SoCal punk rock band the Offspring waited nine years after the release of 2012’s Days Go By album before putting out the new full-lengther – Let the Bad Times Roll. The past 12 months of that can of course be partially blamed on the pandemic which has stunted the work of just about every musician. But still, there were eight years before that. Guitarist Noodles (born Kevin Wasserman) says it was simply the case that the album wasn’t done until it was done.
“We did put out a song, ‘Coming for You,’ which is on this record, about five years ago,” Noodles says. “We thought eventually we’d build a record around that. We had a lot of ideas. We thought about maybe doing an EP, and maybe just releasing singles. But we knew eventually that was going to be on something that we would call a record. We’d been working the whole time, we never stopped working on it, and really about two or three years ago we started having a real creative period. Started coming up with songs that felt really good. Most of this record was written in that period.”
When the pandemic hit, the album was close to being done. Plans were well underway, but the band didn’t want to drop something that they couldn’t get behind with a tour, so they waited.
“We did do some more tweaking, some fine tuning, some things here and there,” Noodles says. “And ultimately we realized that all that helped – I think it made the record much better. But we were done. We had to put it out and not keep waiting. We were doing Christmas songs and covers from the Tiger King documentary. I think the record’s good, and we need to put it out. We took our time on the album artwork and liner notes and all that. Spent some time making sure the whole thing was as good as it could be.”
Let the Bad Times Roll is a great body of work – bouncy and infectious enough to please long-time Offspring fans, colored with some timely frustration and cynicism. Even the darker elements are flavored with hope though.
“The single, for example, ‘Let the Bad Times Roll,’ has these really dark verses but then an upbeat dancey chorus,” Noodles says. “That’s kinda how we feel about the world. What are you gonna do? Might as well let the bad times roll. There’s a lot of that. Even ‘This is Not Utopia’ – ‘how long will it take before love conquers hate?’ We know it’s gonna get there – love will eventually conquer hate – but how long is it gonna take? So the album reflects the world that we live in. It’s been put in sharp relief with the pandemic on top of everything else over the past year.”
Veteran rock producer, who has also worked extensively with Metallica, Motley Crue, Aerosmith and Bon Jovi among many others, is behind the desks on Let the Bad Times Roll for the third time with the Offspring.
“We started working with Bob about 12 years ago and just never stopped,” says Noodles. “This is just the third completed record that we’ve put together with him. We’ve been working with him on and off that whole time though, and it’s a great relationship. At the same time, he still pushes us. The most recent thing is, when we’re getting close, we’re on to something, we know Bob is onboard with us but we’re not there, he says, ‘This is going to be great.’ Which is his way of saying ‘You’re not there yet.’ We’re heading in a good direction, but we’re not there yet. It’s going to be great. Gotta keep working. I love that about Bob.”
Ultimately, even taking into consideration the perhaps darker vibes on this album, it very much feels like an Offspring record. All of the elements that made their previous efforts so enjoyable are present and correct though there’s a natural maturation of the sound.
“I never felt like words like growth or evolution – those words don’t fit us,” says Noodles. “Certainly we change, and I think there’s some there. If I have to go back and listen to Smash and then listen to where we’re at today, I think we have evolved a little bit and grown up a little bit. But not much. I think maybe we’re a little bit better at expressing our ideas both musically and lyrically a little bit more succinctly. A little bit more accurately. But we still love the same kind of music, and we still go about attacking music the same way. Writing songs the same way.”
Towards the end of the album, there’s an acoustic and orchestral version of the 1997 song “Gone Away” originally from the Ixnay on the Hombre record. Noodles says that this version has been in the live set for a while.
“When you strip that song, it almost kinda purifies it and makes the message a little bit more direct,” he says. “And the fans loved it, the stripped-down piano version of that song. The idea of doing a studio-recorded version of it is their idea. The fans asked us to do it.”
We recently spoke to Offspring frontman Dexter Holland to discuss his Gringo Bandito hot sauce. Noodles admires his singer’s ambition but admits he prefers an easier life.
“As ambitious as Dexter is, I’m not ambitious,” he says. “I admire him – his piloting planes, his Ph.D. in molecular biology, his hot sauce empire. But I’d rather go for a bike ride along the beach, go fishing or something.”
What he is working on is some video ideas with his band. Maybe some livestreams too.
“If we do something like that, we want to make sure it’s done really well and doesn’t just look like another YouTube video,” Noodles says. “And then we’re already planning on getting out and hitting the road at the end of the year. That is dependent on the spread of the virus stopping, and we’re confident that we’re gonna get there. It’s just a matter of time. We’re hoping it’ll happen by the fall. So we’re making plans. We want to be able to get out there and hit the road as soon as we can.”
Offspring Rolls Over the Bad Times: The Let the Bad Times Roll album is out April 16.
Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting Irvine Weekly and our advertisers.