Punk debunked

MIKE ROSS

, Last Updated: 12:25 AM ET

There's a little known law on the books: A punk rock band that appears regularly on MTV, plays sold-out arenas, sells 25 million records and has hit songs parodied by Weird Al Yankovic is required to hand in their "punk" badge.

The Offspring has - law-abiding fellows they are. Bassist Greg Kriesel, who holds down the bottom end for his pretty fly white guys at the AgriCom Sunday night, says as much during a recent interview: "We're just entertainers. We don't want to change the world or anything. We just want people to have a good time."

And that they shall. Fans will be treated to a cross-section of punk-sounding hits like Come Out and Play, Why Don't You Get a Job and the ever-popular Pretty Fly for a White Guy, one of the biggest hits of the '90s, punk rock or not. While this California band may have been shell-shocked by the sudden success of the aptly titled Smash in 1994, the Offspring long ago gave up trying to carry the punk banner, Kriesel says. "We're just more of a rock band now. I think we're fine with that."

Without getting into another pointless discussion of what "punk" means, the Offspring still carries the ideals of the scene into superstardom. They're as punk as a hugely successful rock band can be. The most recent battle for do-it-yourself independence was staged in cyberspace.

The band wanted to give away its latest album, Conspiracy of One, over the Internet - free to anyone who wanted it.

"We knew it was going to be out there anyway," Kriesel says. "So we thought if we do it ourselves, then we can communicate with people who are actually downloading the stuff. Last we heard, Pretty Fly was downloaded I don't know how many millions of times. If we could've e-mailed these people and let them know about shows, it would've been a nice tool."

The record label nixed the idea, so the Offspring did the next best thing - gave away $1 million to a lucky fan. You can't buy promotion like that. Er ... well, you can, actually.

The contest worked out well, Kriesel says, and while they're still given the freedom to do what they want creatively, the Internet thing irks them.

"The most frustrating part is that everybody was able to download it but us. Once the promo copies went out, it hit the Internet. So Napster and everybody else could put it up, but we couldn't. The irony of that was frustrating. I guess that's just one of the things you have to deal with when you're at this level."

Tickets to the Offspring, with opening acts Millencolin and the Black Halos, are $32.50 (451-8000).


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