breakthrough record, appropriately titled 'Smash.'

The Offspring are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their breakthrough record, appropriately titled ‘Smash.’

But before long, other stations started picking up the song, they made a video for it, and things took off from there. “We were just blown away,” he says. “We never thought that would ever happen to us.”

While earlier punk bands had flirted with commercial exposure to varying degrees of success over the years, it wasn’t really until The Offspring (and bands like Green Day) hit MTV and mainstream radio that the California-based style of melodic skate and surf punk—along with the style of dress and other social aspects of the scene—entered into the national and international pop culture.

In a somewhat ironic coincidence, Smash was released on April 8, 1994—the same day that Kurt Cobain was found dead. Without Nirvana’s breakthrough success with their album Nevermind in 1991, Noodles says his band never would have gotten where they did.

“There would be no Offspring or punk rock in mainstream music if it wasn’t for Nirvana—Nirvana broke those doors down,” Noodles says. “Only they did that—they were called a grunge band, but I think they were a punk band.”

As the album sold more and more copies, and the band continued to tour and make more videos for songs such as “Self Esteem” and “Gotta Get Away,” they started to receive criticism from some people in the very punk community from which they got their start—a reaction that band members didn’t understand.

“We sent Maximum Rock N Roll a copy of Smash and they gave it a good review, said it was a good, solid punk rock record—but then it started selling and we did videos and were on MTV, and they wouldn’t cut us a break, they hated us,” Noodles remembers. “Most of the backlash and the people that were calling us sellouts just seemed ridiculous—we didn’t let it get to us.”

But history has looked fondly upon The Offspring. As the band have been touring in Europe and in North America, celebrating the 20th anniversary of Smash by playing it live all the way through every night, Noodles says he is seeing a diverse crowd, ranging from old school fans who were likely there in the beginning, to kids who weren’t even born when the record was first released.

“I think that has to do with the energy of the music, I’m stoked to see young fans and old fans out there every show,” Noodles says. “Last night there was a guy in the very front who had to be at least 60 who was totally rocking out, singing along to every song—it was fucking incredible!”

LIVE 105’s Punk Rock Picnic, featuring The Offspring, Bad Religion, Pennywise, The Vandals, The Story So Far and Stiff Little Fingers. More info.

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