School Custodian Turned Famous Offspring Guitarist Only Joined the Band Because He Was Old Enough to Buy Alcohol

The Offspring were one of the most popular pop-punk bands and were massively influential on the development of the genre into the 1990s. Their own influences stretch back to the classic punk bands like the Sex Pistols and the Dead Kennedys, and they’ve come to stand the test of time themselves. Therefore, the members of the band are celebrities in their own right. However, these musicians might not have expected to be so popular and well-known today. The guitarist of the band, Noodles, had an especially surprising rise to fame. Though he initially worked as a janitor at an elementary school, he soon became a major figure of ’90s punk rock. But how did he end up in The Offspring in the first place?

Kevin 'Noodles' Wasserman of The Offspring performs in front of a black background
Kevin ‘Noodles’ Wasserman of The Offspring | Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Who are The Offspring?

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If you aren’t familiar with the band by name, you still have probably heard an Offspring song before. Their biggest hits include “Come Out and Play,” a song about gang violence that uses a noticeable Phrygian scale riff, “Gone Away,” a reflection on the death of a loved one, and “Pretty Fly for a White Guy,” a comedic song that itself received a Weird Al Yankovic parody. Their third album, Smash, was their most successful by far, but later albums have also been critically and commercially well-received.

How did The Offspring get started?

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The Offspring tend to be identified with the 1990s, thought they actually got their start in 1984. They settled on the name in 1986, the same year they released their first single, “I’ll Be Waiting.” Like many great punk bands, the group came from Southern California, starting with guitarist and singer Bryan Holland and bassist Greg Kriesel. They went through a few drummers before meeting Ron Welty, who would be the drummer who spent the longest time with the band. And of course, there was their lead guitarist, Noodles.

They released their most successful album, Smash, in 1994, though they were rising in success and popularity in the early 90s, and were able to tour with major bands like Pennywise and NOFX. Smash also helped them establish their own indie label, and they would go on to sign bands like AFI and the Aquabats. Over the years, they’ve maintained a solid level of success and fame, and plan to release a new album, Let the Bad Times Roll, in April 2021.

Why did Noodles join The Offspring?

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According to Louder Sound, Noodles, AKA Kevin Wasserman, joined the Offspring because he was old enough to buy alcohol for the rest of the band members, who were under 21. At the time, Noodles was working as a janitor, but he had some experience playing in local bands. Therefore, he had the chops to help bring the Offspring to their high level of success.

Noodles is clearly a skilled guitarist: the nickname Noodles even comes from his technical skill on the guitar with complicated riffs known as “noodling.” You can hear it in the band’s music, too, in the more modal and less standard riffs of some of their songs. This style of playing also makes the band’s influences audible in their music: other Southern California punk bands like the Dead Kennedys and Agent Orange were known for taking influence from surf rock and middle eastern music to write their music. Clearly, Noodles helped the band with more than just procuring booze.