SMASH follows author Ian Winwood through years of research, writing and interviews surrounding the 90s explosion in punk music.
Earlier this year, I read Dan Ozzi’s SELLOUT, a book that looked at the major label feeding frenzy that swept punk, emo and hardcore music in the 90s and 2000s. While SMASH covers a lot of the same ground (SMASH was also published first), it was eye-opening all the same.
After reading both books, I will say that I know more about Green Day than I ever thought possible. We get the story of their humble beginnings followed by their explosive first album, all the way to American Idiot, the album that made them global rock superstars. The bulk of the rest of the book tended to focus mostly on Bad Religion, most notably the band’s guitarist Brett Gurewitz and his record label Epitaph. To this day, Epitaph still holds the record for the highest selling independent release with Offspring’s third album, Smash.
There is much to sort through with regards to what I’ve already mentioned. Winwood talks of an explosion in both popularity and critical acclaim for the once maligned genre of music. You had bands like NOFX and Rancid who were putting out their best work amid their own internal struggle with whether or not they should remain true to their punk roots as fiercely independent or allow the dump trucks full of money to back up to their front door.
In my mind, bands like Green Day and Offspring always seemed more mainstream than bands like Rancid, NOFX and Bad Religion. Maybe it’s just because they’re the ones that broke through on a massive scale? I have a few friends who are devout punk fans and I would be interested to hear what they think of Winwood’s take on the genre explosion of the 90s.