For more than two decades, Kevin Wasserman, better known as Noodles, has been playing guitar in the Offspring. Together with Dexter Holland, Wasserman remains an iconic presence from the ‘90s pop punk scene.
If you follow him on Twitter, then you have a pretty good feel for his personality. Having a conversation with him is not much different. Full of life and opinions, the dude is an absolute riot.
In advance of his band‘s show tonight at Brooklyn Bowl at The Linq, we caught up with him in Aspen, Colo., a few days ago and talked about everything from Donald Trump and Caitlyn Jenner to fabricating his Wikipedia page and catching gigantic fish to "Weird" Al Yankovic, "Breaking Bad" and a whole bunch more. Here‘s some excerpts from our conversation.
Las Vegas Review-Journal (Dave Herrera): I love your Twitter account. It cracks me up. I wanted to ask you about this because I haven‘t seen that you‘ve tweeted about it yet. You once called Ted Cruz a "ferret-faced POS," so I want to know what you think of Donald Trump, who‘s leading the GOP polls right now?
Kevin "Noodles" Wasserman: I just think he‘s bats–t crazy. He‘s bats–t crazy. Yeah, you know, like, what was it, David Letterman was bummed that he retired just before Donald Trump runs for president. It‘s a gift to comedians everywhere. I love the fact that he says some crazy s–t and then he just digs deeper. He‘s just digging that hole with it.
He‘s leading now, which is killing me.
Is he? I thought he was just behind Jeb Bush.
No, I read in the USA Today that he‘s actually up now. He‘s above Jeb.
Well, not all conservatives are stupid, but all stupid people are conservatives. So he‘s definitely garnering that part of the party for sure.
I think the only thing that would be better is if he drafted Ted Nugent to be his running mate.
[sighs] Oh, God, yeah, awesome.
I noticed another tweet. You‘ve been pretty active talking about gay marriage passing. You had one tweet that said something along the lines of "Well, duh! It‘s about time."
And then you had another with regard to Caitlyn Jenner; it said, "If your religion is offended by Caitlyn Jenner, then your religion is weak."
Yeah, absolutely. I‘m in the middle of a Facebook argument with a relative, who is just — I don‘t give a rat‘s ass for or about Caitlyn Jenner. I really don‘t. But I do care about the transgender community, like I would about any community. You know, this thing is ridiculous that people are up in arms about a reality-TV star, transgendered, getting an award from a cable TV channel.
Tell me about Wurst Thumb. Is that a real thing, or is that just you goofing?
It‘s just a goof really, but it was something (where) I was listening to KROQ, and the guy who walks the movie beat is Ralph Garman, and he‘s a funny guy. I‘ve met him a few times when we‘ve done Kevin & Bean. So he was talking about how he wanted to do a Badfinger cover band, and he wanted to call it Wurst Thumb.
I‘m friends with the producer there, Chip, and I was just getting ready to go surfing and I was cracking up. He was talking about doing this Wurst Thumb. So I spelled it like you would a German sausage Würst Thumb, right.
Just to let people know we‘re not f—–g around, I said, "I want in to Wurst Thumb" — or is it Würst Thumb, with the umlaut over the "u"? And next thing I know, I"m getting in my car after a surf, and they‘re talking about it. They‘re talking about the band again at the end of one of the hours. I was just cracking up.
So then I actually called in to talk with them from the road, like a week later, just joking around, right before they did the Weenie Roast, and talking about how we were going to have a "finger fest."
And Bean asked me, "So do you have plenty of time off to do the Würst Thumb thing? I said, "Well, we‘re pretty busy right now, but I have a lot of holes in my schedule that I‘m sure that we can fill with fingers."
Dear God. [laughs] So I‘m not sure what to call you. I‘m not sure if I should call you Kevin, or Noodles, or Buford Xavier McKnuckle — which would you prefer?
Yeah, everyone calls me Noodle for sure. It‘s "Burford," by the way. Burford Xavier McKnuckle. [laughs]
I also wanted to ask you how Princess Consuela Banana Hammock and Sharky are doing?
[laughs] Yeah, they‘re doing well. I saw them both before I got on the plane today. My daughter doesn‘t live with me. My son lives with us, but my daughter‘s out on her own. But, yeah, they‘re doing well. My daughter was cracking up — she actually came up with that name for herself.
If I had to come up with a name, it would be Lord High Raggamuffin.
There you go. [laughs] My son wanted to be called "Just Sharky," so I actually made it be "Just Sharky" on the Wikipedia page.
So I saw you and Just Sharky holding up enormous fish [on Instagram] fishing off Catalina. Are you a big fisherman?
I love it. Yeah. I don‘t get to do it as often as I like, you know. I‘ve got too much going on and time constraints. But when I get time, I head out. Yeah, I‘ve always loved fishing.
