Selected by Dan
It' been a few years and a few extra
pounds for singer Billie Joe Armstrong since his punk revival outfit Green Day took the
world by storm in a 1994 Woodstock appearance. But as their new album Warning
indicates, the band are still in top form.
When Armstrong and bassist Mike Dirnt formed their first band, Sweet Children, at the age
of 14 in the refinery town of Rodeo, California, it's unlikely that they could have
imagined the success that awaited them. Hooking up with drummer John Kiffmeyer, they
issued their first release, the 1000 Hours EP, in 1989 as Green Day (reflecting
their fondness for marijuana), on the independent Lookout Records. Their first full-length
album, 39/Smooth, consisted of 10 pop-punk songs, recorded in a single day.
After Kiffmeyer left the band, Tre Cool was drafted as a replacement, contributing the
song "Dominated Love Song" to 1992's Kerplunk!. It provided the band's
first hit, selling over 50,000 copies in Green Day's San Francisco Bay Area home
territory. The success of Kerplunk! led to major label interest and the band
eventually signed with Reprise Records, part of the Warner group.
For their first album on Reprise, Green Day offered up Dookie, a concoction - simple in
its perfection - of British three-chord punk and hormonal teen angst that harked back to
the rock groups of the early '60s. When Green Day stole the show at the '94 Woodstock
festival, Dookie was given a major boost. The album went on to sell over 10 million
copies worldwide and earn the band four Grammy nominations, of which they won the Grammy
for Best Alternative Music Performance.
Green Day's success also broke open the floodgates for the California-based punk revival
of the '90s, which has seen groups like Offspring (who follow Green Day to Tokyo a week
later), 311 and No Doubt go on to significant success. While their follow-ups, Insomniac
in 1995, and Nimrod in 1997, failed to move as many copies as Dookie, Green
Day remain a significant draw, especially here in Japan where they headlined last summer's
Summer Sonic festival.
While Green Day maintain their fine form, they haven't been able to avoid some of the
problems that go with fame. They are now facing a lawsuit from an obscure Cambridge,
England band, Other Garden, who claim that Green Day stole their title track on Warning
from Other Garden's '97 song "Never Got the Chance."
plays Yokohama Arena on Mar 12. See listings