Green Day

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From left to right: Mike Dirnt, Billie Joe Armstrong, and Tr Cool

Green Day is a pop punk band consisting of Billie Joe Armstrong (lead vocals, guitar), Mike Dirnt (bass) (born Michael Ryan Pritchard), and Tr Cool (drummer) (born Frank Edwin Wright III). Along with other bands on the Lookout label, they are credited as being the pioneers of the pop punk genre popularizing the genre to the mainstream with 1994's smash album Dookie. Dookie has been certified diamond (10 million copies shipped) in the US since its release.




At the age of 12, Tr Cool became a member of the band The Lookouts. Their album attracted some attention, and Tre began performing at an early age at the Berkeley, California punk club 924 Gilman Street. In 1988, Billie Joe Armstrong (16 years old) and Mike Dirnt (born Michael Ryan Pritchard, also 16 years old) formed Sweet Children, with Armstrong on lead vocals and guitar, Dirnt, on bass and backing vocals, and John Kiffmeyer (a.k.a. Al Sobrante), on drums.

Their first show was in 1988 at Rod's Hickory Pit in Rodeo, California. A couple months later, they played a high school party with the Lookouts in a remote mountain location near Willits, California, where Tre and Kain Kong of the Lookouts lived and attended school. Only five kids showed up for the party, and there was no electricity in the house, so Sweet Children had to play using a generator and candlelight, but they played, as Lookouts singer/guitarist Larry Livermore put it, "As if they were the Beatles at Shea Stadium."

Livermore, who also ran the Berkeley independent label Lookout! Records, immediately offered Sweet Children a deal, and in early 1989 they recorded their first EP, "1,000 Hours," and then decided, weeks before the EP release, to change their name to Green Day, slang for a day spent smoking marijuana. The band were joint-smokers since puberty and Billie Joe got his nickname, "Two Dollar Bill," from selling joints at that price at his high school. It is widely reported that when the boys went to their high school principal to say that they were dropping out to become a full-time band the principal observed that there "would be a green day in hell" before they amounted to anything. The record came out, with the cover changed at the last minute to reflect the new name, in April 1989.

One year later, in April 1990, Green Day released their first EP 39/Smooth, and that summer set out in a van on their first national tour. Before leaving, they recorded another four-song EP called "Slappy," and while in Minneapolis-St. Paul they recorded a four-song EP of some of their old songs for the local label Skene Records, and called it "Sweet Children". (In 1991, 1,039 Smoothed Out Slappy Hours was released which re-issued on CD 39/Smooth with 9 additional tracks from "Slappy" and "1,000 Hours".)

After this tour, at the end of the summer of 1990, Al Sobrante left the band on what was supposed to be a temporary basis to attend college in Arcata, California. By this time the Lookouts had become mostly inactive, and Tre Cool, now 17 and living in Berkeley, began playing with Green Day as a temporary replacement. The combination worked out so well that he soon became Green Day's permanent drummer.

During 1991, the band toured and played locally, building up a large following, and also wrote and recorded their second album, Kerplunk!, released on Lookout Records in January 1992. The CD version also included the four tracks from the "Sweet Children" EP. They continued to tour through 1992 and 1993, ranging as far afield as the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Italy, Holland, Poland, and Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic) When the tour came through the UK, it was notable for a famous appearance at a Wigan social club called The Den. The gig would have been a standard stop on an independent punk band's minor UK tour, were it not for one small fact: the band decided to use their set to stage their own version of the Nativity, featuring Billie Joe as all three schizophrenic Three Wise Punks, Mike as Santa Claus and a bad-taste version of the Virgin Birth featuring Tre as Mary, a roadie as Jesus and a bag of rice pudding and tomato ketchup as the Holy Placenta. This sort of theatrical show would become common practice for the band ten years later, only on a much larger scale.


By 1993, Green Day had sold about 55,000 copies of each of their first albums, a huge amount for the independent punk scene in those days, and attracted a great deal of attention from the major labels. Eventually they decided to sign a deal with Reprise Records, leaving Lookout on friendly terms, and spent the greater part of the year recording their major label debut, Dookie, which proved to be an almost instant sensation, helped by extensive MTV airplay for the videos "Longview" and "Basket Case."

In 1994, Green Day embarked on a nationwide tour and chose queercore band Pansy Division as their opening act. At the time this was regarded as quite controversial; nonetheless, the tour was a success. Green Day had made their audience aware that they were not just another 'pop' band with a couple of hit singles. The band joined the lineups of both the Lollapalooza Festival and Woodstock 1994. Green Day's Woodstock gig included a gigantic mud fight between the band and the audience, leading to a melee in which Dirnt lost his front teeth.

They recorded a single called "J.A.R." in 1995, and followed it up with the album Insomniac in fall 1995. It was a response to the poppy simplicity of Dookie with the album darker than their previous one. Though the album didn't approach the success of Dookie, it still sold two million copies in the U.S. After that the band abruptly canceled a European tour, claiming exhaustion. Following the cancellation, the band spent the next year-and-half resting in reclusion and writing new material, issuing their Nimrod in October 1997 with a more artistic and conceptual approach. It reached #10 at home and went double platinum on the strength of the surprise crossover hit "Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)". After that the band took some time out of the spotlight, issuing the poppy Kinksesque Warning:, another Top 5 hit, three years later in fall 2000. In 2002 the band issued their first b-side Album Shenanigans, which was received warmly by fans and included the song "Ha Ha You're Dead", written by Mike Dirnt and recorded exclusively for this album.

