"KERRANG!" REVIEWS "WARNING"
Source: Kerrang!, Milky and greendaysite.com
July 12th, 2000
In a Los Angeles studio, GREEN DAY are putting the finshing touches to their
sixth album - a record that, apparently, smells like a wet dog, will include
audio orgasms and may possibly make listeners 'cum out of their ears'. In
fact the only thing that looks like ruining the mood is the full-blown riot
that's going on down the road...
LAPD HELICOPTERS circle overhead, the noise of sirens and spnning blades
cutting through the warm California night. On the television screen in the
Swinghouse rehearsal rooms, which Green Day have booked late into the night
for an MTV recording, what started out as a peaceful celebration has turned
into a full-blown riot of the kind which Los Angelians do so well.
With their team havng won the NBA Championships for the first time in 12
years, fans of the LA Lakers basketball team have quite literally set the
city alight, with hundreds of drunken revellers torching cop cars in respect
of their teams valiant victory - a mere two miles down the road from where
While Lakers star Shaquille O'Neal and hs team-mates celebrate their
historic win - and attendant multi-million dollar pay packets - from the
comfort of their dressing rooms, the ever-present US news crews are filming
from right in the thick of things outside. Soon news vans are being attacked
as LA police officers line up and prepare to take things in hand.
"Oh shit, look at that!" chirrups Green Day drummer Tré Cool, pulling up a
chair to watch the action alongside the increasingly concerned MTV workers,
many of who know that the riot stands between them and the safety of their
"I love a riot," he says excitedly as another vacated car is torched.
"Mmmm... you can almost smell the burning pork! Hey man, you ever thrown
rocks at cops?"
IT SEEMS somewhat fitting that the week Green Day are putting the finishing
touches to their sixth album, the simmering feelings of discontent in the
entertainment capital of the world should boil over into some potentially
fatal acts of random violence.
Here is a band known for their colourful characters, their onstage
tomfoolery and a clutch of records that have helpedturn US punk from a grass
roots underground scene to a viable mainstream propositon, providing a new
outlet for millions of disaffected youth along the way. They're a band who
have also sent the punk purists packing, a band who have been accused of -
yawn - 'selling out' so many times it's laughable while never once changing
their style, a band who have been known to kick-start the odd riot of their
own. It's also somewhat fitting, then, that the new album is entitled, quite
"The album title is basically about this: rules are made to be broken and
laws are meant to be disobeyed," says frontman Billie Joe Armstrong, taking
time out from filming a version of Husker Du's 'Don't Want To Know If You
Are Lonely' for the inaugural episode of MTV's 'influence' series. "Then
there's the song 'Warnng' itself, which is about getting outside information
from warning labels and signs in everyday life - things which direct you
where to go - when really they just provide a false sense of freedom that
America always seems to exploit."
"You see people are getting away with things in Europe a lot more," says
bassist Mike Dirnt, who has put down his instrument to watch the
riot-in-progress. "People can squat buildings and get away with it, whereas
here they'll just beat the crap out of you and bomb you out straight away.
Waco is what happens when you try and live your life or squat a building in
America. All those people were trying to do was have their own religion and
getty jiggy with it."
"With this record there's a definite sense of hope though," continues Billie
Joe. "On a personal level and humanity in general. I don't think there's
anything on here that's really self absorbed or willing on the negative. If
their is anything on the record that is negative, it's only within that
particular song... it's about finding the positive within the negative."
So is there less adolscent angst on display on the new rcord?
"Well, angst is looked at it so many different way," begins Billie Joe,
screwing up his face in thought. "Fugazi's angst is looked at as something
that is really positive and then you have, you know, Marilyn Manson's angst
which is just... trivial. You can't just whine or cry all the time - you've
got to look for a solution at the same time. People have got to hear it,
basically, because it can't easily be explained. I feel like I can't do it
justice within a couple of sentences."
"I think we should figure out the scent of this record," interjects Mike.
"Like, we should work out what it's going to smelllike and then we should
put it out in a scratch 'n' sniff sleeve."
Billie Joe: "It's kinda like a dog."
Tré: "A wet dog?"
Billie Joe: "Yeah, a wet dog that's funky and smelly, but still kinda
Mike: "It's got to have puppy breath too."
"But not that just-licked-its-nuts-type puppy breath, though," concludes
Tré. "It's more like a just-ate-a-dog-biscuit-type puppy breath of a
So what your saying is that if your latest record was a smell, it would be a
wet pooch that's just eaten a biscuit?
"Yeah," they all nod in quiet agreement. "That's it."
TWENTY FOUR hours later, the riots are but a memory, albeit one captured on
celluloid and broadcast live around the world wth suitably hyperbolic
While downtown LA may now be littered with the debris of rampaging sports
fans - broken bottles, burnt-out cars, the occasional looted shop - the riot
didn't quite reach the proportions of the post-Rodney King rampaging some
eight years ago. Christ knows what they do when their team actually loses.
