Dexter Holland Talks About Whether He's Trying to Make Pop Songs or Piss on Them

Dexter Holland, OC's favorite bleached blonde punk prince/hot sauce maker is about to hit the road again, following the release of the Offspring's ninth album, Days Go By (out June 26 on Columbia Records). We've all seen the video for “Cruising California (Bumpin' in My Trunk)” at this point, so we imagine that he and his bandmates are busy loading up their tour bus with random beach goers, old people and hot women in bikinis. This week's feature on the band delves into the process of churning out their time-honored combination of politically-fueled skate punk and pop radio anthems. Apparently Holland likes the fact the band's sound tiptoes a line that often leaves fans scratching their heads. During our discussion, we couldn't help taking a few detours to talk about his label, Nitro Records, his favorite places to see a show in OC, and his hot sauce brand, Gringo Bandito. Here is a slice of our conversation that didn't make the story.

OC Weekly (Andrew Youssef) : How come you went with “Days Go By” as the single in the US and “Cruising California (Bumpin' in My Trunk)” for the rest of the world?

Dexter Holland: Days Go By is the title of the album. That was the song I felt like getting out first. I thought there was an important message to get across. The last years have been tough on people around the world and the US. It's not about bank accounts. It is about people losing their jobs and homes and it's been a tough time. It is important to acknowledge that, to say that we know everyone is having a tough time. You gotta figure out a way to pick yourself up and get going again and figure out a way to get hope that things are going to get better. It is important message to get out right now. The last album our message is “Shit is fucked up.” Which is still true. It's a little more personal this time.

What are some of your favorite places in Orange County that have a significant value for The Offspring?

The Doll Hut comes to mind. It was the coolest place because it was so tiny.There is no other club like it. It barely holds fifty people. I've seen a lot of great bands there. That would be one that stands out. I've seen some great shows at The Galaxy Theater [now the Observatory]. It is different kind of place, a little bit big but not really and you're not quite sure whether it is a luxury club or a locker room?

What was it like filming the video for “Cruising California (Bumpin' In My Trunk)” in downtown Huntington Beach?

It was fun. Kinda surreal actually. Being some place like that where normally I would be trying to keep my head down. Your hometown and stuff. The last thing you want to do is get noticed where you live. But this is a time where we are obviously trying to do a video for the song. Huntington Beach can be one part bikini and sun and one part pit bull, right? I kinda wanna reflect that a little bit in the lyrics. People have asked me since it is a different type of sound for us, “Are you trying to make a pop song?” or “Are you trying to take a piss on a pop song?” I like not answering that question. I like that we are on the line about that. If it makes you wonder, that is a good thing.


How is Nitro Records doing?

The record business is obviously not quite what it used to be. It is mostly a catalog label now where I feel really fortunate to have been able to put out all these records. When I first started, it was by being friends with members of Guttermouth. I saw them play and I know people would like them outside Orange County. Luckily, I had the means to get distribution deals. It was really gratifying to help bands like Guttermouth, and The Vandals. AFI was a really special case where nobody knew who the band was and we actually stayed together for five records and they did really well. A lot of great memories. If the right thing came along I would definitely do something again. We are what I would call a semi-active label.

Are we going to see a custom Gringo Bandito guitar?

(Laughs) That stuff has come up a little bit. For me, I love this band. It is the only band I have ever been in or any of us have been in. It's important. It is our passion and it is what we want to do with our lives. I never want anything else to get in front of that. I never want it to be “Oh, you like my band so check this out!” I make hot sauce on the side cause it is fun. It is important to keep things fun. I'm glad people are aware of it and it is out there. But this band is where is I want to be.

Are you doing any flying on this tour (Dexter is a licensed pilot)?

Well, not this time in Europe. I might do some in the US. I really love flying. It is what I like to do. I like to combine it with touring whenever I can.

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