The Offspring on bringing their seminal third album 'Smash' to Aussie shores

It’s around five in the afternoon when Noodles, wherever he may be, cracks open his first beer of the day and begins a string of interviews. Five o’clock might be beer o’clock for the guitarist of legendary punk-rockers, The Offspring, but that’s too late by Australian standards – Noodles might want to get into training before The Offspring headline Good Things Festival this weekend. 

“Oh believe me, I am ready,” Noodles gushes. “The great thing about Australia is beer time is whatever time you really wanna make it.” 

The last time The Offspring blew our brains out at a festival with their raucous, ravaging brand of punk was in 2013 at Soundwave, then later that year at Warped Tour. Both were amazing shows, but nothing compared to what the guys will be doing for Good Things Festival. Performing their seminal album Smash in its entirety at Good Things, now is the optimal time for Noodles to reflect on the unexpected success and cult status of the album. 

Back in the mid-80s when he was a little-known guitarist playing in a little-known band called Clowns Of Death, Noodles supported himself working as a caretaker in a school. It was a meagre job by most standards, but one he kept when he was recruited into The Offspring in 1985, right until the explosive success of the now-renowned Smash in 1994. Some 24 years since the album’s release, The Offspring will perform it to an audience of thousands across Australia. These experiences across the years are, Noodles agrees, an extreme dichotomy. 

“It’s mind boggling, really, when I think about everything I’ve been able to experience since the Clowns Of Death days in the ‘80s, when I was a janitor,” Noodles says thoughtfully. “Every day we get to go out and do what we do for a living – we’re so thankful for it.

“Playing Smash in its entirety is something we’ve only done a few times – we’ve probably done more Ignition [1992] shows – but we relearn how to play all those songs.”

A few years ago when Smash turned 20, Noodles made the media rounds and discussed the album’s breakthrough. Though it seems like  a formative work, it’s both strange and a credit to The Offspring that with each performance of those songs there’s been no significant evolution in sentiment or interpretation. 

“They feel – to me – the same,” says Noodles. “Most of these songs we have played every time we go out and play.

“Actually, ‘Self-Esteem’ we don’t play that much in Japan. It does not go over well there,” he thinks aloud. 

Evidently there’s a lot of pride and a lot of thought placed into Smash by The Offspring. Noodles continues to run a fine tooth comb through each track, discussing each song and their relative appearances in live shows over the years. 

“I don’t think these songs have changed that much,” Noodles finally concludes. “You change a song every time you take it from the record and try to do it live, but we haven’t changed these songs that much since we started playing them, I think.”

It’s rare that The Offspring do deviate from their studio sound when they perform, but Noodles – offering a pregnant pause before responding carefully – can’t really say how important it is that The Offspring offer the experience of hearing such a work in full. 

“I don’t know how important it is for anyone. I kind of think it’s self-indulgent for us to do it,” he says with a laugh. 

“You know, none of our music is causing world peace or curing people of cancer – it puts smiles on faces, for sure. It gets people rocking out and having a good time and forgetting the stress they’ve got going on in their lives. Beyond that, it’s not important, I don’t think.

“It’s important to us when we’re making these songs and putting them out there to get them right, to do ‘em well, but I don’t know that it’s important to anybody else. I think we’d really be fucking ourselves up if we said, ‘You know what? We’re gonna do a record that’s important to people.’”

Noodles’ dry wit and chortling laughter is infectious. He teases, but he knows his band and he knows his audience. 

“If we were gonna make an important statement, I think that would be putting the cart before the horse.

“I know how important a lot of the music I grew up on was to me, but I don’t think of our music in the same way. We just try to do the songs as well, as succinctly, as honestly as we can, and we let the importance be left up to the people, I guess.”

Indeed, the spoken-word opener on Smash’s, ‘Time To Relax’, ends with the words, “music soothes even the savage beast,” and from what Noodles is saying, it’s a statement that rings true even now. 

“Music is such a huge part of my life, it’s what I spend most of my day doing,” he says. “Sometimes it doesn’t just soothe me, it riles me up. I think there’s a lot to be said for music that riles people up as well.”

The Offspring will play Good Things Festival on Friday December 7 at Flemington Racecourse. Tickets available through the festival website.