"Last night was crazy," laughs Billie Joe as we reconvene at Sunset Way
studios on the Sunset Boulevard, where Green Day are mixing 'Warning'. "I
had to get back to my hotel and their was just people everywhere out of
their minds, driving along swigging from their brown paper bags. People were
ready to explode. You could feel it."
Today, Billie, Tré and Mike are in the same thrift store threads they've
been wearing for years, with the singer and bass player both sporting
grown-out peroxide jobs and the drummer plumping for a suitably natural
coiffure. With a mere three days to complete the album - they've produced
themselve's, having drafted in veteran engineer Jack Joseph Pug to mix it -
before they head off on the month-long Vans Warped Tour, time is somewhat of
the essence. Not that you'd really know it.
The cavernous studio is rich with the smell of burning incense, and where
original equipment used by the Beach Boys during their infamous 'Pet Sounds'
sessions lies around unused. Green Day are hanging loose before things get
really hectic. Billie Joe is slumped on a couch feeling the effects of a no
caffeine/no alcohol/no fat regime to help remedy his infected throat, while
Mike is swigging beer and enthusing to anyone who will listen about his most
recent rare musical bargins.
"I'm no record collecting purist, man," he says, without a trace of irony.
"But f**k... those 12-inch records, man." Tré meanwhile is being Tré, which
usually involves climbing things or breaking things.
"I haven't had any coffee today and this is my second nap already," smiles
Billie, suppressing a yawn as Mike joins him. "Still, I can safetly say that
this has been the most enjoyable recording process we've had in years. We
produced it ourselves so there's a real sense of independence that kind of
goes along with it too - it's the three of us together as a unit. It's a
gang, it's our gang. It's our band, this is what we do and it's great."
"Yeah, we're a f**king gang!" bellows Mike in his best mock-gangsta voice.
"And I got my tattoos an' shit to prove it!"
IN THE wake of the recent internet/Napster debates over bootlegging -
'Warning' isn't scheduled for release until October - Green Day's management
are suitably guarded about their boys' material. We're treated to six songs
- each played once - back to back in less than 20 minutes. And that's it.
Blink and you'll miss them.
'Hold On' has a harmonica intro and sounds like Bob Dylan gong punk. It's
ace. 'Blood Sex and Booze' is a spikey rock and roll song which utilises the
skills of a whip-cracking dominatrix whom Tré hired for the occasion. Both
'Dead Beat Holiday' and 'Church on Sunday' have me scribbling down such
gibberish as "simple, direct, immediate, classic Green Day, could be
singles", while 'Fashion Victim' is a vitriolic swipe at the
bullshit-fuelled fashion industry and 'Minority' is an accordion-laden
corker. Green Day might just have made another classic record. Trust me.
"I think the listner can expect multiple audio orgasms and they're gonna cum
out of their earholes," is Tré's descripion of the records effects as he
bounces around the room, slyly stcking a Green Day sticker on my back when
he thinks I'm not looking. "I'm telling you, you won't need Viagra when
'Warning' hits the stands."
"We've just tried to write good songs and challenge ourselves," shrugs
Billie Joe, his baseball cap twisted sideways on his head. "We really have
just gone where the music has taken us and it's turned out to be an inspired
effort from the three of us."
While the singer is suitably enthused, he's being somewhat modest.
"Billie Joe gave me the album and said, 'Play it to anyone, man'," the
band's amiable manager Ron told us the previous day. "Don't quote me on
this, but I've truly never seen him happier about his songs."
"We haven't forced anything musically," continues the singer. "We started it
a year ago and quikly realised that if something is working we'll really
stick at it, but if it's not working then it's just best to let it go. I
don't want to put any unnecessary hype on us as a band because I don't want
us to come out sounding like politicians or anything, but we have had a
really great time with this record. To listen back to it is very satisfying
- I'm just glad that we've got it down on tape because, God forbid, one of
us was to die before we got it recorded."
Mike snorts in derision. "Yeah, Billie's been full of these end-of-the-world
type feelings." What, like an impending sense of doom?
"Yeah, I have felt anxious," grins the singer. "But that's only because I'm
in a band with two really accident-prone guys."
Across the room, Tré is wondering whether he should climb up on the roof
SIX ALBUMS down the line, Green Day are - along with Korn - one of the few
bands to have truly captured the feelings of being young, American and
pissed off since Nirvana. Success certainly hasn' softened them - neither
musically, nor ideologically. Billie Joe's simple social commentries,
neither as juvenile as Blink 182's nor as throwaway as The Offspring's.