Is that biggest fish you‘ve ever caught? I mean, that fish was enormous.
No. Yeah, my biggest yellowtail — actually it‘s one of them. It might be my second-biggest fish ever. Naw, I was catching tuna that size.
How does one even reel that in? Doesn‘t it bend your fishing pole like no other?
Sure, but the fishing poles bend for that reason, you know, so the line doesn‘t break. You just have to use heavy line, and you pull up on the poll, and then you reel it on your way down. You just take your time, and if the fish runs, you kind of just let it go. You know, you don‘t want to snap the line, and then you reel it back in when it tires out. That fish actually bent my hook. I have a photo. I should post that.
I came across this comment on the Web that cracked me up. It‘s about "Pretty Fly for a Rabbi," the "Weird" Al version of your tune. This guy says, "As a Jewish kid from New Jersey, I was hurt by the Offspring‘s assault on the wannabes of white suburbia, but change the subject matter to bah mitzvahs and pastrami, now that speaks to me."
What did you think of "Pretty Fly for a Rabbi"?
I thought it was great. Yeah, it was funny.
I thought he kind of nailed Dexter, man.
He nails everybody, though. He‘s really good at what he does. He‘s an odd dude, but genius odd. And he‘s not so odd you can‘t have a conversation with him, but you can tell he‘s always — and he‘s really funny. He tells really funny stories.
So you‘ve met him?
Yeah, a couple times. The first time I met him was after a show of his. Right after "Pretty Fly for a Rabbi," that record, came out, he was on tour, and I took my daughter to see him, and he was great.
So you finally saw the "Breaking Bad" finale.
I did. It was awesome. The whole series was just amazing.
What was your take on the finale?
I thought it was great, yeah.
The popular take is that the third-to-last episode was the most riveting. A lot of fans think the last episode was kind of deflating.
No, no, I thought it was awesome. The machine gun in the car was just rad, like a Tarrantino kind of thing. And the way he lets Jesse go?
I thought it was completely ridiculous how well crafted it was, like when he shows up at his former associates‘ house and he has Badger and them hanging outside with a laser pointer.
I knew it. I was like that‘s going to be a couple of teenagers with laser pointers.
Absolutely brilliant. I loved it.
I love when they‘re fighting over the knife, when she cuts his hand, and he’s fighting over the knife, Walt Jr. jumps on his back, and he jumps up and goes, "What the hell is wrong with you? We‘re supposed to be a family!" Beautiful. Such a beautiful end. That was a big "Hal" moment, though. I was a big Bryan Cranston fan from the whole "Malcom in the Middle" days.
You met Florence Henderson on an airplane?
Sat right behind her. She was rad!
What did you guys talk about?
We didn‘t really talk much, just "hi, hello" and then "bye, have a good evening," you know, we didn‘t really talk much. But she was partying, drinking wine, just taking her shoes off, hanging out. She was in the seat, literally, right in front of me. She smiled at me, and I smiled at her, you know, "Hi, how are you?" on the way to the seat. I cannot tell you how happy I was to be sitting behind Florence Henderson.
You said you had to refrain from hugging her.
I totally wanted to hug her. At the very least, hug her. I would‘ve done anything she asked me to.
So you‘ve been doing this for more than two decades now. When you started out it was basically a hobby. You were working as a janitor. Did you have any inclination that it was going to last this long?
No way. No way in hell. I mean, I think I was going to be friends with the guys, you know, but I had no idea that we‘d be playing music and at some point, it would become — well, s—t, for the first 10 years, we never even thought it would be what we did for a career.
Now we get to go out and play ’ literally go out and play for a living. Drink beer and make music with our friends. It doesn’t get any better than that. But I had no idea that was actually going to happen. Once the opportunity presented itself, it was kind of scary, a little daunting, but we knew, hey, we‘ve got to pick it up, we‘ve got to run with it.
Let‘s see what happens. You know? I can‘t believing they‘re letting a little punk band from Orange County play on the radio, but let‘s do it. Let‘s see what happens.
One of my friends brought this up — actually I think it was my friend who‘s the film critic here — he talked about the Beach Boys, now that they‘re septuagenarians, singing about surfer girls and how it‘s kind of a little bit creepy. Is it weird to be middle age now and singing that stuff, the early stuff that was kind of more aggressive back then?
Uh, you know, I still understand it. I can go back to the time and the mindset where those songs were created. So, no, it‘s real easy to go back there. I hope it doesn‘t look silly, (laughs) a guy my age playing, "LAPD," you know. I do my best to try to keep it from looking silly and certainly sounding silly.
What have you learned? What are the biggest things you‘ve learned? What have you learned, and what would you do differently?
