in recent years there has been a deluge of memoirs and published histories of the PUNK ROCK movement and all of its sub-genres and related SCENES. what makes SMASH!: GREEN DAY, THE OFFSPRING, NOFX AND THE '90s PUNK EXPLOSION (DA CAPO, 2018) by VETERAN BRITISH music journalist IAN WINWOOD (NME, ROLLING STONE, REVOLVER, Q, THE GUARDIAN, MOJO) so FASCINATING is that fact that it effectively elaborates on the expanded trajectory of the WEST COAST expansion of PUNK ROCK and HARDCORE into the 1990s. from THE DAMNED and THE SEX PISTOLS LEGENDARY late 1970s performances to the advent of the early LOS ANGELES PUNK ROCK SCENE in the late 70s/early 80s with THE GERMS, X, THE SCREAMERS, FEAR, THE WEIRDOS and THE BAGS to the HARDCORE BANDS from nearby counties infiltrating the SCENE throughout the 80s like BLACK FLAG, WASTED YOUTH, CIRCLE JERKS, SOCIAL DISTORTION, THE ADOLESCENTS, T.S.O.L. and DESCENDENTS to the 90s BANDS at focus throughout SMASH! and beyond. it is that very tension within that lineage of generations of PUNK BANDS that makes this book such a UNIQUE and COMPELLING read.
when AMERICAN HARDCORE was initiated in the 1980s, various BANDS started their own RECORD LABELS (DISCHORD, SST, ALTERNATIVE TENTACLES) out of necessity and begot a COTTAGE INDUSTRY of viable ALTERNATIVE options for artists. they also provided a lean BUSINESS MODEL and strong DIY ethic for the next generation of INDEPENDENT artists. such is the case with the BAY AREA's LOOKOUT! RECORDS which famously released early GREEN DAY offerings and the catalogue of OPERATION IVY. within the PUNK ROCK COMMUNITY, this effective FETISHIZING of what it means to be truly AUTHENTIC and INDEPENDENT had a huge effect on PUNK and PUNK-influenced BANDS of the 1990s.
case in point, arguably at the center of SMASH!'s narrative is the melodic SAN FERNANDO MELODIC PUNK ROCK BAND BAD RELIGION and the INDEPENDENT RECORD LABEL its guitarist BRETT GUREWITZ founded, EPITAPH RECORDS. unlike LOOKOUT!, EPITAPH found itself in 1994 with an UNEXPECTED diamond album [i.e. 10 million copies sold] in THE OFFSPRING's SMASH (EPITAPH, 1994) that effectively forced the LABEL to expand rapidly while defying continued efforts from most of the MAJORS to buyout their operation and/or poach their artists. in essence, the commercial success of this INDEPENDENT PRIVATE LABEL put them in the same stratosphere as publicly traded MULTI-NATIONAL CORPORATE ENTITIES with larger checkbooks and a deeper well of resources. all PUNK and HARDCORE LABELS were never at that level and it was a situation GUREWITZ never anticipated. in the wake of such there was a new equilibrium and expectations game internally amongst the BANDS, their MANAGERS and the LABEL that took years to level off and resolve itself. in essence, the BANDS that stayed INDEPENDENT (NOFX, RANCID, PENNYWISE) by and large were critically rewarded long-term and with the exception of GREEN DAY (who didnt come off unscathed in terms of their reputation). even GUREWITZ own BAND BAD RELIGION signed during this period with ATLANTIC RECORDS for several releases and eventually successfully came back to EPITAPH at the beginning of the new millennium with new ENERGY and a return-to-form recorded offering.
whereas EPITAPH RECORDS exemplified this dynamic from the BUSINESS and LABEL perspective, undoubtedly GREEN DAY are the poster boys for the pitfalls of working with the MAJORS during this pre-digital era (because currently nobody cares about this puritanical litmus test since no one is selling records at this scale anymore). they famously were effectively abandoned and ex-communicated by their SCENE and the ARTISTIC COMMUNITY from which they developed, the 924 GILMAN STREET venue in BERKELEY. all for signing to WARNER BROS. they were in a bind. touring nonstop throughout the states and EUROPE, LOOKOUT! couldnt keep up with demand. their fans couldnt locate product. GREEN DAY didnt believe that PUNK ROCK was about being ELITIST with hard-to-locate OBSCURE records in limited supply. the widespread DISTRIBUTION of a MAJOR would change all that. and it did. but it came at a high cost to their personal sense of IDENTITY, especially in the wake of DOOKIE (REPRISE, 1994) and its MASSIVE diamond-level commercial success. success only counterintuitively exacerbated that sense of ALIENATION and DISLOCATION from their small BAY AREA SCENE and even their FANBASE. eventually newcomers would replace that shedding of ORIGINAL SUPPORTS tenfold but that was the bargain back during this heady period.