Judging by our preview, 'Warning' is a resolutely blue-collar record, with
his lyrics recalling the street punk poetry of their earlier Lookout!
"Tré had a T-Shirt with two bullet holes and it said 'Versace: Fashion Vicim
Number One'," says Billie, of 'Warning"s subject matter. "It gave me the
idea for a song - 'Fashion Victim' - because I thought it was such a harsh
statement to put on a shirt. I like things that are extreme and
bizarre-looking - it's inspirational.
"The song is basically about the fashion magazines and the television
personalities - you know, the 25-year-old people who are advertising
themselves and targeting an audience that is under 17 years old. It's really
hard to explain because I don't want to come across as some old fart. The
funny thing is that the song is so catchy that these models could go on the
catwalk listening to the song without ever getting the irony of it."
"Totally!" interjects Tré. "You know, it's really hard to get one by those
"That's nothing," says Mike, shaking his head. "The other day I was reading
about some movie awards in some magazine and there was this girl wearing
this necklace that cost 15 thousand dollars, which I thought was so
expensive. Then I turned the page and there was another girl wearing a two
million dollar necklace. I was, like, 'Y'all got some self-esteem issues!'."
What have you been doing in the two years that you have been away?
"After we finished touring the last record I was just hanging out with
friends and family," reveals Billie Joe. "And I also produced a couple of
bands from the Bay Area: one called The Criminals and another called One Man
"I did a record with a band called The Frustrators for Billie's record
label," says Mike. "I was playing bass on it. It was a bunch of eight,
simple punk rock tunes."
"I've been experimenting wth blowng up cars. But that's strictly off the
record, of course."
WITH JACK Joseph Puig hunched over the control desk, listening to the same
drum track which has been played back continuosly for the past two hours,
the band are clearly getting itchy to leave the studio behind them. Outside
on Sunset Boulevard, the annual LA 'June gloom' has given way to clear skies
and a scorching sun. In three days' time Green Day will be playing in nearby
Fresno as part of the Warped Tour, where their manager predicts temperatures
of 120 degrees.
"I just want to play a an immense level of volume again, just f**king
cranking my amp up to 11 and going ballistic," enthuses Mike. "It's not even
about the new songs. Just give me a reason to hurt!"
"We've been approached many times to do the tour, but it was never right. We
were always crossing paths but we often had things already booked," says
Billie Joe. "We wanted something to do this summer so we said 'let's talk to
Warped' and they were, like, 'Wassssupppp!'."
Are there any acts you're looking forward to sharing stages with?
"I'm looking forward to seeing Jurrasic 5 do their intelligent hip-hop,"
says Mike. "Flogging Molly will be cool, The Donna's will be cool. Suicide
Machines, Papa Roach, NOFX - who we've seen a million times - will all be
Tré: "Chuck D will be cool, if he's on it."
Billie Joe: "Is Chuck D playing?"
Tré: "How should I know?"
"I think that a lot of stuff from the underground has been really good
lately," continues the singer. "There's a band from Minnesota called
Dillanger Four on Hopeless Records, who are probably the best punk band
around right now. The Promise Ring are a good band too, Common Rider
(featuring Jesse Michaels, former singer with ska-punk legends Operation
Ivy) put on a really good record. There's other stuff too: the Foo Fighters
album was great, the Chili Peppers record was cool, purely because they're
creating longevity for themselves and those guys have been through hell
together. They deserve all the credit they get."
"The Red Hot Chili Peppers are a well-rounded band," nods Tré earnestly.
"I catch myself rooting for every band" grins Mike. "I want the next band to
come on the radio to be f**king awesome. I always look at music in a
TRÉ AND Mike have finished their Chinese take-outs and a sleepy Billie Joe
has polished off his bland sushi (doctor's orders), leaving only a quick TV
interview and some work on the album before a night off. Canadian hardcore
legends No Means No are in town and Green Day's punk sensibilities look like
they're getting the better of them - even with a mammoth our only a couple
of days away.
Tré - clearly a man who was fed too many E-numbers as a youth - is talking
enthusiastically about a toy store he has discovered which has some great
stuff they can take on tour with them, prompting him to recall the band's
greatest achievement to date.
"Green Day got in a Hulk comic book. Remember that?" he says. "the Hulk was
kicking somebody's ass while saying something about him being the singer
from Green Day. I don't know what it was about, but it was cool. Also we got
in an 'Archie' comic when a couple of the characters got tickets to one of
our concerts. That was awesome, man."
It must also be weird seeing a whole new generation of bands out there, many
of whom have lifted all their best moves from Green Day.
"I never think that any bands sound a lot like Green Day when people play
them to me," says Billie Joe as he proudly prepares to listen to the final
mixes of his new album. "I just think of them as good music."
GREEN DAY's 'Warning' album is released in October.