Green Day is an American rock trio formed in 1987. The band has consisted of Billie Joe Armstrong (vocals, guitar), Mike Dirnt (bass guitar, vocals), and Tré Cool (drums, percussion) for the majority of its existence.
Green Day was originally part of the punk rock scene at 924 Gilman Street in Berkeley, California. Its early releases for independent record label Lookout! Records earned them a grassroots fanbase, some of whom felt alienated when the band signed to a major label. Nevertheless, its major label debut Dookie (1994) became a breakout success and eventually sold over 10 million copies in the U.S. alone, and 15 million copies sold worldwide. As a result, Green Day was widely credited, alongside fellow California punk bands The Offspring and Rancid, with reviving mainstream interest in and popularizing punk rock in the United States. Green Day’s three follow-up albums, Insomniac, Nimrod and Warning did not achieve the massive success of Dookie, but they were still successful, reaching double platinum, double platinum, and gold status respectively. Green Day’s 2004 rock opera American Idiot reignited the band’s popularity with a younger generation, selling five million copies in the U.S.
Green day has sold over 65 million records worldwide, including 22 million in the United States alone. They have won three Grammy Awards; Best Alternative Album for Dookie, Best Rock Album for American Idiot, and Record of the Year for “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”.
Green Day’s sound is often compared to first wave punk bands such as the Ramones, The Clash, Sex Pistols, The Jam, and the Buzzcocks. The majority of their song catalog is composed of distorted guitar, fast, manic drums, and relatively high-treble bass. Most of their songs are fast-paced and under the average song length of four minutes (4:00), yet some of their songs run on for much longer – Jesus of Suburbia is approximately nine minutes long. Billie Joe Armstrong has mentioned that some of his biggest influences are seminal alternative rock bands Hüsker Dü and The Replacements, and that their influence is particularly noted in the band’s chord changes in songs. In fact, Green Day has covered Hüsker Dü’s “Don’t Want to Know If You Are Lonely” as a b-side for the “Warning” single, and the character “Mr. Whirly” in their song “Misery” is a reference to the Replacements song of the same name. Among other influences, Green Day have also cited Queen, and proto-punks The Who. Armstrong’s lyrics commonly describe alienation, (“Jesus of Suburbia”, “Boulevard of Broken Dreams”, “Road to Acceptance”, “Disappearing Boy”, “Castaway”) hysteria (“Basket Case”, “Panic Song”), girls (“She”, “80” “Only of You”,”Maria” “She’s a Rebel”), growing up (Longview and Welcome to Paradise), and the effects of doing drugs (“Geek Stink Breath”, “Green Day”). The Ramones had similar lyrical themes such as hysteria (“Anxiety”, “Psycho Therapy”), alienation (“Outsider”, “Something To Believe In”), girls (“I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend”, “Sheena Is a Punk Rocker”), and drugs (“Now I Wanna Sniff Some Glue”, “Chinese Rocks”). Green Day has covered Ramones songs several times, including recording “Outsider” for the tribute album We’re a Happy Family, and performing “Blitzkrieg Bop” and “Teenage Lobotomy” when the Ramones were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.