As the Offspring played to a sea of fans who were screaming out the lyrics to the opening song, “Come Out and Play,” and its closer, “Self Esteem,” during the Lollapalooza music festivals in Argentina, Brazil and Chile in March, vocalist-guitarist Bryan “Dexter” Holland took time to let it all soak in.

“It’s mind-boggling to do shows that big,” he said during an interview, ahead of the 30th anniversary of the band’s 1994 album “Smash” on April 8 — which includes the opening and closing songs that the crowds went wild for in South America. The band will celebrate the milestone by playing the record in full at Honda Center in Anaheim on June 1.

But getting to this point, where hundreds of thousands of concertgoers buy tickets to see you perform, wear your merch and are simultaneously belting out lyrics while dancing along to the music you’ve created, was a slow-going process for the band until “Smash” came along.

A smashing success

Formed in Garden Grove in 1984, the first decade of the band’s existence was a slow-building grind. Though they’d signed to Bad Religion guitarist Brett Gurewitz’s independent label, Epitaph Records, to release their second album, “Ignition,” in 1992, Holland recalls the final show to support that album tour cycle was at Goodies in Fullerton and they sold roughly 120 tickets.

“And that was pretty good for us back then,” guitarist Kevin “Noodles” Wasserman said during the same interview.

They did land dates in Europe opening for Los Angeles punk band and label mates, NOFX, on that tour, too, but back home, the guys still all had day jobs and were attending college.

Holland was in grad school studying molecular biology and Noodles was working as a custodian at a Garden Grove elementary school. Though they booked as many shows as possible in between work and school, the balancing act of real-life responsibilities and chasing a dream wasn’t so glamorous at the time.

In 1993, the guys entered Westbeach Recorders in Hollywood and demoed a bunch of tracks with Gurewitz at the helm. Holland remembers the songs “Nitro (Youth Energy),” “Bad Habit” and a rough version of “Self Esteem” being a part of those sessions. When it came time to record the actual album, they were given a $20,000 budget and headed into Track Record Studios in North Hollywood.

“That was twice as much as we got for ‘Ignition’ so we were like, ‘Wow, this is the big time,’” Holland said, also sharing that he crossed paths with Long Beach rapper Snoop Dogg in the lobby of the studio for the first time during those recording sessions. “From start to finish, it was a little less than three weeks, and at the same time, we were going to go on tour with Pennywise and I called Epitaph to say, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t finish the record because we’re doing a tour with Pennywise,’ and they said, ‘Nuh-uh, you need to finish this now because we have a release date on the books and it’s coming out in April.’ So we had to jam in and get it done before the tour, so that last week was really gnarly finishing it up.”

“Smash” came out on April 8, 1994, and with its blistering, fast-paced punk sound, ripping guitar riffs and sing-along lyrics, it landed on the Billboard 200. The songs “Come Out and Play,” “Self Esteem” and “Gotta Get Away” ended up in regular rotation on radio stations across the country and around the world. Though not a single, KROQ 106.7/FM in Los Angeles pushed the hard-hitting song “Bad Habit” — despite the flurry of curse words it was forced to bleep out — when listeners demanded to hear it. “Smash” was also the first album on Epitaph to garner gold and platinum (later multi-platinum) status in several countries.

The first time the guys heard “Come Out and Play” on the radio was just before “Smash” came out as DJ Jed the Fish played the single as his Catch of the Day.

“We knew he was going to play it, so we got on the phone and started calling and had all of our friends call and we told them all to listen,” Noodles recalled. “This was all pre-social media so you actually had to pick up the phone and call the station and it just took off. We were in Alaska when the record came out and I remember friends calling and saying ‘You’re like No. 1 on ‘The Furious 5 at 9′ on KROQ,’ which was a really big deal.”

“When you start a band, the idea of being on the radio, that’s about as exciting as it gets,” Dexter said. “It was really a moment for us. I remember I was in the lab listening to it on a tiny portable radio and I was just wanting to punch walls it was so exciting.”

It wasn’t long before they were able to quit their day jobs to make music a full-time gig and Holland put his studies on hold, though he did eventually obtain his Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of Southern California in 2017.

Three decades later

Holland and Noodles still get excited when they hear these songs on the radio after 30 years. Seeing thousands of fans jump up and down, mosh and squeeze up against the barricade to sing along live aren’t moments lost on these guys, either.

