By 1984, when what would have become the Offspring formed, the original Orange County punk scene had fractured. "We used to go this dance club called Circle City, and there'd be 10 different cliques," says Kriesel. "In our high school there was a rockabilly scene, as well as a mod scene and a New Wave scene, as well as a punk scene," Holland adds.
But at Pacifica High, a large public school in Garden Grove, Calif. Holland wasn't a member of any of those groups. The third of four children born to a hospital administator father and a schoolteacher mother, he kept busy being a "good kid" and hoped to be a doctor. "Sports were a really big thing," Holland says, "I was on the cross-country team." He also happened to be class valedictorian (thus his nickname, Dexter).
His senior year, Holland's older brother gave him a Rodney on the ROQ compilation album. Before then, Holland was a casual listener. But soon after, he was devouring Flipside and Maximumrocknroll, fanzines out of Pasadena, Calif., and Berkeley, Calif., respecively, that are virtual how-to guides to punkdome. His favorite bands were T.S.O.L. (particulary 1981's Dance With Me), the Adolescents and Agent Orange County bands that weren't as hung up on politic as their Bay Area counterparts.
Holland's cross-country teammate Greg Kriesel discovered punk even later. His investment-banker father saw law school in his son's future. And for most of high school, Kriesel was a sports fan and self-proclaimed jock (he also played baseball). The first punk records he ever heard were the ones the ones Holland played for him. "Music wasn't something that meant a lot to me," he says. "But I started listening to it because it was around, and I got used to it."
Holland and Krisel formed their first band, Manic Subsidal, with two other cross-country teammates one night in 1984 after failing to get in a Social Distortion show. At the time, the two didn't even own instruments, much less know how to play them. "Bryan and I both learned together," says Kriesel, "and he wasn't even playing chords at the time, so he'd play on one string, and I tried to do the same thing. By the summer we were actually playing songs, but it took a while."
Kriesel's house was the site of the band's first gigs. "It's just always a hangout," Kriesel says, "on any given weekend night up to 20 people could drop by. I had a big upstairs that was pretty much mine, and my mom was downstairs. But she's always been really cool about it.
That fall, Holland began premed studies at USC (he's currently a Ph.D. candidate in molecular biology). Kriesel was attending Golden West Junior College and later recieved a B.A. in finance from Long Beach State while working part time in a print shop (he's planning to attend law school). Weekends were the only time the band could rehearse.
Once Holland had written a handful of songs with self-explanitory titles like "Very Sarcastic" and "Sorority Bitch," the fledgling band headed for a cheap studio. Momentarily waylaid when its guitarist jumped ship, the band recruited Kevin Wasserman, an older Pacifica grad who then worked as the school janitor. Pretty soon, Wasserman was "not doing a hell of a lot except practicing at Greg's house on weekends and drinking excessively." Being the only member of the band over 21, Wasserman was particularly useful when it came to buying beer.
"I remember being amazed by Bryan," Wasserman says, "He was valedictorian, he was such a math geek. So when I first saw him with black hair and plaid bondage pants, I was like 'What are you doing?' But I thought it was cool, going beyond what I thought was society's role for him."
Ron Welty moved to Garden Grove for part of high school, and it was there that his older stepsister introduced him to Holland. "My mom's been through a few divorces," Welty says. "She'd get remarried and we'd move, and then she'd get divorced, we'd move." Welt was only 16 when he begged Holland to let him substitute for Manic Subsidal's drummer who had started medical school and wads missing lots of gigs.
In 1987, the Offsping paid to release their own 7-inch single. Unable to afford the additional quarter per copy it cost to paste the front sleves to the backs, the band bought a case of beer and glue sticks and held a party for its friends. "To this day the covers don't hold together too well," says Holland. It took the band two and a half years to get rid of the 1,000 copies it printed.
Two years and a pile of rejections later, the Offspring scored a contract with Nemesis, a small punk label distributed by Cargo. After tracking down producer Thom Wilson, who had crafted their favorite albums by T.S.O.L., the Vandals and the Dead Kennedys, the Offspring recorded another 7-inch single, called Baghdad, and an album debut titled The Offspring. "All punk bands back in '84 wrote about was police, death, religion and war," says Holland. "So that's what we did."
While recording a track for a Flipside compilation with Brett Gurewitz - owner of Epitaph records and then Southern California's biggest punk success story, Bad Religion - the Offspring glimpsed a rosier future. "A little after that, I got a tape," says Gurewitz. "But I have to admit I passed on it."
A year later, when the Offspring began circulating demos for what would become their next album to every punk label they could think of, Gurewitz reconcidered. "It definitely had what people call the Epitaph sound," he says. "High energy, rebelleous punk with great melodies and cool economical song structures. "In 1992 Epitaph released Ignition, 12 brief but energetic Offspring songs that summed up the previous decade of Orange County Punk. Other Epitaph bands include Rancid and NOFX.
In 1994 their breakthough single Come out and Play and top hit Self Esteem helped push thier third album, Smash to the best selling independent record of all time (9 million plus), and heavy MTV rotation. After the success of Smash>, new fans discovered Ignition as it reappeared in stores. Due to the amount of overpriced, poor quality bootlegs, they rereleased their self titled The Offspring in 1995 with thier own label, Nitro. Nitro has released albums for several other bands, including The Vandals and Guttermouth.
In 1996, the Offspring signed with Columbia records after disputes with Epitaph. Their next album, Ixnay on the Hombre, was released in February 1997. Dexter and Jello Biafra stared their own benefit foundation, FSU in 1998. Their latest album, Americana, was released in 1998.