(This article is sponsored by the Ambleside Music Festival)
Back in 1994, the Offspring accomplished something no punk rockers had done before. Their third album Smash became the most unexpected success story of the year, according to Georgia Straight music critic Mike Usinger, accomplishing for punk what Nirvana did for grunge in 1991.
Since then, Smash has sold more than 11 million copies, thanks in part to hit singles “Come Out and Play”, “Self Esteem”, and “Gotta Get Away”.
Over the phone, frontman Dexter Holland explains that he and his bandmates loved the energy of punk back in the ’90s, but also saw a need for better songwriting.
“The attitude was there,” Holland says. “But there weren’t a lot of classic punk songs. And I thought that maybe what we could do that was different from many other bands is we would try to write good songs.
“So there was almost, dare I say, a pop element—a little bit—in some of our music,” he adds. “And I think we’ve really expanded on that as time has progressed.”
The Offspring will bring their unique blend of pop and California punk to the three-day Ambleside Music Festival in West Vancouver’s Ambleside Park. The three-day event’s other headliners are Canadian sensations Mother Mother, Marianas Trench, and Walk off the Earth.
There’s a long list of additional acts on the August 12 to 14 weekend, including Charlotte Cardin, Grandson, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Jon and Roy, Ria Mae, Tokyo Police Club, Hannah Georgas, and Little Destroyer.
“Curating Ambleside Music Festival was no small task! We really wanted the weekend to stand out,” festival producer Quinn Allen says. “The idea behind the lineup we built was to keep the acts fun and energetic while also making sure there was enough musical diversity that the weekend would appeal to a broad audience. It’s been years since we’ve been able to hold events so we really wanted to offer something for everyone—to give everyone a chance to come out and enjoy a beautiful day by Ambleside Beach listening to music with friends.”
Holland says that the Offspring had to cancel a Canadian tour six months ago because of the pandemic, so he’s especially eager to get in front of the live audience in West Vancouver.
“I’m just thrilled that we’re finally able to come up to play for you guys.”
Holland points out that former Vancouverite Bob Rock produced the Offspring’s newest studio album, Let the Bad Times Roll. The title track on the band’s 10th studio album offers a highly charged reminder of the troubled times we’re living in.
“I want to continue as a band creating and writing about things—and commenting on the world around us,” Holland says. “So having a new record is very, very important to us.”
The lyrics of “Let the Bad Times Roll” and the accompanying video offer a clever and incisive take on the modern horrors of COVID and political demagoguery. Holland says that in the past when something bad happened, people might lament it. But now, troublemakers with no interest in telling the truth double down on their lies as they pile more and more difficulties upon average folks.
“Let the Bad Times Roll” mentions Abraham Lincoln rolling over in his grave as a Trump-like narrator urges people to keep shouting “lock her up, lock her up”—a not-too-subtle reference to former rival Hillary Clinton. Then there’s a Trumpish line about building a wall and letting the bad times roll for Mexicans, Blacks, and Jews.
Holland mentions that this is the mindset he was referring to when he wrote “Let the Bad Times Roll”.
“That’s something that feels different to me from other times that I can think of,” he says.
Yes, punk rock is alive and well in 2022. And for that, we can thank the Donald.
The science-minded Holland earned a PhD in molecular biology in 2017. And the video for “Let the Bad Times Roll” includes memorable imagery of menacing airborne COVID-19 viruses chasing people around the inside their homes. It’s zany and amusing, while still offering a disturbing reminder of the times we’re living in.
“We’re so happy that it’s doing well on the radio,” Holland says. “We’re just bringing our fun and our sense of humour to you guys out here.”