Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong lets it be known that “this is definitely the only interview I’m gonna do” about his battles with substance abuse in a new Rolling Stone cover story, and he certainly made it count.
In the new issue on newsstands Friday (March 1), Armstrong opens up about his battles with prescription drugs and alcohol — the former he took for “anxiety and sleep,” the latter he’s been struggling with since at least 1997, when Green Day released Nimrod — and the night where everything came to a head: September 21, when, after a day spent popping pills and drinking, he melted down during Green Day’s set at the iHeart Radio festival in Las Vegas.
“The thing in Vegas, some people love it, some people hate it. I know I’m not gonna relive that. That’s a side of me I don’t want my fans to ever see again,” he said. “I blacked out. I remember tiny things, getting to the venue, being backstage, trying to shake the buzz off … People will remind me a little bit [about it now]. Or I’ll see a photograph. It makes me so sick. What I said or did, that’s not what really bothers me. It’s the fact that it wasn’t me. I’m not that person. I don’t want to be like that.”
Armstrong entered rehab following the gig, and tells Rolling Stone that, while in treatment, he worked on his addictions using “meditation through prayer.” During that period, he had only “semi contact” with his bandmates — “Tre was scared. Mike was f—ing pissed,” he said — though part of his recovery involved coming to terms with just how his battles with substances had come to affect not just his Green Day mates, but his wife Adrienne, too.
“I’m sure that crossed her mind, that if I didn’t get sober I could potentially lose all of that stuff,” he said. “I could have lost the band too. I didn’t realize how destructive I was. I thought everybody was in on the joke. But I was the joke.”
And with Green Day poised to return to the road, Armstrong said he’s still nervous about how he’ll handle his newfound sobriety — “I’m not sure I’m ready,” he said. “There is still the obsession with alcohol” — but he’s determined to push on, and excited to begin the next phase of his career … on his terms.
“I never want to be the guy who talks about addiction,” he said. “The last thing I want is sympathy from anybody. I don’t want a pity party.”
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