| Biography - Green Day|
|Green Day is an American rock band consisting of three core members: Billie Joe Armstrong (guitar, lead vocals), Mike Dirnt (bass) and Tré Cool (drums).|
Green Day were originally part of the punk rock scene at 924 Gilman Street in Berkeley, California. Their early releases for independent label Lookout! Records earned them a grassroots fanbase, some of whom felt alienated when the band signed to a major label. Nevertheless, their major label debut Dookie became a breakout success in 1994 and eventually sold 15 million copies worldwide. As a result, Green Day was widely credited, along with fellow California punk bands The Offspring and Rancid, with reviving mainstream interest in and popularizing punk music in the United States. Green Day's immediate follow-up albums didn't achieve the massive success of Dookie, but they were still successful. Their 2004 "punk rock opera" American Idiot reignited the band's popularity, selling 10 million copies worldwide.
The band has sold over 50 million records worldwide, Their success has influenced prominent pop punk bands such as Sum 41 and Good Charlotte. Green Day currently have three Grammy Awards under their belt for Best Alternative Album for Dookie, Best Rock Album for American Idiot, and Record of the Year for "Boulevard of Broken Dreams".
Formation and Lookout years (1986–1993)In 1986, childhood friends Billie Joe Armstrong and Mike Dirnt (both 14 years old) formed the two person band Sweet Children. The first Sweet Children show took place on October 17, 1989, at Rod's Hickory Pit in Vallejo, California where Armstrong's mother was working. In late 1989, Armstrong, Dirnt and John Kiffmeyer (aka Al Sobrante) formed Green Day, allegedly choosing the name after a marijuana reference. Green Day performed its first show in the courtyard of Contra Costa College, a junior college in San Pablo, California that Sobrante attended.
Larry Livermore, who played guitar for The Lookouts and ran the Berkeley, California independent label Lookout! Records, offered the band a record deal after hearing them play. The band, he said, played the show like "The Beatles at Shea Stadium" In late 1989 they released their first EP, 1,000 Hours, and quickly followed it up with their first LP, 39/Smooth in early 1990
Green Day printed a fictional letter purporting to be from I.R.S. Records that claimed the label had made an attempt to sign them. In a mock reply to the fictional letter, the band made it clear that they were loyal to Lookout! Records, saying that I.R.S. was a cheesy and washed-up label. They recorded two more EPs later that year: Slappy and Sweet Children, the latter of which included some older songs for the Minneapolis, Minnesota indie label Skene! Records. In 1991, Lookout! Records released 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours, a compilation of the 39/Smooth, Slappy, and 1,000 Hours EPs. In late 1990, shortly after the band's first nationwide tour, Sobrante moved to Arcata, California to attend college. Lookouts drummer Tré Cool began filling in as a temporary replacement, and when it became clear that Sobrante did not plan on committing to the band full time, Tré Cool's position as Green Day's drummer became a Jerky Boy. The band went on tour for most of 1992 and 1993, and played a stretch of shows overseas in Europe. They headlined a gig at the Hollywood Palamino club in 1992 with Jughead's Revenge and Strung Out, a show that would become legendary among the band's following. Kerplunk sold about 50,000 copies in the U.S., which was considered quite a large amount for the independent punk scene in 1992. It eventually sold over 2 million albums worldwide.
 Breakthrough success (1994–1996)Kerplunk!'s underground success led to a wave of interest coming from major record labels, and eventually they left Lookout! on friendly terms and signed with Reprise Records after attracting the attention of producer Rob Cavallo. Signing to Reprise caused many punk rock fans to regard Green Day as sellouts. Reflecting on the period, Armstrong told SPIN magazine in 1999, "I couldn't go back to the punk scene, whether we were the biggest success in the world or the biggest failure ... The only thing I could do was get on my bike and go forward." They then went to work on recording their major label debut, Dookie.
Released in February of 1994, and recorded in a mere 3 weeks, Dookie became a commercial sensation, helped by extensive MTV airplay for the videos "Longview", "Basket Case", and "When I Come Around", all of which sat in the #1 position on the Modern Rock Tracks charts. That year, Green Day embarked on a nationwide tour with queercore band Pansy Division as their opening act. The band also joined the lineups of both the Lollapalooza festival and Woodstock 1994, where they started an infamous mud fight. During the concert, a security guard mistook bassist Mike Dirnt for a stage-invading fan and punched out some of his teeth. Viewed by millions via pay-per-view television, the Woodstock 1994 performance further aided Green Day's growing publicity and recognition, and helped push their album to eventual diamond status. In 1995, Dookie won the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Album and the band was nominated for 9 MTV Video Music Awards including Video of the Year.
