The Return of Green Day: A Brief History

It’s been a long time since 1986. 30 years ago, the band we know as Green Day was just a couple of snotty-nosed, misfit high school stoners with a little bit of talent and a lot of ambition. A few years later, the trio, which then consisted of Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, and an older friend named John Kiffmeyer, would go on to release their first full-length studio album, 39/Smooth, setting in young-green-daymotion a musical revolution that would take over their lives for the next thirty years. In August 2016, Green Day announced that a new album was in the works, showing the world that thirty years later, they’re not going anywhere.

Throughout this 30-year span, it almost goes without saying that Green Day has experimented with many styles and tones, not including the side projects which allowed them to delve even deeper into alternative sounds. With Dookie, released in 1994, Green Day was quickly thrust into the public eye with their first platinum-selling album. This was the first time Green Day was ever accused of selling out, but it was certainly not the last. In fact, Dookie actually stuck to its roots remarkably well and remains one of the most defining albums to Green Day’s sound.

After Dookie and their next album, Insomniac – which was similar in style to Dookie but sounded more like its darker, weirder cousin – Green Day went off on a slight tangent of experimentation. Nimrod and Warning were both distinctly Green Day thanks to their often wacky lyrics and recognizable vocals, but the instrumentation was different. Nimrod was a broader reflection of Green Day’s musical influences, including tracks clearly influenced by surf music, ska, and metal. Green Day’s first slow song, as well as their first use of a horn section, were both released on Nimrod. This theme of broadening horizons was continued on Warning, which features many songs with acoustic and folk elements.

A few years later, Green Day came out of hiding with a groundbreaking album that shocked green-daythe world: American Idiot. This album was simultaneously a return to the roots of Kerplunk and Dookie and a bold declaration of something new. American Idiot combined the old ideas of outcast and rebellion with a newfound energy, power, and creative tone. The simple chords were paired with more complex elements and lyrics. It was brilliant: it was a new approach to punk rock and rock n’ roll – and again, Green Day was accused of selling out.

Fast-forward almost a decade, and Green Day surprised the world again in 2012 with the release of a trilogy of albums, cleverly titled Uno, Dos, and Tre, after drummer Tre Cool. The trilogy in itself was unique: a series of albums that would loosely tell a story through music. Each album was similar in style but with variation in tone and subject matter. The trilogy attempted to touch on Green Day’s roots with a few harder songs, but generally had more of a poppy overtone throughout than any past albums (to the dismay of many old-Green Day fans).

So, Green Day has certainly been around the block. They have dabbled in countless genres and incorporated a variety of different sounds and influences into their music, and each of these variations make up the sound we know as “Green Day.” On August 11, 2016, Green Day revealed the newest addition to their musical repertoire: the single “Bang Bang” from the album “Revolution Radio,” scheduled to be released in early October. The track is a refreshing reminder of where Green Day comes from. It starts off with aggressive, fast-
paced instrumentals that are reminiscent of both
American Idiot and Insomniac. The message is familiar; bang-bangsimple lyrics that boast discontent with a touch of violence, sprinkled with political undertones. The bridge, as well as the instrumentation throughout – is in familiar Green Day style, without the pop-driven, stifled feeling of the trilogy. It’s a taste of the old Green Day that never went away completely but perhaps got hidden under the desire to incorporate new elements.

With “Bang Bang” on the table and Revolution Radio soon to follow, I know I speak for much of the Green Day fan base when I say that we are on the edge of our seats. Green Day has come out of hiding without a hint of hesitation, dropping a fiery single and the promise of more. They are still full of the same energy that has always driven the band, and they are writing songs that reflect the same elements we fell in love with years ago. Once again they are playing sold-out shows with many more to come. They are writing, touring, and making music just as they have always done. Green Day is back, proving that we had nothing to worry about: they’re not going anywhere. As Billie Joe puts it, “No one leaves this band unless it’s in a fucking coffin” and we like it that way. Personally, I am proud and impressed by this latest single, and I can’t wait to see (and hear) what else Green Day has in store for us. 

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