“If you could only read my mind, you would know that things between us … ain’t right.”
Twenty years later, and these poetic words still ring true. “Want You Bad” can definitely boost your mood in this dumpster fire of a year.
Whenever we need a pick-me-up to forget about what troubles us, we turn to our sonic heroes.
The legends that never let us down. In 2020, Dexter Holland from the Offspring is one of those inspiring sonic heroes.
Holland’s story of multifaceted accomplishments is nothing short of inspiring – something we could all use a dose of. Holland is just like us (well, mostly like us), and that’s what we love about him. Over his lifetime, he’s had some setbacks, but he has a way of overcoming those events. The sense you get around Holland is he will always leave his fans in a positive state of mind.
To know how arrived here, we have to take a ride down Memory Lane. He was born Bryan Keith “Dexter” Holland on December 29, 1965. As a kid, he was inquisitive and fearless. Holland never found a challenge he felt he couldn’t finish. In high school, he loved music AND his studies. An odd combination for a teenager! Holland was a fan of The Beatles, Aerosmith, Sex Pistols, Ramones, Kiss, The Stones, and Bob Marley. Since he grew up in Orange County, California, he really loved Social Distortion. In addition to his great musical taste, Holland was a brainiac; in fact, he was the valedictorian at Pacifica High School (Class of 1984).
After graduation, Holland began attending the local college, University of Southern California (USC). He was an academic juggernaut from day one, especially gifted in mathematics. Holland said that his studies are “just as exciting as punk rock.” He went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Biology, a Master’s Degree in Molecular Biology, and was a candidate for his Ph.D.
But back to his first year of college, Holland got together with friends and decided to start a band. Even though he had a deep love for music, he did not have a background in actually playing. He picked it up quickly though, learning to play drums for the band, and he would later pick up the guitar and became the front man. Dubbed Manic Subsidal, they never released any albums, but the fever was there for Holland.
So yes, while studying a very intense subject at a respected college, he was doubling as the front man in his band. The band decided on a name change and became known as The Offspring.
Recently Holland told me that was a tough time for him. He had two loves; music and his studies. He had to choose between the two things in life that he was most passionate about. The Offspring had become a legit band and received critical acclaim for their eponymous debut album. He had to figure out what would be best for him in the grander scheme of things.
Holland told me that it was a very tough choice, but the music aspect was something that was a little out of his control. His studies were different, he had time with that. But music was a different story. He knew the spotlight doesn’t come often, if at all, for most bands. Just because you love music and you love to play with your bandmates, that doesn’t mean you will be successful. You can’t predict how it will turn out. Holland decided that he would suspend his quest for his Ph.D. and go full bore into The Offspring. He promised himself that he would go back to school one day.
Did he make the right choice? Well… the band exploded beyond his wildest dreams! The Offspring became a lightning rod for punk and ALT Rock greatness.
They have put out ten studio albums: The Offspring in 1989, Ignition in 1992, Smash in 1994 (which was six times multi-platinum), Ixnay on the Hombre in 1997, Americana in 1998, Conspiracy of One in 2000, Splinter in 2003, Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace in 2008) and Days Go By in 2012.
Their music has become the soundtrack of our lives. Hell, their music was even used in Madden NFL video games. Their songs have been used in commercials, television shows and movies. The band, along with other legends like fellow California punk , and Pennywise have been credited with reviving mainstream interest in punk rock in the 1990s. Worldwide, The Offspring has sold more than 40 million records. They are one of the best-selling and commercially-successful punk rock bands of all time.
On a lighter note, I asked Holland about their involvement on the feature film “Sharknado: The 4th Awakens.” Holland laughed and said that those films were so silly and the guys really love the movies. Holland said they decided to put together a demo for the producers with a fun song; a track in the style of “Gigantor” by The Dickies. It worked and history was made. Not only did the song get added to the soundtrack, but the band got a walk-on role in the film.
A cinematic and musical side note: You know your band is a success when Weird Al does a parody of one of your tracks. Weird Al did “Pretty Fly for a Rabbi” and the video blew up. Just another interesting and surreal moment in the life of The Offspring.
But it’s their own music that has made them legends. Their catalog is unreal and their sonic vision led them to create amazing songs like “Come Out and Play,” “Gone Away,” “Self Esteem,” “Why Don’t You Get a Job,” “The Kids Aren’t Alright,” “You’re Gonna Go Far Kid,” “Gotta Get Away,” “All I Want,” “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy),” “Original Prankster,” “Hit That,” “Walla-Walla,” “Want You Bad,” “Genocide,” and “Hammerhead.”
Their music keeps bringing the masses from coast-to-coast and around the world to their shows.
