Personalities | Green Day | Hitting The Big Time (1993) | Key Events


Green Day Leave Lookout!

Despite their love of pot and good times, Green Day took their music seriously and handed over the day-to-day running of their affairs to Elliot Cahn and Jeff Saltzman of Cahn-Man Management whose track record included The Melvins and Mudhoney. The first item upon an agreed agenda was to upgrade their record label. Despite their punk credentials and lifestyle, Green Day could clearly see the benefits of signing to a major label which could not only distribute their records properly across America, but also reach countries like Britain and Germany into which their recent tour confirmed Lookout! had no penetration.

Labels Pitch For Green Day

With Green Day’s first two LPs selling 30,000 copies each, and mindful of the breakthrough for independent rock made by Nirvana, several A&R men made the pilgrimage to Green Day’s bunker on 2243 Ashby Street. Geffen took Green Day to see Nirvana play live and even paid for them to go to Disneyland as part of a failed courtship. Former guitarist and Reprise A&R man Rob Cavallo, producer of The Muffs’ major label debut, also made the trip to Ashby, witnessing new material like ‘Longview’. He ended up getting stoned with Billie Joe, Mike and Tre after an informal jam session.


Sign With Reprise

With its long association with Frank Sinatra, Reprise was, on first inspection, hardly a label that appeared to suit Green Day, who signed up for a five-album deal. Then again, Reprise had signed Jimi Hendrix in the 1960s and, as a subsidiary of Warner Brothers, had access to an effective promotional and marketing machine that extended around the world. Warner had also signed R.E.M. in 1988 and The Flaming Lips in 1992, showing that this major label was prepared to invest in and back independent music and take it – without artistic compromise – into the mainstream.


Tour With Bad Religion

In October, Green Day headed out on tour, supporting Bad Religion. For Green Day, playing alongside this long-established band (who formed in 1979) was a perfect fit. They had moved from an independent to a major label in 1993 – Epitaph to Atlantic – but also tapped into a similar punk demographic as Green Day, especially after scoring sub-mainstream success with Recipe For Hate (1993). Armoured by long touring, Green Day’s power, energy, stagecraft, enthusiasm and melodic appeal served notice that they were the Next-Big-Thing-In-Waiting, even if they were travelling to gigs in a converted Bookmobile complete with TV, VCR and stereo equipment.


The Backlash

‘Punk died the day The Clash signed to CBS,’ the editor of famed punk fanzine Sniffin’ Glue stated back in 1977 and similar sentiments were expressed in Bay Area fanzines in 1993 after Green Day’s Reprise deal. By moving from a label with limited distribution to one with worldwide reach, they were seen as betraying the collective independent principles the new American punk movement had inherited from...

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Source: Green Day Revealed, by Ian Shirley


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