“THIS is going to be a big year for Green Day and we feel really good about it,” says frontman Billie Joe Armstrong.
“We’ve got new album, a 30-year anniversary for Dookie and a 20-year anniversary for American Idiot, and we are going out on the road to play songs from them all.
“Green Day is a gift that keeps on giving.”
Huddled on the sofa in their Californian office, Billie Joe, bassist Mike Dirnt and drummer Tre Cool, all 51, are excited for the release of Saviors, their 14th studio album.
“Isn’t it frigging bizarre that those two anniversaries are 30 and 20 years,” he adds.
“It’s so unique. And now we have a new album.”
Saviors sees the punk trio reunited with producer Rob Cavallo, who also worked on classics Dookie (1994) and American Idiot (2004).
Billie Joe says: “I shot Rob a text just to say ‘hi’ and the text back was, ‘Are you ready to make rock and rollagain?’”
The band jumped at the chance to work with the Grammy Award-winning producer again.
Billie Joe says: “Rob’s enthusiasm and desire to search for greatness is why we make great music with him. Rob is the kind of person who is still a kid in his bedroom, doing Pete Townshend windmills in the mirror. So, when we feel tired, he’s this ball ofthat would come in.
“That enthusiasm was one thing we were missing for a few years and he brought that into the studio.”
Saviors will delight fans both old and new, and it has a lot to say.
Billie Joe explains: “In a lot of ways all the songs are reflective of our history. So there is some stuff we wanted to be punk rock and other songs we wanted to be stadium rock, like American Idiot or 21st Century Breakdown.
“We’ve gone through such a departure over the years, so Saviors is us doing what we do best. It’s all inspired.”
Vastly different to previous experimental record Father Of All Motherf***ers, Saviors carries the band’s live spirit.
Mike says: “I love Father Of All, but I feel like everybody got the rug swept out from underneath them. And one thing I noticed when we got in a room together, is just how much I missed it. That led to a lot of inspired moments.”
Much of the record was made at London’s RAK studios, so I ask if this should be known as Green Day’s “London album”?
Mike says: “We should have made an album in London years ago. “It’s a place that is very important to us.”
Billie Joe adds: “A lot of our favourite music is British, from the late Seventies, punk rock, glam or Britpop and we wanted to see what’s in the water there.
“Making the record in London definitely had an influence on it. “I was over visiting family and I thought I’d do some work in a studio, so I looked up where Liam Gallagher had recorded and that’s how I ended up at RAK. I Googled it.”
Tracks like The American Dream Is Killing Me, Strange Days Are Here To Stay and Living In The 20s are fuelled by today’s strained political climate.
Billie Joe says: “Living In The 20s is like we are living in The Upside Down [an alternate dimension from Stranger Things]. “My country is supposed to be the United States of America but there’s no unity at all. And so, I observe and I report what I see. And strange days are here to stay.
“The American Dream Is Killing Me is about when Donald Trump got into office.
“The scary thing then was how there was so much anger, vitriol and divisiveness — it was so stressful the whole time.”
‘The pressure of the American Dream’
He adds: “Coma City includes the line ‘bankrupt the planet for assholes in space’. With all the algorithms that people live on, there’s so much false information, and there’s people diagnosing themselves with Asperger’s off TikTok. That’s absurd to me.
“A lot of it is coming from that pressure of what the American Dream means because it’s just lost it altogether.
“I think about my parents. My mother was a waitress, and my father was a truck driver.
“He was a teamster; he was in the union and it was the 70s so both of their incomes were able to come together and buy their own home. But that’s impossible now. Not in California, for sure. It’s one of the reasons why we have such a bad homeless crisis asare unaffordable.”
The trio are on social media, but admit they are not fans of the way youngsters discover new artists onlike TikTok.
Mike says: “Social media is great for kids but if you’re finding your music via algorithms then that’s just fing lazy.
“I like to organically find new things. All I can say is just f***ing clear your search history to find new s***.”
Tre laughs: “We say this now but as soon as we hang up, we’ll be making a TikTok account.”
Billie Joe adds: “I was told that Brain Stew was a sudden popular thing on TikTok with a lot of hip-hop kids dancing to it. And that’s cool.