In 1995, a new single for the Angus soundtrack was released, titled "J.A.R.". The single went straight to #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. The song was followed by their new album, Insomniac, which was released in the fall of 1995. Insomniac was a much darker response by the band, compared to the poppy, more melodic Dookie. Insomniac opened to a warm critical reception, earning 4 out of 5 stars from Rolling Stone Magazine, raving "In punk, the good stuff actually unfolds and gains meaning as you listen without sacrificing any of its electric, haywire immediacy. And Green Day are as good as this stuff gets."Insomniac used a piece of art by Winston Smith entitled God told Me To Skin You Alive for its album cover. Smith said to drummer Tré Cool that if he ever needed album artwork, that he should call him. Singles released from Insomniac were "Geek Stink Breath", the radio-favorite double single "Brain Stew/Jaded", "Walking Contradiction", and "Stuck With Me". One track, "86," was a reference to the Gilman Street club refusing them entry after the release of Dookie, claiming that they had "gone too commercial." Though the album didn't approach the success of Dookie, it still sold seven million copies in the United States. Insomniac won the band award nominations for Favorite Artist, Favorite Hard Rock Artist, and Favorite Alternative Artist at the 1996 American Music Awards, and the video for "Walking Contradiction" got the band a Grammy nomination for Best Video, Short Form, in addition to a Best Special Effects nomination at the MTV Video Music Awards. After that, the band abruptly cancelled a European tour, claiming exhaustion.
 Nimrod and Warning: (1997–2003)
After taking a break in 1996, Green Day began work on a new album in 1997. From the outset, both the band and Cavallo agreed that the album had to be different from their previous records. The result was nimrod., an experimental deviation from the band's standard pop-punk brand of music. The new album was released in October 1997. It provided a variety of music, with everything from upbeat pop-punk, laid-back surfer rock, and peppy, silly ska, to an acoustic ballad. nimrod. entered the charts at number 10, thanks to the surprise hit "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)", an acoustic ballad that singer Billie Joe almost did not place on the album for fear of it being too different from the band's usual style. The success of "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)" won the band an MTV Video Award for Best Alternative Video for the song's video, which depicted people undergoing major changes in their lives while Billie Joe Armstrong strummed his acoustic guitar. Other singles released from nimrod. were Nice Guys Finish Last, Hitchin' a Ride and Redundant. Nimrod. also featured one of the band's live staples, "King for a Day", which, when played live, is accompanied by Billie Joe wearing a crown and/or cape. After the release of nimrod., Green Day took a two-year break, deciding to step back from the spotlight and spend some time with their new families.
In 2000, Green Day released Warning:, a step further in the style that they had hinted at with nimrod. Changes in their personal lives were reflected in the more mature and straightforward approach they took to their music, replacing nearly adolescent mantras of masturbation with more introspective statements. Critics' reviews of the album were fairly positive, although the album was greeted with mixed reviews within their fan base, who had grown accustomed to their 1990s pop punk sound. Though it produced the hit "Minority" and a smaller hit with "Warning", some observers were coming to the conclusion that the band was losing relevance, and a decline in popularity followed. While all of Green Day's past albums had reached a status of at least double platinum, Warning: was only certified gold. Although the band felt this was some of their strongest work to date, the decline of sales fueled questions regarding the band's future.
At the 2001 California Music Awards, Green Day won all eight awards that they were nominated for. They won the awards for Outstanding Album (Warning:), Outstanding Punk Rock/Ska Album (Warning:), Outstanding Group, Outstanding Male Vocalist, Outstanding Bassist, Outstanding Drummer, Outstanding Songwriter and Outstanding Artist.
The release of a Greatest Hits compilation, International Superhits!, and the token complementary assemblage of B-sides, Shenanigans, only fueled the theory that Green Day's career was on the rocks. International Superhits and its companion collection of music videos, titled International Supervideos! sold reasonably well, going platinum in the U.S. Shenanigans sported the band's b-sides, including "Espionage" which was featured in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. "Ha Ha You're Dead", recorded specifically for Shenanigans, is seen as the highlight of the album.
In 2002, Green Day co-headlined the Pop Disaster Tour with blink-182 helped to resurrect some of the band's popularity, and earned the group many positive concert reviews. The band decided to take some more time off after the Pop Disaster Tour closed, to spend time with their families.
 American Idiot and renewed popularity (2004–present)
In the summer of 2003 the band went into a studio to write and record new material for a new album, tentatively titled Cigarettes and Valentines. After completing 20 tracks, the master tapes were stolen from the studio. The band, understandably upset, chose not to try to re-create the stolen album (Armstrong feared that it would take their fan base "back to about 50"), but instead started over with a vow to be even better than before. In addition, they underwent serious "band therapy," engaging in several long talks to work out the members' differences after accusations from Dirnt and Cool that Armstrong was "the band's Nazi" and a show-off bent on taking the limelight from the other band members.
