Music Article

Is the Offspring's Dexter Holland a neoconservative nut?

Offspring frontman Dexter Holland is sick and tired, and he's not going to take it anymore. "There's a sense of political correctness which almost becomes strangling after a while," he explains. "It's getting to the point where they'll have to put a sign on the window of a hotel room that says 'Don't jump out of this window.' They'll put iron bars up because they'll be afraid of the liability. That sense of trying to protect and being PC inhibits freedom."

Holland's radical rants have apparently struck a chord, and not just with militias. In what was supposed to be the Year of Lauryn Hill, the Offspring's new album, "Americana," has sold over 2 million copies since November (twice the sales of 1997's "Ixnay on the Hombre"); it's a fixture in Billboard's top 5; and it's making the world safe again for alternative rock. "Americana" just might eclipse the band's breakthrough album, 1994's aptly titled "Smash," which sold almost 11 million copies internationally.

The record's success stems largely from its novelty single and video, "Pretty Fly (for a White Guy)." Its satire of urbanized suburbanites, along with "Americana"'s swipes against slackerism ("The Kids Aren't Alright"), "victim defense" feminism ("She's Got Issues"), and criminals who blame their upbringing for their behavior (the title track), has some accusing the Offspring of neoconservatism, a charge Holland denies -- sort of.

"I'm a Democrat, but there are elements that could be perceived as left -- and when we're talking about taking responsibility and anti-PC, could be perceived as Republican. We just wrote the album to be a commentary on American culture. Like 'Pretty Fly'--kids in suburban Orange County, where I live, adopt the gangsta identity (by) going to the mall, where they buy FUBU, Tommy Hilfiger, and Ice Cube's latest record," Holland says, getting pretty heavy for a guy whose album features Larry "Bud" Melman skits, a Def Leppard sample, and a funny punk trashing of the '70s Über-cheesy "Feelings."

"Each song is a vignette from American life. When you think of 'Americana,' you think of Norman Rockwell, white picket fences, and 'Leave It to Beaver.' Now it's 'Married...With Children' -- it looks like 'Happy Days' on the outside, but it feels like 'Twin Peaks' on the inside." All in all, pretty dry for a white guy.

Originally posted Feb 26, 1999