Green Day is a contentious band to mention these days. People tend to fall into one of two camps: 1) “everything went downhill after Nimrod,” or 2) “American Idiot is their best album,” with few saying, “They were awesome then and they’re awesome now.” There are also those who think Green Day’s pre-Dookie work is their best, too, but they’re the same people who called them sellouts after they signed to major label Reprise in 1994.
I fall into the first camp, not because I think American Idiot is bad (it’s a perfectly sounding ambitious pop album, but takes itself too seriously), but because I love Insomniac and “J.A.R.” and, yes, even Shenanigans so much. That’s probably a common feeling amongst 1990s pre-teens and teens, and due to our nostalgic fondness for the band walking around San Francisco in the “When I Come Around” music video, we’re inevitably drawn to any bit of Green Day news that comes out, even if we don’t consider ourselves “fans” anymore. Lately, Billie Joe Armstrong, Tre Cool, and Mike Dirnt have been hyping their upcoming separately-released album trilogy, Uno!, Dos!, and Tré!, and for the first time since my braces came out, I’m excited for something new from Green Day.
I love the punk stuff I grew up on. But there are so many bands who make the mistake – “We’re going back, old-school.” Well, that’s all you’re doing. You already did it. So we’re changing the guitar sound. We’re not going with the big Marshall-amp thing. We wanted something punchier, more power pop – somewhere between AC/DC and the early Beatles.
The last two records were studio albums. This one – we started rehearsing every day, constructing these songs together. It felt like we were all in a room jamming – everyone in the mix, throwing out ideas. If you listen to it, it feels grand. But it also feels like a garage band.
Mike asked me to write a song with a four-on-the-floor rhythm. I’d never done it before. It’s kind of like Sandinista!, Ian Dury’s “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll” and the Tom Tom Club song, “Genius of Love.” We were trying to figure out how to make dance music without turning into a dance band. (Via)
It’s that last quote that gets my attention the most, specifically the part about Sandinista!, the Clash’s sprawling, 150-minute, once-hated 1980 album that’s now considered a classic. Green Day has always wanted to be the Clash; it’s only now that they’re explicitly admitting it. Good for them.
They should want to make their Sandinista! or London Calling (and between “dance music without turning into a dance band,” a description that could also be used for “Train in Vain,” and the teaser riff video released last week, it seems like that’s what they’re going for), because they’re a better fit for their us-against-them aesthetic than Quadrophenia, which is what their last two albums went for. The Clash knew how to write sincere anthems that would look out of place scratched into someone’s wrists, and hopefully after the achingly earnest 21st Century Breakdown, which tried to tackle everything, yet ended up standing for nothing, Green Day has been paying attention.
I’m not saying Uno!, Dos!, OR Tré! will be as good as London Calling or Sandinista!, because very few things are as good as “Police on My Back” and “Death or Glory,” but it’s enviable that a band as huge as Green Day can say, “Screw it” and release whatever the hell they want on a major label, like the Clash did. In fact, it’s pretty f*cking punk.