Becoming a musician of power is an ultimate feat. Being a mastermind behind so many bands must be tiring, but this former latch key kid, embraces the lifestyle with open arms. The singer/songwriter in question, is Billie Joe Armstrong — a guitarist who has influenced many in the music industry: and his main outfit, Green Day who have also influenced a copious amount of acts. These bands have learned greatly from the Californian stalwarts, bands which monumentally pull at the punk cloth.
Armstrong is in fact a leader of many musical projects, from the punk driven Pinhead Gunpowder to his new ultra-polished act The Longshot.
The man is everywhere, never tired, never forced into the clutches of mundanity, always keeping himself busy. He’s 46 now, but still dazzles, running around hallowed stages, fundamentally pushing his political message to the masses. By doing this, he’s came under fire, but he doesn’t care.
Since the beginning of his musical venture, when Green Day was starting out, when their breakout happened, Armstrong had shown, through his lyrics, he’s battle-hard. Yes, the words have flourished over the years into political statements, but they’ve always been poetic and relevant. He’s truly a wordsmith, and on the evidence of 9 minute thriller Jesus Of Suburbia from influential album American Idiot, he struck gold.
And politics and music don’t always mix well, but American Idiot didn’t buckle under the pressure — it shined and brought Green Day back from the brink. Armstrong, Dirnt, and Cool, nestled back into the music industry and were greeted with stellar reviews from critics surprised by American Idiot’s likeability and musical scope. But it’s not all been smooth for Armstrong over the years. In 2012 there was an incident at the I Heart festival where he had a damaging meltdown. Intoxicated, he smashed his guitar on the stage and bellowed out his grievances for millions to see. After he shook the world, he entered rehab immediately to seek help for his addictions and demons.
Although he’s had some pretty low moments, Armstrong has become one of the most diverse and respected musicians playing music today. His simple, yet energetic guitar lines will never win him any awards, but they’re infectious and coherent. On 1994 masterpiece Dookie, Armstrong showcased his musical muscles with grade a precision, singing with a snotty nose and boundless enthusiasm.
Nowadays Armstrong is taking a break from his most remarkable band Green Day to focus on The Longshot which is a project arching towards garage rock. They’ve just released their debut record Love Is For Losers and it is a departure for Armstrong. His usual political poetry has been eradicated for more upbeat lyrical content.
The album isn’t a special, ground-breaking affair, but is infectious enough to count.
And as Armstrong struts his stuff in The Longshot as a singer/songwriter, people have reacted asking him on social media if Green Day has become a defunct band. Armstrong’s reply is that he is just having fun and Green Day is still his main creative output. And as mentioned before, Armstrong has fronted many bands. These include Pinhead Gunpowder, Foxboro Hot Tubs, The Network, Operation Ivy, The Frustrators.
Being creative keeps a musician alive — whether it be writing lyrics or playing an instrument or singing your heart out. For Armstrong it’s about keeping things fresh and relevant. But Green Day have had their pitfalls, with their trilogy Uno, Dos, Tre, which were released in 2012. These records weren’t at the same standard as prior albums. Armstrong admitted his creative spark wasn’t in full bloom.
Recent record Revolution Radio didn’t hit the heights either, but many thought it was a great departure from rock opera’s like American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown. It is a back to basics record, fuelled on adrenaline and powerful lyricism with punk notes throughout…
And there’s still some records in Armstrong and Green Day. The band may be in their 40’s, but they’re still mentally strong and musically competent to create maybe another American Idiot or Dookie, or even something as formidable as Nimrod.
Words: Mark Mcconville