Green Day is the single band that this up and coming generation of pop-punkers has looked to for inspiration. From blue-haired Billie Joe Armstrong covered in mud at Woodstock ’94 to “Seinfeld” using “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)” as the theme for its last show, they’ve truly become iconic for American popular culture.
American Idiot, the narrative rock-opera released last year, affirmed the band’s coming of age. It showed the true potential not only for social commentary in music, but for deeply personal storytelling and that the most universal themes are universal for a reason. It was the kind of record that made you happy to have ears.
Since its release, American Idiot has been everywhere. Commercials, video games, movies, damn near every promo spot the Independent Film Channel comes out with. It’s one of those albums there’s no getting away from. The bonus is that it happens to be good. Still with the original lineup of Billie Joe on vocals/guitars, Mike Dirnt on bass and Tre Cool on drums, the band has embarked on a massive summer tour with Jimmy Eat World and Against Me! that will bring them to Giants Stadium on Sept. 1. Mike Dirnt was kind enough to take some time out to chat about the record, the tour, and some other recent goings on.
Were you surprised at the reaction to American Idiot?
Pleasantly. (laughs) I mean, you put out something like this, something that’s kind of provocative and to the same degree what you think is a really good record, you always want to have a good outcome to it. We just tried to please ourselves and hoped for the best.
Does it feel strange to have people think of you as a mature band?
I don’t think so. I think the word ‘maturity’ gets a bad rap. Another description for the word ‘maturity’ is experience, and I think experience is something everybody wants.
What do you think it was about the record that resonated with people?
I think it kind of speaks to where we’re at, at this time, in the world, especially what it’s like to be living in the United States right now, with our pop culture and the war and everything else that’s going on. And to the same degree, I think the world was ready for a freight train of a rock and roll record, and that’s what we tried to write.
How do you feel about America’s situation now, as opposed to when you were writing?
I feel ambivalent, just like everyone else in this country, I think. But you move ahead, and I think if you have an opinion and you want to voice it, that’s a good thing.
As far as standing up for what you believe in, on either side, you should be able to have a discussion and for me personally, I think fear of failure is not an excuse for not trying. We’re going to go out there and say what we believe and believe what we say.
Were you nervous about how people would take to it?
No, I don’t think so. You expect backlash and things like that. As far as in my life, I stand by what I believe and fortunately for me, I live in a very multicultural, metropolitan area, so I get a lot of news, maybe more than just Fox News or just a local paper. I have access to a lot of news. Within that, my state of awareness is one that’s provocative for me.