Offspring Steps Up to Mic

ByGary Graff

November 20, 2000 -- The first person you hear on the Offspring's new album, Conspiracy of One, is not frontman Brian "Dexter" Holland but another Southern California hero — Mike Love of the Beach Boys.

Holland was taken by the way Love began a 1964 TV concert, telling the audience, "When we're ready to sing, we step up to the microphone," and then leading the Beach Boys into the opening song.

"I thought that was so great I wanted to put it on the record," Holland says. "Believe it or not, we submitted a bunch of requests for samples beyond that that were denied or that just couldn't get cleared in time. In terms of that one, [Love] was actually, he said, very flattered — 'Go ahead and use it and I'm not going to charge you anything for it.' He was actually amazingly nice. I just talked to him on the phone for about 20 minutes, and he was just great."

Conspiracy of One, of course, follows up 1998's Americana, a four-times platinum blockbuster thanks to the hit "Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)." Holland says it's certainly difficult to follow a chart-topping album, but he adds that the pressure was mitigated by the earlier success of 1994's 5 million-selling Smash.

"We've had two records that have done really well. It's almost like winning the lottery twice, like, gosh, we've gotten more than we should've gotten," Holland explains. "So for anything else to happen is kind of icing on the cake, really. In that sense, we felt really good after [Americana] because we didn't think too much about it; we just went in and did another record right away. I think it's when you wait five years it becomes so scrutinized and analyzed and you second-guess yourself to death. I think it's good we did a record without thinking about it too hard."

The band's free-and-easy feeling about the material was reflected in their plan for a revolutionary publicity campaign — in which they sought to make the entire album available for free download a month before its release.

Sony Music, the parent company of the Offspring's label, Columbia Records, didn't think it was such a good idea, however, and initiated legal action to prevent the giveaway, which then became limited to "Original Prankster," the album's first single.

Saturday night the band began promoting the new LP in a more traditional way — kicking off a 20 show North American tour in Los Angeles.

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