Biography by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
The Offspring's metal-inflected punk became a popular sensation in 1994, selling over four million albums on an independent record label. While the group's credentials and approach follow the indie rock tradition of the '80s, sonically they sound more like an edgy, hard-driving heavy metal band, with their precise, pulsing power chords and Dexter Holland's flat vocals.
Featuring Holland, guitarist Kevin "Noodles" Wasserman, bassist Greg Kriesel, and drummer Ron Welty, the Offspring released their self-titled debut album in 1989. Four years later, their second album, Ignition, became an underground hit, setting the stage for the across-the-board success of 1994's Smash. The Nirvana sound-alike "Come Out and Play," the first single from the album, became an MTV hit in the summer of 1994, which paved the way to radio success. The band was played on both alternative and album rock stations, confirming their broad-based appeal. "Self Esteem," the second single, followed the same soft verse/loud chorus formula and stayed on the charts nearly twice as long as "Come Out and Play." The group got offers from major labels, yet they chose to stay with Epitaph. While they were able to play arenas in the U.S., their success didn't translate in foreign countries. Nevertheless, the band's popularity continued to grow in America, as "Gotta Get Away" became another radio/MTV hit in the beginning of 1995. The Offspring recorded a version of the Damned's "Smash It Up" for the Batman Forever soundtrack in the summer of that year; it kept the band on the charts as they worked on their third album.
Following a prolonged bidding war and much soul-searching, the Offspring decided to leave Epitaph Records in 1996 for Columbia Records. The move was particularly controversial within the punk community, and many artists on the Epitaph roster, including Pennywise and owner Brett Gurewitz, criticized the band. After much delay, the Offspring finally released their Columbia debut, Ixnay on the Hombre, in February of 1997. Expectation for the record was high and it did receive good reviews, but Ixnay on the Hombre failed to become a crossover hit on the level of Smash, and the group also lost a significant portion of their hardcore punk audience due to the album's major-label status. Americana followed in 1998, scoring the hit "Pretty Fly (For a White Guy)." In mid-2000, the Offspring made controversial headlines with their decision to offer Conspiracy of One free of charge via the Internet prior to the initial November release date. Sony Music did not adhere to such a move and threatened a lawsuit; therefore, the band nixed plans to release the album in such a manner. Individual singles, however, were made available on the band's official website and other music-related sites such as MTV Online.
Biography by Jason Ankeny
The Boston-based alternative metal group Godsmack originally comprised vocalist Sully Erna (a devout Wiccan), guitarist Tony Rambola, bassist Robbie Merrill and drummer Tommy Stewart. After debuting in 1997 with All Wound Up, Godsmack signed with Universal, who in 1998 reissued the LP as a self-titled effort with a handful of new tracks; at that point Stewart -- who'd left the group in mid-1997 and was replaced by drummer Joe D'Arco -- returned to the lineup on a permanent basis. The band's audience built slowly but surely, and Godsmack was certified gold in 1999, the same year the group was invited to join the Ozzfest tour; by the next year, it had sold over three million copies, thanks to hit singles like "Whatever" and "Keep Away." In 2000, the group again played Ozzfest, and released their second proper album, Awake, that fall. In January 2001, Awake earned the band a Grammy nomination for "Best Rock Instrumental Performance" for the song "Vampires," and by March, it had sold two million copies. Hot on the heels of their continuing success, their single "I Stand Alone" propelled the hype of the movie The Scorpion King in March 2002. As the single maintained Godsmack's strong presence at modern rock radio into the summer, founding member Tommy Stewart left the band in June. The David Bottrill-produced (Peter Gabriel, Tool, Mudvayne) album, Faceless, appeared in April 2003. It also marked the debut of ex-Amen drummer Shannon Larkin. The all-acoustic Other Side arrived in spring 2004.