SMASH! really elucidates on an that INTERESTING convergence of PUNK ROCK ethics and all the GUILT, CONTRADICTION and seemingly socially enforced LACK OF AMBITION at the heart of it. when NIRVANA exploded, close behind it was the dismantling and/or renewed RECALCITRANCE of all that undercurrent of TRADITIONAL mores at the heart of the genre that separated it from other music sub-genres. it is still in retrospect a topic that is absolutely FASCINATING to consider almost three decades hence. i dont know if it has an analogue to today, which is more ECLECTIC, GENRE-LESS and far less TRIBAL musically than it was back then. politically today is a whole 'nother story entirely.
definitely a INTRIGUING book well worth checking out. even if its BRITISH perspective on the CULTURAL PHENOMENA that was 90s PUNK ROCK does get a little weird at times.
i grew up on ALTERNATIVE ROCK from the 1990s. i wasnt even in elementary school yet when the 1980s ended, along with it the INFLUENTIAL contemporaneous HARDCORE and INDIE scenes that are still very much CELEBRATED decades on. my entry to to that discussion was the FAMOUS SEATTLE ALTERNATIVE scene that sparked the 90s with SOUNDGARDEN, PEARL JAM and NIRVANA being among the first records i ever received as a child before i became even a decade old. looking back its almost like being informed about previous PUNK ROCK, GLAM ROCK, NEW WAVE, POST PUNK, PROG ROCK and even BRITISH INVASION movements via a cultural bank shot. it was NEW music once or twice removed from those veritable scenes, but something uniquely SEPARATE at the same time.
decades on now i see ALTERNATIVE ROCK as the beginning of GENRE-LESS music. it seemed all manner of PRODUCTION TECNIQUES and ideas were being thrown in the mix, from SAMPLING and BEAT-MAKING utilized in both HIP HOP and INDUSTRIAL circles, new sonic TEXTURES were experienced with bands and artists like BECK, GARBAGE and NINE INCH NAILS that embellished and expanded upon the TRADITIONAL textbook of what a ROCK AND ROLL band sounded like and could get away with. i also always think of music within a social context and while some listeners doggedly clung to OUTMODED identities based out of geographically LOCAL variations of PUNK, INDIE and HARDCORE scenes, i grew up more or less around people that could appreciate multiple DISPARATE genres and cultural movements ranging from FUNK and R&B to HIP HOP, PUNK ROCK and extreme METAL. in essence it was all the same VIBE, but DIFFERENT expressions. decades on you have artists that seamlessly split the difference between various UNRELATED genres and have no issue garnering a MASSIVE audience, which to my perspective showcases the OPEN-MINDEDNESS past down by the ALTERNATIVE ROCK generation that was less interested in PURITY and more concerned about songwriting and sonic INNOVATION.
at least that is my sense of the musical and cultural EVOLUTION that took place during my conscious time on this planet as an ACTIVE listener. some may disagree and thats alright.
embedded below is a DEER GOD RADIO episode on nonprofit internet radio station MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC that originally aired almost exactly four years ago. hard to believe ive had a radio show that long! the playlist includes music from throughout the ALTERNATIVE ROCK movement of the 1990s. enjoy!
photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
hindsight manipulates us all. a nearly universally CELEBRATED album like GREEN DAY's GEORGE W BUSH-era narrative paean to the domestic UNDERCLASS and UNDERREPRESENTED resistance, AMERICAN IDIOT (REPRISE, 2004), feels in retrospect almost INEVITABLE. at the time of its tracking back in 2003-2004, as depicted in the documentary HEART LIKE A HAND GRENADE (CRAZY COW PRODUCTIONS, 2015), this was hardly the case. the band had a rare mid-career miscue with WARNING (REPRISE, 2000) that saw them supposedly loosing a step with the POPULAR ZEITGEIST to a new crop of POP PUNK bands they essentially helped initiate (i.e. BLINK-182, NEW FOUND GLORY, SUM 41, GOOD CHARLOTTE, etc.).