The resulting 2004 album, American Idiot, debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts, the band's first ever album to reach #1, backed by the success of the album's first single, "American Idiot." The album was billed as a "punk rock opera" which follows the journey of the fictitious "Jesus Of Suburbia". Also the album marked a significant growth in the band as musicians. American Idiot won the 2005 Grammy for "Best Rock Album" and the band swept the 2005 MTV music awards, winning a total of seven of the eight awards they were nominated for, including the coveted Viewer's Choice Award.[22
Through 2005, the band toured in support of the album with about 150 dates — their longest tour in their career — visiting Japan, Australia, South America and England, where they drew a crowd of 130,000 people over a span of two days - one of the largest crowds ever drawn for a rock concert. While touring for American Idiot, they filmed and recorded the two concerts at the Milton Keynes National Bowl in England, which was voted 'The Best Show On Earth' in a Kerrang! Magazine Poll. These recordings were released as a live CD and DVD called Bullet in a Bible on November 15, 2005. This CD/DVD featured hits from American Idiot as well as a few songs from all their previous albums, except "Kerplunk!" and "1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours". The DVD featured behind-the-scenes footage of the band, and showed how the band prepared to put on the show. The final shows of their 2005 world tour were in Sydney, Australia, and Melbourne, Australia, on December 14 and 17 respectively. On January 10, 2006 the band was awarded with a People's Choice Award for favorite group.
On August 1, 2005, it was announced that Green Day had rescinded the master rights to their pre-Dookie material from Lookout! Records, citing breach of contract regarding unpaid royalties that had been ongoing for some time, and with other Lookout! bands as well. The pre-Dookie material was reissued by their label, Reprise, on January 9, 2007.
In 2006 Green Day won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year for "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" which spent 16 weeks at the number one position of Billboard's Modern Rock Tracks, a record it shares along with Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Scar Tissue" and Staind's "It's Been Awhile". Green Day was also nominated for Best Rock Video for "Wake Me Up When September Ends" at the 2006 MTV Video Music awards, but lost to AFI's "Miss Murder". Both the music videos "Wake Me Up When September Ends", "Boulevard Of Broken Dreams" retired showing on TRL after being on the top ten for 50 days each.
In September 2006, Green Day teamed up with U2 and producer Rick Rubin to record a cover of the song "The Saints Are Coming" with an accompanying video, originally recorded by The Skids. The song is to benefit Music Rising, an organization to help raise money for musicians' instruments lost during Hurricane Katrina, and to bring awareness on the eve of the one year anniversary of the disaster.
 Future plans
The video of Jesus of Suburbia is stated to be a prequel to their upcoming film, American Idiot: The Motion Picture. In an interview with Billboard magazine, Billie Joe Armstrong revealed that the group are still considering turning their punk rock opera into a film, in much the same spirit as the Beatles' Yellow Submarine, Pink Floyd's The Wall and the Who's Tommy and Quadrophenia. The band has stated they have no intentions to act in the movie, although they may make an appearance. Lou Taylor Pucci and Kelli Garner from the "Jesus of Suburbia" music video could make an appearance if the motion picture does go into production. Frontman Billie Joe Armstrong has said "It's definitely unfolding. Every single week there's more ideas about doing a film for American Idiot, and it's definitely going to happen." However, the movie has recently been pushed to the back burner, while the band works on their latest album.
The band's official website stated on September 2 that the band was back from their "summer vacation" and was back in the studio working on new material. A recent edition of NME has an interview with Green Day discussing future plans. The band said they have three albums' worth of material, all different types of music. The first is another American Idiot-style album, the second experimental type music (such as The Clash's Sandinista!), and the third, hard and fast punk music, much like their Insomniac album. Recently, in an interview with Kerrang!, Billie Joe Armstrong revealed that it will be a "fair estimation" that the new album will be released in 2008.
