24 years ago: The Offspring release ‘Americana’

Call it a sign of the times. The offspring had evolved musically with their previous record Ixnay on Hombrealthough the creative growth didn’t exactly yield the expected commercial returns, but inspired by a solid touring run and finding comfort in where they were as a band, The Offspring made a quick turnaround for their 1998 release Americana.

By today’s standards, Ixnay had a relatively short run, arriving in February 1997, with only a year of touring before the band jumped into new music, but that’s partly due to the passion The Offspring felt for their writing at the time. The band called in producer Dave Jerden, who had also worked with them on Ixnay on Hombreand right after their tour ended, they started working in Burbank in July 1998.

Singer Dexter Holland told Guitar World: “The idea wasn’t to reinvent the wheel. We expanded our horizons on our last record, and that’s okay, but I don’t feel like you have to be a completely different band on every record.” As the group began to write, a theme began to form. “A lot of the stuff that I started writing, I realized, was kind of this theme of American culture in 1998; that’s what Americana is: American culture,” Holland said Billboard.

“I thought about how America today is really distorted. It’s not Norman Rockwell anymore; it’s Jerry Springer. It’s not live on the farm; it’s going to Burger King. So I kind of expanded on that and made a lot of the songs like vignettes of my version of America in 1998.”

It’s The Offspring, Holland added his own brand of humor on certain tracks while continuing to develop a more pointed commentary with a pointed point of view on others. “The songs on Americana are not condemnations, they are short stories about the state of things and what we see going on around us,” the vocalist explained to San Francisco Gate. “We want to reveal the darker side of our culture. It might look like an episode of Happy Days out there in America, but it feels more like Twin Peaks.” He went on to add that while some tracks leaned more critical at points, it was his wish that people would also gain some hope from the songs.

“I didn’t want it to be a record that made you feel hopeless,” the singer told the LA Times. “At the end of the day, I hope you can get something positive out of it. So there are songs like ‘Staring at the sun‘ and even ‘Pay the man,’ which says, ‘How do I find my own way as an individual through the world?’ If you think for yourself, you can still make it. The bottom line of what I’m trying to say is that you have to create your own life and your own priorities.”

Offspring, “Pay the Man”

When Americana was published by Columbia on Nov. 17, 1998, Offspring was already climbing the charts with the lead single. The band kept things light out of the gate and let their humor show with the single “Pretty Fly (for a white guy).” The song offered a lot of different touch tones for listeners, starting with the “Gunter, gliben, glauchen, globen” opening from Def Leppard’s “Rock of Ages,” before diving into a Latin flavor that reflects their SoCal roots and a witty assessment of white suburban teenagers embracing hip-hop culture.

Holland told Spin the track was inspired by those who are “from Omaha, Nebraska, regular white bread guys, but acting like they’re from Compton. It’s so fake and obvious that they’re trying to have an identity.”

As for the vibe, with its cowbell firmly anchored and low end solidly defined, Holland said Billboard, “I wanted to make a song that was like a punk version of ‘Low Rider.’ I really love that old Latino voto thing. It’s really cool, so we built a song around that kind of bass line.” The song would shoot to No. 3 on the Modern Rock chart and No. 5 on Mainstream Rock, securing the group another fan favorite at shows, but playing more for wry smiles than a deep statement would come later in the album cycle.

The Offspring, “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)” music video

When the calendar turned to 1999, another new favorite was born in the spring with a certain nostalgic feel. Reflecting a bit of the structure of the Beatles’ bouncy favorite “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” “Why don’t you get a job?“played against the light-hearted nature of the sound, reflecting stories of characters on their slackers, significant others mocking them.

Holland revealed that his fascination with trash television at the time played a role in the song coming together. “I admit I have a bit of a morbid curiosity where I’m drawn to those shows. It’s like watching a car wreck or something,” the singer said. MTV. “‘Why don’t you get a job?’ is [one] of those songs where the stripper comes on ‘Jerry Springer’ and her boyfriend doesn’t work and he just stays home and smokes pot and she has to support him and she’s here to tell him she’s going to kick him to the curb. “

If the song sounds like a blast, that’s because it was for the band.

With SoCal favorite Gabriel McNair of No Doubt laying down the horns on the track, a bevy of backing vocals included an odd cast of characters including John Mayer, Davey Havok, Jack Grisham and Calvert “Larry Bud Melman” DeForest. Like its predecessor, the song went Top 10 on both the Modern and Mainstream Rock charts, giving them another hit.

The offspring, “Why don’t you get a job?”

But after keeping listeners enthralled with catchy tracks that generated as many smiles as head nods, The Offspring went a little darker and meatier with their third single, “The children are not well.” With a driving guitar line and a more straight up punk feel, The Offspring looked at the world around them and found a darker side of suburban youth life. “I drove around the block [in Garden Grove] thinking about all the things that had happened to everyone who grew up there,” Holland said Billboard. “This one had a nervous breakdown; another guy was killed in a car accident. You grow up in America and [you’re supposed to] has such a bright future, and it really isn’t.” The anthemic track caught on and gave The Offspring not only another Top 10 hit, but one of their most enduring songs, especially with the USC marching band making it a staple at sporting events.

Americana also served”She has problems,” which garnered significant airplay but nowhere near the scale of its predecessors in terms of chart success, a rather punky anti-cover of the Morris Albert ’70s favorite “Feelings” and solid deeper album cuts in “Pay the Man” and “Stirer on the sun.”

Although they would be hard pressed to meet the success of SmashThe Offspring have certainly left their mark Americana. The album debuted at No. 6 and peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 Album Chart and was subsequently certified five times platinum in the US, with over 10 million copies sold worldwide. The disc also spent an amazing 22 consecutive weeks in the Billboard Top 10 for albums.

“I don’t feel obligated to try to change the world, although I like to think that what we do has some substance and makes people think,” Holland said of Americana to the San Francisco Gate, and whether it was as light as a feather (“Pretty Fly”) or as direct as a sledgehammer (“The Kids Aren’t Alright”), the band fulfilled their mission, easily delivering some of the most -point comment on their career.

The Offspring Albums ranked

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