Here’s a fact that’ll make you wonder where all the time has gone: Green Day’s punk rock opera and the album that formed the bulk of playlists of every person in their 20s, American Idiot, turns 15 this year.
Some remember it as the album that introduced them to Green Day and a surprising thirst for Billie Joe Armstrong, others remember it as the unexpected second coming of a punk band who had seemingly passed their prime, and there were those who saw it as the juvenile voice of reason amidst a time of political chaos in America.
American Idiot was a lightning in a bottle moment for Green Day and it all wouldn’t have happened had some thieves not robbed the band.
Back in 2003, Green Day were waning in popularity and their 90s goodwill from Dookie was finally running out. The band were planning to record a new album to follow up 2000’s Warning, which was relatively unsuccessful.
Titled Cigarettes and Valentines, the trio had completed around 20 songs for the new album before the demo master tapes were stolen from their studio. After a bit of mourning over their lost work, Green Day decided to start from scratch rather than re-record everything because their producer essentially told them, “yeah, you can do better, those songs were a bit rubbish, ay?”
After spending a few months writing new stuff, the band stumbled across something when they were trying to outdo one another by writing ambitious 30-second songs.
After connecting these together, they ended up with ‘Homecoming’ and that inspired them to write arguably the greatest Green Day song ever, ‘Jesus of Suburbia.’
From that point on, the floodgates opened. The punk rock opera concept for American Idiot was born and George W. Bush provided Green Day with inspiration via the political fustercluck he was putting America through. Once the album was dropped upon the world, the rest quickly became music history.
American Idiot was ultimately a massively successful album that was both ambitious in its ideas and messy in its execution, but it was – and still is – a goddamn good listen. It also polarised Green Day’s fanbase while introducing them to a new generation of fans, though we can’t imagine they’ll be too worried about that when the ‘Wake Me Up When September Ends’ cheques come in.
Hard to believe that all this success and history wouldn’t have happened had a bunch of thieves not broke into the Green Day’s recording studio and stole the tapes of the album they were originally working on.
Turns out blessings do come in disguises, which in this case is in the form of a heart-shaped hand grenade covered in eyeliner.