Californian band Green Day hit the bay area music scene like a hammer to a nail in the late eighties. Formed by the love of punk rock, the act signed to Lookout! Records which was an independent record label. After they outgrew the independent brand, they signed to a major label in Reprise records, and this caused a major stir in the scene. People blasted the band for signing on the dotted line, and the hallowed venue where the act played countless shows, shunted them. The venue in question was Gilman Street, a decorated punk house where many bands kick-started their careers and small revolutions.
To this Green Day are still automatically thrusted into hateful conversations. Are they posers? Are they punk? Did they deserve to be granted their rock and roll hall of fame credit and inclusion? Well, in some respects the band should be hailed as legends, as frontrunners. They’ve achieved meteoric success, they’ve managed to claw themselves out of mundane suburbia, and create music which does resonate. Over their 30 year career, the act have also propelled through playing humble venues to stadiums all over the world.
It could be that many people are envious of such success. It might be due to the band’s political standpoint and magnum opus American Idiot which relit the flame. Before the relaunch, before the rapid fire comeback, Green Day’s reputation was dwindling and flaking. The album that came before, Warning, was a lacklustre attempt at trying to restore glory.
On the cusp of greatness again, many fans who purchased and overplayed Green Day’s brilliant 1994 record Dookie turned their backs on the act when American Idiot hit the musical landscape. And that’s a shame as, American Idiot is a statement of intent, a tour de force, and a misunderstood collection of songs. From the blistering pace of Jesus Of Suburbia to the subtleness of Wake Me Up When September Ends, it has those moments when you can cascade into a story fuelled drama.
Success is pivotal for a band and Green Day have been gifted numerous accolades over the years. Why can’t they be respected for their dominance? They became a mainstream band when Dookie was released in the 90s, and they shouldn’t be pushed aside due to the fact they moved up platforms. Yes, hitting the mainstream brings more money, it brings more exposure, but people shouldn’t blast a band for making waves.
Another Californian band The Offspring are signed to a major label. The act led by Dexter Holland, have never come under as much harsh scrutiny as Green Day. They’ve gone about their business, and their most successful album Smash has sold over 10 million units. Dookie racked up millions of sales also as well as American Idiot, but it shows that there are more mainstream acts out there.
It is true that Green Day have altered their sound over the years. When comparing Dookie to American Idiot, there are significant differences. Dookie is rough around the edges, it reeks of punk, and it conveys boredom and loneliness. On the other hand, American Idiot is a polished affair, a political generator. Dissecting those albums isn’t painstaking, but American Idiot is more refined lyrically.
Shooting for glitter and gold shouldn’t be forbidden. Bands should be allowed to evolve. Green Day are the forefathers of such progression. They have changed, they have altered their sound, they’ve outgrew the snotty nosed persona. Many despise development, they see it as selling out. Playing stadiums isn’t cool, sending messages through commercialised music isn’t accepted. But, Green Day still have fire in their bellies. They’re politically charged and want to challenge the status quo. So why not let them??
Written By: Mark Mcconville