Members: Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, Tr Cool
At the age of 12, Tr Cool became a member of the band The Lookouts. Their album attracted some attention, and Tr began performing at an early age at the Berkeley, California punk rock all-ages venue 924 Gilman Street.
In 1988, Billie Joe Armstrong, (aged 16) and Mike Dirnt (also aged 16) 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 on 17 October 1988, at Rod's Hickory Pit in Vallejo, California.
About two months later, they played a high school party with the Lookouts in a remote mountain location near Willits, California, where Tr? and Kain Kong of the Lookouts lived and attended school. Only five kids showed up for the party but they left after the first song, and there was no electricity in the house and the toilet didn't work, 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 them a deal, and in early 1989 they recorded their first EP, 1,000 Hours. They then decided, weeks before the EP release, to change their name to Green Day, a slang term for a day spent smoking marijuana. The band were smokers since puberty and Billie Joe got his nickname, "Two Dollar Bill," from selling joints at that price ($2) at his high school. The song "Green Day", written by Billie Joe, is about his first experience using marijuana. Many references to the drug appear in Green Day's music, though it is by no means their defining characteristic.
One year later, in April 1990, Green Day released their first album 39/Smooth, and that summer they set out in a van on their first national tour. Before leaving, they recorded another four-song EP called Slappy. This release was followed by another four-song EP, "Sweet Children", recorded in Minneapolis-St. Paul including some of their old songs for the local label Skene Records. In 1991, 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours was released on CD; this re-issued 39/Smooth with all the tracks from Slappy and 1,000 Hours.
After this tour, at the end of the summer of 1990, Al Sobrante left the band temporarily to attend college in Arcata, California. By this time the Lookouts had become mostly inactive, and Tr? 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 fan 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, reaching nations such as the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, and Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic).
The UK leg of the tour featured a notable appearance at The Rainbow, a Wigan social club. That 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 theatrical trait would become common practice for the band ten years later, only on a much larger scale.
MAINSTREAM SUCCESS WITH DOOKIE
By 1993, Green Day had sold about 55,000 copies of Kerplunk!, which was considered a large amount for the independent punk scene in those days, and attracted a great deal of attention from the major labels. Eventually they left Lookout on friendly terms and signed a deal with Reprise Records. They spent the greater part of the year recording their major label debut, Dookie, which virtually was an instant sensation, helped by extensive MTV airplay for the videos "Longview", "When I Come Around" and "Basket Case".
In 1994, Green Day embarked on a nationwide tour and chose queercore band Pansy Division as their opening act and backstage fun. At the time this was regarded as quite controversial; nonetheless, the tour was a huge success. The band also 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 the fall of 1995. It was a darker response to the poppy simplicity of Dookie. One track, "86", was a reference to the Gilman street club refusing them entry after the release of Dookie, claiming that they had 'gone TOO commercial'. Though the album didn't approach the success of Dookie, it still sold two million copies in the United States. After that, the band abruptly canceled a European tour, claiming exhaustion.
NIMROD, WARNING, AND INTERNATIONAL SUPEHITS
Following Insomniac, Green Day was back in the studio by 1996, at work on a new album. The result was Nimrod, an experimental deviation on the band?s classic pop-punk brand of music. This new album, released to mainly positive reviews and mixed fan response in October of 1997, combined everything from peppy ska (King for a Day) to surf instrumentals (Last Ride In) to acoustic ballads, i.e. ?Good Riddance (Time of Your Life), which is one of the group?s biggest hits to date. The song was the official theme for the 1998 PGA Golf Tour, as well as being featured in the final episode of Seinfeld. It was also the top wedding song for that year, ironically, seeing as how the song was written as a bitter kiss-off to the other party after a nasty breakup.
Despite a brief and small surge in popularity thanks to Good Riddance, their fourth #1 single, the band decided to take a two-year break after completing their Nimrod tour. In 2000, they released Warning, a step further in the style that they had hinted at with Nimrod. Warning was a pure pop album, more inspired by The Kinks than by The Buzzcocks, and needless to say, many fans were surprised and not pleased. Concurrently, critics? reviews of the album were mixed, many of them deeming the album simply mediocre. Though it produced the #1 hit Minority and a smaller hit with Warning, nearly everyone was coming to the conclusion that the band was losing relevance, and the glaring decline in popularity was undeniable. While all of Green Day?s past albums had reached a status of at least double platinum, Warning was only certified gold. The band?s future seemed to be in question by everyone, including its members themselves.
