Personalities | Green Day | Return To Form (2003) | Key Events
Billie Joe’s DUI
‘Let’s get drunk and go out driving/Let’s see how quickly we can go,’ Tre Cool’s track ‘DUI’ was supposed to be on Shenanigans but did not appear on the CD. Whether or not Billie Joe was listening to ‘DUI’ at 1am on 5 January when powering along in his BMW is unknown but he was stopped by police, breathalysed and booked for driving while twice over the California state legal limit. The story was quickly picked up by MTV news and even today the picture taken at the police station ranks amongst the Top 10 celebrity mug-shots.
The abandonment of Cigarettes And Valentines was, in retrospect, a watershed in the history of Green Day as it allowed the band to undertake a radical musical transition. At the time, however, it appeared to the press and public at large that the band had run out of creative steam and were coming to the end of the road. International Superhits! and Shenanigans could have served as career-ending buffers with the band deciding to throw in the towel, step back from the limelight and live the good life of former rock-stars after over 10 years in the field.
‘Everyone left the studio/Everyone left the studio/But m-e-e-e-e,’ sang Mike Dirnt in a 30-second song fragment thrown together when his bandmates were absent. Tickled when he heard it, Billie Joe added his own section, Tre pitched in and over the following week an extended piece entitled ‘Homecoming’ developed. Initially they joked about the absurdity of a punk band moving into rock opera but when Rob Cavallo enthused about a rough mix, Green Day knew they were onto something. Significantly, they loved doing it and when Billie Joe – like Pete Townshend before him – thought of a story, they were off....
A European Diversion
Green Day cleared their musical block by throwing the rule book out of the window by going into Studio 880 in Oakland to record tracks as synth-rock outfit The Network. Signed to Billie Joe’s Adeline Records, the five-man line up – Fink, Z, Captain Underpants, Van Gough and The Snoo – wore masks (like Slipknot, but less harrowing), suitably colourful clothing and concocted a band history that matched The Dukes Of Stratosphear and The Residents for invention. It involved stolen nuclear money, vegetarianism, alleged Olympic medals, a Mexican wrestler and, to confirm his Eurotrash synth-rock credentials, Z ‘played keyboards with one finger’.
Along with musical Networking – ‘we became so creative we could have knocked out a record every day,’ Mike Dirnt told Spin in 2004 – Green Day enjoyed rock-star partying and fun times that extended to doing something The Clash wanted to do but only sang about: setting up a pirate radio station. Ad hoc and erratic, it broadcast from Studio 880 to the Bay Area with the band playing favourite tracks and making crank calls: ‘Tre called this animal crematorium in Hawaii,’ Dirnt related, ‘and...
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