Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Why I love The Offspring

“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and cannot remain silent.”
-Victor Hugo

I’ve always had a powerful connection to music. As a child I grew up on mostly whatever the radio station played in the car. But my parents were/are big Beatles fans so I was familiar with them and I remember being a huge Michael Jackson fan. When I was in elementary school I joined the chorus because I wanted to sing. The song that sticks out in my mind that we sang was “Heal the World” by Michael Jackson, I loved that song. That might have been my first favorite song. This was also close to the time I saw Free Willy and loved the Jackson song in that movie as well. So because of Jackson I became a huge fan of his music and when I found the Dangerous album in my house I was pleasantly surprised. I played the shit out of that album, you have no idea how much I listened to that CD. I have many great memories with my family that is linked with that CD and with music in general, songs from our time driving down to Texas. It’s why I think music is so powerful. When you hear a song that meant something to you which you haven’t heard in a long time your heart stops, you travel through time. It brings you back to a memory, a feeling, or a sense of love. It’s truly amazing.

There’s only one question to answer now, why The Offspring? Because they fucking ROCK! That’s why. I don’t give a fuck if you look down on me and my love for them. I feel the way I feel. To say they came around in a time in my life when I needed them the most is not stretching it, by any means.

I didn’t know what kind of person I was musically when I was in 8th grade. I was in orchestra because I enjoyed playing music but I wasn’t particularly good. 8Th grade was a time right before you become a teenager and your tastes in everything start to develop. The music that was popular at the time wasn’t my favorite. I usually ended up liking music I heard in movies, and funnily enough my two favorites were Will Smith songs from Men in Black and Wild Wild West. At the time Britney Spears and the wave of boy bands were becoming really popular and I knew that I didn’t like that stuff; I also knew that I didn’t like rap. I’ve come around to some of it now but at the time there was something about that music that I just didn’t like. Then, while listening to the radio I heard a song that made me sit up and take notice. It wasn’t the greatest song in the world but I really dug it. I liked the guitars and I thought it was funny. It was “Pretty Fly (For A White Guy).” Mock if you will but I was a year into going into a new school and I didn’t have many friends or an older brother to guide me into what was good or bad. So I ended up really liking that song, so much so that I saved up some money so that I could buy the CD. It was late in the summer before I started high school that I was finally able to get the money to buy it. I remember we went to a Virgin Megastore and I was so excited to buy the CD. The crappy part was that I had to wait until I got home to listen to it since the car didn’t have a CD player and I didn’t have a portable CD player at the time. So when I got home I rushed to my room, closed the door, and put the CD in my boom box. I turned up the volume and lay on my bed with the CD booklet so that I could read the lyrics as the music played.

“Welcome. To. Americana.” The Intro, it hooked me then and there. I still love hearing that when I listen to Americana. Then it went into the first song, “Have You Ever,” and then the second, “Staring at the Sun.” I say this with no hyperbole; those 2 songs changed my life. It was the first time that I had heard music in any way, shape, or form that spoke to me. Not literally but specifically to what I was feeling and what I thought. It was an awakening. I didn’t know that there was music like that. I listened to the rest of the album and the feeling of love and amazement grew. I fucking loved what I heard. I listened to the album again and again and again. I felt so happy, the happiest I felt in a long time because I had a connection to something. I also felt sad, but I couldn’t describe it properly, and I still can’t. It’s just something I felt. After that all I could do was find a way to get more money so that I could buy more Offspring CDs. It became an obsession. There wasn’t a day that I didn’t listen to the album at least once a day. In middle school I made friends with some kids who also started listening to The Offspring and dug them as much as I did. I remember one day we were in orchestra class, just hanging out and we were talking about The Offspring and we started singing Pretty Fly. I thought that was the coolest shit. (It also began a sort of habit for me to sing songs with my friends when we were just hanging out. It happened mostly in college and mostly with Tenacious D.)

In high school, with the rise of Napster I was able to get all The Offspring CDs and I got a friend to burn them all for me. At the time I wouldn’t have been able to tell you what my favorite song or even album was. Self Titled, Ignition, Smash, Ixany on the Hombre. There was a special place in my heart. There was also a period where I would listen to only one of the CDs all the time, letting each song, chord, lyric enter my soul and take me into whatever emotion and place it wanted to.

I think it was during sophomore year of high school when The Offspring announced the release of Conspiracy of One. I was so fucking excited. A new album! That meant that they were going to tour. I hoped to fucking God that my parents would give me permission to go. I looked it up online, but it was a no go. It was in the city and I was too young to go by myself and it was during the week, a fucking school night. There was no way I would be able to convince my parents to let me go. This isn’t a set up a story where through some miracle or set of circumstances I was able to go. I didn’t. I would have to wait. But I did buy Conspiracy of One and loved the shit out of it.

I always had to defend my love of The Offspring to people who fucking didn’t listen to them. I was just glad that most of my friends loved them. But even as I was trying to find myself musically I departed from The Offspring for a bit, I got really into metal. I started listening to Slipknot and System of a Down and discovering Metallica. But I still loved The Offspring.

My freshman year of college a new Offspring CD was announced. It was called Splinter and it came out in December. I skipped class on the Tuesday it came out so that I could go to the mall to buy the CD. Still having a CD player I bought that too and listened to it as soon as I was out of the store. It’s not high on my list of favorite Offspring CDs but I think that the album still has some great tracks.

