Green Day are still on their slash and burn tour of Scandinavia and Western
Europe until September 22, insulting and gobbing on our neighbors overseas,
as they sullenly promote their new album, Insomniac,
due out on October 10 . They
talked to that unflappable music publication NMEabout the
punking of America (a myth) and Pampers. (Billie Joe Armstrong and Tre Cool
have become fathers this past year and claim to share child-rearing tips.)
The band has recently been approached to perform on Sesame
Street--something they turned down because in their words, "we couldn't
handle a moshpit full of five-year-olds." They also have been approached to
do a Molson beer ad, but they were less genteel when they turned it down.
According to Armstrong they told Molson reps to "go fuck yourselves." They
are apparently very into
rejecting the mainstream culture--something they've been accused lately of
being a part of. They also purport not to be part of the punk rock
movement. "I don't even know what it means anymore," said Armstrong. "I'm
them but Offspring are not a punk band, they're a rock band. Green
Day are not a punk rock band. There's no such thing as the
mainstreaming of punk rock--the whole idea is ridiculous. It seems like a lot
of people expect me to act like Mick Jagger now."
Although he's no Mick Jagger, Armstrong does admit that fame has changed him.
"Fame does change you," he said. "I'm a whole lot more neurotic than I've
before . I didn't even know what a panic attack was until last year...See
when you come into wealth and notoriety, there are certain problems you
don't have to worry about ever again. But there's also a whole set you
never dreamed you'd have to deal with. There's been so many times when I
thought I'd gone completely insane. I got to the point where I thought I
couldn't trust anybody."
Two of those people were Green Day managers, Eliot Cahn and Jeff Saltzman,
whom the band split from two months ago--four years before their contract
with the management company was due to expire. According to Armstrong, "We
were going in one direction, they were going in another. There's no legal
dispute (apparently the little legal paper Cahn and Saltzman filed with
Alameda County Superior Court on August 29 demanding nearly two hundred
thousand dollars in commissions in addition to twenty percent of all the
royalties from Dookie is no big deal). There was no big fall out.
They weren't trying to get us to do anything we didn't want to. It's just
that no one on this earth knows what's best for us better than we do."
As for the new album, Green Day doesn't anticipate
that it will do as well Dookie, which has sold over nine million
copies to date. Bassist Mike Dirnt
said, "We're hoping to scare a few people off with this. I swear to God I
wouldn't mind cutting it down to one quarter of the audience we have."
Armstrong echoes the sentiment. "I certainly don't expect this record to
sell even one quarter as much as Dookie and I'm not going to kill
getting people to like it."
Insomniac has a more psychotic, suicidal edge according to
Armstrong. "It's bleak, the lyrics are depressing. There's a lot of reality.
Catch 22 reality." He claims that "No Pride" is anti-American tirade
against nationalism, while "Brat" is about kids waiting for their parents
to die, so they can inherit. "Walking Contradiction" is a thinly veiled
whine about the pressures of punk rock fame. It's apparently a
rather damaged sounding record, with "violins, slow songs, ..and a little