About Green Day
When Green Day’s Dookie broke through in early 1994, rock was still dominated by bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam: brooding, serious, hostile to pop. Though originally hailed as punk revivalists blindsiding the mainstream from the margins, Green Day has become one of rock’s sturdiest institutions, a band whose sound threads the three-chords-and-a-head-rush excitement that runs through everything from ’50s rockabilly and ’60s garage to ’80s New Wave and ’90s skate-punk. Even when they go big—the rock-operatic scope of 2004’s American Idiot and 2009’s 21st Century Breakdown, for example—they keep things catchy and concise, never letting their ambition interfere with the premise that the best way to get people involved in an idea is to make it fun. In other words, Green Day wasn’t here to explore personal pain, but communal joy.
Formed in the late ’80s in San Francisco’s East Bay, the band (singer/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, bassist Mike Dirnt, and drummer Tré Cool, the latter of whom replaced John Kiffmeyer early on) became one of the preeminent forces in ’90s and ’00s rock, joining a wave of artists—including Rancid, NOFX, and blink-182—that merged the energy of punk with the affability of pop. From Dookie on, they’ve remained remarkably consistent, peppering their albums with hints of Beatlesque pop, soul rave-ups, and radio-ready ballads (“Good Riddance [Time of Your Life],” “Boulevard of Broken Dreams,” “Wake Me Up When September Ends”) that extended their reach without altering their core. Looking back, it’s hard not to see the band’s success as a microcosm of alternative music’s migration into the mainstream: Instead of erasing arena rock, Green Day reinvented it.