Tag Archives: The Offspring

#songoftheday: Conrnbread Red – Jennifer Lost The War (The Offspring Cover)

Another punk cover, where it’s the punk song that’s getting covered. In this case what started off as an angry indictment of senseless conflict becomes more of a sad ballad.

 

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Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater Soundtrack

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I’m a big fan of programs like iTunes Genius. They take the music that you’re currently listening to, and give you song recommendations based on other people with similar taste in music. In high school, the soundtracks to the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater games were like my own version of iTunes Genius. The big difference being, all song suggestions were based on the assumption that I really liked skate punk.

With the rampant music downloading at the time, I wasn’t listening to too many albums. Internet connection speeds were catching up with my ambitions of checking out all the songs that I’d heard of, but there was a new obstacle approaching fast. I was running out of new music to check out. The pop stations generally repeated the same songs on a daily basis, and even the local rock station tended to stick to the same playlist. Hearing Metallica’s cover of “Turn the Page” for the 50th time wasn’t exactly inspiring, so I was on the lookout for a new source. Enter, the Tony Hawk series.

I’d picked up Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater for the Nintendo 64 in the fall of 2000, and instantly fell in love with the music. Looking back, it was probably the worst possible way to be introduced to these songs. N64 games were pretty infamous for their limited storage capacity. This wasn’t a huge deal for games like Zelda, or Mario where the music was mostly chiptunes, but things got a bit dicey when pre-recorded music tracks entered the scene. In the transition from CD (Playstation) to cartridge (N64), the Tony Hawk soundtrack got pretty mangled. The sound quality took a dive, songs were heavily edited for time/language, and a good chunk of the tracks didn’t even make the cut. All that said, I still spent hours in front of the TV with the same minute and a half of “Superman” by Goldfinger on repeat.

I’ve heard it said that the true test of a song’s quality, is if it still holds up when performed by a single singer with a guitar. I’d say that if you hear a song filtered through the Nintendo 64, and still enjoy it, that song’s probably a masterpiece.

Each successive year brought a new Tony Hawk game, and along with it, a new song list that seemed custom made for me. Thanks to the annual boost in song-count, and genre diversity, I’d found my go-to source for new tunes in high school.

Eventually Activision (the publisher of Tony Hawk), would run the series into the ground, but those first 4 games were magic. If there’s any doubt, just take a look at this track list:

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater
1. The Dead Kennedys – Police Truck
2. The Ernies – Here and Now
3. Even Rude – Vilified
4. Goldfinger – Superman
5. Primus – Jerry Was a Race Car Driver
6. Speedealer – Screamer/Nothing to Me
7. Suicidal Tendencies – Cyco Vision
8. The Suicide Machines – New Girl
9. Unsane – Committed
10. The Vandals – Euro-Barge

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2
1. Rage Against the Machine – Guerilla Radio
2. Bad Religion – You
3. Anthrax feat. Chuck D. of Public Enemy – Bring the Noise
4. Powerman 5000 – When Worlds Collide
5. Naughty by Nature – Pin the Tail on the Donkey
6. Papa Roach – Blood Brothers
7. The High and Mighty feat. Mos Def & Mad Skillz – B-Boy Document 99
8. Consumed – Heavy Metal Winner
9. Dub Pistols – Cyclone
10. Swingin’ Utters – Five Lessons Learned
11. Styles of Beyond – Subculture
12. Millencolin – No Cigar
13. Black Planet feat. Alley Life – Out With the Old
14. Lagwagon – May 16
15. Fu Manchu – Evil Eye

