Recently I was able to catch up with vocalist/bassist Todd Morse (The Offspring/H2O) to discuss his latest solo work, including a great new single called “Everything Fun (Is Bad For Me).” In this in-depth interview, I asked Todd about his recent solo material, his current partnership with being a member of The Offspring, as well as the legacy of his punk band H2O. Todd Morse also shared the albums that have shaped the person and musician he is today. Morse has a new single that will be released this fall.
Thank you so much for your time today, Todd. I understand you’re the current bassist for The Offspring. So how did that band relationship come to fruition?
Well, I’ve been with them for 13 years, but I’ve been on bass for three years. I was kind of in between gigs. I was on tour for five years with Juliette Lewis and her band Juliet in the lyrics, and also back and forth with H2O. I was also doing this cover band, Petty Cash, where we do Tom Petty and Johnny Cash covers, and I was doing a gig in LA, and then the guy <in The Offspring> that did the background vocals and stuff had just left the band. So the guy came to my show, and asked me if I wanted to audition. So I did, and I ended up playing background guitar, and backing vocals for about 11 years. And then the bass player left and it was like, “Hey, can you play bass?” So, I said, “Sure,” and I became the bass player.
Hell yeah! Filled in out of necessity and all that. Were you on tour recently when the big bus crash or fire happened?
Oh, that wasn’t a crash. In the media, the sentence online is a little misleading because we were not anywhere near that. That was our crew <in The Offspring>, five of our crew guys. And they were driving along, and they were going to the gig early. We <the band> were already in Quebec City. They were going to the gig and they ran over an object that they thought was like a piece of a tire, but it had metal in it. And it popped the gas tank. And also it was making sparks. It was the worst-case scenario, and it was a freak accident. So immediately smoke and flames started coming out and they pulled over and they jumped out, and the whole thing went up and they lost their passports, their laptops, and every possession was burnt like literally to ash.
I think it’s so lucky that they were able to get out.
Yeah, the other stuff can be replaced, obviously, but yeah, it’s definitely a misfortune for your guys’ crew…
A few passports have already been replaced for our Japan trip.
That’s good. Let’s talk about your great new single called “Everything Fun (Is Bad For Me)” from your solo project. What went into both the writing and recording of that track?
Well, I mean, you’re in my studio, my home studio right now. This is the mic I sang into for this. And my guitars are here. And I’m sort of the type of person that has to always make music to be happy, to be fulfilled. So when I’m not on the road, I’m in here writing songs. And I get a backlog of songs and then I go on tour and, and I did put out one solo record in 2019. And so I had this song, “Everything Fun (Is Bad For Me),” and I got it mixed by this guy, John Dibiase. And I really loved how it sounds. And I was just like, I don’t want to sit on this. So I just decided to get around to some people. And that’s how I hooked up with Manic Kat Records. And now I’ve got a full EP that I’m going out to New York to finish with them. But COVID really messed up a lot of people, including myself, and I started drinking heavier and I’ve got two kids, and I’ve always been a health-conscious kind of guy too. So it’s this endless battle with wanting to be the fun party guy and wanting to stay healthy for my kids. So I thought people could relate to that. So I’m trying to find new ways to have fun now, which is just really big, being a prolific songwriter as much as possible and hanging out with my kids.
It’s great to have both of those kinds of joys in your life. I mean, I’ve got three kids myself, so I kind of understand the struggles of being a writer/dad and stuff like that, too. Do you feel the single is a good indication of the direction you’re taking on your new EP?
Yeah, with my previous record, I was kind of leaning more towards my like bluesy style roots and more towards my Rolling Stones and Tom Petty influence, which are still big influences for me. But I realized that I came up in punk rock and I have a lot of that energy in me too. So, I wouldn’t say that “Everything Fun (Is Bad For Me)” is punk rock or that my EP is punk rock, but it’s definitely more of that punk rock energy. It’s somewhere between Rancid’s Out Come The Wolves and an early-Springsteen anthems.
