Ex-THE OFFSPRING Drummer PETE PARADA Opens Up About His Dismissal Over His Refusal To Get COVID-19 VaccineMarch 4, 2023
Longtime THE OFFSPRING drummer Pete Parada, who announced in August 2021 that he was being dropped from the influential punk rockers' tour after refusing the COVID-19 vaccine for medical reasons, has opened up about his exit from the band. Speaking to "The Culture War With Tim Pool"about how he ended up being fired from THE OFFSPRING, Pete said in part (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Basically, spring 2021 we put out a new record ['Let The Bad Times Roll']. And so we spent all those months in the spring. I was out in L.A. with everybody, interacting. [Everything was] totally fine. [We were] recording music videos, promotional stuff all through May. Everything was fine; no issues. And then in June, all of a sudden COVID protocol controls, whatever you want, kind of comes to a head. And I get a phone call from their manager. It was the most unnecessarily abusive, threatening call I've ever received — just screaming at me of, 'You need to do this.' And I was, like, 'Well, you know, I talked to my doctor about it. I have a medical exemption.' [He] didn't care. It didn't matter."
Parada went on to say that the phone call from the manager came as a total surprise to him. "It wasn't a secret that I was not lining up to do this," he explained. "I just assumed we were gonna have a conversation about, like, 'Hey, here's my feelings. Here's where I'm at with things.'
"I had had gentler conversations with them about my feelings and my thoughts where I was at and my medical history and my concerns about going into this. And the last we left it was, 'All right. Sounds like we're gonna have more conversations about this. To be continued.' It felt like we had opened a conversation that was gonna keep going," he added. "And then, a week later, out of nowhere, I get this call that's just annihilation. He made it very clear by the end of that conversation that I was to get the shot or I was out… That was the gist of the whole conversation."
Pete, who confirmed he was a "salaried" drummer in THE OFFSPRING and not a full-fledged member, elaborated on his position regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, saying: "I have a history of Guillain-Barré syndrome [where a person's immune system damages their nerves]. But I think a lot of people take my medical exemption and they like to point at it and go, 'Look, this guy had a legitimate excuse to not get it,' and blah blah blah. But to me, it's, like, I'm not looking to carve out a space for me here. I don't feel there's any reason to — if you don't wanna get the vaccine, any reason is legitimate to me. My medical exemption was not accepted, and all that did was show that those don't matter."
According to Parada, it is the breakdown of his personal relationships with the other musicians in THE OFFSPRING that was "the worst part of it" for him. "'Cause we had a lot of good years together. We had a great time," he explained. "We traveled the world. Our kids grew up together. Our wives were really close. And so the hardest part was just overnight that we were just gone. And not just hard for me, but for my whole family. To explain to my kids, 'We're not gonna see these people anymore.' And just to never hear from anybody again, over one issue, it's strange… [An issue] that's not an issue anymore, but at the time, apparently, it was the only issue."
Regarding what THE OFFSPRING's reasoning was for firing him from the band over his refusal to take the COVID-19 vaccine, Pete said: "It was, like, 'Well, there's venues that aren't gonna let you in.' And I'm, like, 'What venues?' 'We don't know yet.' 'Well, there's borders you can't cross.' 'What borders?' 'We don't know yet.' I'm, like, 'Well, that's my point. We don't know yet.' And it seemed a little early to jump. But through the fall of 2021 was just U.S. dates, festivals and stuff, and there was no show that I could not have done on that tour, even just with my medical exemption. I had bands reaching out to me from the same festivals, going, 'We're not vaccinated. We're on the same show with your band. This is stupid. Why are you not here? This doesn't make any sense.'
"I think the whole industry, though, went into this mode of everyone wanting to get back to work," he added. "And I don't begrudge anybody needing to get back to work and make money. But the fact that everybody was performing caution was alarming."
Back in May 2021, THE OFFSPRING singer Bryan "Dexter" Holland spoke to Tom Power, host of "Q" on Canada's CBC Radio One, about his band's decision to encourage fans to receive their COVID-19 vaccines by reworking the chorus of their 1994 classic "Come Out And Play" to say "you gotta go get vaccinated." The new version of the song was shared in March 2021 on THE OFFSPRING's Instagram, featuring a snippet from the song's music video with the reworked lyrics.
Holland said: "I went to school for this. I feel like I have a little bit of a background in it, and I do think it's a good idea [to get the COVID-19 vaccine]. And whatever you think about all this, the truth is that we're not gonna get back to normal until people get vaccinated; that's just the reality of it. So why don't we just get this done with so that we can all go to shows again and do the things that we love to do. That was kind of the reasoning behind it. And I do feel like it's the right thing to do. I felt strongly enough to put this out."
Asked about the fan response to the new version of "Come Out And Play", Dexter said: "There's been a little bit of a mixed reaction. I was a little more surprised than I thought I would be… There were a lot of people that were surprisingly kind of angry about it. But that's where we're at — we are in maybe the most divisive period in our nation's history, if not the world's history, and this is kind of par for the course.
"On a scientific or factual level, it's frustrating [to see people who are vaccine hesitant]," he continued. "On a personal level, I understand. People are unsure about certain things. And there could still be some sort of crazy side effect that we don't know about. I think that's unlikely, given how many millions of doses have been administered. But besides that, there's all this conflicting information on the Internet. Again, another sign of our times where people are getting just bombarded with all this conflicting information, and it's hard to know what to do sometimes."
Although the COVID-19 vaccine was produced quickly because of the urgency of the health crisis and the number of clinical trial volunteers, Holland said the vaccine was not rushed, and it relied on years of research.
"With the vaccine, I know there's a lot of belief out there that, 'Well, these were developed too quickly,'" he said. "I think part of the story that's not out there is that there's a whole platform of technology that's been developed over the last five years or so that was happening — the mRNA vaccines. They were working on this for flu vaccines over the last five — really, almost 10 years — but the last five years. So this great technology happened to be right on deck when this happened. And that's what allowed it to be quickly adapted to the coronavirus. So it's not as quick as everyone thinks."
Holland has a Ph.D. in molecular biology and wrote his thesis on microRNA in HIV genomes. The 175-page research paper, titled "Identification of Human MicroRNA-Like Sequences Embedded within the Protein-Encoding Genes of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus", had been published in PLoS One. Holland had received his Ph.D. from University of Southern California in 2017.
"Let The Bad Times Roll" arrived in April 2021 via Concord Records. The follow-up to 2012's "Days Go By" was once again produced by Bob Rock, who also worked on the band's previous two LPs.
Photo credit: Daveed Benito
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