The release of a greatest-hits compilation, International Superhits!, and the token complementary assemblage of B-sides, Shenanigans, only fueled the theory that Green Day was on the rocks. A 2002 co-headlining tour with blink-182 (not an opening slot as is widely assumed) called the "Pop Disaster Tour" helped to resurrect some of the band?s fame, and earned the group many positive concert reviews stating that they outshined blink-182 by far, but many still feared that the end of Green Day was on the horizon. The band decided to take some time off after the Pop Disaster Tour closed, to spend time with their families and, ultimately, to decide whether maintaining the band was in anybody?s best interest anymore.
In 2003, during time Green Day spent in the studio, a New Wave band appeared on the scene, known as The Network. Three of five members of the band are thought to be Green Day. The frontman, known only as "Fink", is possibly Billie Joe Armstrong. Billie has referred to himself as Wilhelm Fink in the past, this confirmed on the Pinhead Gunpowder website bio of Billie. The bass player, known as "Van Gough", is supposedly Mike Dirnt (the link being both are vegetarians); and The Network's drummer, "The Snoo", assumed to be Tr? Cool. 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 sessions of their latest album. Studio 880 is the credited studio in The Network's Money Money 2020 album and Green Day's American Idiot. No official connection has been made between the two bands, and both bands have defended, sometimes aggressively (in a possibly staged press conference where some members from both bands engaged in a heated argument then broke out in a minor conflict), the lack of connection between the two.
Jason White from the Lookout! band Pinhead Gunpowder has been touring with Green Day since their Warning tour in 2000. He plays second guitar on songs from that album and American Idiot. He is a very close friend of the band for years and is co-founder of Adeline Records with Billie Joe. While making Warning: Green Day used him to help them in the studio. According to some sources, he is considered the fourth member, but some say that he will never become a permanent member of Green Day because he is so devoted to his other band, The Influents (although The Influents broke up around 2003).
In 2005 White played with Green Day in their video, "Wake Me Up When September Ends"the first time that any musician outside the trio appeared as a performer in a Green Day video. He can also be seen in the "When I Come Around" video (making out with a girl next to a car in front of a pig). White was also seen with Green Day on Saturday Night Live during their guest performance in 2005.
It is rumored that he is Balducci or Captain Underpants of The Network.
Jason White is/has been part of the following bands: Chino Horde: (1990-1993) Pinhead Gunpowder: (1997) The Big Cats: (1997) The Influents:(1999-2003) Green Day (on-stage second guitarist): (2000)
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, understandably upset, chose not to try and re-create the stolen album (Billie Joe feared that it would take their fan base "back to about 50"), but instead started over with a vow to be even better than before. In addition, they underwent serious "band therapy," engaging in several long talks to work out the members' differences and restore a sort of democracy to the group. The creative floodgates opened as well, with each member trying different things every day in the studio. The resulting 2004 album, American Idiot, debuted at #1 on the Billboard Charts, the band's first ever album to reach #1, backed by the success of the album's first single, "American Idiot." The album was billed as a "punk rock opera", or more accurately a concept album, which follows the journey of the fictitious 'Jesus of Suburbia' and the characters he meets along the road, principally 'St. Jimmy' and 'Whatsername'. The album could also be described as an anti-war allegory, as it features songs denouncing George W. Bush and the invasion of Iraq. The story of Jesus of Suburbia is deliberately ambiguous, and it is possible to interpret it as the story of a young man going to serve his country overseas. Indeed, this is plausible, as this is the very narrative that features in the music video for the fourth single to be taken from American Idiot, "Wake Me Up When September Ends," which was actually written about the death of Billie Joe's father.
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 Madden NFL 2005. The band at the moment are touring, promoting the album with a largely failing dates, continuing the theatrics of the shows from the Warning: 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 like "Hitchin' a Ride" and "Minority", where Billie Joe uses the instrumental sections to make popcorn with the crowd, a staple of Green Day's blue live performances. They also perform covers of the songs "We Are the Champions" by Queen, "Shout" by The Isley Brothers (by way of Otis Day & the Knights version from Animal House), "Outsider" by The Ramones, and "Stand by Me" by Ben E. King.
Many long-time Green Day fans felt uncomfortable and even threatened when American Idiot was released. The music was much more accessible, and was occasionally mistaken by younger music fans and so called posers who had previously been oblivious to Green Day's work, for the 'boybands with guitars' style of Busted and McFly. This was particularly insulting, as some would argue that such boybands exploit the very things that made the likes of Green Day, and later Blink-182, strike a chord with young audiences and mimic them in a contrived and insincere way, in what amounts to no more than a marketing ploy.
