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Green Day
In the late 1970s, punk was the genre invented to classify music being made by bands that were rebellious and unafraid to admit it. That rebellion wasnít the product of a few kids acting out against the will of parents and other adults. It was the rise of a new form of music by artists who thought that it was important to question what the average person was being told. Politics and politicians have been the long-standing enemies of punk rockers and other artists with a message for their audience. Americaís war on Iraq has provided fodder for miles of newsprint, hundreds of hours of television coverage and a renewed urge within the music community to go over and above their primary objective of providing entertainment. A band that had lost its way over the years, both creatively and commercially, were finally able to put out an album that helped them reconnect with their fans and each other. That band is Green Day and the album is their latest, entitled American Idiot.

Childhood friends Billie Joe Armstrong and Mike Dirnt (birth name: Mike Pritchard) formed their first band in California when they were 14-years-old. By 1989, they had added drummer Al Sobrante and adopted the band name Green Day. That same year, the band released its first EP, 1,000 Hours independently. The EP was received well enough in the California hardcore punk scene for the band to land a contract with Lookout , a local independent label. Green Day's first album, 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hour, was released later that year and shortly after its release, the band replaced Sobrante with Tre Cool (born Frank Edwin Wright, III). It is an impressive achievement for a band to have maintained an unchanged lineup hence for nearly sixteen years.

The band worked hard through the early 1990s to build a cult following which gained strength with the release of their second independent album, 1992ís Kerplunk. The success of this album led to interest from several major labels and the band finally signed with Reprise Records. In the spring of 1994, Green Dayís major-label debut Dookie was released. The journey began with a bang when the albumís first single Longview gained support on MTV in the US and by the time the albumís second single Basket Case broke around the world, Green Day were well on their way to becoming, young, scruffy international hits. The album sold over eight million copies in America and over ten million copies worldwide. The three young men were en route to international success complete with the attendant fame and fortune. And thatís when the second part of the story began.

Their sophomore major-label album Insomniac, only sold a quarter of its predecessor Ė and there was concern that the band were destined to be little more than an energetic flash in the pan, a lay-over from the glory days of grunge and angry music as produced by the likes of Nirvana and Pearl Jam. Above all, they paved the way for pop-punk acts that were signed and designed for all the record labels that did not have a Green Day on their roster. Letís face it, there would probably never have been a Sum 41, Good Charlotte, or Blink 182 if it werenít for the three kids who went on to release albums named Nimrod, Warning, International Superhits! and Shenanigans.

All great rock band histories have certain stages they have to go through. There is that first flush of love when everyone from the fans to the recording industry believes that this is the act that will save music. The moment the albums stop selling, the act is dismissed as a novelty act and that is when the scene is set for the big comeback. Green Day quickly went from being hailed to being reviled in a fairly short time. But the albums kept coming and life went on. Things changed in the three years after 2000ís Warning. The friends began to hate each other and it got to a point where the three would go to great lengths to avoid being in the same room together. Over the duration of their major-label musical career, Armstrong, Dirnt and Cool have, in addition to becoming millionaires and touring the world, got three divorces and five children between them. As Armstrong took a cold hard look at what they had become it was clear that change was necessary.

You can read the rest of our feature on Green Day in the February 2005 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.

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