not sure i wholly buy into that narrative, but that is the popular MYTHOLOGY surrounding the creation of AMERICAN IDIOT, which was REVOLUTIONARY and UNEXPECTED upon release and is arguably GREEN DAY's crowning achievement, even more so than their debut DOOKIE (REPRISE, 1994). part of such ACCLAIM was rooted in the fact that it was perceived to be a STRIDENT middle finger to the BUSH ADMINISTRATION and their REGRESSIVE political agenda. in the early 2000s SYSTEM OF A DOWN and RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE were on the outs and ROCK music was in a weird place in that it was attempting to recreate the past a la the backward-looking INDIE ROCK REVIVAL bands such as THE STROKES, WHITE STRIPES, INTERPOL, LCD SOUNDSYSTEM and the like. nobody, and i mean no one, thought that GREEN DAY would be the band to create something as AUDACIOUS and thematically COMPLEX as a ROCK OPERA that was likewise brazenly POLITICAL at a time of war. it really put everyone else to shame in retrospect and influenced the style and scope of their catalogue from their on out.
whats compelling about HEART LIKE A HAND GRENADE is how DETERMINED, COMMITTED and CONFIDENT band leader and main songwriter BILLIE JOE ARMSTRONG is in the studio. this was a major risk. GREEN DAY were considered relative LIGHT-WEIGHTS that in essence filled a psychic and industry VOID left by NIRVANA in the wake of their TRAGIC mid-90s implosion. in comparison to the SOMBER and POETIC directness of KURT COBAIN's lyrics and persona, ARMSTRONG was by comparison a more JOVIAL and UPBEAT character that wrote songs about the banality of everyday life. AMERICAN IDIOT changed all that in one swell swoop.
its just incredible that this recording process was documented. i have no doubt itll be parsed over decades from now by musicians inspired by ARMSTRONG's GALVANIZED response to a fucked political inflection point in AMERICAN history. lord knows what we will face in the next few decades in the wake of proto-fascist DONALD TRUMP. here's hoping he never returns to power.
photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
in less than two short years itll be three decades since my family permanently left SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA for whats been an INSANE journey that has led me to live in several countries across five continents before resettling on the east coast of the UNITED STATES in recent years. ive been back out west a few times, enough to know that whatever ties i had to ORANGE COUNTY and the greater LOS ANGELES area are now pretty DISTANT and MINUSCULE, but one thing i still hold on to is the EXPERIENCE of listening to the radio while in early elementary school. specifically the nationally INFLUENTIAL ALTERNATIVE ROCK powerhouse that is 106.7FM KROQ.
i have a DISTINCT MEMORY of listening to KROQ and hearing bands like SOUNDGARDEN, LIVING COLOUR, MORRISSEY, THE B-52's, PEARL JAM, JANE'S ADDICTION, U2, TEARS FOR FEARS, NIRVANA, THE CURE, STONE TEMPLE PILOTS, ELECTRONIC, 4 NON BLONDES, DURAN DURAN, R.E.M. and ALICE IN CHAINS on car trips to and from school and regional sporting events with my dad as a kid. at this point that MEMORY is like a security blanket and one reason i probably view radio as an almost SACROSANCT institution.
embedded below are live performances of bands that have played the WEENIE ROAST, ALMOST ACOUSTIC CHRISTMAS or their recent SOUND SPACE events. all of it was recorded well after my time in LOS ANGELES but squarely showcases the continued influence of that station. it is all definitely worth checking out.
i remember being a freshman in high school when i first came across PRIVATE PARTS: THE ALBUM (WARNER BROS, 1997), which was the soundtrack to the film adaptation of HOWARD STERN's book of the same name about the relationship between his personal life and career as a TRANSGRESSIVE radio personality. i cant recall if i had seen the film at that point. what i do know is that by high school i was completely obsessed with ALTERNATIVE ROCK icons JANE'S ADDICTION and the lead single "HARD CHARGER" from the soundtrack was the PERRY FARRELL-led PORNO FOR PYROS with a guest solo by DAVE NAVARRO. for me that was worth the price of admission.
