More than 60,000 music fans and activists watch storming, politically-charged performances from Stevie Wonder, Green Day, The Chainsmokers and others at the Global Citizen Festival in New York. (Sept. 25)
Green Day is back and feeling leaner, meaner and louder than ever.
“Father of All…,” out Friday, is the popular punk rockers’ shortest album yet, at just 10 songs and 26 minutes. (The next being their 1990 debut “39/Smooth,” which clocks in at 31 minutes). It was a conscious choice, after struggling to string together the 16 tracks they recorded for their follow-up to 2016’s “Revolution Radio.”
“I didn’t know if it was going to be a short album or a longer record, and I was having a difficult time sequencing all 16 songs,” says frontman Billie Joe Armstrong, 47. But once he narrowed it down to 10 favorites, “it felt like all the songs were talking to each other, and just felt right for us right now.”
Armstrong chatted with USA TODAY about the boisterous new album, steering clear of politics and why he’s a Billie Eilish fan.
Question: How did you approach making “Father of All…”?
Billie Joe Armstrong: We went into it wanting to make a sort of old-timey rock ‘n’ roll record that traces the history of rock ‘n’ roll. Whether it’s glam rock, like T. Rex or Mott the Hoople, to Martha and the Vandellas, and also some garage rock. “Father of All…” feels like it’s somewhere in between Prince and MC5.
Question: Is there an overarching theme connecting these songs?
Armstrong: It’s kind of partying in the apocalypse. We’re going through a really crazy cultural shift right now, and nobody really knows where life is going or where the country’s going. You have this neo-fascism that’s become popular in politics, and it’s really self-destructive. For me, it’s just dealing with this by writing songs that are not so much topical but (are inspired by) the way it makes me feel. It feels like bad drugs, along with some good drugs.
Question: When you released “Revolution Radio” in 2016, you said you get “absolutely no inspiration from Donald Trump” when it comes to music. Is that still the case four years later?
Armstrong: This record is almost a conscious effort to deflect politics. In the past, we called out presidents and things like that, but right now it felt too obvious. And I didn’t know how to write about it without it feeling like it’s just putting more (toxicity) into the ether. So it’s all just sort of stream of consciousness and trying to deal with it.
Q: Are there any songs you’re most excited for fans to hear?
Armstrong: I’m really excited about “Meet Me on the Roof.” It has that soulful, old Motown feel. And then “Graffitia” is a song I’m really proud of. It’s sort of about small towns in the Rust Belt that lose their identity because factories and things like that are becoming obsolete. That’s the first verse, and then the second verse is about young black men being shot by cops in the streets. So there is definitely some social commentary, but it’s just about people that feel forgotten.
Armstrong: It was great. I mean, I only heard about it – actually trying to watch the Grammys is pretty brutal, but I’m stoked for her and Finneas (O’Connell, her brother and producer). It’s insanely well-deserved. Their music is very real, and you can tell it all comes from them, which is what sets it apart from what other pop acts are doing. It’s not even comparable to think about what she does compared to someone like Ariana Grande. She’s the real deal.
Billie Eilish salutes Ariana Grande at the Grammys, but Grande’s fans say she was snubbed
Q: Why do you feel the Grammys are tough to watch?
Armstrong: It’s just the stuff they showcase, I’m not into it. There’s one or two artists like Lizzo that I think are really good, but the rest is like a bad prom. I just think the music is crap. There’s no rock music. The fact that they aired a comedy record (award) and didn’t have a rock band on television, I just don’t even know what that is. I love comedy just as much as the next guy, but they are doing a disservice to rock music. That’s the way I feel about it.
Q: Green Day was trending on Twitter a couple weekends ago after you dropped multiple F-bombs during your NHL All-Star performance. Were you surprised that blew up?
Armstrong: It’s a trip, the whole thing about trending and all that stuff. It’s the most fleeting (expletive) I’ve ever come across in my life, though. You’re trending No. 1 and you’re like, “Oh, cool!” And then literally a half-hour later, it’s some kid that threw a basketball across a court. I mean, it’s very Andy Warhol. But I’m very grateful that Green Day has been around for 32 years and we can still enjoy 15 seconds of fame.
Q: Did you hear from anyone from the NHL (National Hockey League) about it?
Armstrong: No! They were stoked.
Q: Were you just trying to keep the censors on their toes? Get the audience hyped up?
Armstrong: I was just doing my gig, man. That’s what I do: I yell and throw out F-bombs all the time. That’s just the way I talk and also the way I sing. So we were playing, like, “Oh, this is a (expletive) hockey crowd.” It’s a bunch of hooligans, as far as I’m concerned. We were just trying to get the crowd riled up and have a good time, and the next thing you know, Twitter’s just talking about my foul mouth. And I thought, “What’d you expect? You got a punk-rock band to play your gig. That’s what’s going to happen.”
Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/entertainment/music/2020/02/06/green-day-billie-joe-armstrong-new-album-father-all-not-about-trump-likes-billie-eilish-nhl-f-bombs/4676022002/