From: Seventeen Magazine, Apr. 1996
Interviewer: Jim Farber

Special thanks goes out to Shannon Johnston for sending 
this interview in to me.

Ask Billie Joe Armstrong a question and he'll spit back a line as 
terse and blunt as one of Green Day's power chords. Still, 24 year 
old Billie has done a lot of calming down, and growing up since he 
first broke huge with his zany band mates, bassist Mike Dirnt and 
drummer Tre Cool (whose real name-shhh!- is Frank Wright III). Here, 
the sleep deprived dad manages to stay awake for a quick update.  

[JF] Where did you get the idea for Insomniacs 'Geek Stink Breath' video 
with the tooth extraction?
[BJ] Lately I've heard a lot of dentist-office nightmares, so it just 
struck me as a good idea.  But MTV won't play it during the day 
anymore. It's a little graphic, It's funny -MTV will show T&A, but 
they won't show a lesson in dental hygene! [MTV denies any daytime 
ban of the video] 
[JF] Are you blown away by the bands continued popularity?
[BJ] I don't take any of our success for granted, if people like a song and 
they relate to it, thats more than I ever asked for. The only thing 
I can keep doing is being myself, being a songwriter. I'm not a 
politicien telling people what to do, I even had trouble thinking of 
myself as a musician sometimes.  
[JF] What do you think about the people who say that punk rock shouldn't 
be about selling the masses- that it's all about being an outsider?
[BJ] I don't know what the word 'punk' means anymore. To me, it's 
always had more to do with the old Clint Eastwood line "Do you feel 
lucky, punk?". It's all just rock 'n' roll. 
[JF] One weird thing about your music is that it has appealed to incredibly 
young kids.
[BJ] Yeah, like 6 year olds! I think it's probably because of the 
cartoons we had on the cover [of Dookie]. We ran into some trouble 
with the Sesame Street people because of the cover, it had Ernie on 
the back, so this old woman bought it for her little kids. Then when 
they played it, she was horrified. She complained, and we ended up 
taking Ernie off the cover. 
[JF] Your childhood had it's own more serious troubles.
[BJ] Yes, my father died [of cancer] when I was 10.  
[JF] And your mother had to support how many kids?
[BJ] Six, she worked as a waitress around the suburbs of Oakland, 
[JF] What kind of kid were you, as the youngest in your family?
[BJ] Kinda hyper, kinda invisible. 
[JF] You quit school in the ninth grade. Why?
[BJ] It was a waist of time. I was a waist of space.
[JF] What did you do after dropping out?
[BJ] I kind of moved out of my house and did a couch tour of friends' 
homes, different places. Then I started a band in 1988. I was 15.
Music critics have said that Green Day is reviving the music of the 
'70's' punk bands like the Sex Pistols and the Undertones.  
[JF] Were those your influences?
[BJ] I was only five years old when that stuff came out, I was too 
young to witness it. I got more late 80's punk bands like Social 
[JF] You have lots of over the top negativity in your lyrics, 
like "I must insist on being a pessimist." Do you worry people don't 
get the humour?
[BJ] There's a lot of sarcasm in my lyrics because I don't think music 
is supposed to be taken seriously. It's a form of escapism from the BS 
you have to deal with everyday.
[JF] So between your wife, Adrienne, and your year-old son, Joey, are 
you blissfully happy, thereby contradicting every complaint in your 
[BJ] No.[laughs] I don't even want to think about being happy.  No one's 
really happy anyway.  It's not human.