By Walter Price
It was the year Friends premiered, Amazon.com launched, Pulp Fiction and Forrest Gump hit theaters, Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley, err, married, OJ was on a slow run and the year Nancy Kerrigan was whacked (in the knee).
And 20 years ago to the day, April 8, 1994, a little album on a decade old struggling punk label helped fuel the ‘punk-on-pop’ movement and for a group of down-to-earth fun lovin’ So-Cal boys, it would change their lives forever. Dramatic!
To be honest, no one I knew in the radio biz (in Texas) thought these guys would make it past the first infectious single “Come Out And Play” but we didn’t think or want the burbling at the seams nu-metal thing to explode all over the place either…The mid-nineties, post Nirvana era had sprung up and anything was possible. Again.
Now, Dexter Holland, Noodles Wasserman, Greg K. and Ron Welty weren’t the first punkish good-time dudes to crossover to the exciting world of mass appeal radio that year. Green Day had just released Dookie and many respects, people were ready for a change. Cobain was gone and seemingly the Seattle scene was just about played out…
But there is one basic fact why you and all your friends, secretly or not, love this album. It was a grand party of an album thumbing and thumping its lyrical and almost random smattering of sounds in the face a conventional radio and trends and it was all by accident really.
Epitaph is now set to reissue the album in an expanded fun for all package in mid-August. Bring it. What you’ll get: LP version containing the original 14 album tracks newly remastered on 180-gram vinyl / CD version containing the original 14 album tracks from the most recent remastering, Restyled album package artwork, Large format 24 page booklet featuring never before seen archive photos by Lisa Johnson and Firsthand recollections and quotes from the band and others telling the story of that historic time.
So if you want to relive the year that Dookie, Live Through This, Definitely Maybe, Vitalogy, Cross Road and/or Sixteen Stone ruled your CD collection. I betcha this will be a good way to spend your cash. Or just listen to the old cassette you have squirreled away under your car seat.
I ran across this article in Rolling Stone this morning and it is full of quips, quotes and oh the memories from the people involved with SMASH. Here are a few of my faves: (Full Article HERE)
“The Offspring played punk rock, and by 1994 had been doing it for about 10 years. And punk rock had always been played in out-of-the-way clubs in bad parts of the city. We weren’t allowed to do the Sunset Strip. We weren’t allowed to play the Roxy or the Whisky. We were relegated to the back-alley places in the industrial parts of town. But all that was changing.” – Noodles
“Nirvana definitely blew the doors open. All of a sudden you were seeing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on MTV, and that video looked like a punk rock show. It looked like when we played Gilman Street in Berkeley. It made everything kind of seem possible. Because from that video it was just one little step to Henry Rollins or to the Smashing Pumpkins. It just got closer and closer and by ’94 people were ready for it.” – Dexter Holland
“Up until Smash I was a janitor. Head custodian at Earl Warren Elementary School. Actually, when Smash came out I was still there. The record was released in April and I didn’t quit until the middle of June. I promised my boss I would finish out the school year! We had a song on the radio in heavy rotation and I was still sweeping up after little kids.” – Noodles
“I heard from a couple people, “Hey, did you know the Offspring covered your song?” And I was thinking, “That’s great. They like the song.” I didn’t think about calling up and going, “Where’s my money?” But then a friend said to me, “Well, do you also know they’ve sold, like, 50,000 copies of that record?” So finally I called Epitaph and talked to Brett. I figured I could be looking at a few thousand bucks! And he was like, “Hey, yeah, it looks like we owe you some money.” I didn’t even have to really ask him for it. I just said, “Great! I’ll take money!” Then I asked him how many records they’d sold. He said, “Well, it’s gonna go gold next week.” My jaw hit the floor. So do I like their version of the song? I loooove their version of the song! I’m still living in a house that the Offspring paid for. I’m still driving a car that the Offspring paid for. I have a retirement estate that the Offspring paid for.” – Rick Sims (The Didjits) Co-Writer “Killboy Powerhead”
“One thing I definitely regret is the words that were spoken in the press. I wish I would never have said a disparaging word about the Offspring. And I wish that they had never done the same to me. But emotions got heated. But really I don’t think any musician ever deserves to be judged by people for making any business decision for themselves. The fact is the Offspring signed to Sony. They weren’t having cockfights in their backyard. They weren’t spilling oil off the coast. They signed to a major label. Who gives a fuck?” – Brett Gurewitz (Founder of Epitaph Records)
“It was a crazy time, and it was a complicated time, but that just goes with the territory. I’m proud of what we were able to do with Epitaph, and I would be the last guy to ever complain about any of it. Fuck, I’m a singer in a rock band – I have the best job in the world!” – Dexter
Check Out The Full Richard Bienstock Article At RollingStone.com. Its A Gem!