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3
1. AFI – The Boy Who Destroyed the World
2. Adolescents – Amoeba
3. Alien Ant Farm – Wish
4. Bodyjar – Not the Same
5. CKY – 96 Quite Bitter Beings
6. Del the Funky Homosapien – If You Must
7. Guttermouth – I’m Destroying the World
8. House of Pain – I’m a Swing It
9. KRS-One – Hush
10. Mad Capsule Markets – Pulse
11. Motorhead – Ace of Spades
12. The Nextmen – Amongst the Madness
13. Ozomatli – Cut Chemist Suite
14. The Ramones – Blitzkrieg Bop
15. Red Hot Chili Peppers – Fight Like a Brave
16. Redman – Let’s Get Dirty
17. The Reverend Horton Heat – I Can’t Surf
18. Rollins Band – What’s the Matter Man
19. Xzibit – Paparazzi
20. Zebrahead – Check

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4
1. AC/DC – TNT
2. Aesop Rock – Labor
3. Agent Orange – Bloodstains (Darkness Version)
4. Avail – Simple Song
5. The Bouncing Souls – Manthem
6. City Stars – Bad Dreams
7. The Cult – Bad Fun
8. De La Soul – Oodles of O’s
9. Delinquent Habits – House of the Rising Drum
10. The Distillers – Seneca Falls
11. Eyedea & Abilities – Big Shots
12. The Faction – Skate and Destroy
13. Flogging Molly – Drunken Lullabies
14. Gang Star – Mass Appeal
15. Goldfinger – Spokesman
16. Haiku D’Etat – Non Compos Mentis
17. Hot Water Music – Freightliner
18. Iron Maiden – The Number of the Beast
19. JFA – Beach Blanket Bongout
20. Less Than Jake – All My Best Friends are Metalheads
21. Lootpack – Whenimondamic
22. Lunchbox Avenue – Everything and Anything
23. Public Enemy – By The Time I Get to Arizona
24. Muskabeatz – Bodyrock (feat. Biz Markie)
25. Muskabeatz – I’m A Star (feat. Grandmaster Melle Mel)
26. Muskabeatz – Versus of Doom (feat. Jeru the Damaja)
27. N.W.A. – Express Yourself
28. Nebula – Giant
29. The Offspring – Blackball
30. P.O.D. – Boom
31. Rocket from the Crypt – Savoir Faire
32. Run-DMC – My Adidas
33. Sex Pistols – Anarchy in the UK
34. System of a Down – Shimmy
35. Toy Dolls – Dig That Groove Baby
36. U.S. Bombs – Yer Country
37. Zeke – Death Alley

Napster

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A the dawn of the new millennium, Napster was at the forefront of a huge shakeup of the music industry. Suddenly, every song you’d ever imagined listening to was available for free. The 60s had free love, but we had free tunes, and it was a dream come true.

I’m counting Napster along with the other influential albums, because, to be honest, it (and its other P2P contemporaries) did more to inform me about music than any single album could. The days of paying $20 for a few songs, and hoping that the rest of the album was decent, were officially over. The only real barrier for entry left, was how much patience you had for dial-up internet.

I first heard about Napster in the spring of 2000, from the same friend that introduced me to Fat Music Vol. IV. He told tales of a computer program that let people download, and share all the music in the world. To top it all off, the entire thing was free.  The whole idea seemed too crazy to be true, but I couldn’t wait to try it out.

The program itself was really user friendly. The simplicity of just typing in the name of the artist/song you wanted, then having it just show up was pretty mind blowing at the time. You’d get a list of results arranged by audio quality, and whatever connection speed the uploader was running on. Normally it would make the most sense to go with the highest sound quality, but there was a bit of a catch back then. High quality meant bigger file sizes, and bigger file sizes meant longer download times. Now, patience was only part of it. The biggest concern was that the longer something was downloading, the more likely it was that someone would call your house, and instantly kill your internet connection. Downloading “Stairway to Heaven” can get pretty stressful, when it’s your 20th try, it’s 90% downloaded, and you’re positive that your grandmother’s going to call at any second.

Putting the technical limitations aside, Napster gave me an unheard of freedom to discover new artists and genres. It even had a built in chat, with different rooms for more genres of music than I’d even heard of at that point. An innocent question of, “What is Ska?” in the Ska chat room resulted in an impromptu essay about what Ska “means”, from someone that I can only assume, was the founder of the hipster movement.

