By Felicity Clarke, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – When Green Day front man Billie Joe Armstrong asked if we had the time to listen to him whine in 1994, there was little indication the young punks would still be commanding attention as an international rock super-group sixteen years later. With their multi-million selling back catalog of pop punk anthems, the enduring sound of wasted youth play the HSBC Arena in Barra da Tijuca this Friday October 15th.
The group was born out of the 924 Gilman Street project or the Alternative Music Foundation, a non-profit club supporting new bands in Berkeley, California that nurtured the west coast neo-punk explosion in the early 1990s. Singer and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong and bassist and backing vocalist Mike Dirnt joined to form a band in 1987 that after a few name and line up changes would become Green Day (apparently a reference to their fondness for cannabis) with current drummer Tré Cool joining in 1990.
The underground success of their first two albums 39/Smooth and Kerplunk led to their major label signing and the inevitable accusations of selling out. The breakthrough album Dookie was released in 1994, a high-powered punk-pop classic with youthful energy powering through its forty minutes, that spawned the hits ‘Basket Case’, ‘Longview’ and ‘When I Come Around’ and went on to sell over fifteen million copies worldwide.
The follow up, 1997’s Nimrod, was more experimental and less commercially successful but included one of their most famous songs, the acoustic ballad ‘Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)’. The subsequent release, Warning, in 2000 displayed a more socially conscious lyrical direction such as on singles ‘Minority’ and ‘Warning’ but like Nimrod received a lukewarm reception from critics and fans.
After a couple of premature greatest hits albums, the band revived their popularity with the 2004 concept album American Idiot. A departure from their previous works and usual songwriting style, the record tells the story of an American anti-hero character called Jesus of Suburbia. American Idiot won the Grammy for Best Rock Album and established a renewed, more grown up relevance for the group and was followed up last year with their eighth studio LP, 21st Century Breakdown.
With side projects including lending support to campaigns highlighting American dependency on oil, appearing in The Simpsons movie and covering John Lennon’s ‘Working Class Hero’ for Amnesty International’s Save Darfur album as well as several arena tours, Green Day have become a rock force quite apart from the other bands which emerged from the 90’s scene.
This year has seen the band extend their influence in different cultural forms: in April this year American Idiot – The Musical premiered on Broadway and has been nominated for several Tony Awards; in June, the Green Day Rock Band video game was launched and a Green Day art exhibition opened in London this month.
They have come a long way from their punk roots, and the South American leg of their current world tour will mean their first performances in Brazil for twelve years with shows in Porto Alegre on October 13th, Rio de Janeiro on October 15th, Brasilia on October 17th and São Paulo on October 20th. For ticket and venue information visit www.livepass.com.br/