as an album itself PARTS: THE ALBUM comes off a bit REDUNDANT in spots and only makes sense for its connection to the film, since "I WANT YOU TO WANT ME" by CHEAP TRICK, "CAT SCRATCH FEVER" by TED NUGENT, "PINHEAD" BY THE RAMONES, "SMOKE ON THE WATER" by DEEP PURPLE, "JAMIE'S CRYING" by VAN HALEN, "YOU SHOOK ME ALL NIGHT LONG" by AC/DC were all staples of CLASSIC ROCK and ALTERNATIVE ROCK stations at the time. this makes some contextual sense since STERN is famously associated with national terrestrial radio stations (such as the former 660 AM WABC and 92.3 FM K-ROCK stations) that no doubt played played these songs. that said, those songs are staples of their genre and nothing exciting. the new tracks were what made that record interesting at the time, specifically OZZY OSBOURNE's collaboration with TYPE O NEGATIVE on a STATUS QUO cover "PICTURES OF MATCHSTICK MEN," GREEN DAY's cover of THE KINKS' "TIRED OF WAITING FOR YOU," MARILYN MANSON's "THE SUCK FOR YOUR SOLUTION" and ROB ZOMBIE's "THE GREAT AMERICAN NIGHTMARE". many of these recording artists (ROB ZOMBIE, TYPE O NEGATIVE, MARILYN MANSON, OZZY OSBOURNE) had CONTROVERSIAL career trajectories that found them at the center of debates regarding free speech, so their involvement makes absolute perfect sense thematically. as a broadcaster, STERN is noteworthy for his ability to stretch out what was acceptable on public air and in the national discussion, whether that be political, cultural, racial, intergenerational or sexual topics.
again, for me the standout track of this film cash-in is the PORNO FOR PYROS track, but overall its an interesting repackaging of AOR format favorites from the 1970s and 1980s as well as more relevant efforts by then-contemporary bands pushing the cultural envelope much like STERN did pre-satellite radio.
maybe its the generation im from or growing up in suburban SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA in the early 1990s without MTV and only access to the radio and 106.7FM KROQ on constantly, but so much of what i understood to be modern music from an early age was produced by BUTCH VIG.
i remember being at a SHAKEY'S PIZZA in ORANGE COUNTY after what had to be a youth soccer game during my early elementary school years (maybe 1892?) and hearing "SMELLS LIKE TEEN SPIRIT" for the first time as someone played it from the jukebox. had no clue who NIRVANA was or anything about INDIE ROCK, PUNK ROCK or the SEATTLE ALTERNATIVE ROCK scene at the time. i just knew that whatever that was, it sounded how i felt and i connected with it on first listen. i can only think of a rare few other times thats happened with bands like GLASSJAW and THE GET UP KIDS among others. i dont believe i even had a copy of NEVERMIND (DGC, 1991) or the STEVE ALBINI-produced follow-up IN UTERO (DGC, 1993) until christmas of 1993. i was just too young.
and NIRVANA is just the beginning. as i grew older and discovered more bands it was always a pleasure to learn this new discovery (to me) inevitably led back to BUTCH VIG, as was the case with L7, SONIC YOUTH, HELMET, THE SMASHING PUMPKINS and much later GARBAGE. whats compelling to me about his output is how eclectic his production catalogue has been, as AFI sound nothing like AGAINST ME! and sonically and aesthetically sit on a different planet from KILLDOZER, yet they all bear his fingerprint. the man does not pigeonhole himself, even within the greater ROCK N ROLL milieu. the versatility likely comes from his production chops and work ethic that kept the doors of his MADISON, WISCONSIN-based SMART STUDIOS open to all newcomers, but i also feel it comes from the lack of pretense that comes with his midwestern upbringing. with culture caught up with him he didnt seem to become fazed by the attention, instead maintaining a distance while taking advantage of the ability to be selective with upcoming exciting new projects. even his decision to initiate GARBAGE does not feel like an inevitability, but a genuine artistic choice to push the limits of technology and marry it with the songwriting prowess and sardonic yet earnest ethos of ALTERNATIVE ROCK. when i first heard "STUPID GIRL" on MTV at a relatives house, i had no idea BUTCH VIG was involved. which is likely the highest compliment i can offer.
the dude is a chameleon and he is always someone whose latest project i look forward to consuming, just to see what latest madness he's help midwife into the world.
below is a pandemic episode of DEER GOD RADIO from june of 2020 dedicated to the production work of BUTCH VIG. enjoy!
