Green Day, Childhood friends Mike Dirnt and Billie Joe Armstrong,
playing their instruments since they were 11 at the local Gilman
Street Project club, stated a band called Sweet Children in
1987 with a drummer named Al Sobrante(John Kiffmeyer). They
changed their name to Green Day (their lingo for hanging out
and smoking marijuana). Their drummer was eventually replaced
by Tre Cool.
Throughout the early '90s, Green Day became very popular with
the album "Kerplunk" in 1992. After the success of
"Kerplunk", Green Day was signed by Reprise Records.
Their first major album release was "Dookie". The
success of "Dookie" won them a Grammy in 1994. They
expanded there horizons from hard alternative rock to just an
acoustic song called "Time Of Your Life" off the album
"Nimrod" in 1996.
The Berklee School of Music, the famed conservatory
in Boston, has helped launch the careers of such notable musicians
as Quincy Jones, Branford Marsalis and Paula Cole. On the west
coast, there's another Berkeley "school" of music
-- Berkeley, California, that is, on whose streets the members
of Green Day got their less than formal training. Like countless
scruffy unknowns, this trio - Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt
and Tre Cool - got their start in that liberal college town,
playing for free at the punk clubs on Gilman Street. Unlike
most of those young hopefuls in the East Bay scene, somehow
these three became punk rock's most remarkable -- and to some,
most unlikely -- success story. They not only gave immaturity
a good name, they sold more than 10 million albums and won a
Grammy Award in the process. Think of Green Day as the harbingers
of a radically revamped California sound: the Beach Boys of
"couch surfing." Armstrong and Dirnt were both born
in Rodeo, California, in 1972 and they have been friends since
age 10. At age 14, they put together their first band, Sweet
Children, which started gigging at the all-ages clubs on Gilman
Street. As Green Day, they recorded their first EP, 1,000 Hours,
in two days when they were 17 and seniors in high school. Soon,
Dirnt graduated, Armstrong dropped out and they started squatting
in Oakland, California. Their debut album, with drummer Al Sobrante
(real name: Jon Kiffmeyer), was released in 1990 by local indie
label Lookout!. When Sobrante left, Dirnt and Armstrong found
a friend in arms in Tre Cool (born Edwin Wright III), who had
been playing drums with the Lookouts since age 12. (Tre, who
grew up near Mendicino, was also a neighbor of Lookout! Records
founder Lawrence Livermore.) Cool made his Green Day debut on
the band's second album, Kerplunk.
Green Day built its following the old-fashioned
way -- they earned it. Before they even hooked up with a major
label, the band had already completed five national tours, driving
their renovated bookmobile coast to coast and crashing on friends'
and fan's floors. Pandemonium struck when their Reprise debut,
Dookie, was released and Green Day introduced an ever-expanding
audience to the energy and insanity of punk rock. With the 14
loud'n'fast tunes of Dookie clocking in at only 39 minutes,
1993 suddenly sounded more like 1977. Soon, Green Day's songs
about picking scabs, pyromania and masturbation had become unofficial
national anthems. Green Day was singing about its own distinct
form of malcontent, but it seemed there was a world of followers
who felt their pain and wanted to laugh --and mosh -- along
with it. Immaturity was cool again. Dookie went on to sell more
than 10 million copies in the U.S. alone, and Green Day won
a Grammy in 1994 for "Best Alternative Music Performance."
Of course, this led some of the gang back on Gilman Street to
cry "sell-out" and "mainstream," but one
listen to Green Day and you'd know this wasn't some watered-
down white-bread punk designed to impress your parents.
On their next album, Insomniac, and especially
on their latest, Nimrod, Green Day has managed to stay true
to the punk attitude while proving they're not just one-trick
ponies or even three-chord monkeys. On Nimrod, note the surf-style
instrumental, "Last Ride," and the string section
of "Good Riddance," which was featured prominently
on an episode of ER and the final installment of Seinfield.
The members of Green Day, who got married and had kids, have
obviously matured -- at least a little bit. But Billie Joe and
the boys aren't aging too gracefully. Sometimes they can still
be wonderfully cranky and crass: "The wife's a nag and
the kid's f**king up/I don't have sex cause I can't get it up,"
Armstrong sings in "The Grouch."
Green Day didn't reinvent anything, but they
did reintroduce both the anger and the exuberance, as well as
the off-the-wall humor, of punk into the popular conciousness
- paving the way for other in-your-face acts like the Offspring
and Rancid. While Dookie in and of itself became the soundtrack
for a new generation of the young and the restless, Green Day
has also proved it has staying power beyond such a career- defining
commercial success. The band members asked the musical question,
"Do you have the time to listen to me whine?" and
we still answer with a resounding yes.
