25 Years Ago, Two California Bands Helped Kick Off Punk Music’s “Second Wave”

Call it post-punk, or anything but punk, but something happened in 1994 that jolted the music scene.

Two decades after the Sex Pistols and the Ramones birthed punk music into the world, their artistic heirs burst onto the scene and changed the genre forever. While the punk originators remained underground favorites and were slow burns commercially, their heirs shattered commercial expectations for the genre. In 1994, two California bands, Green Day from the Bay Area and The Offspring from Orange County, each released their third albums, and the results were astounding. Green Day’s Dookie went on to sell more than 15 million copies and The Offspring’s Smash remains the all-time bestselling album released on an independent label. The times had changed, and so had the music.

While many books, articles and documentaries focus on the rise of punk in the ’70s, few spend any substantial time on its resurgence in the ’90s. Smash! Green Day, The Offspring, Bad Religion, NOFX, and the ’90s Punk Explosion

is the first to do so, detailing the circumstances surrounding the shift in ’90s music culture away from grunge and legitimizing what many first-generation punks regard as post-punk, new wave, and generally anything but true punk music.

With astounding access to all the key players of the time, including members of Green Day, The Offspring, NOFX, Rancid, Bad Religion, Social Distortion, and many others, music writer Ian Winwood gives this significant, substantive and compelling story its due. Punk rock bands were never truly successful or indeed truly famous, and that was that–until it wasn’t.

Madeline Brand of KCRW’s Press Play interviews Winwood and goes deeper into the California connection to punk’s second coming. You can listen to the full interview here.

If you want to read about how original SoCal punk bands like Black Flag and Circle Jerks would inspire a new generation of musicians almost two decades later, check our archived story Music & Mayhem here.

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