I have two words for you. Green Day. This band has become synonymous with spikey hair, thick black eye liner, and a lust to stand up for what’s right in, what they have deemed to be, “troubled times”. They are undoubtedly one of the best bands in rock and roll history, and like the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility.
Front man Billie Joe Armstrong definitely does not take this responsibility lightly. Let’s flash back to almost thirteen years ago, when the infamous rock opera American Idiot was in the making. Armstrong’s carefully crafted lyrics illustrated the state of America from the eyes of a working class punk in the Bush era. And its honest look into reality that pushed this album to the top of the charts worldwide.
Back then, Armstrong had a set of strict rules for the band, with the most important rule being that every album had to immediately be followed by a tour. Being a car guy in his personal life, Armstrong compared the punk trio from Oakland, California to an old vintage sports car by stating in one interview, “You’ve got to keep it tuned up, or it’s just gonna sit there and rust.”
These strict rules soon turned into the band’s own worst enemy, as by 2012 this lust to continuously reinvent and out-do themselves had truly taken its toll on Armstrong in particular. As he began pushing himself and the rest of his band mates to release three full-length albums back-to-back, known as ¡Uno! ¡Dos!¡Tré!, his heavy drinking habits combined with pills and stress of being burned out threw him into a tail spin.
Everything came to its peak on September 21, 2012 when Armstrong walked onstage of the iHeartRadio festival black out drunk. “Fuck this shit!” he slurred as a blinking sign in front of him showed he only had one minute left. “I’m not Justin Bieber, you motherfuckers. You gotta be fuckin’ jokin’!” Armstrong snarled as his drunken state escalated into full blown rage. He and his bandmate Mike Dirnt then began smashing their guitars together. “God fucking love you all, we’ll be back!” said Armstrong as he threw his microphone and exited the stage.
While the band showed the crowd “once a punk, always a punk”, Mike Dirnt, Tre Cool and Jason White all agreed that Armstrong’s tail spin had gone too far. They couldn’t bear to see their bandmate and brother succumb to such a bleak reality of drug and alcohol addiction. The band proceeded to take a break as Armstrong entered rehab for substance abuse.
With this unexpected stint in rehab haulting the bands tour for ¡Uno! ¡Dos! ¡Tré! Armstrong faced reality that taking a break doesn’t mean the band will rust and wither away. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Armstrong stated “You can’t be enthusiastic for the sake of enthusiasm. You have to get out of trying to outdo and one-up yourself all the time. We had to break that habit, because suddenly we weren’t really being ourselves anymore.”
The band says they are now going back to the basics with their new album Revolution Radio that debuted back in October of 2016. The album was recorded in Armstrong’s new studio, named Otis, and they were their own producers for the album. They didn’t even tell Warner Bros. Records they were recording a new album until they were almost done recording. Recording in total privacy gave Green Day the opportunity to be themselves again.
Though the band says they are taking it back to the basics, with band practices that make them reminisce the days of Dookie, Kerplunk!, and Warning. The lyrics for their latest album are reminiscent of American Idiot as Armstrong paints an all-too-real picture of a degrading America with songs such as Bang! Bang! and Troubled Times.
Lyrics from Troubled Times paint a picture of a diminishing world as Armstrong’s opening words pierce your ear drums, “What good is love and peace on earth, when it’s exclusive?” The music video for this song illustrates what some have deemed to be the Trumpocalypse, as a tyrannical figure likened to Donald Trump wreaks havoc on America, only to be egged on by his overly ambitious supporters.
Armstrong states in an interview with Rolling Stone that the album was inspired by the riots in Manhattan, New York that he witnessed after the Missouri grand jury’s decision to not indict the police officer who killed Michael Brown. Armstrong said “I got out of my car and marched with the people. It was a trip to see people rebel against the old order.”
In Bang! Bang!, the lyrics are written from the stand point of a mass shooter as Armstrong sings, “I want to be a celebrity martyr, the leading man in my own private drama.” He has a way of connecting with the average American during times of political turmoil that are uncanny. These lyrics are reminiscent of the American Idiot era which showcases the bands ability to connect with the working class on an intimate level as they soar to the top of the charts for the second time with a politically charged album.
In true Green Day fashion, the band followed the album with a worldwide tour that kicked off on September 26, 2016. The tour will be making its way to the United States on March 1, 2017 as they kick off this much anticipated tour in Phoenix, Arizona. Supporting Green Day for most of their tour in the spring and summer will be Against Me! After that Catfish and the Bottlemen will be joining them starting August 1,2017.
Now with Green Day heading back to basics, this leaves the Idiot Nation (Green Day’s die hard fans) itching for more. This also leaves us wondering, if they will continue with their sneaky ways of producing albums in total privacy. If this proves to be true, we should expect a hiatus from the band around the end of the year as their Revolution Radio tour comes to an end on September 16,2017. One things for sure, if we get a second term out of President Trump, we should expect another album from Green Day.