Arts and Entertainment

Old school punks The Offspring headline Pain In The Grass fest

The Offspring, from left, Kevin
The Offspring, from left, Kevin 'Noodles' Wasserman, Pete Parada, Dexter Holland and Greg Kriesel.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

For almost 30 years The Offspring has been at the top of the punk rock heap.

As one of the genre’s best-selling artists – with more than 40 million in record sales, including 1994’s “Smash” which is the best selling independent record release of all time with 17 million copies sold – The Offspring has left its mark on millions of fans worldwide, with its catchy pop-punk anthems and high-energy live shows.

On Saturday the band headlines the annual KISW 99.9 FM Pain In The Grass festival at the White River Amphitheatre, featuring Three Days Grace, Chevelle, Candlebox, Royal Bliss, Witchburn and Sandrider.

For the band’s lead guitarist Kevin Wasserman, better known as Noodles, it’s been quite a ride.

The band formed in Orange County, Calif., in 1984 when lead vocalist Bryan “Dexter” Holland, bassist Greg Kriesel (Greg K.) and Noodles got together to pound out some punk songs in the vein of its influences, punk pioneers like the Dead Kennedys and The Ramones.

“The first 10 years, we just did it as hobby,” Noodles said. “We played on weekends and summer vacations.”

In 1989, after recording several demos, The Offspring put out its self-titled debut album, following it up in 1992 with “Ignition.”

In 1994, however, the band hit the big time, when its third album, “Smash”, released on indie label Epitaph, hit the stratosphere.

“It was a little scary, to be honest,” Noodles said. “It was cool and exciting, but a little scary. I was still working as a custodian for a school district and I had to give that up to tour. But I wasn’t sure, so I took a leave of absence instead of just quitting. I still remember when the three years of my absence had passed and I realized there was no going back.”

Not everyone, however, was that happy about the band’s runaway success.

Many in the tight-knit punk rock community accused the band of selling out, not staying true to the genre’s do-it-yourself, roots ethos.

“You have to take that with a grain of salt,” Noodles said. “Some people just don’t want to share their band with everybody else. We didn’t change the way we did records when ‘Smash’ came out. We didn’t change anything about how we made records. And we’re still doing the same thing. It was mostly from the corners of the punk rock scene and new kids who didn’t want to share that with everyone else.”

Throughout the 1990s and the 2000s, The Offspring continued to push the boundaries of its genre, retaining shadings of its punk rock roots while maturing sonically as a band.

“I think we started texturing the songs a lot more,” Noodles said. “There is a lot more deeper stuff in the songs that don’t stand out, that you have to listen close to pick out.”

Despite a bit of polish on its recordings these days, including its recently released ninth album “Days Go By,” Noodles still considers the band punk.

“It’s about breaking the rules, questioning what’s expected and just breaking the rules,” he said. “It’s about bringing back the rebelliousness of the original rock and roll bands.”

And despite being on the edge of turning 50-years-old, Noodles said he can’t imagine not making music and playing live.

“It’s something I can’t imagine not ever doing. I can’t imagine quitting. It’s what I love to do,” he said. “I’m sure at some point it’s going to be ridiculous going out with a walker and trying to get my guitar to work, but I can’t imagine not doing this.”

The Offspring and Pain In The Grass kick off at

1:30 p.m. at White River. Tickets and more information is available at www.livenation.com.

 


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