Thom Wilson, the producer of the Offspring's seminal album Smash, has died. According to a press release from Epitaph Records, Wilson passed away on Feb. 8. As distressing as it is to have found out about this tragedy over a month late, it's even more devastating to know that a key advisor to one of OC's biggest bands is no longer with us. Today, Epitaph CEO Brett Gurewitz released a statement:
“In '82 when I was just getting started Thom Wilson was a guy all the bands in the scene looked up to. He was the pro in our midst who loved punk and was willing to take kids under his wing to help them sound great. His work with TSOL and The Adolescents set the bar for everything that came after, including The Offspring's multi-platinum LP Smash, which was the best-selling independent release of all time. Tom was a friend, a teacher, and a great producer. He'll be missed.”
In addition to Smash (which celebrated it's 20th anniversary last year), Wilson was the executive producer on the band's eponymous debut and their sophomore album Ignition. And, lest we forget, without Wilson, Holland's immortal guitar riff on “Come Out and Play” might not even exist.
Last year we spoke to frontman Dexter Holland of the Offspring about Wilson and his contribution to Smash, including that fateful riff.
“Come Out and Play” was the last song to be recorded on the album. Holland remembers having the idea for the signature middle-eastern inspired surf rock riff, as well as the “gotta keep 'em separated” line for the chorus swimming around in his head but decided to keep it a secret from the rest of the band until it was time to do overdubs. “I didn't tell the other guys there was gonna be a middle eastern riff and a Mexican saying 'keep 'em separated' [done by Jason “Blackball” McLean] because I thought they'd say just forget it,” Holland says. “So I was just gonna tell them, “don't worry, there's gonna be something cool in the spot, and after we record it you'll hear it then. So they kinda went with it.”
When producer Thom Wilson first heard Holland's riff, he wasn't really feeling it. “I actually played it an octave higher, showed him and Thom looks at me and goes 'Eh, it's okay I guess,” Holland says. “He said 'let's try it lower.' So we tried it lower, and then the lightning hit. He looks at me and goes 'well I like that!' It was instant.”
No further information about the circumstances of Wilson's death were available as of this writing. The Weekly will definitely keep you updated as we learn more.