GREEN DAY (1994)

As published in Issue #2 of MOO Magazine

Photo: Ken Schles – Time Life Pictures – Getty

The titles of “Punk Crackle Pop” was my idea and I suggested putting the faces of the guys on a Rice Krispies box. I didn’t have any graphic design talent so left it up to one of the MOO Magazine guys.

Wherever they go, it seems the guys in Green Day can’t shake the “Next Nirvana” tag

True, both share a punk background and released material on indie labels before the big major labels snapped them up. True, major label debuts by both bands struck a chord amongst the youth with little pre-release hype; however, the similarities end there

“We’ve been putting out good music, as far as I can see, as long, if not longer, than Nirvana,” bassist Mike Dirnt comments. “The only difference is that we now have major distribution and a lot more press.”

The jump from an indie label (Lookout Records) to a major (Sire/Warner Bros.) hasn’t affected the band’s touring schedule. Just as they did before they were big punk-pop rock superstars, Dirnt, drummer Tre Cool and vocalist/guitarist Billie Joe are spending a large portion of the year performing live.

“We try to stay on the road and play because there is going to be a day when we can’t do it anymore,”‘ Dirnt says. Since the band started touring internationally a few years back, Dirnt estimates that the three band members spend about three months scattered throughout the year at home.

“People have this misconception about us opening for other bands,” says the blond-haired bassist. The only time Green Day hasn’t had top billing was during a theater tour in late ’93 with Bad Religion and Seaweed.

In the winter of 92, the Southern California band played 64 headlining shows in Europe “It was a rad tour because we played 64 different shows on 64 different amps, 64 different drum sets, and dealt with nine different languages,” says Tre. It was awesome. 

A live Green Day show consists of Buzzcock-inspired material culled from all three albums (39/Smooth, Kerplunk, and Dookie) as well as some heavy metal cover tunes thrown in for fun. “We just kinda make fun of people,” the ever-cool drummer says. “Well, you have to learn to play guitar somehow.” Without giving too much away, just think mid-80s Headbangers Ball.

After the group’s initial strong college and alternative chart showing, Green Day was asked to appear on MTV’s 120 Minutes and the Jon Stewart Show (prerequisites for bands these days) and on the barometer of all-that-is-cool-in-alternative-music Late Night with Conan O’Brien.

“Conan O’Brien sucked,” Dirnt confesses. “He came over and shook our hands. That was the extent of it.You met him as much as we did that day.”

“That big guy (O’Brien’s comedic sidekick, Andy Richter) was really cool,” says Tre defending the program. “I was talking to him and shit and he got me that roadkill leprechaun (a St. Patrick’s Day prop).” 

Don’t get the wrong idea about Green Day just because the guys have become unwilling media whores, Dirnt wants everyone to know that Green Day is a band with a history. “A lot of this is new to people,” he says. “We like to make music. Hopefully, we’ll have another 7″ out by the end of the year. This is what we’ve always done, and this is what we do best, so we’re going to keep doing this. If people are with us, that’s cool.”



In the fall of 1993, I attended the CMJ Music Festival in New York City. For most of the festival, I hung out with a friend who was a Sony college rep and his peers from other colleges. We checked out all the up-and-coming Sony artists, attending listening parties, and ate some great meals on Sony’s dime. The college rep from California convinced the group to go to a Warner Brothers showcase featuring The Flaming Lips (as headliners), Green Day, Boredoms and Kerosene with a young, pre-movie-star Adam Sandler doing standup comedy between sets.

I don’t remember if we caught any of the Boredoms set, we were there to see Green Day on recommendation of the California college rep. She told us she was friends with the band and had, in fact, dated the drummer in the past. After their set – and this story is told from the best of my memory so it’s entirely possible that I’m not telling it correctly – the college rep came over to me, as the only non-college rep in the group, and said something along the lines of “Can you act like we’re here together? I don’t want Tre to think that I still have a thing for him.” I was happy to oblige and play the role of “the other guy”.

Tre came out, saw his ex- and started chatting with her. She introduced the rest of the group and perhaps implied that I was there with her. Tre didn’t seem to be bothered in the least. After he left, I was thinking that having played my part, I’d get to hang out with this woman for the rest of the night and go check out other bands. But, as soon as Tre left, she looked at me and said, “Thanks. I’m going to meet some friends at another show. Have a good night.” That was the last I saw of her.

When Dookie came out in early ;94, I requested an in-person interview when the trio played at Peabody’s Down Under in Cleveland. I was going to share with Tre that I had been merely a patsy, used to try to show him that she had moved on. But, from the get-go, I knew that this interview probably wasn’t going to be that great. I went to the backstage area which was on the second floor, above the venue, and was met by Tre, Mike and Billie Joe. I think I still have the cassette from the interview and, if memory serves correct, Billie Joe asked if I had any gum. I didn’t. I don’t know if he was hungover, if he wasn’t interested in doing an interview, had other things to do, but after he couldn’t find gum, he left, never to return. I opened by telling Tre that I had met him six months earlier in New York. I dropped the woman’s name who had introduced us and he said something like, “Oh yeah. She’s my friend from back home.” And that was it. There was no, “Oh, I remember you. I thought you were her new boyfriend” or anything like that. I’m sure he had no recollection of that meeting.

As you can see, this wasn’t the greatest interview. While I loved Dookie, I didn’t have a background in any sort of punk music. I grew up in the suburbs in a middle-class family. There was really no connection between me and the guys in Green Day – we came from different backgrounds and experiences and I was still young enough in my career that I didn’t have the seasoning that I’d develop as the years passed.

The show at Peabody’s was crazy. Not sure of the venue’s capacity but I would guess it was no more than 400. In the early ’90s, it hosted so many bands that would go on and become huge. I actually saw Pearl Jam there playing a makeup date after they had to postpone the original date to hop on the Red Hot Chili Peppers / Smashing Pumpkins tour in 1991. And, later in ’94, Green Day wound up headlining a radio show at Blossom Music Center which holds 23,000 people. That might have been the quickest I’ve ever seen a band go from small club headliner to large outdoor amphitheater headliner.

But, I suppose, when people ask who are some of the most famous bands I’ve interviewed, I can always point to Green Day.

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