Green Day's sound is often compared to first wave punk rock bands such as the Ramones, The Clash, and the Buzzcocks. The majority of their song catalog is composed of distorted guitar, fast, manic drums, and low, heavy bass. Most of their songs are fast-paced and under the average song length of four minutes (4:00). Billie Joe Armstrong has however said his biggest influences are seminal alternative rock bands Hüsker Dü and The Replacements, and that their influence is particularly noted in the band's chord changes in songs. In fact, Green Day has covered Hüsker Dü's "Don't Want to Know If You Are Lonely" as a b-side for the song "Warning", and the character "Mr. Whirly" in the song "Misery" is a reference to the Replacements song of the same name. Armstrong's lyrics describe alienation, ("Jesus of Suburbia", "Boulevard of Broken Dreams", "Reject"), hysteria ("Basket Case", "Panic Song"), girls ("She", "80"), the effects of doing drugs ("Geek Stink Breath", "Green Day") ; The Ramones had similar lyrical themes, like hysteria ("Anxiety", "Psycho Therapy"), alienation ("Outsider", "Something To Believe In"), girls ("I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend", "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker"), and drugs ("Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue", "Chinese Rocks"). Green Day covered their song Outsider on the tribute album We're a Happy Family and they have also covered the Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop." Green Day's style also closely resembles that of other bands based around the 924 Gilman Street scene in the late 1980s and early 1990s, such as Crimpshrine, Screeching Weasel, and The Mr. T Experience. They also plan on touring with a new band called Not Quite Sci-Fi.
 Criticism and controversy
Beginning with the release of Dookie, and the subsequent explosion of MTV Airplay it received, Green Day has received considerable criticism from those who prefer to see the punk genre as a social movement independent of corporate sponsorship. With the release of American Idiot and the subsequent draw of many new fans, much of this criticism has been revived.
Green Day were banned from 924 Gilman Street for a time, because they left Lookout! Records to sign with major label Reprise. However, in recent years the ban has been lifted, as Green Day performed a surprise show at the venue in 2003.
One of the more contentious issues is genre labeling. In reaction to both the style of music and the background of the band, many fans and musicians have taken heavy objection to the usage of the term "punk" when applied to Green Day. This is evidenced by the following comments issued by John Lydon, former front man of both the 70s punk band the Sex Pistols and 80s post-punk act, Public Image Ltd.:
“ So there we are fending off all that and it pisses me off that years later a wank outfit like Green Day hop in and nick all that and attach it to themselves. They didn't earn their wings to do that and if they were true punk they wouldn't look anything like they do. ”
Steve Diggle of the Buzzcocks commented on the band after meeting them: "I didn't have a clue who they were. And they're not punks."
Brandon Flowers of The Killers has recently gone on record claiming that Green Day's politically driven concept album American Idiot displays "calculated Anti-Americanism." He explained that he has problems with the album content itself and also the fact that the band's recent live DVD, Bullet in a Bible, was filmed overseas. The taping of the concert, featured on Bullet in a Bible, shows thousands of Europeans singing along to "American Idiot." Stating that he felt Green Day's DVD is a bit of a stunt, he said, "I just thought it was really cheap. To go to a place like England or Germany and sing that song - those kids aren't taking it the same way that he meant it. And he [Billie Joe Armstrong] knew it."
Paul McPike, a grocery store clerk, recently filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Green Day claiming that he wrote the song "American Idiot" almost 15 years ago. He alleges that he performed the song at a high school and a recording of the song made it into the hands of Green Day. McPike is currently seeking a share of the album's profits. U.S. Magistrate Judge John Cooney attempted to dismiss the case in early November 2006, but it is expected that McPike will file an amended lawsuit, with additional evidence (at the first hearing, his only evidence was a copy of the "American Idiot" CD: This is not the first time McPike has filed a lawsuit against a band, as he also claimed blink-182 stole his song "Feeling This". This case was again dismissed.
More recently, Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher has criticized the song "Boulevard Of Broken Dreams" for ripping off his own song "Wonderwall". Gallagher stated, "If you listen, you'll find it is exactly the same arrangement as Wonderwall. They should have the decency to wait until I am dead (before stealing my songs). I, at least, pay the people I steal from that courtesy. They consider themselves to be - and I quote - 'a kick-arse rock 'n' roll band'. They could not be less kick-arse if they tried." Gallagher's reaction may have partly been due to the emergence of Boulevard of Broken Songs, a popular mash-up mixed by San Francisco, California, DJ and producer Party Ben in late 2004. The mix consisted of elements from "Boulevard of Broken Dreams", "Wonderwall", Travis' "Writing to Reach You" and Eminem's "Sing for the Moment".
 Related projects
Main article: Green Day related projects
Ever since 1991, some members of the band have branched out past Green Day and have started other projects with other musicians. Notable related projects of Green Day include Billie Joe Armstrong's Pinhead Gunpowder (which also features Green Day's live backup guitarist Jason White), The Frustrators in which Mike Dirnt plays bass, and The Network which many speculate has all three members of Green Day although under stage names.
Other projects include American Idiot: The Motion Picture, their charity collabortation with U2 (The Saints Are Coming) to help raise money for musical instruments lost in Hurricane Katrina, and teaming with the Natural Resources Defense Council for the "Move America Beyond Oil" campaign and other environmental concerns.
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