Gosh — I think I would drink less on the 2005 Warped Tour, because I never stopped drinking after that. That‘s the one thing that I would do differently. And I‘ve learned so much, just a lot of little things.
I think I got into punk rock because I didn‘t have a whole lot of faith in not only myself, but how the world accepted me. You know? And I think punk rock showed me really that there‘s a way for me and there‘s a place for all of us, everybody, all the outcasts and misfits, and have some faith in yourself, you know.
And I think just playing. I learned that 25 years ago, when we were still just a band, probably after the first gig, and every gig just kind of reaffirms that. Go out and make some noise, you know, get yourself heard.
It‘s entertainment. What we‘re doing is just fun. The world doesn‘t revolve around our music or song or whatever. It‘s just entertainment for people.
So being a parent: What‘s been the best part of that? What have you learned, and what would you do differently, in terms of that?
Kids teach you a lot. I was a pretty new, pretty young parent with my daughter. With my son, I‘ve been through it awhile, so I‘m a little more relaxed. I think I would relax a little more with my daughter.
I think for the most part, I‘ve done a pretty good job. No parent is perfect, and I‘m sure there will be a therapy bill with my name written in the subject line. But you know what, you‘re always learning. Kids are great.
You saw that picture of me and my son. It doesn‘t get any better than that. Sharing that kind of thing with another human being and teaching them how to do all this and watching their joy. You get to relive — I get to relive my first yellowtail by watching him catch his first yellowtail. That does feel good! I remember that. Awesome, you know?
I think that‘s what it‘s really all about when it comes down to it. You know, all this stuff is cool that you and I get to do, but really, I think that‘s what it‘s really all about.
Totally. When my daughter turned 18, I took her to Japan for a week, while I was touring there. And just watching her react to everything — because Japan is really very different, culturally, and there‘s just a lot of little things that are different, you know?
It‘s like that scene from "Pulp Fiction": The thing about Europe, it‘s all the little differences, and all those littler differences are a little bit bigger in Japan. And just watching my daughter relate and just kind of going, "Yeah, yeah, I remember feeling the same way." It‘s rad.
And all the new experiences you have with them, that they teach you, but they can also remind you what it‘s all about. They can take you back and remind you what it‘s all about.
You‘ve posted pictures of breakfast burritos before. Where‘s your favorite breakfast burrito to get in L.A.?
You know what? I make the best ones at home. I‘m not going to feign modesty. I make great breakfast burritos. And I change them a little bit. But, yeah, I make really good breakfast burritos.
You talked about the greatest hits album, and you mentioned that there were some songs that you thought should be on there and aren‘t. What are the songs that aren‘t on there that you think should be and wish were?
Oh, man, it‘s been so long since I‘ve even looked at that lineup. There‘s tons of songs that I think never got their due. I don‘t think "Dirty Magic" is on there, right? I always thought that was a great song. You know, a song like "Amazed," I always thought was great.
When you look back at your catalog, does it kind of blow you away a bit, just how many songs you‘ve written?
For sure. One of my favorite things to do is plug in a guitar and put our whole catalog on shuffle and just try to play what comes up. And there‘s just song after song and I‘m like, "Oh, yeah, I love this song!" I start playing it, and I‘m like, "I forgot. We never do this song anymore." I hate that. Happens a lot.
So you still remember all of them?
No, no. I have to relearn quite a few of them from time to time. We just did "Americana" all the way through at a show in Quebec, and we had to learn three or four songs.
Most of "Americana" we have down, but there were three or four songs we had to relearn. We‘d never played them with Pete in the band. But he‘s great. He got ‘em down quicker than me.
Dexter does a lot of the songwriting. When he brought you "Kristy, Are You Doing Okay?" Did he bring that to you, and what was your reaction when you heard it? It‘s a deep, heavy song, man.
Yeah, you know, that one was very different for us, and I wasn‘t really sure about that song. That‘s one that I kind of had questions for, but I know where he‘s coming from lyrically on that song. So I thought it was kind of important, from a lyrical standpoint.
Honestly out of all the songs you‘ve done, it shows the most depth. It‘s one of the most intense, heavy songs you‘ve done.
It‘s pretty heavy, pretty heavy song, yeah. So for that, that‘s what kind of sold me on it. The subject of molestation is just devastating. It happens way too often. You know? You‘ve got to be real carefully how you address that in a song. It was a tough one to do. I think Dexter did a great job on that one for sure.
You‘ve have a guitar NDM1 with a duct tape design. I freaking love that, for starters, but how did you decide to do that, and what are some other designs that you‘ve come up with?
Thank you. I wanted to do the duct tape really early on. And I kept talking to the guy I was dealing with at Ibanez, and he‘s like, "Aw, man, you can‘t do the duct tape. The finish doesn‘t stick to it."
