Billie Joe Armstrong, Butch Vig and the Upcoming Green Day Album

greendaypicIn a recent interview with Alternative Press, Billie Joe Armstrong discussed Green Day’s upcoming album and the new direction he and his bandmates have chosen for the venture. While Armstrong offered very little information in regards to song specifics, he did mention that the route the band is heading down is one laced with power pop. Depending on your view of American Idiot (and for that matter, 2000’s edgeless Warning), this could sound very promising or potentially disastrous.

Among the acts that Armstrong says Green Day will be emulating on next year’s album are the Who, the Beatles, the Creation, the Jam and Cheap Trick—heady company, to be sure, but ones that the group has already borrowed from in the past. So I can only assume that they’re going to lean even further in that direction and as far from their malls & suburbs heritage as possible. No complaint here. The problem is, no matter how much you try to sound like the Who, you’re never going to be the Who.

As for American Idiot, I have suggested that it’s the band’s most complete and satisfying album to date, even if I find the whole idea of a “punk opera” to be absolutely ludicrous. Punk is an anti-establishment state of mind; the very idea of structuring arrangements and themes into anything even remotely resembling an “opera” collapses those anarchic ideals. Nevertheless, since Green Day only seems like a punk band compared to the slew of groups they paved the way for (blink-182, the Matches, Sum 41 and so on) we can forgive them for their ambition. So they’re a pop band that’s really rough around the edges. Big deal.

But the promise of “power pop” (which, I figured, was what they had been mostly doing all along) suggests that they’re going to soften and blunt those edges considerably. The last time Green Day lurched far from their skateboard roots was on Warning, which garnered mildly favorable reviews but really split the fanbase. Some thought it was the sound of a band maturing headily from their bratty roots. I thought it was about as enlightening and exciting as driving through a hundred miles of cornfields.

Yet we have an excuse to be eternally hopeful because Green Day snagged Butch Vig to produce the record. In addition to being the drummer/producer for Garbage, he also produced other seminal 90s rock classics like Dirty, Nevermind and Siamese Dream. So that makes five of the fifty best albums from the decade (when you add Garbage and Version 2.0). Less promising is what Vig’s been up to lately: working with lesser pop/punk/rock acts like AFI, Against Me! and Jimmy Eat World. While I certainly don’t expect an album on par with his best 90s productions, Vig’s presence could keep things entertaining.

Armstrong also hinted in the interview that he considers this new batch of songs to be among the most powerful of the band’s career. It could very well be true, but remember that he said that every song on Warning had the potential to be a hit single. And does anyone vividly remember a single song on that one?

To read the interview, click here.

Matt Medlock


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