Green Day was part of the California punk scene.
Childhood friends Billie Joe Armstrong (guitar, vocals) and
Mike Dirnt (bass; born Mike Pritchard) formed their first band,
Sweet Children, in Rodeo, California when they were 14 years
old. By 1989, the group had added drummer Al Sobrante and changed
their name to Green Day. That year, the band independently released
their first EP, 1,000 Hours, which was well-received in the
punk scene. Soon, the group had signed a contract with the local
independent label, Lookout! Records. 39/Smooth, Green Day's
first album, was released later that year. Shortly after its
release, the band replaced Kiftmeyer with Tre Cool (born Frank
Edwin Wright, III); Tre Cool became the band's permanent drummer.
Throughout the early '90s, Green Day continued to cultivate
a cult following, which only gained strength with the release
of their second album, 1992's Kerplunk. The underground success
of Kerplunk led to a wave of interest from major record labels;
the band eventually decided to sign with Reprise. Dookie, Green
Day's major label debut, was released in the spring of 1994.
Thanks to MTV support for the initial single "Longview,"
Dookie became a major hit. The album continued to gain momentum
throughout the summer, with the second single "Basket Case"
spending five weeks on the top of the American modern rock charts.
At the end of the summer, the band stole the show at Woodstock
'94, which helped the sales of Dookie increase. By the time
the fourth single "When I Come Around" began its seven-week
stay at number one in the modern rock charts in early 1995,
Dookie had sold over five million copies in the US alone; it
would eventually top eight million in America, selling over
eleven million copies internationally. Dookie also won the 1994
Grammy for Best Alternative Music Performance.
Green Day quickly followed Dookie with Insomniac
in the fall of 1995; during the summer, they hit number one
again on the modern rock charts with "J.A.R.," their
contribution to the Angus soundtrack. Insomniac performed well
initially, entering the US charts at number two, and selling
over two million copies by the spring of 1996, yet none of its
singles -- including the radio favorite "Brain Stew/Jaded"
-- were as popular as those from Dookie. In the spring of 1996,
Green Day abruptly cancelled a European tour, claiming exhaustion.
Following the cancellation, the band spent the rest of the year
resting and writing new material. The end result is what is
called by many, the best album of their career, Nimrod.
Nimrod was well recieved by most critics and fans.
The album sold 80,000 copies in it's first week to land at #10
on the Billboard charts. The first single from Nimrod was "Hitchin'
A Ride". The single made it to #5 on the modern rock charts
and was in heavy rotation on MuchMusic and MTV. The next single
the band released would not make it to number one (it's highest
position was #2), but it is now probably the most well known
songs Green Day ever wrote. Featuring Billie Joe on accoustic
guitar and vocals, "Time Of Your Life" became the
song to play in any remotely sad situation. The song was even
used on the last ever episode of the hit TV show Seinfeld (it
was also the most watched finale in the history of TV). Along
with Seinfeld, the song was also played on E.R on two different
shows. Nimrod has sold about two million copies, the lowest
sales total out of their three major label albums, but it probably
garnered the band more respect than they could have expected
with another Dookie or Insomniac. The band also vastly improved
their live show and even one "Best Live Performance"
at the Kerrang awards.
After nearly two years with barely any mention
of the band, Green Day returned in late 1999 to play Neil Young's
"Bridge School Benefit Concert", their first live
accoustic performance. Green Day began recording their follow-up
to "Nimrod" shortly after, which would eventually
become "Warning:". Early in the recording process,
the band decided to fire their new producer, Scott Litt, and
produce the album themselves, marking the first time since "Kerplunk"
that anyone but Rob Cavallo produced the bands recording. After
they finished recording, Green Day decided to do something else
they hadn't done before headline the 2000 Vans Warped Tour.
Green Day played an amazing set and brought more fans to the
tour than any other year in Warped's history (their Toronto
performance alone attracted 7,000 more fans than they had any
"Warning:" was released in the fall
of 2000, and is by far Green Day's most ambitious album to date.
If its first singles, "Minority" and the album's title
track, are any indication, the album could prove to be extremely
successful. Just four weeks after the release of "Minority",
it sat atop Billboard's Modern Rock chart; no other Green Day
song has hit the top that fast. Green Day are currently on tour
supporting their latest album, boasting a monster setlist containing
songs from all six albums.
Billie Joe Armstrong (Lead vocals, guitar)
Born: February 17, 1972
Mike Dirnt (Bass, vocals)
Born:May 4, 1972
Tre Cool (Drums)
Born: December 9, 1972
Real Name: Frank Edwin Wright III