Kevin Noodles Wasserman knows whats coming even before he calls to chat about the Offsprings new record , Let The Bad Times Roll, its first album of new material in nearly nine years.
What took you so long?
Thats been the first question in almost every interview, Noodles says, and laughs. Fair enough. I mean, theres lot a lot of reasons, you know.
We finished our deal with Sony, so we didnt have anyone cracking the whip, the bands guitarist says. We didnt have any deadlines. Dexter (Holland, the bands singer) went back to school, got his PhD. That took a little bit longer than he thought.
Add to that the Orange County punk bands annual touring and the acrimonious departure of original bassist Greg Kriesel in 2018 and the bands 10th album in more than 35 years together just took a bit more time.
Let The Bad Times roll is the new record by the Offspring. Seen here, left to right, are drummer Pete Parada, bassist Todd Morse, singer Dexter Holland, and guitarist Kevin Noodles Wasserman. (Photo by Daveed Benito)
Let The Bad Times Roll is the 10th studio album from the Offspring and its first in nearly nine years. (Photo courtesy of Concord Records)
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Let The Bad Times Roll is the 10th studio album by the Offspring. Seen here, left to right, are drummer Pete Parada, guitarist Kevin Noodles Wasserman, singer Dexter Holland, and bassist Todd Morse. (Photo by Daveed Benito)
Let The Bad Times roll is the new record by the Offspring. Seen here, left to right, are bassist Todd Morse, drummer Pete Parada, singer Dexter Holland, and guitarist Kevin Noodles Wasserman. (Photo by Daveed Benito)
We had been working in the studio, on and off, the whole nine years, Noodles says. Whenever Bob (Rock, the bands producer) was in town wed hook up for a week or two in the studio. Sometimes as long as a month. The record didnt really start coming together until a couple of years ago when we just had a really creative period.
Let The Bad Times Roll displays all the familiar strengths of the Offspring, from Hollands vocals to Noodles crunchy riffing and the strong melodies throughout, across a dozen songs that feel both fresh and familiar.
Given its lengthy gestation, its not surprising that some bits and pieces had been in the works for years, according to Noodles. Coming For You, for instance, was released as the albums first single, complete with a music video of a clown fight club, six years before the album finally arrived.
Thats certainly the oldest one that was finished, Noodles says. Some of the songs are older than that. Like, We Never Have Sex Anymore, its probably a 20-year-old song but its changed a lot. The skeleton was there but the meat and bones, the meat and potatoes part of it has been fleshed out.
And then then some of the songs we steal from older stuff even before Offspring, he says. Theres a guitar break on Hassan Chop that predates, I think, us being called the Offspring. That comes back to our Manic Subsidal days.
Took us about 35 years to get it right, but I think we finally nailed it in this take.
The album is rewardingly diverse in both sound and lyrics, something Noodles says came about through the long process of picking which songs to include and what order to run them.
The album opens with one-two punch of This Is Not Utopia and the current single Let The Bad Times Roll, both of which are about as political as the Offspring get, offering critiques of socio-political dysfunction wrapped in the case of the title track in catchy singalong melodies.
Without having to take sides politically, I dont think anybody has been enjoying the last four years, Noodles says of the title track. I think everyones a little wound up by it. And its really just an observation of what weve seen.
And then something like This Is Not Utopia is far more like, Ah, man, the world, evil people are at odds, he says. Ultimately in that song its, When will love finally conquer hate? Which we kind of think eventually it will. We try to provide some hope its not just all doom and gloom.
We Never Have Sex Anymore, a fun take on the waning of passion, is one of the jazziest numbers the Offspring have ever done, complete with a horn section to accentuate the swinging feel. Hassan Chop is an old-school blast of high-speed punk. Theres even an Offspring-ized cover of classical composer Edvard Griegs In The Hall of the Mountain King here.
The penultimate track on the album, a gentle piano-based reboot of Gone Away, which originally was on 1997s Ixnay on the Hombre, was done as a sort of musical gift for longtime fans.
Weve been doing it live, just a stripped-down piano version, for about four or five years now, Noodles says. And, really, the fans were the ones that said, Hey, where can I get a studio version of the piano Gone Away? I mean, its on Twitter, on Instagram. When we do meet-and-greets we get asked about it a lot.
So we finally decided, lets see if we could pull something together that still sounds like us but maybe purifies the song a little bit, just kind of strips it down, he says.
The album might have landed earlier had the COVID-19 pandemic not turned the world upside down a year ago. Instead of putting out a record that couldnt be supported live the band waited. A wait, Noodles says, that was difficult for a band like the Offspring that plays live so frequently.
I mean, we miss it, he says, laughing ruefully. Weve been rehearsing. And not just getting together in the room and playing through the songs. Weve been doing deep dives and getting into the weeds on how we play some of these things. Making sure Todd (Morse, the Offsprings bassist) and I are locked in our strumming, and making sure that matches with what Pete (Parada) is doing on the drums.
The layoff has also given him time to break bad habits that slipped in over the years, too.
I dont know why, but over like 25 years somehow my strumming has evolved in ways that the song was never intended to go, Noodles says. Like Self Esteem, Ive gotten a lazy right hand and I had to really look at that: Oh (bleep), Im doing upstrokes when everyone else was doing downstrokes, and it doesnt sound as good.
I had to really dial it in. Most people probably wouldnt notice, but its something on my radar.
He and Holland have launched a series of short how to videos online, some, like the debut How To Catch a Wave, made for a laugh, others, like a future one on breaking down a guitar solo, more serious.
And, slowly, signs of future life on the road are surfacing. Like many bands, the Offspring had some of its pandemic-postponed dates pushed back a year into late 2021 or 2022.
But were looking at setting up shows that werent ever booked before, Noodles says. And maybe as early as the end of the year. Hopefully well have some announcements to make sooner rather than later about those dates.
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