Come Out And Play

Songfacts®:

  • This song is about gang and gun violence in schools, and was the breakthrough hit for The Offspring. In a Rolling Stone interview, lead singer Dexter Holland recalled writing the song: "Back then I was a grad student and I was commuting to school everyday in a s--tty car, driving through East LA Gangland central. I was there the day of the LA riots. So I was very aware of that part of the world, and a lot of that gun stuff came out in songs like 'Come Out And Play.' But there was also some humor to it, like with 'Bad Habit.' There was a lot of freeway violence and road-rage at that time. And my car was so s--tty that people used to literally throw things at me on the freeway because I wasn't going fast enough. So I decided to write a song about it."
  • This song was written after a trip to the Middle East. This is what inspired frontman Dexter Holland to write the catchy guitar riff.
  • The phrase, "Gotta keep 'em separated" came from when Holland was in medical school. At the time, the band was unsure of how to tie the parts of the song together. One day, Holland was experimenting with bacteria in vials. He left the vials of bacteria in a room to let them cool down, came back after an hour or so, and noticed that the bacteria were still warm because the two samples were interacting with each other because the vials were close to each other. Dexter thought to himself, "I gotta keep 'em separated" and decided to use it to tie the new song together. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Matt - Houston, TX, for above 2
  • In the 2006 Adam Sandler movie Click, this song can be heard being played by the marching band in the background during the swimming meet scene in the beginning.

    It was also used in the 2001 comedy movie Bubble Boy, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, and the 2012 biographical drama Chasing Mavericks, starring Jonny Weston as surfer Jay Moriarty. It appears in the TV series Cold Case in the 2006 episode "Detention." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Kevin - Bethlehem, PA
  • According to The Offspring's record label website, Smash became the highest-selling album of all time on an independent label.
  • The 1979 movie The Warriors, which deals with gang violence, features a famous line similar to the title of this song: "Warriors... come out to play."
  • The music video features the band performing interspersed with scenes of snake charmers, fencers, and dogs. According to guitarist Noodles, it was shot on a shoestring budget. "We did the 'Come Out and Play' video with Darren Lavett for, like, $5,000. Which was unheard of. Guns N' Roses were spending millions of dollars making their videos, but we shot ours at some guy's house in the LA suburbs. We all crammed into his garage and covered the walls with mylar, like what you see in helium balloons. It was a million degrees in there. Then we brought in a big fan. So this reflective plastic was kinda blowing around while we played. I think most of the budget was spent on beer and meat for the barbeque after the shoot."
  • The band enlisted their friend Jason "Blackball" McLean to deliver the famous phrase, "Gotta keep 'em separated." "[He] had kind of a distinctive voice," said Noodles. "He grew up in a Mexican neighborhood, all his friends were Mexican, he had the slang down, the accent. He was a Scottish cholo from Whittier. So we asked him to come in and do the line. He wound up doing it in the video, too." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France, for above 3
  • The band's mainstream success was met with disdain from punk purists, who accused them of selling out. Dexter fumed at the accusation, telling the Los Angeles Times in 2008: "Who decides what is and what isn't punk? I want to write songs that people hear and feel and I want to be successful and reach a big audience ... I'm not trying to be the coolest guy in the world, I'm trying to write songs that mean something to people. As you get successful, sometimes you lose one set of fans and gain another."

Comments: 14

  • AnonymousI now more fully appreciate this song. Could also be used during the current covid pandemic?
  • Siri from A PlaceI always liked the Offspring but sometimes (but most of the time not) their songs can be a little encrypted so this was really helpful!
  • Chris from Germany Awesome song and band. Offspring sounded like nothing which was successful at that time on the US or UK Charts. But with this song being played on KROQ and many other stations and MTV they could sell millions of copies of Smash.

    Later in 1995 they had a big hit in Germany with Self Esteem.
  • Zero from The Abyss, NjIf you wait some 2 to 4 minutes after the last track on Smash ends, you can hear a reprise of Come Out And Play which has some cool-sounding guitar licks that are variations of the main lick in this song.
  • Zero from The Abyss, NjDon't The Offspring write a lot of their songs with Middle Eastern chord progressions? I know songs on s/t and Ignition that sound like that.
  • Bubblesk from Memphis, Tn"Come Out and Play" got good airplay in '94 when it came out around Memphis & still does. Brings back good memories of crazy times & crazy friends who also loved this song. But I hear it's about violence. Too bad. I think a song should be about how it makes you feel & the memories it holds. For me, it brings back good times with crazy punk friends who were all trying to learn how to grow up & survive high school. And that catchy line, "gotta keep 'em separated," is totally wild. So funky & bizarre! I still love The Offspring!
  • Elmer H from Westville, OkOne of my favorite songs because it's edgy and catchy. The Offspring are favorites with me. They hit big when I was in school & then when I was in college their songs were popular on the college radio circuit. Knowing the song's background makes it more interesting about why it's so edgy. Cool stuff. Enjoy.
  • Eric from Beaverton, OrI like this song not only because I think it's catchy, but it's also a mainstream song that seems to me to talk about gang violence (and also underage violence). This song is basically a social commentary.
  • Cj from Vermont, VtTheres something about the lead singers voice its cathcy. I like them very much its fun listening to just him singing. He seems like he is an intelligent funny guy. BTW Im not gay lol jk but really Im not.
  • Corey from Richmond, VaGreat song.
  • Joel from Columbia, ScI like the Offspring but for some reason this song really annoys me. Maybe you have to be in a certain mood to listen to it.
  • Shawn from Winnipeg, CanadaThis song is very common during hockey fights.
  • Erik from Willow Hill, Pait's about gang violence "if there colors don't mix they'll bash it up"
  • Joe from Somewhere, VaThe song is about fights in school.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Yoko OnoSongwriter Interviews

At 80 years old, Yoko has 10 #1 Dance hits. She discusses some of her songs and explains what inspired John Lennon's return to music in 1980.

Corey HartSongwriter Interviews

The Canadian superstar talks about his sudden rise to fame, and tells the stories behind his hits "Sunglasses At Night," "Boy In The Box" and "Never Surrender."

Al Jourgensen of MinistrySongwriter Interviews

In the name of song explanation, Al talks about scoring heroin for William Burroughs, and that's not even the most shocking story in this one.

Producer Ron NevisonSong Writing

Ron Nevison explains in very clear terms the Quadrophenia concept and how Heart staged their resurgence after being dropped by their record company.

British InvasionFact or Fiction

Go beyond The Beatles to see what you know about the British Invasion.

Grateful Dead CharactersMusic Quiz

Many unusual folks appear in Grateful Dead songs. Can you identify them?