And then at Woodstock ‘99, I"m backstage, and Korn is playing seven-string Ibanez guitars, and they had stripes of duct tape going through their guitars, underneath the finish.
I‘m like, "m—–r f—-r! I‘ve been trying to do this for years." [laughs] And so I hit him up and went, "Hey, man, I see you figured out how to get the duct tape underneath the finish." He‘s like, "Oh, yeah, all right, we‘ll do that for you."
Awesome. Hey, so, it‘s been like three years since you guys have released a record. Are you writing new stuff? I know it takes you like a year to put one together. Are you guys writing new stuff, or what‘s the status?
It usually takes us about two years to put one together. So, yeah, the way we write now is usually in the studio. We go in the studio and let‘s see what happens. You know, a lot of times, I‘ll duck out while Dexter‘s programming drums or whatever. He programs drum machines for the demos to kind of get an idea.
And then once we get a song done, or close to being done, that‘s when we call Pete. Usually when we have two or three songs because he lives in Nashville. So we‘ll fly Pete out, have him come down and do a couple songs for a day or two and then build on those.
What Dexter does, a lot of times, he‘ll come into the studio with something almost completely jelled in his head; it‘s just a matter of putting it all together. And then other times, he‘s got, like, a riff, and we just build on it in front of the microphones, and it keeps changing. That‘s always a little fun.
So do you have new stuff on tap?
We do. We have a few songs done, and then we need to get in the studio. We just redid the studio. We have like three or four songs, besides the new one [TK], that are either done, or close to being done. And so we have to still have six, seven, eight songs we’ve got to do in order to make an entire record, you know.
Now you guys are currently without a label, is that correct?
That‘s correct, yeah. We put this one out on Timebomb, which is kind of an imprint. The single, "Coming for You," is out on Timebomb.
How do you feel about being free to do whatever you want to do now?
It‘s liberating. At first it was a little scary, but I think we‘re going to weather it all right.
Do you have any plans to change up the way you were doing things before, in terms of, like, just releasing singles as you write them, or do you think they need to be in a package nowadays? How do you think people consume your music?
We still want to complete a whole album. Whether or not we‘ll release more singles as we think they need to get out. We don‘t want to make our fans wait two whole years for 12 songs, when we have a couple now. Let‘s put a couple out, you know.
You made one post about — Corey Taylor from Slipknot just basically railed on Kanye West and said that he‘s not the ’greatest musician in the world." You had a tweet talking about Kanye and how much he inconveniences people at festivals, and he’s completely oblivious to it. Was there a specific incident, and what happened?
Yeah, yeah, it was Blue Balls in Switzerland last year. We were just trying to get to and from backstage, and "No, no, no, Kayne and Kim are coming in." Everything shuts down and nobody can f—-n move. All the other bands, nobody else can f—-n move. We just went, "F— you!"
We‘re on right before him. You try to stop us. We had our security guys just do it. They literally tried to stop us from leaving. First they tried to keep us from backstage, and then they tried to keep us from leaving the festival. It was like, "No, f— you!" You can‘t do that. And we were billed right underneath him at this festival.
I‘m sorry, he‘s terrible. I don‘t understand why they keep putting him on s—t. Musically, I don‘t get it at all. He can‘t sing. When he tries to sing, the AutoTune is ridiculous. I don‘t get it at all. I really don‘t.
What‘s your favorite Simpson‘s character?
I love them all, but I think I relate most to Milhouse [laughs].
Tell me about that?
I guess the glasses and the blue hair. [laughs] I don‘t know.
You‘re playing in Las Vegas this weekend. Do you have any great Vegas stories? Obviously you‘ve been here before. What‘s your best Vegas story?
Aww, man, too many too count. One of the last times we played there — not the very last time; it‘s been a few years. We played the Pearl, which was fun. It was one of the best shows ever. I had a bunch of friends in town, so just drinking. Our buddy Todd, his band, Petty Cash, was playing at Wasted Space.
After we played, we went and watched them play for a while. Then we‘re riding up in some elevator with some girls that know the Maloofs. And ended up ending the night bowling — they had the bowling alley suit at the hotel. So we ended up bowling in the room.
You know what, actually, honestly, the first time — we used to go out and play in the middle of the flood control ditch, back in the ‘80s. There‘s a road that goes in. Cars would stop everyone at the end of the road and charge like $3 a car for people to come in to punk gigs. We played with, like, Beefeater from Washington D.C., and there was a Vegas band called (FSP) that we played with, a punk band. I think somebody in that band was the guy who put on the shows out there.
So you‘re just driving out playing in the middle of this flood control ditch that echoed like crazy. Somebody would rent a generator, and everyone would just bring beer and play punk rock right about sundown and then a few hours after the sunset. It was amazing. So much fun. Super cool. Just so much fun.