“It’s fun to watch how the crowd reacts every night,” Noodles said, later mentioning that it’s like “the best drug in the world to get feedback like that from an audience; it’s incredible.”

To properly mark the success and the 30th anniversary of “Smash,” the band is playing the entire album, plus other hits and fan-favorites, at a hometown show at Honda Center as part of the venue’s own ongoing 30th anniversary celebration.

“It’s super exciting. Hometown shows always feel good because you do really feel that hometown love,” Noodles said. “But it’s a pretty big venue. I’ve seen Shakira there. I also went there to see Gwen (Stefani) when she was doing her solo thing and Marilyn Manson and Hole. I’ve seen a bunch of great bands there, so it’s an honor to play.”

The year 1994 was a big one for music in general as several of the Offspring’s punk rock peers were also breaking into the mainstream with classic albums including Green Day’s “Dookie,” NOFX’s “Punk in Drublic,” Rancid’s “Let’s Go” and Bad Religion’s “Stranger Than Fiction.”

“It felt cool because it felt like the Davids were finally getting the best of the Goliaths, for sure,” Noodles said. “But we also felt a duty and a responsibility to throw back to the bands whose shoulders we were standing on — Ramones, Dead Kennedys, Sex Pistols — and the Orange County bands we loved, T.S.O.L., Adolescents, Social Distortion and the Vandals.”

The 40th milestone

While the 40th band anniversary crept up on them, Noodles and Holland said they laughed recently when a journalist in South America referred to them as “an iconic duo.”

“It’s like Batman and Robin, and if you want to know which one is Robin, it’s me,” Noodles said, pointing to himself.

The pair are the only original members in the band as others have cycled in and out through the years, but it’s the music that keeps these two together. Though they joked it was actually “a lot of therapy and foot rubs.”

“We love the same kind of music and we love making the music,” Noodles said. “We’re also just really grateful that we still get to do this. Dexter is a really hard worker. When he’s in the studio, he is so focused and he really gets into it and I’m just there cheering him on, really. I’m his hype man.”

The current lineup includes longtime bassist Todd Morse, multi-instrumentalist Jonah Nimoy and the latest addition to the band, drummer Brandon Pertzborn, who wasn’t even born when “Smash” was first released.

“Well, he was born in 1994, but not until October,” Noodles adds. “But one of the first songs that made him want to play drums was ‘Hammerhead’ and he was probably 13 at that time, but he said it was one of the songs that he really loved and he said, ‘Man, I want to play drums to that.’ So that’s an honor in and of itself.”

Noodles says the band has been enjoying its time together, warming up before each show with five to six songs backstage every night and dusting off some of the tracks from “Smash” that haven’t been played live much. They’ve been rocking through “Something to Believe In” and “Killboy Powerhead,” which is a cover originally by Chicago punk band the Didjits.

“What I really liked about (that song) was that it sounded like it had an Orange County riff to it, like it sounded like a D.I. riff on the guitar,” Holland said about opting to include that cover on the album. “We had a discussion, like should we cover this because they are a a peer band? But we decided to do it because it was a good song and turned out to be a great fit for the album.”

So, how do you know you’ve “made it” as a band? Is it being played on the radio? Having music videos on MTV? Hanging gold and platinum records on your walls? Or is it being parodied by “Weird Al” Yankovic?

“Oh, ‘Weird’ Al for sure,” Noodles said without hesitation. When “Smash” was released, Yankovic reached out to see if he could parody “Come Out and Play” and make it “Laundry Day,” since there’s the repeating “you gotta keep ’em separated” line in the song.

“We were like, ‘No, we’re not Coolio; we’re like this punk band’ and we didn’t think it would work,” Noodles continued, referencing Yankovic’s parody of Coolio’s “Gangster Paradise,” which became the hit, “Amish Paradise.” But when the Offspring put out “Americana” in 1998, Yankovic reached out again, this time wanting to turn “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)” into “Pretty Fly for a Rabbi.”

“We were like, ‘Yes, please!,” Noodles said with a laugh. “Even my daughter called me and was like ‘Weird Al’ covered your song! Dad, you’re like in a real band now!’”

The Offspring: 30th Anniversary of 'Smash'

When: 8 p.m. Saturday, June 1

Where: Honda Center, 2695 E. Katella Ave., Anaheim

Tickets: $73-$256 at Ticketmaster.com

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