first time i remember hearing the landmark POP PUNK album DOOKIE (REPRISE, 1994) by GREEN DAY was at a cub scout meeting at a friend's house in SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA in late 1994. i was in fourth grade at the time and before the meeting someone brought over this compact disc he'd gotten for his birthday. my first impression was its INTENSITY, SPEED and UNDENIABLE CATCHINESS. given my naïveté at the time, most of the themes surrounding drug culture and relationships went well above my head at the time, but the out-front melodic lines of MIKE DIRNT that transformed his bass into a lead instrument (a la PETER HOOK of JOY DIVISION / NEW ORDER or POUTINE from SCREECHING WEASEL), the rolling kinetic propulsion of TRE COOL's drum fills and BILLIE JOE ARMSTRONG's apparent faux BRITISH singing accent made quite the impression on my young ears (and musical consciousness).
in retrospect the music industry doesnt not like a vacuum, and its to GREEN DAY's credit/misfortune that they stepped into the limelight not too long after the untimely demise of another powerhouse trio, NIRVANA. the two fairly or unfairly are inextricably linked in that regard even though they come from different ends of the PUNK ROCK universe. NIRVANA was more artier and introspective and took inspiration from both the INDIE ROCK (i.e. R.E.M., DINOSAUR JR, MEAT PUPPETS and SONIC YOUTH) and HARDCORE (i.e. BLACK FLAG, THE GERMS, FLIPPER, BIG BLACK) scenes of the 1980s while GREEN DAY was firmly within the MELODIC HARDCORE (i.e. BAD RELIGION, DESCENDENTS, DAG NASTY, HUSKER DU) end of the spectrum with more than a passing indebtedness to the CATCHIER, LESS ANGRY end of the PUNK ROCK spectrum (i.e. THE BUZZCOCKS and THE RAMONES). personally i dont think its fair to compare the two bands as BILLIE JOE ARMSTRONG and KURT COBAIN are very different people with very different SONGWRITING SENSIBILITIES. but i would be remiss to not at least mention that such discussion is an inevitability given the success of both bands, who in tandem lifted PUNK ROCK from an underground commercial nonentity to an entirely mainstream concern that changed the cultural landscape of ROCK AND ROLL to date in its wake.
for me the standout tracks off DOOKIE (and there are quite a few of them) are not just the iconic anthemic singles "WHEN I COME AROUND," "LONGVIEW," "BASKET CASE" and "WELCOME TO PARADISE" but also lesser celebrated tracks like "SHE," "BURNOUT," "PULLING TEETH" and my long-time personal favorite "F.O.D." which is short for "fuck off and die." lovely. i think that much as DOOKIE set the sonic template for what POP PUNK became over the next decade (i.e. concise, no frills song construction with impassioned melodic vocals) with bands like BLINK-182, SUM 41, NEW FOUND GLORY, FALL OUT BOY and GOOD CHARLOTTE among others, what is less celebrated are how influential ARMSTRONG's lyrical perspective has been. and for this i am again using COBAIN as an acknowledged unfair counterpoint. COBAIN was firmly confessional but in an oblique, frustrated and ultimately self-destructive manner. that sense of exposing one's brutal, unadulterated self-eviscerations is part of his legacy that less steadier hands and much less gifted musicians have mined with ever diminishing results (i.e. SEETHER, CREED, STAIND, BUSH, NICKELBACK and PUDDLE OF MUDD). ARMSTRONG on the other-hand seemed to coat his societal observations and self-evaluations within a context that seemed a bit more neutral. i dont believe the narrator in "LONGVIEW" is speaking about its subject (a listless, masturbatory stoner with no ambition) with any sense of enmity or pity. it just is what it is. i can't help but connect that song to later tracks like BLINK-182's "WHAT'S MY AGE AGAIN?" (about outmoded juvenile hijinks done well into someone's 20s) and FALL OUT BOY's "SUGAR, WE'RE GOIN DOWN" (about the lengths fought for a seemingly doomed relationship), which all seem to have a neutral storyteller at the heart not passing authorial judgement on the players in the narrative. personally i just dont see COBAIN having time for that technique of hiding behind a character. his work was more of a guided missile ultimately aimed at himself.
whats interesting for me about GREEN DAY is how ARMSTRONG's songwriting seems over time to trend more towards COBAIN. case in point is the other most celebrated album in GREEN DAY's catalogue, AMERICAN IDIOT (REPRISE, 2004), which seems to marry the two perspectives. but i'll save that discussion for another day.
DOOKIE is required listening for anyone interested in ROCK AND ROLL, end stop.
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.
and if you haven't done so already get the FREE PHONE APP for IOS/ANDROID and enjoy listening to MAKERPARKRADIO.NYC 24/7 at your convenience!
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.
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.