Those first few months of using Napster were pretty incredible. Even people with 14.4kbit connections were happily sharing their music collections with the world. The legality of the whole thing never really occured to me at the time. I mean, this was before Metallica let us know that, surprisingly enough, all this swapping of copyrighted material might be considered piracy by some.

The popular idea at the time was that Napster was costing the music industry a fortune. I can’t speak for everybody, but if it wasn’t for Napster, the record company execs would be walking around with a lot less of my money in their pockets. Without the financial barrier for entry, I was free to check out a ton of bands that I’d heard of, but wasn’t really familiar with. Bands like Guns N’ Roses, Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, The Eagles, The Who, Green Day…. Bands that I’d go on to spend a good chunk of real, honest-to-goodness cash on.

With all this newfound music, I set out to develop my own version of the Big Shiny Tunes series. Soup Mix volumes 1-4 (and its spinoff brand, Soup’s Punk Mix) were an ever evolving anthology series, that gave a pretty good snapshot of my musical tastes at the time. Mostly consisting of equal amounts The Offspring, AC/DC, and Goldfinger, the mixes would go on to bring in more genres and artists over time.

I didn’t own a CD burner at the time, so I had to get a friend of mine to actually burn the CDs. Since there was a charge of $10, and a lengthy bike ride associated with the creation of each Soup Mix, I put a lot of time into the pre-burn process. After designing the cover art, I’d spend hours writing out all the songs I wanted, then doing some hardcore math to whittle down the run-times to come under that 80 minute mark.

Once the songs were picked, I started to really focus on flow. Taking extra care to make sure that the transition from one track to another was never jarring, no matter how many genres and tempos I wanted to cram on there. Lagwagon and Buffalo Springfield don’t just go together without a bit of planning after all.

Napster wouldn’t last forever, but Kazaa and Morpheus picked up the slack for the remainder of high school. Gradually the music sharing scene lost that bohemian spirit of music for everyone, and became a bit more about surprise viruses and spyware. It was nice while it lasted though.

Americana

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If I was asked to pick one album that defined my teenage musical taste, Americana would be it.

I was introduced to the speedy guitar riffs, and unique vocal stylings of The Offspring by a friend of mine in grade 8. His older brother had a pretty extensive Offspring collection at the time, so they ended up providing the background tunes for most of our afterschool Tekken 3 tournaments.  No offense to the people behind the Tekken soundtrack, but “Kick Him When He’s Down” should’ve been Lei Wulong’s theme song…. just sayin’. At the time, Americana was their latest release, so it seemed like a good place to start, if I was going to build an Offspring collection of my own.

As a 13 year old boy in Northern Ontario, the fact that the entire album was a satire of American culture went a bit over my head.  From the phone menu opening, to lyrics of disillusionment with American dream… it wasn’t exactly new ground, but it was new to me.  Almost like a punk rock precursor to The Suburbs by Arcade Fire.

There were plenty of things that I did appreciate about it at the time though. The fact that “Have You Ever” lead seamlessly into “Staring at the Sun” blew my mind at the time. I was a good five years away from hearing the Abbey Road medley, so that extra bit of flair convinced me that The Offspring were punk rock musical geniuses. Not only that, but they even had the audacity to include a hidden song at the end (again, not unlike Abbey Road).

The palm muted guitars, and high speed drum beats went on to provide the blueprint for music that I would be guaranteed to enjoy in high school. Kind of like having iTunes genius only give recommendations based on The Offspring. The music had an edge and aggression to it, but it was never oppressively heavy sounding. It was an odd mix of comfort and danger that really clicked with me.  Comforting because you could always count on that prototypical punk sound, and dangerous because they’d toss in just enough curse words to avoid a “Parental Advisory” sticker on the cover.

I don’t listen to as much Offspring these days, but I really can’t imagine what high school would’ve been like without them.

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