HOLLYWOOD — It's been a big year for Jesus.
Mel Gibson made a fortune at the box office with "The Passion of the Christ," Kanye West has huge plans for his single "Jesus Walks" (see "Kanye West's Videos: 'Jesus Walks' ... And Walks ... And Walks"), and now Green Day have recorded a concept album about their own Jesus character.
"The record has a story line throughout it that follows a character by the name of Jesus of Suburbia," singer Billie Joe Armstrong said Wednesday during a break from rehearsal. "It's [about] him coming of age and the growing pains that are involved in it and seeing if he makes the right choices or the wrong choices or whatever choices that come to him."
American Idiot, due in September, is a rock opera (or "punk opera," if you prefer) in the vein of the Who's Tommy, a 1969 double album about a deaf and blind "Pinball Wizard." The songs run together and some are bundled into acts, including one called "Jesus of Suburbia" (see "Green Day Album Preview: Politics, Dynamics And A Rock Opera").
"There's definitely a resolution for the character, but I don't want to give it away because that's something I sort of want to leave to the listeners," Armstrong said. "The very last song is a song called 'What's Her Name?,' and before that there's a 10-minute piece called 'Homecoming,' and somewhere along the line you'll find out where it goes."
Along with being ambitious creatively, American Idiot also finds Green Day getting more political than ever.
"I developed the character from personal experiences [over the years], but it's definitely set to the political and cultural climate that's going on right now," Armstrong said. "I am antiwar, so a lot of it has to do with that, and there's also different sides of it too. There's one line that sort of messes with the liberals a little, too, where it says, 'Hear the drum pounding out of time/ Another protester crosses the line/ To find the money's on the other side.' "
Despite the riskiness of the album, Green Day said they have no worries about the reactions it will get from fans.
"I think we're just ready to get out there and scream really loud," Armstrong said.
"It's gonna be so fun to play it live," added drummer Tre Cool.
"What we like to do is, in certain situations, like in a few theaters, we'll play everything from the new album [linearly]," Armstrong said. "And then just play our set, which is all of the songs from all of our other albums. I'm excited about the diversity we'll be able to pull off live."
A fall tour itinerary will be announced later this summer.