In 2003, during time spent in the studio, a New Wave band appeared on the scene, known as The Network. This 5 piece band, at first look/listen appears to be Green Day. The front man "Fink" bears a striking resemblance, visually and vocally to Wilhelm Fink (Billie Joe Armstrong's pseudonym). John Roecker, director of 'Live Freaky Die Freaky', starring Green Day and other East Bay punk alumni, and Green Day's DVD Documentary "Heart Like A Hand Grenade", has spoken of various projects recorded at Studio 880, including a New Wave album and a christmas album, during the American Idiot sessions. Studio 880 is the credited studio in The Networks Money Money 2020 album and Green Day's American Idiot.

American Idiot

Fighting burnout after Warning:, the band went into the studio to write and record new material for an album. After completing 20 tracks — an impressive album according to those few who heard it — the master tapes were stolen from the studio. The band chose not to try and re-create the stolen album but instead started over with a vow to be even more ambitious.

The resulting 2004 album, American Idiot, is being billed as a "punk rock opera", or more accurately a concept album, telling the story of characters such as St. Jimmy, Jesus of Suburbia (probably each the same person,) and Whatsername. Two of the tracks, "Jesus of Suburbia" and "Homecoming", composed in 5 different parts, are multi-movement suites that are both more than nine minutes long. In Armstrong's words, "One day Mike was at the studio and he wrote a thirty-second song. I don't know, I liked it so I wanted to do one too. The one that I did, I connected to his and then Tre did one and he connected it to mine and so on and so forth until we had about ten minutes. It was just purely out of having a good time." The song "American Idiot" has been described by the band as their public statement in reaction to the confusing and warped scene that is American pop culture since 9/11. Armstrong has said that they chose to write this way because the band has obtained respect and sway in the music world, and that this social commentary is part of their natural evolution as a band.

Some songs on the American Idiot CD come in pairs. Their album American Idiot won a Grammy in 2005 for Best Rock Album along with 5 other Grammy nominations. The song "American Idiot" was featured in the video game NFL Madden 2005. The band at the moment are touring, promoting the album with a largely successful dates, continuing the theatrics of the shows from the "Warning", "International Superhits!" and "Shenanigans" tours by featuring a horn section dressed as a pink rabbit and a bumblebee, Billie Joe donning a crown and silk cape for the song "King For A Day" and drawn-out performances of certain songs, where Billie Joe uses the instrumental sections to interact with the crowd.

Although the "American Idiot" album and tour are landmarks for the band, they haven't hinted that they will stop with it and also said that they don't feel at all at the peak of their careers. American Idiot will also become a movie and will begin shooting some time in 2006. See also: American Idiot: The Motion Picture


Studio Albums

1 July 1991 1. 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours Lookout Contains material from "39/Smooth", "Slappy" and "1,000 Hours". Has been re-released with rare live videos, photos from their childhood, extra pages in the book, and other CD extra content. -
17 January 1992 2. Kerplunk! Lookout The second record on Lookout. Has been re-released with some of the songs from the "Sweet Children EP". Notable songs include "2000 Light years Away" and an early version of "Welcome to Paradise". -
1 February 1994 3. Dookie Reprise Their first major label debut, Dookie is Green Day's most critically acclaimed album with popular singles "Basket Case" and "Welcome to Paradise". It is certified 10 times platinum in the US. #2 US, #13 UK
10 October 1995 4. Insomniac Reprise The album features generally darker, harsher subject matter and lyrics than Dookie's poppy leanings. Despite solid reviews, Insomniac failed to match the sales and buzz of the previous album. Contains the hits "Brain Stew/Jaded" and "Geek Stink Breath". #2 US, # 8 UK
14 October 1997 5. Nimrod Reprise Green Day begins to stretch out artistically. Includes the hit song "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)", which is still played at many weddings and proms. #10 US, #11 UK
3 October 2000 6. Warning Reprise A folkish-pop album. The material of the album is drawn from The Kinks (the title track bears a strong resemblance to their hit song "Picture Book") and The Beatles. It was well received by critics and fans, though it inexplicably only went gold in the US. #4 US, #4 UK
21 September 2004 7. American Idiot Reprise Conceptual punk rock-opera. The album was well-received by critics and fans, and has been Green Day's biggest success since "Dookie". It has sold 6 million copies worldwide and has gone triple-platinum in the US since its release. #1 US, #1 UK


Year Title Label Other information
1988 Sweet Children Skene EP (originally released by Sweet Children)
1989 1,000 Hours Lookout! Records EP
1990 Slappy Lookout! Records EP
2004 American Idiot Reprise EP
2004 Sessions@AOL - Green Day Reprise EP

Compilations, Lives and Videos

1996 Bowling Bowling Bowling Parking Parking Reprise Live EP -
13 November 2001 International Superhits! Reprise Greatest Hits LP of 1993-2001 #40 US, #15 UK
13 November 2001 International Supervideos! Greatest Hits DVD of 1993-2001 -
2 July 2002 Shenanigans Reprise B-sides and rarities with one new song. #27 US, #32 UK


See Also

External links

Official sites

Fan sites

Green Day pages on general sites

Other links

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