The Offspring - Smash
In 1994 the album "Smash" became the ninth best-selling album in the US, with high sales all around the world. Along with "Green Day"'s album "Dookie", the punk rock bands conquered the American mainstream for the first time in 18 years !!
On April 8, 1994, the album "Smash" was released. The only difference between these two bands is that "Green Day" released "Dookie" under the big label "Warner Bros" and in contrast "The Offspring" released the album "Smash" under the independent small label "Epitaph". This is a significant difference in both American and international terms, you will soon understand why...
In 1988 the band signed with a small and independent label called "Nemesis", it took producer Thom Wilson who had experience with punk bands and released the debut album that bore the band name and was released on a very limited number of tapes and vinyl. They performed in clubs and tried to promote the album independently but without much success. Already at that time, Thom tried to bring them to a bigger label and aimed for "Epitaph", but the label was not really enthusiastic about the bunch and did not agree to sign them. Three years later they re-enter the recording studio and this time the goal was to create a strong EP that will buy them a contract with a label a little bigger than what they have today. Again with producer Thom they release an EP called "Baghdad 7". This time around, the EP manages to grab the attention of Brett Gurewitz, guitarist of the punk band "Bad Religion" who was also the president and owner of the record company "Epitaph". Brett felt the potential this time and decides to sign the young band to his label.
At the end of 1991, the band entered the studio together with Thom to record the second album "Ignition". The album is released at a time when the buds of Punk Rock are starting to sweep more and more listeners and The Offspring manages to create a fan base for itself and fill clubs with an audience. They even go on tour with similar (punk rock) bands like "Pennywise", "Lunachicks" and "NOFX" in the US and in Europe.
In January 1994 the band entered the studio to record their third album "Smash". The band members said that many things at that time happened spontaneously and were made by momentary decisions, without long-term thinking or long-term plans and vision. One example is that upon entering the studio the band members decide to purchase new and better equipment than they had, they purchased one double amplifier and upgraded the drum set, no more than that. In retrospect, Dexter Holland said that was what allowed them to sound so good on the album because if they had used their previous equipment most likely the singles would not have been played on the radio. This time, too, producer Thom joins the group and within two months with a meager budget of $ 20,000, the band records the album. Since they were on a very limited budget, Thom slept in a trailer outside the studio and the band members would record mostly while other artists would cancel because then the price was much lower than usual.
The band members finish the recordings and present the final mixing to Brett (the president of the label), Brett gets in his car, puts the cassette in the car audio system, and turns the volume to the max.
After two hours and more than twenty rounds around his house, Brett gets out of the car, gets into his house, and informs his wife excitedly "Honey, everything’s going to be different now".
The first single from the album "Come Out and Play" was sent to the various radio stations and a few days later Brett receives a phone call from the radio station "KROQ" (the biggest rock station in the US) informing him that the song is so good that it is going into the "power rotation". In less than 24 hours the song airs non-stop on the radio station, spreads to other radio stations in Los Angeles, and immediately becomes a hysterical hit. Dexter said that writing the song was inspired while driving to the university and watching the riots that took place in Los Angeles in 1992. Later the song was nicknamed "Keep 'Em Separated". At the same time, the single "Welcome to Paradise" by the "Green Day" was released and these two singles were the opening shot of the Punk Rock takeover of the mainstream in the US and around the world.
The radio stations did not have time to calm down and here comes another release, the second single "Self Esteem" which creates another explosion that breaks the radio airwaves. The song also took by storm the top of the charts but this time not only in the US but also worldwide, it topped the charts in Europe and many other countries around the world. Dexter said he did not write the song from personal experience but from a close friend who experienced a takeover relationship. By the way, a few months earlier, "Green Day"'s second single "Basket Case" was released.
Almost a year after the album's release, the third single "Gotta Get Away" was released, which was a tremendous success and continued the band's rise. Although it only reached number 6 on Billboard, it was constantly played on radio stations.
With the release of the album, the band embarked on a two-year tour to promote the album around the world. They really liked to perform in clubs and wanted to keep their performances close to the audience, they refused several times to be an opening act and perform in stadiums with bands like Metallica and Alice in Chains. In addition to that, they also avoided appearing on famous TV shows and rejected offers that came from host shows like SNL.
As you already understood, saw, or even experienced firsthand the insane success, you could not turn on the radio without hearing "The Offspring", you couldn't spend your night at a rock club without dancing to the band's songs at least several times, and you couldn't watch MTV without seeing "Noodles" at least ten times.
The band members sold close to 15,000 copies of their second album and saw the flagship band of the label "Bad Company" sell about 100,000 copies aspiring to reach a maximum of 80 or 90 thousand copies. But they never imagined the success would be so huge and the album would sell over 11 million copies worldwide, the best-selling album in the world under an independent label.
The band members said that at the time of the album's success they were still working part-time jobs because they had a commitment. Noodles had a funny story while he was a janitor at the "Earl Warren School", students would turn to him and be amazed when in the morning they see him at school and in the evening they see him on MTV.
Brett said that in light of the insane demand for the album, he had to mortgage his house in order to produce the required quantity. Several months after the release of the album, the entire parking lot of the label was filled with pallets of the album and all the warehouses in the city were rented by Brett and stored additional albums. The sales were so impressive that Sony Music wanted to buy a percentage of the label but was denied by Bret.
We do not want to go into comparisons, because there is no such thing as "better" in music, it is an art and anyone can perceive it differently. But it cannot be ignored that "The Offspring" was successful with this album under a small and independent label as opposed to "Green Day" which had a strong back from a huge label. It's a point worth considering, but in the end, they both managed to blow punk rock back in our ears!