One of the cornerstone punk bands of the '90s, Rancid's unabashedly classicist sound drew heavily from the Clash's early records, echoing their left—leaning politics and fascination with ska, while adding a dash of essential hardcore crunch. Critics praise their political commitment, surging energy, and undeniable way with a hook and the band's strengths have made them one of the most revered punk bands ever. Their third album, 1995's ...And Out Come the Wolves, made them a platinum—selling sensation and an inescapable presence on MTV and modern rock radio. While they never translated that success into an enormous blockbuster record, that wasn't necessarily their ambition, choosing to stay with the independent punk label Epitaph and the creative freedom it allowed them. That decision helped them retain a large, devoted core audience as revivalist punk—pop began to slip off the mainstream's musical radar.
Rancid was formed in 1991 by San Francisco Bay Area punk scenesters Tim Armstrong (guitar/vocals) and Matt Freeman (bass). Lifelong friends and longtime punk fans, the two had grown up together in the small, working—class town of Albany, near Berkeley; they'd also played together in the legendary ska—punk band Operation Ivy.