parodies by nacrowe
check out HERE this recent streaming video episode of DEER GOD RADIO celebrating EAST BAY POP PUNK icons GREEN DAY!
past episodes of DEER GOD RADIO are available here at the DEER GOD website as well as in the MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC archives.
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photo & text by nacrowe
i believe it is fair to say that WARNING (REPRISE, 2000) is the forgotten GREEN DAY album. some critics over the years have disparaging claimed it to be a product of frontman BILLIE JOE ARMSTRONG's self-indulgent "fat ELVIS" period. no doubt it has the misfortune of being the lead-in record to what many consider their best record, AMERICAN IDIOT (although some claim DOOKIE), and the overall renaissance of their cultural status as POP PUNK icons.
i dont see it that way.
when i listen back to tracks off WARNING like "MINORITY," "WAITING," "MACY'S DAY PARADE," "MISERY" and "WARNING," what some hear as a lack of energy and bombast i hear as a detour into the song-craft and subtle thoughtfully crafted sonic dynamics at play with BRITISH INVASION bands like THE KINKS and THE WHO. there is a storytelling quality and a solid penchant for CHARACTER STUDIES that come into play on this record that would bear fruit with the follow-up and its multi-song NARRATIVE ARC. such a detour into essentially creating modern FOLK NARRATIVES puts ARMSTRONG in keeping with a decidedly BRITISH tradition exemplified by the likes RAY DAVIES and PETE TOWNSEND. i think ARMSTRONG's fascination with the earlier work of those two songwriters helps make the connection between WARNING and AMERICAN IDIOT, as the later record is definitely in keeping with THE KINKS PRESENT A SOAP OPERA (RCA, 1975) or TOMMY (DECCA, 1969). basically i see the two as a pair, in essence two efforts at translating disparate elements like POWER POP and BRITISH INVASION-era song-craft into a modern POP PUNK format.
and to an extent it worked. it is just in comparison to the explosive bombast of AMERICAN IDIOT and its astute political conceit at a time when bands, PUNK or not, were largely cowering in the age of GEORGE W BUSH and the paranoia of a post-9/11 AMERICA. WARNING is very much a product of a band searching for a means of maturing into ADULTHOOD, and represents one attempt at such. ultimately they double-down on the more anthemic elements of their sound, but this more laid-back, self-assessing, INTROSPECTIVE record should not be discounted. its definitely worth revisiting and checking out agin.
photo & text by nacrowe
along with THE OFFSPRING and NO DOUBT, GREEN DAY was the soundtrack to my post-NIRVANA youth, especially once my family moved to NIGERIA from SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA in the mid 1990s. obviously DOOKIE (REPRISE, 1994) was a landmark record not just for popularizing POP PUNK (and defanging the self-destructive aspects of SEATTLE-based ALTERNATIVE ROCK), but also for just being a great pop record.
in a sense, the follow-up INSOMNIAC (REPRISE, 1995) proved that such success was not a fluke and proved the genre itself viable for all that would follow suit (i.e. BLINK-182, FALL OUT BOY, NEW FOUND GLORY, SUM 41, PARAMORE, A DAY TO REMEMBER). technically not a sophomore album, as the band had made several records for indie label LOOKOUT! RECORDS, INSOMNIAC was a major label follow-up that basically double-down on the formula of simplified riffage, rolling kinetic drumming and memorable bass-lines that made GREEN DAY such a powerful power trio to begin with. in many ways i always associated the band sonically more with POWER POP and BRITISH INVASION bands than PUNK ROCK in general. GREEN DAY in my mind was always a GARAGE band with really great songs, with the PUNK thing being more of an aesthetic based on their EAST BAY roots. in fact the feverishly independent GILMAN STREET scene out of BERKELEY was surprisingly open-minded in terms of musical styles supported (this despite their reputation for having ideological opposition to anything and all things corporate), which included SKA hybrid bands like OPERATION IVY and proto-ART METAL like NEUROSIS in the mix.
this predilection for simplified yet effective songwriting would flourish on WARNING (REPRISE, 2000) years later, but i see it in an embryonic stage on INSOMNIAC in songs like "GEEK STINK BREATH," "BRAIN STEW/JADED" and my favorite song off the record, "WALKING CONTRADICTION." other standout tracks like "86," "ARMATAGE SHANKS" and "STUCK WITH ME" are raging, start-stop, barn-burners that come off like vintage GREEN DAY. today i feel that BILLIE JOE ARMSTRONG could write songs like this in his sleep, but here they are in full display. perhaps to get it out of his system or maybe not to risk alienating DOOKIE fans. im glad they transitioned out of this phase and took the real risks tha today they are known for.
who knew a rock opera was in their future. or a giant middle finger to the government when others cowered and shrank. now that is PUNK.
photo manipulation by nacrowe
its funny that one of the worst sounding rooms in live television (STUDIO 8H) is also arguably one of its most enduringly iconic stages. one of those truly odd paradoxes.
i often wonder what affect on the culture a SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE appearance has in modern culture, similar to that of a ROLLING STONE cover. maybe it is just an anachronism of a cultural moment that has long since passed us by when we have a never ending feed of audio-visual content available on command from devices in our pockets.
not to sound too nostalgic, but i do remember a time during the 1990s and early 2000s when there was a sense of a shared experience each week when you stayed up to watch SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE and see who was hosting and playing that night. it was exciting.
nowadays not so much. why is that?
artwork by nicholas crowe
tune into DEER GOD RADIO tonight at 8PM on MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC where we will be risking all credibility ;) and playing nothing but POP PUNK from the past three decades. yes, we are all that old. thing is the genre is probably even older, which will be part of our discussion.
past episodes of DEER GOD RADIO as well as other MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC shows like MAKE HER SPACE, NOWHERE FAST, and THE SYNTHESIZER SHOW are available here at the DEER GOD website.