The offspring

Dallas' punk bands resurrect the spirit of the '70s

Russell's love for punk started when he heard the Circle Jerks' Group Sex at age 12; that album, and the Misfits' Legacy of Brutality, shaped his musical worldview, though he would also borrow heavily from the Damned's occasional gothic imagery. Which is a direct contrast to someone like John Congleton, the 18-year-old singer-guitarist for Bad Hair Day, who was drawn to punk because of its energy--"I think punk is the best way to express myself, to express emotion," he insists--but points to newer bands like Propaghandi and Oblivion as his points of reference.

"People my age are motivated by the new school of punk rock rather than the '77, '78 bands," he explains. "Punk rock is all kinds of things now. It can be creative and still keep the backbone of punk....The difference between old punk and a lot of these new bands is in the attitude. They don't have the rebellious attitude or the sarcasm that you find in old punk. The term is played out too much now, and the fear is gone. Back then it was scary; now, it's like a novelty. It's like, 'Look at that cute mohawk.' I don't really care about the looks or what to wear. I don't dress that way at all."

"The spirit of the '70s is dead," Mike Stickboy says. "It can only live within yourself."

Todd Ayers, the 28-year-old lead singer for the Boozers, is the sort of punk purist critic Chuck Eddy dismisses out of hand in the new Spin Alternative Record Guide. In writing about the Offspring, which he labels the most popular indie-rockers in history, Eddy explains that their cross-market popularity offended "the corny comforting club of phony non-conformists who've long protected punk from the real world." Ayers would sneer at the accusation he's a phony, but staunchly defends his position that music stops being "punk" the moment it transcends its target audience--whatever that might be.

"Once it gets to the point where you hear it on the radio and it's on MTV, punk loses its integrity," he says. "I think punk cannot be in the mainstream because it's supposed to be underground. Otherwise it will be conforming to the corporate crap....There is nothing original in what you see today. Punk was around even in the '20s and '30s. Blues is like punk, in a way. There will always be people who have crappy lives, and they'll write songs about them."

Bad Hair Day opens for Rancid November 7 at Trees.

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