When punk rock heavyweights The Offspring released their fourth studio album, Conspiracy Of One, in November of 2000 the world looked much different than it does today. Smartphones weren’t nearly as smart, social media as we know it was nonexistent, and Drake hadn’t even made his debut as Jimmy Brooks on Degrassi: The Next Generation.
It was the turn of the millennium and pop-punk was trending with bands like Blink-182, Green Day, and Sum 41 dominating alternative radio with their defiant adolescent antics. And right there in the middle of it all was The Offspring’s single, “Original Prankster;” a song that broke the Billboard Top 100 and hit Number 2 on the US Alternative Airplay charts. The track boasted a sample from War’s “Low Rider” and a cameo from hip-hop legend Redman, a pairing that sparked many future punk-rap collabs by other bands.
While there might have been a care-free spirit in the air, things were still serious for The Offspring’s frontman Dexter Holland and his longtime collaborator/guitarist Noodles. “When we put Conspiracy of One out in 2000, Bill Clinton was still President and September 11 hadn’t happened yet. However, it was obvious that tensions were rising in the Middle East, and we could all sense that acts of terrorism were on the rise, both domestically and internationally,” Holland says. “We realized the world was changing and that future attacks against our country were just as likely to occur by an individual or a small group—a ‘Conspiracy of One.’”
With more than 40 million albums sold worldwide, The Offspring have earned their title as punk rock ambassadors while the music industry continues to evolve around them, even when Holland took a break in 2016-2017 to complete his doctorate in molecular biology, specializing in immunodeficiency viruses. With his Ph.D. now secured, a new album on the calendar for 2021, and a cheeky Christmas single released just before the holidays, the band is ready to get back to business.
We sat down with Holland and Noodles to look back on The Offspring’s legacy and ended up getting some scientific insight into the current pandemic in the process.
Congratulations on 20 years of Conspiracy Of One. How do you guys feel looking back on it?
Noodles: We’ve just been trying to remember what it was like making the record. Conspiracy of One came together pretty quickly. We were in between a lot of records at the time. We’d already done Smash, Ixnay On The Ombre, and Americana within the five years before that. And then right after Americana we went into the studio and did Conspiracy of One. We had toured on all of those records for almost a year each and we’d go straight from touring into the studio to work on the next record.
Do the sentiments of Conspiracy of One still hold true today?
Noodles: Part of it is this deranged idea that one lone genius could go out and make a difference in the world. This was right before 9/11, but there were people who didn’t really have a lot of resources or political power who were changing the world [negatively].
Dexter: It wasn’t even international. Look at the Oklahoma City bombing. It just felt like [the world] was shifting. Looking back on it a couple of years later, September 11 really eclipsed all of that.
Obviously 9/11 affected everybody, but how did it affect the band?
Dexter: I think there was an effect on the American psyche. Americans felt vulnerable in a way they hadn’t before. Like, ‘yeah shit, this can really happen.’ I never thought that could go on here.
What is your favourite conspiracy?
Noodles: The lizard people for sure.
Dexter: I like the moon hoax.
Noodles: The moon hoax is good. Or whoever said that the pyramids “have to be [the work of] aliens.” Just because white people couldn’t do it doesn’t mean other people couldn’t do it. Doesn’t mean the Mayans couldn’t do it, or the Egyptians couldn’t do it. White people couldn’t do it, so they think “oh, it must be aliens.”
Looking at the current pandemic from a scientific perspective, how is the world doing?
Dexter: It’s hard to say, I’m certainly not an expert. I’m thrilled that there are a lot of promising vaccines in the works and very hopeful that they will do the job. I think there’s reason to be hopeful. But I think more than what the virus is, it’s the perception that’s shaping what’s going on, right? There’s a real threat—we’re talking about thousands of people dying, that’s terrible. And there’s a perceived threat, which may be under-reacting or overreacting, it’s hard to say, but that’s having a real toll as well. So it’s hard to not talk about one without talking about the other.
Noodles: First of all, Dexter is being humble, because I read on Twitter so it must be true, that he [puts on a fake posh accent] is one of the foremost leading virologists in the country.
Dexter, are you privy to any scientific insights through your community that you can share?
Dexter: These ideas evolve, right? They thought, why are children not getting as sick as older people? It’s often people with weak immune systems who are most vulnerable, which tends to be children and seniors. Whereas [COVID-19] is much more skewed towards seniors. And one school of thought is that there’s a certain receptor in your respiratory tract, meaning it’s a little molecule that sticks out of your cells that doesn’t really appear until you get older. And they think that could be the reason; it could just be this weird molecular fluke in the way we grow up. So it’s not necessarily related to the immune system, but this has only been around for eight months or so. It’s going to have to be really looked at and it’s going to take years.
Sorry if we strayed too far. What else can we say about the record? It sort of felt like a follow-up to Americana and Americana had been so successful for us. We were stoked and everything was going great. We thought let’s keep it going, so we went in kind of quickly.
I’m interested to hear more about the band’s 10th studio album. What more can you tell us?
Noodles: Well, we drank tequila after listening to the final mixes last week.
Dexter: That’s right, symbolically that means we’re done. We sort of finished it eight months ago and since we’ve had some time to think about it, we might go back in and tweak a little bit more, but I feel really good about it. We’re basically done at this point.
Does the album have a name?
Noodles: We’re still thinking about it.
Dexter: We’re pretty sure, but we’re not ready to tell.
Last question. What is the secret to aging gracefully in punk rock?
Noodles: I don’t know, we just do it. We’re just incredibly good looking, energetic, smart dudes. [laughs]. I’m just kidding, we don’t ever think about that. We just love doing what we do. We get to go out and play for a living, we come into the studio where we’re at and we play guitars, hash out ideas, and then we go out and play those ideas for the world. I think that’s the key.