When it comes to predicting the future, the sky’s the limit for Offspring bassist Greg Kriesel.
Before every tour, members of the Orange County, Calif.-based melodic hard-core quartet look into their crystal balls and prognosticate what’s ahead for them. Each time, Kriesel is the one aiming the highest.
“Bryan (Holland) always predicts low,” Kriesel said recently of the band’s lead singer and chief songwriter, “and it’s not because he doesn’t believe in the band, it’s just that he doesn’t want to be disappointed.
“I don’t look at it that way. If I say we’re going to sell a million albums by the end of the tour or the end of the year and we end up selling 500,000, that’s not going to bum me out. Just because I didn’t reach my goal doesn’t mean I shouldn’t shoot high.
“I admit I’m a dreamer, but I’m realistic.”
Kriesel isn’t a card-carrying fortune teller, but his dream has come true. Powered by the witty single, “Come Out and Play,” Offspring is about to go gold with its appropriately titled second album, “Smash” (on the independent label Epitaph).
“Smash” has cracked the Top 40 on Billboard’s pop albums chart. More than 200,000 copies have been sold, but soon it will be certifiably gold because stores have ordered more than 300,000 to meet the growing demand.
Kriesel was so confident of full-grown success, he quit his day job as a printer before “Smash” was released.
“We had just come back from a tour and I decided I just didn’t want to be there anymore, so I quit,” Kriesel said. “At the time, I thought, ‘Well, we can make enough to get by on,’ and I was living in my mom’s house so I knew I could survive. I knew this was going to take off.”
It took off in Los Angeles via KROQ-FM, which latched on to the slashing “Come Out and Play,” its catchy one-liner, “you gotta keep ’em separated,” and its subtle anti-gun message. MTV followed suit by putting Offspring’s video in its Buzz Bin rotation.
Why has Offspring finally made it after seven years of toiling in Southern California’s club scene?
“Most people tell us that after Nirvana (and Kurt Cobain’s death), there’s been a void,” Kriesel said. “So people now are looking to bands like Smashing Pumpkins and Green Day. And when we came out, KROQ really pushed us because they wanted a band like this with more of a harder edge.
“I just don’t like the idea of people being force-fed songs. When ‘Come Out and Play’ first hit on the radio, you had to wonder, is it on all the time because people actually like it or because the radio station decided it was going to play the hell out of it?”
Kriesel throws much of the credit for the group’s newfound success to “surf rats.”
“They’re the guys who go out at 6 in the morning and surf all day,” he said. “None of us surf, but our songs started getting thrown into these surfing, skateboard and snowboard videos.
“I think that’s why we hit it. The surf rats would sit there and watch these videos for hours and our songs stuck in their heads, then they’d buy the album after that, and it snowballed from there.”
BWF (before we forget): Kriesel’s prediction came true and then some. “Smash” reached No. 4 on Billboard’s pop chart, stayed on the chart for nearly two years and sold more than 5 million copies. The Offspring jumped to Columbia Records for its follow-up album, “Ixnay on the Hombre,” which cracked the Top 10 in 1997 and sold more than 1 million.
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