That summer, between freshman and sophomore year of college, it finally happened. I was going to see The Offspring in concert. I was still in school when I found out but I knew that this time it wasn’t a matter of could I go, it was a matter of waiting. I didn’t want to go by myself so I called up a friend from high school and we made plans to go with a couple of other people that would like to go. He bought the tickets and I waited until fucking July for the concert. It took forever, it felt like forever. And as much as waiting sucked I was always one day closer to finally seeing The Offspring live. The day finally arrived and to say that I was fucking excited was an understatement. The concert was at the Hammerstein Ballroom and when we walked up to the venue I couldn’t help but smile. A motherfucking congregation of Offspring fans were waiting to see one of the best bands in the world. It was magical. When they started letting people in we ran to the front trying to get a close as we could. I honestly don’t remember the names of the 2 opening bands, I could look it up but I’m not going to, all I remember was that the 2nd band got booed and they were pissed but they took it and finished their set.

To say that The Offspring were great live is another understatement. It was amazing. They rocked my face off. Being in that crowd with all those different people that I didn’t know uniting under the music of The Offspring was incredible, it was something that I’ve never experienced before. Everyone sang along to every song. The crowd swayed back and forth, everyone was into it. I was standing for hours and when I left I was so thirsty but I didn’t care, it didn’t matter.

They were touring for Splinter so they played a bunch of songs from that album but they also played the hits from the other albums. Sometimes as a fan it can be disappointing when you don’t hear your favorite songs but that night, I didn’t care. I loved every fucking minute. I still have my ticket stub from that show.

It would be a few more years before The Offspring put out another album and before they toured again. “Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace” was the next album/tour. It was a very good CD and I enjoyed it immensely. It was different but in a good way. That summer they toured and I would end up seeing them with 2 friends from college at the Roseland Ballroom. I remember standing in line waiting for my friends to show up and talking with this dude who brought his son and I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. The guy had the same look of excitement on his face as his son.

My friend Jeremy was the only other person that I was friends with in college who was a fan of The Offspring like I was. Finding other Offspring fans is always a great feeling for me because it’s never, “yeah, they’re ok, I like them,” it’s “FUCK YES! THEY’RE AWESOME!” The more I talked about The Offspring we came to a realization that we both went to their show at the Hammerstein Ballroom all those years ago. It was then and there that we decided that the next time they played anywhere near us we would go together.

So we went to the Roseland Ballroom show, joined by another friend. It was only my second time seeing them but this time it was different. I was older, more in tune with my emotions and my understanding of music and how it made me feel. I thought this show was just going to be like the last time I saw them, where they would be playing stuff from the new CD and the hits, but it wasn’t exactly that. What happened during this show that I wasn’t expecting was that they played “Have You Ever” and “Staring at the Sun.” When I heard the opening to “Have You Ever” I fucking lost it. I went Crazy. I screamed the lyrics. I jumped up and down. I prayed that they would play “Staring at the Sun.” (They did.) When they played those 2 songs I fucking time traveled. I was hit with a bag of bricks in my heart. I was brought back to my room when I first heard those songs at 13 years old. I got choked up. I couldn’t help it. I shed a couple of tears because I never thought once I would hear those songs live. At that moment they could have played covers of Britney Spears for the rest of the show. All that mattered were those 2 songs. It made me realize how far I had come from that 13 year old kid in that room. That kid who was alone and hated everything, to a 23 year old who was there with his friends seeing his favorite band and knowing that he was doing something with his life. It’s a moment that I’ll never forget. Ever.

Now at 25 I’m still a hardcore Offspring fan. I listen to them almost daily. I’m keeping up with information on their next album and their next tour. I’ve already made plans with a friend to see them next time they come around. And I know that it’s going to be awesome.

(I wrote this mostly for me because I wanted to put into words what The Offspring mean to me. But this also goes out to any and every Offspring fan but more specifically to those that I’ve shared Offspring memories with, whether we still talk or not it doesn’t matter, because we’ll always have The Offspring. This also goes out to the band itself; because I really don’t know what my life would have been like if they were never in my life.)

Welcoming you to Americana,


Anonymous said...

GOOD STUFF! Good to know that there is someone who loves and appreciates this band as much as I do. THE most underated band ever by far, and I wish that I could see them live one day!I think unfortunately, a lot of people view the Offspring as somewhat of a gimmicky band. This pisses me off, because these people have probs only heard their most popular singles (pretty fly, original prankster etc). The Offspring are a band of musical depth and talent, and most importantly, they seem to love what they do. No other band (or people for that matter) have made such a difference to my life as the mighty Offspring, and I will continue to listen to them till i'm old and grey! Meaning of Life or Session for my funeral songs I think : ) Anyways, thanks for posting such a good article on such an unappreciated band.

Anonymous said...

I found your post when I was looking for a logo on Google images. I have to say I concur 110% with you. The lyrics are brilliant, the songs are catchy, and the performers aren't total douche bags (cough cough axle rose) How many lead singers have a master's degree in micro biology? I don't like their new stuff nearly as much as their older stuff, the style is all wrong but you gotta keep up with the times if you want to sell albums and keep existing. It's still a business, either way I definitely agree with you. Cheers.