Releasing your tenth album after almost as many years between records would normally be a high priority talking point for most bands. But not The Offspring, and certainly not when it comes to their brand new full-length Let The Bad Times Roll. You see, there are far more pressing topics to address.
Let The Bad Times Roll, out Friday, 16th April, covers it all; the big things that we as a people need to hash out, and the small things, because after all, nothing ever feels as big as the little things.
Speaking with Blunt Magazine, vocalist Dexter Holland and guitarist Noodles would refer to wabi-sabi in passing, the ancient Japanese philosophy of accepting the transience and imperfection of the world. In looking back, the idea is far more potent to Let The Bad Times Roll than a mere aside. If there’s one thing this album does, it unearths the rare moments of gold buried deep within the rubble.
From a fan perspective, it’s so cool that The Offspring are releasing album number 10, but what’s it like for you guys? Does that affect you at all, the big album number 10? Where do you sit with that milestone?
Dexter: It’s just a little bit more straw on the camel’s back, I think at this point. Right? (Laughs)
At this point, we never thought that this would become something that we get to do for a living, that we get to have our own studio and go in and make music for a living. It was always something we did as a hobby. We all had other things until Smash came out and ever since then it’s just been, “Okay, let’s hook up, let’s make some music, let’s go on tour,” and this is number 10. It does feel good, though. We’re excited. We’re real excited about the music that we’ve put together on this record and we just can’t wait for the fans to hear it.
One thing I noticed about the album is the topics that you guys talk about. It really covers the gamut from everything from super intimate, all the way to super broad. For example, ‘This is Not Utopia’, a general abstract discussion about politics and society, and then you get down to ‘We Never Have Sex Anymore’, which, while it does have a general appeal, feels like it’s a bit more of a personal subject.
Dexter: I think the best way for me to write songs is not to think about what it’s going to be, just let it come out and worry about that part later, so that’s why you get such a varied sample of things.
Noodles to Dexter: I think you’ve always kind of done that though. Dexter’s the principal songwriter and I think he’s always been able to do that, talk about things that we see maybe socially or politically in the world, and then also talk about things that are personal, with personal relationships and stuff. I think you’ve always been able to hit on that.
Dexter to Noodles: Thank you.
When you sat down writing this, was it always going to be so politically loaded?
Noodles: I would say that we’re not a political band, and I’ve been hearing this a lot like, “Wow, this feels so political,” and it’s not meant to be like that. I do feel like after what’s happened the last couple of years, how can we not write about what’s going on in the world?
Dexter: I don’t ever want to feel like we’re preaching, or we want to tell people what they should be thinking, but kind of laying out there the facts that I think are important to talk about. Like, “Hey, this is fucked up, we should talk about this”, without coming across as left or right.
Noodles: Anyone who knows my Twitter feed knows that I am politically [charged]…But that’s just me expressing my viewpoint. That is not the band’s viewpoint, and I try to make that clear constantly all the time.
Everyone’s gone through the last four or five, six, seven years, as long as it’s been since we’ve done a record, everyone feels like this is shitty. This is shitty regardless on what side of the political spectrum you are. I don’t think you could write a song today that addresses anything going on politically or in society and not address the elephant in the room. Everyone, I think, is going to understand it.
Dexter: The title Let The Bad Times Roll was not a stretch to come up with, let’s put it that way.
You don’t necessarily tell people how you think, but you more so say, “Here’s what’s happening, put this in your pocket, do with it what you will”. That’s difficult. Is this just how you naturally write now? Or do you find yourself being like, “Whoa, okay, no, pull that back a little bit.”
Dexter: I think that lyrics now are more of a process for me. I tend to go back over songs a few times and you might go, “That line’s a little too, whatever it is, too forward or too backwards, or not forward enough”, whatever, but really when it comes to a song like this, the way I handle it in order to not appear too left or too right is to really approach it from a humanitarian, right, let’s go, can we all get along, whatever. This is fucked up. I think it’s easier to come together from that point of view, when you’re talking about what’s going on in the world.
There’s also a hell of a lot of fun on the album. Like ‘In the Hall of the Mountain King’. You guys turned that up a notch…
Noodles: We felt that Edvard Grieg really dropped the ball on that one and needed some help to carry that over the finishing line and-
Dexter: He was close. He was close. That’s a good start. It was a good start. It was like a demo. He needed a little push to get over the finish line, so we were trying to just set history straight, so to speak.
What inspired the revision of ‘Gone Away’?
Dexter: ‘Gone Away’, of course, is a song we wrote for Ixnay on the Hombre a long time ago, and as we’ve been playing these shows over the years, we started playing it just with piano and vocal. It’s kind of an idea to mix up the show, but the response was so good and so immediate, it was like the lighters went up instantly, and there was just this big fan response reaction, and lots of messages on social media saying, “Where can I get a copy of this? How can I hear this recorded?” It was kind of like, the fans demanded it and we decided to do a version that way.
Noodles: When he starts it, the song, I’m on the side of the stage, I’m getting chills sometimes. It’s great. When we went to do the piano version, I was a little pissed off because there’s no guitar in it at first, but I got over that pretty quickly, because the way he sings it is out of his comfort zone, it’s different, and we all had his back on that. Bob loved it, the rest of the guys in the band, Pete and Todd were all about it. We just cheered him on, on that. It just strips the song down and purifies it to a heartfelt emotion at the core of that song. I don’t think there’s been any Offspring song that has touched as many people as deeply as that song.
Has that opened up the flood gates for you, for what you can do with your back catalogue? I know that you don’t really want to fuck too much with what you’ve done-
Noodles: I like where he’s going with this.
Dexter: Yeah, yeah. We don’t need to write anymore! It was really interesting and very flattering. We rerecorded ‘Dirty Magic’, this isn’t the first time we’ve done a re-record. I just felt like Ignition was us kind of trying to find our way, and I really felt like ‘Dirty Magic’ just could have been done better, and so we redid it, but it was an interesting mixed reaction. It was almost like sometimes when something is flawed, it’s better to leave it be, the way it is, and I think that’s what I took away from that one.
Noodles: Wabi-sabi, right?
Dexter: Yeah, wabi-sabi. But for this one, it just felt different, and it felt like the right thing to do was to reimagine it and I’m glad we did.
I imagine this was probably a fun and rewarding session for you guys to go through and it’s a fantastic album. Are you eyeing off album 11?
Noodles: Give us a little bit of time. We’re not asking for nine years again. We overwrote a little bit. We kept on trying different ideas. We’ve got, I don’t know, maybe four songs, more or less, done…
I hope to get something out sooner rather than later this time.