HOLLYWOOD — "Welcome to the new kind of tension," Billie Joe Armstrong sings on Green Day's latest single, "American Idiot." And welcome to the new Green Day.
On the title track of the band's upcoming album, American Idiot, Armstrong goes where no Green Day song has gone before and makes a strikingly bold statement about his homeland.
"Can you hear the sound of hysteria/ The subliminal mindf--- America," he asks at the top of the track, later singing, "Maybe I am the f----t America/ I'm not a part of a redneck agenda."
" 'American Idiot' is just about the confusion in what's going on today, whether it's the non-reality of reality television or what you see on CNN," Armstrong explained recently. "It's about what kind of fears are being imposed on me as a watcher of all this stuff, and just feeling completely confused and alienated."
Green Day's signature infectious guitar hooks are still there, but the tune has more of an alarming tone, thanks to Tre Cool's rolling drums.
As the opening salvo on the album, "American Idiot" starts a story that is continued from song to song (see "Jesus Of Suburbia Is The Star Of Green Day's Punk Opera"). "It really sets the stage for the journey that our character [in the album's story] is going on," bassist Mike Dirnt said.
Although the character is not exactly modeled after Billie Joe, the singer took the title from his own past (and no, it's not a knock on "American Idol").
"It's part of my self-deprecating sense of humor," he explained. "Years ago I had this T-shirt I would wear and I wrote 'idiot' and pointed an arrow right up to my face. Idiot — it's just a great word."
Green Day recently shot a video for the song, but details are being kept under wraps. American Idiot, the band's first studio album in four years, is due September 21.