If your adolescence didn’t include The Offspring in some way, your parents probably didn’t let you watch Video Hits. The California punks responsible for Pretty Fly For A White Guy, Why Don’t You Get A Job,Original Prankster and Self Esteem pretty much wrote the blueprint for post-grunge novelty megahits in the ‘90s and early ‘00s (as well as following the blueprint of very goddamn well-paced punk albums) – and, remarkable though it may seem, they’re still making pretty cool songs for a 15-year-old you. I spoke to the blonde, spikey-haired frontman Dexter Holland about the band’s history on the eve of the release of their new album, Days Go By.
“When we grew up, obviously we were really into punk rock,” Dexter says. “The Ramones, Sex Pistols, Dead Kennedys… But there was this band called TSOL – True Sounds Of Liberty. They were kind of a seminal punk rock band in Orange County that never became super-famous, but it was something we really got into. It was the band that made us go, ‘We have to start a band now.’” It was a decision that came naturally, and Dexter recalls a few defining moments after making it: “I remember being in a band and after a week straight of travelling around, I thought, ‘Hey, I really am in a band for a living now!’ …Of course no one was watching us,” he laughs. “So another moment was the Big Day Out  in Australia – all of a sudden there were these huge crowds, and we thought, ‘Wow, this is really happening for us now.’”
Their new album includes Dirty Magic, a reprise of the best song on their second album, Ignition. Twenty years on from that record, are The Offspring raking over their history a little self-consciously? “I don’t think it’s that thought-out, actually,” Dexter answers. “That song isn’t really known by our wider audience, so we put it on this record and tried to make it sound a little better.” But along with paying homage to their past comes a contentment to do what they do best: probable single OC Guns is a combination of novelty Spanish, reggae riffs and mariachi horns that’s so Offspring-esque it’s almost strange they hadn’t made it already. “With OC Guns we had a reggae riff, added drums, tried to turn it into a song, kept building and said, ‘What about this mariachi horn bit?’ We’d never heard anyone try to combine reggae with mariachi before, but it worked out and we were stoked when it was finished.”
Ultimately, the band just don’t take anything seriously – epitomised by their gleeful enraging of Axl Rose when they pretended to steal the name of Guns N’ Roses’ repeatedly-delayed record, Chinese Democracy. The Offspring’s 2003 album title was announced on April 1 (note the date) as Chinese Democracy (You Snooze, You Lose). “It’s always easier to make up jokey names for albums, like Offspring VII or Offspring Bloody Offspring, than real ones,” Dexter says, “and when someone suggested Chinese Democracy, we cracked up. I don’t know those Gn’R guys, but they weren’t happy about it,” he laughs.
Almost 30-years-old, The Offspring have lost a few travellers – like long-time drummer Ron Welty nearly a decade ago, and Chris Higgins, the backup singer/guitarist/percussionist best known for his 'Gotta keep ‘em separated' refrain. “He was a high school buddy who just gradually started doing stuff [with us],” Dexter explains. “But sometimes you just get tired of being on the road. He just didn’t want that kinda life anymore.” Does Dexter? “It can be a strain for me, for sure,” he replies, “but we know when to take breaks. Gotta take time to recharge.”
BY LAURENCE ROSIER STAINES
Days Go By is available now through Sony.