Kevin 'Noodles' Wasserman
Kevin Wasserman plays guitar for Offspring. I interviewed him right after "Smash" came out before a show at the Mission Valley YMCA.
Where did you go to high school?
Three of us went to Pacifica High School. It's in Garden Grove and Ron went to Orange High School.
Did you like it?
Did I like high school? No, no. I hated it, actually. I seriously hated it. I don't know, I went every day, I was too much of a nerd to ever ditch or anything, but I just didn't fit in. I hung out with a tough group of kids and I was the whipping boy of this group. I hung out with all the punks and punk was just like, not allowed when I was into it when I was in high school and we used to get beat up by the jocks. Actually that was kind of fun though, that was one of the fun things. They would line the halls and have this jock gauntlet and you had to walk down the hall. They'd just push you back and forth and it was fun just to do it. I mean, we didn't care. We were slamming around at backyard parties on Friday and Saturday nights, so we didn't care if the jocks wanted to do that to us. It was no big deal. If we had some music going, it would have been great.
What were the rest of the people like?
Pacifica High School was real straight arrow, white bread, goody good high school for the most part. Then you had the stoner contingency which hung outside the gate, smoked cigarettes in the head, all that stuff. But yeah, the majority was pretty much just straight arrow. That's my recollection of it now.
You mentioned not fitting in and hanging out with the punks. Was that the only way you didn't fit in?
I think that was where I hung out because I didn't feel like I fit in anywhere, and even then I didn't really fit in with that group all that well either. I spent most of my time hanging with myself during high school. Some of the guys I'd go surfing with, I surfed really heavily in high school for a few years, I don't surf as often anymore, you know, so when I was surfing I'd be with somebody, otherwise I was always hanging by myself really.
Did you ever flunk any classes?
Just one, Civics, and it was just because I pissed this teacher off so badly. I handed in everything, granted, a lot of it was late, but this teacher was just such an ass that I couldn't handle the class. He wanted to be this clown but you could never joke around with him. He was like a drill sergeant. He was a real short guy and he had this short guy's complex where he had to prove himself because he was so short. He was just such an ass, so I played this trick on him one day. This is really fucked, I don't suggest anybody do this, but I told the girl next to me to have him ask me how fast my dad could run the 100 yard dash. And so he goes, "Kevin, how fast can your dad run the 100 yard dash?" And I said, "Oh man, that's not even cool. My dad just lost his legs in an accident last week." And the whole class just goes "Ohhhhhh!" He was sitting there and he just froze. He was petrified and he goes "Come on!" Finally I said I was just kidding and he just walked over to his desk. He never said anything to me for the rest of the year, but he failed me. He just failed me. He had every ability to do that and there was nothing I could do, so he just totally fucked me.
So what was P.E. like for you?
One year I busted my arm skateboarding, and so I had to be out of P.E. for the rest of the year, and I had to turn in reports and that was so stupid. I would go in and I'd go through all the Sports Illustrated magazines and just write some shit about some dumb baseball star that I couldn't give a fuck about, whoever they were profiling that week, and I just got straight A's in P.E. I didn't mind P.E. so much.
So what did you do to keep yourself amused in school? It sounds like you were bored.
Yeah. I rode my bike around, I was really heavily into skating, surfing when I could. Those were the main things. I never played sports when I was in high school. You know the guy who's always the last guy picked? I was always right behind him.
Did you ever get suspended or kicked out?
Oh yeah. For fighting. A skinny little kid with thick glasses like mine, you're a constant target for abuse and I didn't take it so I got in my share of fights. You're a target for anyone who's got a shitty attitude, it doesn't matter. They're having a bad day and they probably feel like the world's down on them, so they see someone who looks like an easy target. It was funny too, because from all that I learned to fight pretty well. I mean, I wasn't out there kicking ass or anything but I didn't really get it too bad either. I developed a sense of humor actually and I could laugh my way and joke my way out of it, and with the really stupid guys I could kind of make fun of them without them knowing that I was making fun of them and get away from it, but if it ever came down to it, you know, I got in a fight and got bruised up a little bit but never got hurt bad.
I always remember guidance counselors bitching about permanent records. What about your permanent record? Do you have one, has it followed you?
I don't know. That joke on my Civics teacher might keep me out of the Army or something, bummer.
Has high school influenced what you're doing now?
I don't know that it's real direct, but I'm sure everything that has happened in my past has to do with what I'm doing now. I'm sure in some way or another. Like I said, I did hang out with myself a lot, you know, I was just off by myself most of the time and that's when I learned how to play guitar. Really, that's when I was best, when my playing was at its best. I was working nights too, right out of high school. I was working nights and all my buddies worked during the day, you know, anyone I would hang out with, and so I was always hanging out by myself during the day, playing guitar for hours before I'd go to work. That's when I got to be good. I'm not that good a guitar player anymore, unfortunately.
Do you have a message for the kids who are still stuck in high school?
Don't take any shit. There was times when I took shit and didn't do anything about it. You don't want to fuck everybody, but just don't take any shit. If somebody's wrong and you know they're wrong, don't take any shit. There's times when I did and I shouldn't have. At the same time, there was times when I was a little fuck and probably pushed things a little too far because I was having a bad day and wasn't really conscious of what I was doing.