The Offspring was founded by Dexter Holland and Gregory Kriesel (a.k.a. Greg K). Dexter tells the story in an interview with Bravo magazine: "Sometime in the fall of 1984 Greg and I really wanted to get to a punk show, but we couldn't get tickets. We were very disappointed and went to Greg's cousin's house, 'cause Greg's cousin had a band. We went down to the garage, set the amps on max, and started screwing around with the guitars. We 'played' for two hours, and felt much better afterward. The 'Manic Subsidal' was born. We didn't even know any guitar chords, we learned gradually."
In an interview with Flux magazine from 1994, Dexter explains that The Offspring was initially a hobby, "Originally, this band was a side project, something that was fun to do - but it's turned into more than that," he recalls. "If we had wanted to make it, we would have done something more mainstream in the first place. We did this because we were friends and we would be at each other's houses on the weekend, drinking beer or something - it was just a fun thing to do."
After ten years as a punk band, none of The Offspring expected the mainstream success their third album, Smash, would bring. As guitarist Noodles (real name Kevin Wasserman) recalled to VH1, "No way did we expect to ever sell a butt load of records. When we were making Smash, we were a punk band signed to a punk label [Epitaph]. We were judging against other bands that were signed to the same label, bands like NOFX and Pennywise. When Smash took off, it was almost frightening. That doesn't happen to bands like us, four guys who are just music fans and like to drink beer at the bass player's mom's house."
Frontman Dexter expressed his reaction in an interview with Splinter magazine, "We were a band for 10 years before Smash came out. We played all the little places – it was the furthest thing from our minds. We were opening for NOFX – that was as big as it got, so the success was a nice added bonus."
Lead singer Bryan 'Dexter' Holland is a licensed pilot and made a solo trip around the world in ten days in 2004. The experience turned out to be quite inspirational, as Dexter said the white noise you hear in the plane creates a an environment where he can think songs through.
Their early influences were the California bands like Dead Kennedy's, TSOL, Adolescents, and Agent Orange. The Offspring went for a melodic punk sound.
James Lilja drummed for The Offspring in their early years but quit the band in 1987 because he didn't see it going anywhere. He is now a respected gynecologist.
Dexter Holland is a doctoral student and has co-authored a paper on microRNA in HIV genomes.
Noodles once got stabbed during an early '90s gig where The Offspring was opening for the LA punk band Final Conflict. Dexter recalled in an interview with Louder: "Some skinheads turned up to mess up their show – we were playing right before them. They tried to break in and the people on the door put up a table as a barricade that the skinheads were trying to get over. Noodles, being the pacifist he is, tried to get in between and mellow everything out. This skinhead jumped over the table and punched him in the arm. Noodles was like, 'God, that really hurt – for a punch!' Then he looked down and his jacket was covered in blood and it turned out that the guy had punched him with a knife in between the knuckles."
Noodles kept his job as a school janitor until the band hit the mainstream with Smash.
The Offspring's breakthrough with Smash signaled the explosion of pop-punk in the waning days of grunge. The album was released on April 8, 1994 - the same day Kurt Cobain's body was found, three days after his suicide.