Members: Billie Joe (lead); Mike Dirnt (bass); Tre Cool (drums)
Billie Joe Armstrong and Mike Dirnt are the actual founders of the band Sweet Children, which we know today as Green Day. When they were ten years old (1982), the duo met in the cafeteria of John Sweet High School in Crockett, California. During sleepovers at each other's houses, they played songs by old heavy metal warhorses such as Ozzy Osbourne, Def Leppard, and Van Halen. Other influences would be the "thrash and drang" of the Bay Area's alternative music culture percolating throughout the eighties. Clubs such as Mabuhay Gardens and Berkeley's 924 Gilman Street regularly showcased local groups like the Dead Kennedys and Buck Naked. Billie Joe was 14 when he wrote his first song, "Why Do You Want Him?", a song about his mother and stepfather. In 1987, Billie Joe and Mike recruited drummer John Kriftmeyer (aka Al Sobrante) and formed the band Sweet Children. They played their first official gig at Rod's Hickory Pit in Vallejo, CA. Soon, they started playing at clubs on the infamous Gilman Street in Berkeley, CA.
As Green Day, they recorded their first EP, 1,000 Hours, in two days when they were 17 and seniors in high school. Soon, Mike graduated, however Billie Joe dropped out one day prior to his 18th birthday. They followed up the 1,000 Hours EP with numberous pressings of the "Sweet Children" EP, and also the "Slappy" EP. Their official debut album came in 1990, a combination of all the previous EP, and named "1039 Smoothed Out Slappy Hours". The album was released by local indie label Lookout! Records. Soon after, John Kriftmeyer decided to leave the band to presue college, so Billie and Mike recruited Gilman Street vetran, Tre Cool. Tre had been playing in the band, The Lookouts!, since he was 12. Members of The Lookouts include Lawrence Livermore, the owner of Lookout! Records. In 1991, Tre debuted on Green Day's second album, "Kerpunk!".
Green Day built its following the old-fashioned way -- they earned it. Before they even hooked up with a major label, the band had already completed five national tours, driving their renovated bookmobile (with Tre's father at the wheel) coast to coast and crashing on friends' and fan's floors. After capturing the attention of producer Rob Cavallo of Reprise Records. Faced with a hard choice, the guys decided to sign onto a major label in April 1993, and soon started recorded the album that would through them into stardom, 1994's "Dookie".
Pandemonium struck when their Reprise debut, "Dookie", was released and Green Day introduced an ever-expanding audience to the energy and insanity of punk rock. With the 14 loud'n'fast tunes of "Dookie" clocking in at only 39 minutes, 1993 suddenly sounded more like 1977. Soon, Green Day's songs about picking scabs, pyromania and masturbation had become unofficial national anthems. Green Day was singing about its own distinct form of malcontent, but it seemed there was a world of followers who felt their pain and wanted to laugh --and mosh -- along with it. Immaturity was cool again. "Dookie" went on to sell more than 10 million copies in the U.S. alone, and Green Day won a Grammy in 1994 for "Best Alternative Music Performance." Of course, this led some of the gang back on Gilman Street to cry "sell-out" and "mainstream," but one listen to Green Day and you'd know this wasn't some watered- down white-bread punk designed to impress your parents.
On their next few albums, "Insomniac" and "Nimrod", Green Day has managed to stay true to the punk attitude while proving they're not just one-trick ponies or even three-chord monkeys. On Nimrod, note the surf-style instrumental, "Last Ride," and the string section of "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)", which was featured prominently on an episode of ER and the final installment of Seinfield. By this time, the members were starting families, and it was becoming apparent that they were maturing as individuals and as a band. They wanted to take some time off to be with their families and enjoy life. So after the success of "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)", Green Day took a two year break.
In 2000, Green Day hit the music scene once again with their album "Warning". The album is a different sound for the band, a more mellow punk if you will. Unfortunatly, the album wasn't very well accepted by critics and fans alike. The biggest hit from the album was the song "Minority".
So after another four years with a few tours and a couple of compliation albums (International Superhits! in 2001 and Shenanigans in 2002), but no new material from Green Day, fans were hit with the September 2004 released of "American Idiot", an album which lashes out against the American government and the media. "American Idiot" was the first Green Day ever to debut at #1 on the Billboard Charts, and other music charts around the world. The album's title track, was an instant success. The follow up single, "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" experienced a must greater success. "American Idiot" was nominated for seven Grammy awards, and took home one, "Best Rock Album". The release and success of this album proved that Green Day are indeed the biggest rock band in the world.
So do you have the time to listen to me whine? We still answer with a resounding yes.
Some parts of this biography was written by Stephen Thomas Erlewine, while other parts were written by GDA (www.greendayauthority.com) Webmaster, Courtney Smith.