The formula was simple. Take a few power chords, a catchy tune, some tongue-in-cheek humour, and do it all fast so kids will want to jump up and down.
It’s hardly revolutionary: Green Day’s sound and sense of irony was heavily borrowed from The Ramones and The Sex Pistols – lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong even sings with a faint attempt at an English accent – but Green Day differed from the British punk scene by making punk a bratty ordeal, free of revolutionary political pretension, while retaining the rebellion.
Their major label debut album, Dookie (1994), was recorded in three weeks and sold 20 million copies – half of them in the USA – their previous best-seller had been Kerplunk! (1992) which sold 50,000 copies.
Dookie produced four successful singles, including Basket Case which topped the US charts for five weeks. But the track with the longest-lasting legacy was When I Come Around, a song that seemed to crystalise Woodstock ’94 in less than three minutes and vault the band to superstardom.
As the New York Times observed, “Apathy has rarely sounded so passionate”.
Billie Joe Armstrong
Mike Dirnt (Michael Pritchard)
Tre Cool (Frank Wright)