Just as the Who turned their classic rock opera Tommy into a movie, Green Day are considering bringing their just-released American Idiot to the big screen.
“We’ve definitely been talking about someone writing a script for it, and there’s been a few different names that have been thrown at us,” singer Billie Joe Armstrong said last week. “It sounds really exciting, but for right now it’s just talk.”
For the Who, who released Tommy in 1969, it took six years to make the movie, which starred singer Roger Daltrey as the title character, a blind, deaf and dumb boy who becomes a world-champion pinball player and cult hero. Fellow musicians Elton John, Eric Clapton and Tina Turner co-starred with Daltrey and the other members of the Who (as well as Jack Nicholson).
“They used musicians, so I guess we’d have to use musicians too,” Armstrong joked. “Maybe we’ll have, you know, Tim Armstrong come out as Whatsername [the central character of the final song] and we’ll get the Madden brothers [Good Charlotte's Benji and Joel] to, I don’t know, play some kind of schizophrenic character or something like that.”
The Who also turned Tommy into a musical, but Green Day aren’t as open to that medium. “There was little bit of a rumor that was going around, but there’s no plans to go to Broadway,” Armstrong said. “I don’t think I could handle seeing St. Jimmy [another character in the album], like …”
“On ice,” drummer Tre Cool finished.
Although the two projects are quite different in scope and sound, Green Day understand why some are calling American Idiot the Tommy for a new generation.
“Well, there’s not a lot of references to what would be considered a rock opera or punk-rock opera or anything like that,” Armstrong said. “On one side of it, there’s the Who, which did Tommy and Quadrophenia, and then there’s the other side of it, which is like …”
“Rocky Horror [Picture Show],” bassist Mike Dirnt offered.
“Yeah, or like Jethro Tull or something like that,” Armstrong continued.
“It’s good to be on the good side,” Dirnt added.
Although it’s not perhaps as spelled out as Tommy, Armstrong insists there’s a complete story in American Idiot (see “Jesus Of Suburbia Is The Star Of Green Day’s Punk Opera” ). A screenwriter, however, would benefit from spending some time with him, he added.
Along with a fictional movie based on the album, which hit stores Tuesday, Green Day are also considering a documentary about the making of the album.
John Roecker, who wrote and directed the animated “Live Freaky! Die Freaky!,” featuring Armstrong, Travis Barker and the Maddens, among others (see “Rancid, Blink-182, Green Day Members Step To The Mic For Charles Manson Movie” ), shot the recording sessions. “There’s a lot of creative hijinks going on in more ways than just playing music,” Armstrong said.
In fact, the drama surrounding the American Idiot recording sessions included the theft of the master tapes for what was originally going to be the album, as well as a fair share of inter-band turmoil. Could this be the next “Metallica: Some Kind of Monster,” the infamous documentary featuring the metal band in $40,000-a-month therapy sessions?
“Nooo … no, no, no,” Armstrong answered. “First of all, we made a good record.”
He paused and then broke out laughing about the slam of St. Anger. “No, there’s no therapy,” he continued.
“I think we just looked outside of ourselves as individuals, too, and kind of did a little bit of work on ourselves,” Dirnt added. “We sat and asked ourselves the hard questions that maybe most couples don’t want to ask themselves.”
“We’re more than a couple, we’re a triple,” Tre Cool added.
Still, there are reservations about releasing the making-of footage.
“I don’t want to back ourselves into a corner, because it seems like such a trend for people to do reality television meets music,” Armstrong said. “And I don’t know, for us it’s about the myth and mystery of a rock band, you know, that’s what [surrounded] all my favorite bands. It’s like, who cares what underwear I wear or if I’m wearing any at all?”
For more on American Idiot, check out the feature “Anatomy of a Punk Opera” and the live report “Total Idiot : Green Day Perform Their Punk Opera In Hollywood.”