Southern California punk stalwarts the Offspring will release their ninth studio album, Days Go By, on June 26th on Columbia Records. However, this summer also marks an anniversary for the band: they released their second album, Ignition, 20 years ago. To commemorate the occasion, they recently played the album from start to finish at the tiny Alex’s Bar in Long Beach, California, and will also perform it five times in Europe.
“It just kind of hit me about a month ago: ‘Oh fuck, this has been 20 years!'” frontman Dexter Holland tells Rolling Stone by phone on the day of the Long Beach gig. “I called the other guys and said, ‘We should do a club show, just for fun.'”
The small concert, plus an appearance two days later at KROQ’s Weenie Roast festival, was a way to let their fans know that the band is back after a four-year absence between records. It’s an interesting juxtaposition for the group, celebrating a two-decade anniversary while promoting a new album. “You can really let the numbers get to you. We were playing at a 21-and-over place last night, so that means some of those people [could] have been one year old when this record came out,” Holland says. “But you can’t think about that stuff too much. We still enjoy what we’re doing and I feel like it was yesterday.”
For Holland, the nostalgic set was also a way to measure the band’s growth on the new material. “We’re down to try different things musically,” he explains. “The record we’re doing now is very different from what we did then.” It is certainly experimental: from the very pop “California Cruising” to the rocking title track and the Spanish-tinged “O.C. Guns,” Days Go By covers a wide range of styles, including vintage Offspring punk.
Holland felt it was important for the band to push themselves this time around. “This is our ninth record, so we’ve got to dig a little bit deeper, and that’s what we want to do as well,” he explains. The ever-changing current musical climate played a part in the versatility of the songs, too. “I think music is so diverse today and bands are so diverse. If you were a rock band in the Eighties, you kind of had to stick to one thing. Now, in this age of Coachella and European festivals and stuff, it’s kind of anything goes, so that allowed us to try different things,” he says.
Holland is proud of Days Go By, if a bit self-deprecating about its sales potential. “I know no one’s gonna buy our album, but I still spend two years trying to make a great record,” he says, laughing. “If you’re in a band, if it’s really what you care about, then that stuff isn’t what’s important. You can’t help the fact that you’ve got to make something great; it’s got to be sequenced right, no matter what.”
He also has a message that he wants his listeners to embrace. “Part of why I chose ‘Days Go By’ as the single and the title of the album is because it really kind of shows – not only with me – that the world has been through a shitty few years and it’s been really tough on a lot of people,” Holland says. “People have really gotten hurt and, at the end of the day, no one’s gonna pick you up. You’ve gotta pick yourself up and figure out how to move on. So I guess acknowledging that it’s been tough, but also having a message of hope, is what I really wanted people to take away from this record.”