“But I don’t have the patience to use it. It’s just like, eurgh. It’s cool for other people but we’re old- school man.”
That is why you won’t find the passionate and outspoken songwriiter venting on social media.
Billie Joe says: “My opinions are always in my songs. I don’t like to Tweet or Instagram about, because you’re contributing to insane people who are just bitching, arguing and taking sides. So I write about it in my songs.
“It’s funny as on New Year’s Eve, we played American Idiot [on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve show] and we changed ‘redneck agenda’ to MAGA agenda’ [Trump’s Make America Great Again slogan].
“Well, I woke up themorning to people saying, ‘F***ng blah blah I can’t believe he said it’ or ‘it’s so awesome’ which was crazy.
“And then it’s on Fox News and Elon Musk and Tom Morello are saying things about it.
“But it threw me as we’d pre-taped the show a month before and I’d forgotten about that lyric change.
“On actual New Year’s Eve, we were in our cover band, The Coverups, raisingfor a chimpanzee sanctuary so I was like, ‘Hey what are you talking about? I was raising money for chimps’.”
Mike laughs: “We were making money for chimps and calling out chumps.”
Dilemma and Goodnight Adeline are two of the more personal songs on Saviors. “I always try to invest in the vulnerable side of living my life. And those challenges,” admits Billie Joe.
“I was sober for several years, and then I had a bit of fear of missing out, so I started drinking again. And I wrote a little of that song dealing with that hangover, and the struggle of once I start, I can’t stop.
“I saw my doctor and saw bloodwork come back that said, ‘You’re not as healthy as you should be. Your liver is not being good to you’. “I was like, ‘All right, that’s enough for me’, So I didn’t do any kind of programme, I just stopped.
A song to sing in an English stadium
“I surrounded myself with great friends who also don’t drink and I try not to make a big deal of it because I’m not telling people what to do.
“For me, it just didn’t work any more. It was getting in the way of anything in my life that I wanted to accomplish or have relationships with.”
Melancholic Goodnight Adeline deals with depression. Billie Joe says: “The very last line is about when I get my s together, ‘I know I’m going to climb my way out of this. I know I gotta wait for my Phoenix to rise from theof this’.
“That song makes me think of singing in a stadium in. It’s got a chorus you can really sing along to.”
Another standout on Saviors is Father To A Son, a deeply personal song Billie Joe wrote about his children Joey and Jakob.
“That song is heavy,” he admits. “I was only 22 years old when I became a dad and time has passed, and they’ve become the young men that they are now.
“I wanted a moment like Wake Me Up When September Ends, which is a song about my father being a son.
“But the other side of the coin is me being a father to my sons and hoping that I did something good.
“I’m saying I’m going to ride shotgun as close to my sons as I possibly can, to try to do the best I can. And thankfully, I have a really, really, good relationship with both.”
Green Day’s Saviours Tour kicks off in Spain in May before making its way to the UK in June where they will play Manchester, Glasgow and London’s Wembley Stadium as well as a headline slot at the Isle of Wight Festival.
“The whole tour is just one big show,” says Tre.
“We’re going to do Dookie and American Idiot — Dookie is only 27 minutes in total.”
“There’s a lot of songs to play,” says Billie Joe. “We’re going to just rehearse and see what happens — that’s what we always do. And then, I’ll write out a list.
“That’s what happened last time. We wanted to play Rock And Roll All Nite by KISS, so we did.”
In November the trio played a surprise gig in a pub in central London.
“It was one of the funniest moments we’ve ever had playing live,” says Billie Joe.
“I’ve never seen so many people having so much fun.
“Everyone was dancing and the bartenders were dancing on the bar and people were also lined up outside singing. To me, that’s the spirit of what we do.
“I mean, we are still our high school band. That’s how we got together as me and Mike have known each other since we were ten.
“But we are excited about the tour and playing these songs for the first time. And for some kids, this will be their first Green Day concert.
“I’ve seen, like, pictures on Instagram of kids at Christmas with tickets from their parents.”
Tre adds: “That’s a pretty cool parenting move.
“That’s something we never get tired of. Seeing people excited about our shows is still pretty cool.”
- The album Saviors is out today
GREEN DAY – SAVIORS