I know, the rough life of a rock-star, right? Holland gets to travel all over the world and do all the cool rock-star stuff.
Did I mention he is a pilot? Yes, Holland is a licensed pilot and in 2004, flew around the world in ten days.
But believe it or not, the spotlight didn’t get to him and Holland was good to his word. Despite all the success the band had achieved, he went back to school. He was a doctoral student at the Laboratory of Viral Oncology and Proteomics Research at USC’s Keck School of Medicine.
In March 2013, he co-authored and published a paper in PLoS One regarding microRNA in HIV genomes, titled “Identification of Human MicroRNA-Like Sequences Embedded within the Protein-Encoding Genes of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus.” Most of us (including me) have no idea what that all means. Let’s just say that’s a monumental accomplishment for anyone, no matter who you are. Holland was later awarded his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from USC in 2017.
So that’s it right? He’s a kick-ass rock star with a Ph.D., who can fly a plane… that’s all? Nope, that’s only a portion of the story that makes Dexter Holland pretty fly for a smart guy. He joins other rock stars with an impressive curiosity for education. He joined other Doctors of rock like Brian May (Queen), Greg Gaffin (Bad Religion) and Milo Auckerman (Descendants).
Growing up in Southern California, Holland kinda had another interest…his love for Mexican food. He loves hot sauce; I mean he really, really, really loves it. As a teen, he would literally try every kind of hot sauce imaginable. As the legend goes, one day he was having some Mexican food, he tried a bottle of Tapatio hot sauce. He turned the bottle over to read the ingredients. Being the scientist that he is, he read the ingredients and said to himself, “Hmm…I can do that!”
In my chat with Holland, he said that’s how the idea started for another venture of his. He would put on his mad professor hat and experiment with various recipes. Through trial and error, he came up with wild concoctions that were pretty damn good.
He tried the recipes out on his family and friends, and had another light bulb moment; Holland decided to try marketing his hot sauce for the public. Unsurprisingly, Lady Luck hit him square on the nose again! His Gringo Bandito brand made its debut in 2004 on a limited basis at SoCal grocery chain Albertsons. People loved it!
Holland said he was a little surprised about the success of his hot sauce. He said, “Sales were modest at first, but then it took off.” He went on to say, “We’re not the most well-known hot sauce out there, but once people try it, they’re hooked.”
Currently, Gringo Bandito is sold in more than 500 restaurants and 7,000 stores nationwide. It is sold in Canada, Australia, Japan, Finland, Germany, Belgium, and Hungary, with more countries to come, AND it’s been a top-ranked hot sauce at Amazon.
Luckily, all these successes have not taken him away from music. The Offspring has had some change in the lineup, but “Dexter” and guitarist “Noodles” remain as the core of the band. The Offspring were set for another year of great shows and festivals in 2020. THEN, the Zombie Apocalypse happened. With bands everywhere forced into hiatus, they began to explore other options. Some do the live stream and others have taken up drive-in style performances. While not ideal, people are happy to be “seeing” bands perform.
Of course, in speaking with Holland, I had the unique opportunity to this situation with a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology. I asked him what the reality is about us going back to shows the way it was before. He paused and said, he didn’t think life would get back to normal any time soon. While he hoped it would, it’s not likely. He pointed out that the industry is resourceful and we’ll most likely see more live streams for the long term, and drive-in style shows may be around for a bit. He had a very sobering opinion about the bigger picture.
We asked him to put his doctor hat on and consider what would it take for people to come out to shows again. He said, “Well, no matter what you do, some people will always come out to shows. Fans of any given band, friends and family, and those who are sick of being confined. As for the industry, we’ll need something that’ll make everyone feel safe enough to come out. Sure, the industry will introduce new safety protocols… it’ll change the dynamic of concerts. For the industry as a whole… they’ll need the masses to come out for this to rebound.”
As for his opinion on a vaccine, he said may take more time than we’d like, but hopefully the government will fast track things so it will be sooner than normal. He thinks that’s what it’ll take for the masses to come back out to shows again and to feel safe.
So what’s next for The Offspring? The band is taking it easy at the moment and taking a good break from touring. When asked about the rumors of a new album, he said “there may be some truth to that, but, I can’t say much more than that at the moment.”
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As for Holland the man, he’s at home with his wife and kids enjoying this break. He is also focusing his energies on his hot sauce company. I asked him which Gringo Bandito flavor is his favorite. He laughed and said, like a parent asked to pick their favorite child, “I like them all!” He did suggest if you like mild, try the original red, but if you like hot, hot, hot… try the spicy yellow.
Let’s hope 2021 beings us new music from The Offspring, and even more hot sauce flavors from Holland!