Personalities | Green Day | Hitting The Big Time (1994) | Key Events
The Bookmobile And European Tour
‘It was a travelling library that was found in Phoenix, Arizona, and converted into an RV [recreation vehicle],’ Billie Joe told a TV interviewer in 1994 when discussing the Bookmobile inside the vehicle. ‘A lot of people come up to us and say, “Do you have books for sale in there?”. We don’t even read.’ The converted Bookmobile was Green Day’s home for American tours and a vast improvement on the cramped Econoline van previously deployed. ‘Tre Cool’s dad is the driver/spiritual leader,’ continued Billie Joe, who slept on a futon. ‘Drummer producer!’ chipped in Mike beside him. Of course, when the band returned to Europe for more dates the Bookmobile stayed at home.
HIV/AIDS caused death and heartbreak amongst the gay community in the San Francisco Bay Area and so was an issue that Green Day and the general punk community was aware of. In 1992, HIV/AIDS sufferer Bob Caviano founded the charity LIFEbeat to work with musicians and the music industry to educate young people about HIV/AIDS prevention. In January 1994, Green Day undertook a promotional signing session at a New York record store to raise money for the charity and, in typical fashion, adorned the collecting buckets with encouraging graffiti messages, such as ‘donate or die’ and ‘donate you f***ers.’
Rob Cavallo was given the responsibility of producing Green Day’s major label debut. Fears that life would be sucked out of their material by over-production were unfounded. ‘You’ve got a bigger studio, better equipment,’ Mike Dirnt told a fanzine scribe. ‘The whole album sounds bigger.’ The resulting tracks were powerful, energetic and vibrant. Lyrically, Billie Joe reviewed masturbation (‘Coming Clean’): ‘I found out what it takes to be a man’; boredom (‘Longview’): ‘change the channels for an hour or two’; and broken relationships (‘In The End’): ‘how long will he last before he’s a creep in the past.’
The Dookie Cover Story
Green Day chose local artist and former bass player for The Wynona Riders, Richie Bucher to illustrate their cover based on their album title: Dookie. The resulting picture resembled something out of the fevered mind of 1960s Freak Brothers’ artist Gilbert Shelton. It featured dogs in a jet aeroplane and on various rooftops dropping and throwing excrement onto a cavalcade below which consisted of an array of characters ranging from a caveman, Elvis (or an impersonator) to what looks like Angus from AC/DC, as well as a hungry fly asking a dog about to throw a turd, ‘Excuse me sir, are you just going to throw that away?’.
The first single culled from Dookie was ‘Longview’ which, with its stalking, melodic bass-line and guitar assault chorus offsetting this tale of boredom and masturbation, was a perfect primer for the album. The necessary promotional video was shot at the band’s Ashby Street habitat and segued between shots of Billie Joe singing as he watched TV to the band playing in cramped conditions...
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