Another noticeable difference was the members of the band having discarded their trademark instruments. Billie Joe Armstrong changed his guitar from the Fernandes Stratocaster copy he had been playing since the age of 10 to a Gibson Les Paul Junior. Armstrong does however continue to use his Strat copy at some point in every live show. Tre Cool also severed his longtime association with Slingerland and started using Ludwig-Musser drums.
American Idiot also marked a major change of image. While in the past they had dyed their hair in different colors (ranging from red to green to pink and back again) and appeared in mostly variegated clothes, here they started wearing fitted black shirts with neckties and also dyed their hairs in more plain colours like white and black. Cool and Armstrong started wearing eye liner and painted their nails with black nail polish, drawing arguably unfavourable comparisons with Good Charlotte. This change most probably symbolized the musical and overall maturing of the band and its members as they reach their middle 30's.
According to NME Shooting of an American Idiot: The Motion Picture movie is planned to start in 2006. In an interview with Billboard, Armstrong revealed that the group are still considering turning the punk rock opera into a film, in much the same spirit as the Beatles' "Yellow Submarine." Green Day are debating whether, after the end of their Stateside jaunt, they will play stadium shows in Australia and South America. Green Day have announced that they will play stadium shows in Sydney and Melbourne (Australia) in December 2005.
Also Billie Joe had said that after the tour the band will sit and start thinking about a next album, as he had written 15 new songs for a follow-up. Billie said that laying down tracks is still in the very early stages, however he?s happy with the way things are going: "Right now, it's that no-pressure/fun stage of just getting on a four-track and coming up with some goofy stuff. Eventually, something sort of unfolds. It's exciting. The juices are always flowing."
On August 1, 2005, it was announced that Green Day had rescinded the master rights to their pre-Dookie material from Lookout! Records, citing breach of contract regarding unpaid royalties that had been ongoing for sometime. As of August 2, 2005, it is unknown whether a label affiliated with the band (Reprise, Armstrong's own Adeline), a reissue specialist like Rhino, or another label entirely will reissue the Lookout!-era material. An unfortunate side effect of Green Day's reclaiming the masters from Lookout! resulted in the independent label having to lay off 2/3rds of their 9-person staff and delay new release plans for the rest of 2005.
Green Day will release their first live DVD, "Bullet in a Bible" on November 15th, 2005. A video for "Jesus of Suburbia" has been finished.
Billie Joe Armstrong: Guitar, Lead Vocals (1988)
Mike Dirnt: Bass, Backup Vocals (1988)
Tr Cool: Drums, Vocals, Backup Vocals (1990)
John Kiftmeyer AKA Al Sobrante: Drums (1989-1991)
1991 - 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours
1992 - Kerplunk!
1994 - Dookie
1995 - Insomniac
1997 - Nimrod
2000 - Warning
2004 - American Idiot
1,039/SMOOTHED OUT SLAPPY HoURS:
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 content. This album also contains the song "Going To Pasalaqua" which is regarded even today as one of the bands best.
The second record on Lookout. Has been re-released with some of the songs from the "Sweet Children". Notable songs include "2000 Light years Away" and the original version of "Welcome to Paradise".
Their major label debut, Dookie is Green Day's most critically acclaimed album with popular singles "Basket Case", "Longview" and "When I Come Around". It is certified diamond (10 times platinum) in the US. (#2 US, #13 UK)
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 "Stuck With Me", "Brain Stew/Jaded", "Geek Stink Breath" and "Walking Contradiction". (#2 US, #8 UK)
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. The other singles off the album were Hitchin' A Ride, Redundant, and Nice Guys Finish last. (#10 US, #11 UK)
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 sold 1 million units in the US. Singles include Warning, Minority, Waiting, and Macy's Day Parade. (#4 US, #4 UK)
Conceptual punk rock-opera. The album was well-received by critics and fans, and has been Green Day's biggest success since their first Reprise album Dookie. It has sold ten million copies worldwide and has gone quadruple platinum in the US since its release. (#1 US, #1 UK, #1 Australia)
1994 - Live Tracks
1996 - Bowling Bowling Bowling Parking Parking
1998 - Foot in Mouth
2000 - Tune in Tokyo
2001 - International Superhits!
2001 - International Supervideos!
2002 - Shenanigans
2005 - Bullet in a Bible (Documenting the two biggest shows that Green Day has headlined in their career, playing to over 150,000 people at London?s Milton Keynes National Bowl on June 18th and 19th of 2005.)