The Offspring

The Offspring are credited with leading the charge of punk-influenced music into the mainstream during the mid-\'90s. Their 1994 album Smash, along with Green Day\'s Dookie, and others, established a now-thriving pop/punk genre, to the chagrin of punk purists.

Formed in 1984 by singer/guitarist Dexter Holland and bassist Greg K, the band went by the name Manic Subsidal at first. Holland and Greg K were joined by fellow Orange County scenesters "Noodles" Wasserman on guitar and Ron Welty on drums, and Manic Subsidal changed its name to the Offspring. A self-titled debut album was released in 1989 on Nemesis Records.

The Offspring subsequently signed to the powerhouse punk label Epitaph Records and released Ignition in 1993. The album earned an underground following for the band, whose sound was becoming hook-laden enough to appeal to mainstream listeners while retaining enough of an edge to keep punk fans happy. The band was recruited by major labels but chose to remain with Epitaph for their next album.

The Offspring found just the right combination of catchiness and crunchiness on 1994\'s Smash. The album\'s first single, "Come Out and Play (Keep \'Em Separated)," was added by influential Los Angeles radio station KROQ, and its chanted vocal hook coupled with a vaguely Middle Eastern guitar melody quickly spread to radio stations nationwide. Follow-up singles "Self-Esteem" and "Gotta Get Away" also were hits, and Smash went platinum and then some.

When the dust settled, Smash had sold some 4 million copies, the most ever for an indie label album. Major labels came calling again, and this time, after months of deliberation, the Offspring decided to sign with Columbia Records. The move created a significant backlash within the punk community, as several of their former labelmates and Epitaph owner Brett Gurewitz publicly criticized the band. The Offspring\'s Columbia debut, Ixnay on the Hombre, was finally released in February 1997 after a long delay caused by the label switch. The album received good reviews but did not match the sales figures of Smash.

In 1998, the Offspring scored a hit single with "Pretty Fly For A White Guy," from their fifth album, Americana. Two years later, the band underscored their vocal support of MP3 technology and the controversial music sharing internet site Napster by announcing that they would make their upcoming album, Conspiracy Of One, available for download for free over the internet. Columbia eventually nixed the idea, with the band settling for the early release of a single, "Original Prankster," in September, with the official release of Conspiracy Of One to follow later in the fall of 2000.