By PAUL CANTIN --
The title of The Offspring's latest album, Ixnay On The Hombre, roughly translates from Pig-Latin and Spanish as "thumbs-down to the man."
It was just a silly phrase that sounded cool, says bassist Greg K. via telephone from his home in Huntington Beach.
But given that Ixnay was the quartet's major-label debut, after a controversial break with the fabled indie label Epitaph, the "hombre" could correspond to "The Man" as a symbol of corporate control -- something The Offspring is still happy to greet with a loud "Ixnay."
In the punk scene that spawned The Offspring, signing to a major label is eyed with suspicion and often viewed as selling out the music's do-it-yourself ideals. And while much was made of the group's decision to dump Epitaph for Columbia Records, the bassist says it was a smooth transition.
"Ixnay On The Hombre is still pretty much a punk rock album," says K., who joins the band tomorrow at the Congress Centre, with Ottawa's Punchbuggy and Montreal's Doughboys.
"We were in a position where when we signed to Columbia, we could dictate total creative control. If you asked for creative control, most labels would say `see ya.' (But Columbia) didn't even hear the album until it was done, and we handed them the finished product and said, `get on with your job.'
"Touring or picking producers, everything has been our decision. If things don't go so well, they might want to be a bit more hands on, but not now."
It was the group's multi-platinum success with their Epitaph swansong, Smash, that won them that degree of autonomy from Columbia, he says. Ixnay is a more refined record, but that has more to do with experience than the influence of a multi-national corporation.
Although the group was braced for a nasty backlash, it didn't happen. Some fans thought the group sold out when they signed to indie Epitaph, he adds.
"When we were on Epitaph. We had people yelling `sellout!' Most people didn't even know Epitaph was an independent label, and they probably didn't care," he says.
"And that's probably the way it should be. It shouldn't matter what label you are on or who is doing what. Just the music."
He says Epitaph had been critical of the group's decision to leave for a major label, but K. believes Epitaph's owners were secretly planning to sell 25% of the company to a major label, anyway. One way or another, Ixnay On The Hombre was going to be affiliated with a multi-national record label.
"One of the reasons we left was there was a lot of uncertainty.
"We thought if we were going to be on a major label, we thought it would be better to choose where we were going."