“My first gig [with the Offspring] was one song for some Swedish music award show,” says Rocket From the Crypt alum Atom Willard, who debuted as the Offpring’s new drummer in November 2003.
“It was in this big hockey arena with 20,000 and I forgot it was gonna be on TV!” Before going onstage to play “Hit That,” Willard says the band did little in the way of preparing him for his big-time inauguration. “They didn’t say anything, which you can take two ways. The way I decided to take it was ‘Hey, we know you’re not gonna mess up.” It was either that or ‘If you mess up, we don’t know you.’ They talk to me now so it’s all good.”
Willard spent ten years with RFTC, who became local legends on the strength of theatrical horror show performances and protopunk powerchords. He reports a lot of partying a Jaigermeisters as the band toured Europe from November 2003 through March, 2004. “In Amsterdam, we did close an Irish bar! I thought Irish bars stayed open all night so we did a bit of damage there.”
He doesn’t expect people to start recognizing him any time soon, however. “I’m not the most visible guy onstage, I’m in the back and thrashing around, nodoby can see who I am until I sit still for minute,and that doesn’t happen too much.
L.A. is now his homeground, but Willard says he still makes occasional trips to San Diego - “my dentist is still there.”
Willard's all-time favorite San Diego locale? “El Cuervo, on Washington at First! Oh man, it’s so good, carne asada burrito double-wrapped [drooling sounds heard over phone], sign me up! First and foremost, that’s where we’ll be before the gig, all lined up!”
He says he and his his fellow Offspring also shop at Lou’s Records in Encinitas while in town. “L.A.’s got Ameoba now, but you can’t beat Lou’s family vibe, and they’ve got everything good.”