So how did you primarily do most of the songwriting for this one? Do you typically compose on the piano, guitar, or bass?
I do all three, actually, but this <record’s> been more guitar oriented. But I’m having a lot of fun writing bass lines now. I have the ability to play like I do, and one of my biggest inspirations is Paul Simonon, of The Clash. And it’s such an inspirational story for me, because, like myself, he was asked to play bass and didn’t even have a bass and didn’t play anything. And three years later, he made London Calling. And so, the bass lines on London Calling are some of the coolest bass lines ever, in my opinion. So now I’m having fun finding the spaces in my music where I could play like Paul Simonon, if possible.
Sweet! Every musician has a story to tell in their music. What do you hope fans of your solo music, The Offspring, and then your longtime band H2O will most take away?
Well, the story I’m gonna tell is a combination of all those things. I really discriminate by genre, because as long as something has energy, and it’s catchy, and well-written music, I’ve played it. I’ve done all kinds of covers, and I learned a lot from playing covers. I’ve done a lot of things. I’ve been doing music professionally for about 23 years, and I’ve been all over the world. I’ve done a lot of things, except the one thing that I really want to do, and this happened on a smaller scale with H2O and Juliet Lewis & The Licks, is just write a song that transcends time and will be around after I’m gone, and people will still be listening to it. I know that there’s a lot of huge H2O fans that are lifers on that kind of stuff. But I’m looking for something with a broader appeal that just your average Joe will know if you brought it up to them. And that’s what I’m hoping to accomplish with my solo stuff is just I want to connect with people outside of my scene, and outside of what I do.
That’s cool. You mentioned that you’re gonna go on tour relatively soon with The Offspring, but are you planning to also tour on the solo material?
Well, I’m definitely going to be working around The Offspring schedule. We’re going to Japan and then we’re going to Canada and Australia before the end of the year. So, where are you located?
I live just outside of DC if you know where like the 930 Club and the Fillmore Silver Spring are?
I’m about 10 minutes down the road from the Fillmore Silver Spring.
Oh, great. Yeah, I’m gonna get some East Coast dates for January. I got a second single coming out in October. And then I’ll hopefully release my EP in February of next year. So right now there’s nothing on the books for The Offspring for January, February and March. So around that time, I’m doing the New York show, and I’m trying to string some East Coast shows together. So I’m really just starting to build it now because it was just me before, and now I gotta put a band together. I did everything on the song so far, except for drums.
Oh, sweet. So, when you put that band together, do you typically look for other musicians that you trust or do you audition people?
It’s interesting because I have at least three amazing drum choices. I have so many choices, but it comes down to the people I want, versus the people that do it for peanuts, because I’m not gonna be making any money on my first solo tour. So, it’s gonna be a variation of that, you know?
Yeah, that makes sense. What are three to five albums that have been key to your growth as both a person and a musician over time?
Well, I always have to say The Clash’s London Calling, because being a being a punk rock kid who sort of looked down upon anything outside of the punk rock world, and then discovering that The Clash could play any kind of genre and still have the punk rock ethos and attitude made me excited because I secretly loved reggae, funk, and all the other things that they did. Tom Petty’s Damn The Torpedoes because to me, that record is very punk rock and very garage and just great songwriting. And yeah, if I’ve got to get weird with it and pick something obscure, Bob Marley’s Rastaman Vibrations, because I guess I wasn’t really into mellow music until I discovered reggae music. But it has a rebel spirit, like a punk rock spirit that I related to and it appealed to me again. It’s a reoccurring thing, whereas you don’t have to scream and yell to be angry and make the point.
Yeah, that’s a great point as well. I wish you nothing but the best in your solo career. Stay safe on tour with The Offspring. And if you ever come through DC, let me know, and I’ll be able to hit up a show.
Yeah, hopefully I will be in touch soon, man. Thank you so much!
All right, take care Todd!