Green Day Talk ‘Revolution Radio,’ Donald Trump, ‘American Idiot’ Film Adaption + More
Green Day were the guests on the Loudwire Nights radio show hosted by Toni Gonzalez. All three members of the legendary punk outfit were on hand to discuss their chart-topping new record, Revolution Radio, their own radio success, the movie adaptation of American Idiot, lyrical themes, longevity and a lot more. Check out the chat below.
Green Day embarked on a club tour this fall. After all that time off the road, how does it feel to be back in front of fans and performing live again?
Billie Joe Armstrong: It feels like I’m being baptized coming back into playing live again and into the theaters and clubs. It’s just great. I’m not home channel surfing, sitting there feeling unemployed and feeling sorry for myself. I get to do what I love; we get to do what we love.
The tour sold out immediately. You guys are known for doing the smaller venues into the larger venues. So, can we say that there’s going to be a larger scale North American tour in 2017? Is there any kind of timeline for that?
BJA: Yeah, next spring. Is that right? March? We’re gonna do a full North American tour. We’re just gonna keep going. We’ll come around to different cities and then we’ll go to Europe after that in the summer. Then after that, we’re just gonna keep going … There’s a European tour this January and then there’s the U.S. tour March / April, and then another European tour after that in the summer.
[Editors Note: Shortly after the interview, Green Day announced a full-scale 2017 North American arena tour set to kick off March 1.]
Tré Cool: We’re currently building a clone army and we’re going to send them off to different continents to play Green Day shows for us.
How’s that working out?
TC: We haven’t quite gotten the Mike down yet. He has very complex DNA.
Mike Dirnt: We only have the masks.
I saw the masks! Those are a bit creepy.
MD: I’ve actually heard the masks aren’t quite as creepy as my actual face.
TC: The stuff nightmares are made of.
You got into the subject of Donald Trump at a recent show. I think it’d be really useful if you could say, what is the No. 1 reason, in your opinion, that people should not vote for Trump?
BJA: There are so many reasons to not vote for Donald Trump. To me, I feel like he’s a white supremacist and he’s turned the Republican Party into the white supremacist party. That’s the thing that stands out to me right now, on top of many many other things. It’s just scary. He’s a demagogue and he’s sort of a neo-fascist; he’s got neo-fascist media behind him. Hopefully, everyone will get out and vote and we’ll never see the likes of someone like that for a long, long time.
The single “Bang Bang” shot to the top of the charts in record time for the band. No. 1 for the fifth week in a row.
BJA: Wow, that’s awesome! Thanks for the news. [laughs]
You guys have been around for over a quarter of a century. Is chart success still as sweet? Does it get old?
BJA: I love radio. There’s something very old fashioned about it. It’s kind of like when we find out that were No. 1. You know that scene in That Thing You Do when they hear their song on the radio for the first time and they’re all running to the television store to turn it on, and they’re all like — that’s really what it feels like in a lot of ways. You get to hear what you made and it’s just, through radio airwaves. It’s a great feeling.
“Still Breathing” is a very powerful song. What can you tell us about it musically and lyrically?
BJA: Lyrically, I think the song is about survival. I think the whole record is in a lot of ways. That’s the underlying theme. I think “Still Breathing” brings that out. I think it’s the one of the most catchiest songs we’ve ever written. It’s really powerful and we tried to make it powerful in the production also.
What’s one song on Revolution Radio that you really wish fans would just sit in front of a computer, google the lyrics and really take them in because of the message?
BJA: My favorite song right now is “Forever Now.” It’s sort of an epic ride, sort of like a suite. It has a lot of — some of the most honest lyrics I’ve ever written. The first line is “My name is Billie and I’m freaking out,” [laughs] and then it just goes from there, but it gets really — it takes a lot of turns musically. The performance is pretty epic and it’s a game changer, nah, I don’t know. I just wanted to say game changer once in this interview. It’s just a ride and it kind of wraps up the record in a nice way.
You recently shot your first lead movie role for Ordinary World. How do you relate to your character Perry Miller and his life and his reality?
BJA: One thing I really related to was that he’s a clumsy parent. My wife is sort of the CEO of the house and I just try to have it together. It’s been on the job training for the last 21 years. So it’s — I just do the best I can and sometimes I fall flat on my face and other times I have the right thing to say at that particular moment. I think the fact that he puts his family first was something I really related to.
Mike, how’s your wife doing?
MD: Oh, my wife is doing much better. She’s coming out on the good side of breast cancer, thank goodness. She’s in remission and nobody in the world wants us on tour and out there doing what all of our families love us doing, more than my wife.
I read this morning that HBO is behind the movie adaptation of American Idiot, congrats. Billie Joe, you’re going to be reprising your role as Saint Jimmy. Mike, Tre, will you be making cameos?
TC: I don’t know.
MD: If they need a good bartender, I’m the guy.
Yet to be determined?
BJA: We have to record the music again, because the cast will be singing it. So we’re gonna have our hands full for sure.
There’s no timeline for that?
BJA: Not sure. Going through one little rewrite right now and we’ll go from there.
The first incarnation of the band started 30 years ago. Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to your 14-year-old selves?
BJA: I couldn’t give advice to a kid that’s starting a band. The main thing is, just stay true to who you are and keep doing what you’re doing and it’ll all come out.
MD: I would say cut your hair sooner. [laughs]
BJA: Buy strings.
MD: Don’t grow your hair as long as you think you should.
Would you ever consider having your son open for Green Day, one of your sons?
BJA: Maybe. I think it’d be fun if they — we’ll see. The thought has definitely crossed my mind.
Rock music is pretty unique in that if you look at the rock charts right now, it’s Green Day, Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, kind of what we would have seen on the charts 20 years ago. You don’t really see that in pop. What do you attribute that to?
BJA: I could attribute that to maybe record companies not taking particular chances on good rock music for young bands. Or it could be it’s just the way people get their music. There’s different charts for everything and there is a lot of great underground music out there for people to hear. It’s just a matter of how you find it and it’s not really on the charts, per se.
Speaking of changes, you’ve seen a lot throughout you career. What would you say was the hardest change to adapt to, or get used to?
BJA: Honestly, the hardest changes for me was when MTV stopped playing music videos. That was bizarre. For some reason, I thought, “Okay, they’re going to go back to playing videos again”. That was weird to watch. I used to watch MTV, or flip through it almost every time I’d turn on the TV and now it’s not even on my radar anymore. It’s all reality TV.
You’ve sold over 75 million records worldwide, five Grammy awards, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Is there a milestone that you hope to one day achieve that you have not done yet?
BJA: For Green Day, the sky’s the limit. [laughs] There’s no real goal that I have in mind. The goal is to have fun doing what we’re doing and play new interesting places and go on tour in places that we haven’t been before or have been to in a long time.
MD: The other goal is to always put out a great record. That’s what makes it all worth it too, with Revolution Radio we’re ready to tour because we just feel like — when we finished this record, we all looked at each other and said well, we should be really proud of this. It’s time to share it with the world.
What are you most proud of?
BJA: Longevity is the thing I’m most proud of with the band. We all still have our heart in doing what we’re doing.
Thanks to Green Day for the interview. Pick up your copy of ‘Revolution Radio’ at Amazon or digitally through iTunes. Catch the punk icons on tour with Against Me! next year with a list of dates found here and don’t forget to catch Toni Gonzalez on ‘Loudwire Nights,’ airing Monday through Friday from 7PM to midnight. To see a listing of stations that air ‘Loudwire Nights,’ click here.
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