Personalities | Green Day | Hitting The Big Time (1996) | Key Events
Insomniac Goes Platinum
‘Every once in a while I have to say “F***, we’re the biggest punk band in America right now”,’ Billie Joe told Rolling Stone in their December 1995/January 1996 special double-issue. When it was released in 1995, Insomniac debuted at No. 2 in the US charts and although it quickly sold two million copies and went double platinum, it was never going to be another Dookie. Ironically, in the UK the album reached No. 8 whereas Dookie had only got to No. 13; Dookie had remained in the UK charts for 91 weeks whilst Insomniac only enjoyed a five-week run.
‘On tour we have the most exciting lives in the world for one hour a day,’ Mike Dirnt told Rolling Stone, ‘and the rest of the time it’s the most boring job in the world.’ When promoting Insomniac on the road, Green Day were already displaying signs of rock battle-fatigue on a handful of American dates in December 1995 and January 1996. Although the general American public had first discovered them with Dookie, Green Day had been touring almost non-stop since 1992 and after the exhilarating roller-coaster ride of 1994 and 1995 they were close to running on empty.
‘Brain Stew’ was the second single taken from Insomniac and concerns insomnia and isolation with lyrics like ‘I’m counting sheep but running out’. This slow song, dominated by Billie Joe’s chugging guitar, catapulted into warp-speed halfway through as it segued into ‘Jaded’. This live mash-up was given lush video treatment by director Kevin Kerslake, with the first part shot in a rubbish tip in washed-out colour whilst the second part showcased the band storming away in a rehearsal space. It was a massive American radio hit, boosting sales of Insomniac and perking up MTV rotation schedules.
Feeling The Strain
In retrospect, reading through press interviews given to the American, European and UK media prior to and after the release of Insomniac, it is obvious today that the band were burnt out by five years of constant touring, with Billie Joe and Tre also having to juggle the responsibilities of being newlyweds and fathers of young children. ‘I’m infertile!’ Mike told NME in England as his fellow band members swapped nappy changing tips. With all three coming from unstable backgrounds, it was obvious that, as well as their music, Billie Joe and Tre took their paternal roles very seriously.
European Tour Cancellation
After completing the American leg of the Insomniac tour, Green Day cancelled scheduled dates in Europe, giving ‘exhaustion’ as the honest reason for pulling out of the gigs. ‘We were exhausted, wrecked, absolutely wrecked... We didn’t know any more who we were, where we were. We just wanted to go home.’ Billie Joe told New York Rock. With money in the bank, they were able to relax for the first time in years, ‘Out of everything that happened to me last year,’ Billie...
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