On November 25, Dexter Holland's twin-engine Cessna Citation airplane touched down on the runway at an airport in Los Angeles. He'd just completed a 10-day, 25,000-mile flight around the world. All by himself.
An impressive feat, for sure, but the question begged to be asked: Why would the lead singer of the Offspring, a band that has sold more than 11 million albums in the U.S., decide to fly solo around the globe? Was he inspired by the writings of Jules Verne — who penned "Around the World in 80 Days" — or the efforts of Amelia Earhart, who attempted the journey — but failed — back in 1937? Is he a huge fan of eccentric billionaire Richard Branson, who's made several unsuccessful attempts of his own? What's the deal, Dexter?
"I got my pilot's license back in 1996, and I've always wanted to do it. I just like flying airplanes," Holland said. "Some people are into golf, some people are into shooting deer. I'm into flying."
To say that Holland is downplaying his achievement is a bit of an understatement. He braved freezing cold in the Bering Strait, a volcanic eruption in Iceland and swarms of locusts in Egypt. He crossed three continents and three oceans. And he piloted the customized plane (check the leopard-print interior and anarchy symbol on the tail) while subsisting only on "Doritos and beef jerky." The whole thing was pretty heroic.
"People keep thinking I was nuts to even consider doing this. I suppose it's like the guy who climbed Everest said: 'Because it was there,' " he laughed. "There were some moments where I would be flying over the ocean, looking down and seeing how cold it was outside, thinking 'Boy, I'd sure like to get back into American airspace.' Some moments where I was so far out there, there was no radar to track me. A lot of times there was nobody else out there."
The solitude of trans-continental flight doesn't seem like the best way to unwind after a yearlong world tour in support of the Offspring's last album, 2003's Splinter (see "Offspring Go Beyond Goofy On Splinter"). But Holland said that the sheer amount of solitude gave him plenty of time to clear his head. And to begin writing new songs.
"I'm one of those guys who writes songs best in my head. I like when there's a lot of white noise going on. And when you're in a plane, that's about all you hear," he said. "So being in the plane, I got to start thinking about five songs through. I just had a lot of time to dedicate to introspection."
Now that he's returned from his trip, Holland plans to get to work on a new Offspring record. There are plans in 2005 for the band to hit the studio, possibly release a greatest-hits album, and maybe, just maybe, play the Warped Tour. And as for the new songs, Holland joked that they'll reflect his eye-opening journey around the world.
"It'll be like a Paul Simon album," he laughed. "Like world music. But we'll call it 'world punk.' "