FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About The Worlds Most Popular Punk Band
published: 4 /
Lisa Torem in 'Raging Pages' inds Hank Bordowitz’s Green Day FAQ about the Bay Area-formed 1980’s band is both educational and revealing.
'Green Day FAQ: All That’s Left To Know About The World’s Most Popular Punk Band' by Hank Bordowitz (Backbeat Books) is as comprehensive as it is compelling. Formed in the late 1980s in the Bay Area, Green Day consists of Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt, and Tre Cool. The author not only does a fine job cataloging significant events and achievements, but he also cleverly explores topics that a less-inspired author might consider omissions or sidebars, for example, ‘Tattoos of Memories: Green Day Ink’ or ‘Nobody Likes You: Green Day and Their Detractors.
Bordowitz also zeroes in on the group’s increasingly political themes — some critics felt they were not “polemic” enough, others questioned why they ventured thus far. Their humanitarian work is given fair shrift and their discography is well-detailed and critiqued. The section about album, ‘Uno, Dos, Tre’ provides the reader with a fascinating look at the band’s versatility. The tracks include ‘Nightlife’ with its near hip-hop beat, a tribute to Amy Winehouse, ‘X Kid’ about a friend’s suicide and ‘A Little Boy Named Train’ in which the subject is an “intersex individual.” The band had made a decision to divorce themselves from politics at this point, but still managed to delve into socially-relevant and unique subject matter.
There is, as expected, an analysis of how Green Day fits within the punk paradigm, and varying views regarding whether they “sold out” after accessing major label interest. That in itself, gives us pause as readers, but we also see beyond the studio in a chapter which chronicles their roles as husbands and fathers; ‘Portrait of the Punks as Family Men', which further rounds out our perceptions of their multi-dimensional personalities.
Another clever theme centres around their choice of instruments: ‘The Instrument That I Want’.
True, the facts here might not interest the non-playing fan, but for those who shred or flam and get woozy over cool gear, it’s fun to know that Billy Joe names his various axes and which ones he uses for a particular song. Did you know Billy Joe has a guitar named “Cornel Mustard?” (Can you guess the colour?) Or that one of his fave acoustics was also adored by Phil Everly?
Green Day has enjoyed a twenty-five-year career over which time many surprises have occurred, not to say that the huge success of their album, 'American Idiot', wasn’t warranted, but what are the odds of any rock album spawning a high-grossing, theatrical success?
You’ll be very well-educated about Green Day by the end of your read; Hank Bordowitz serves up a light, informative but introspective look at one of America’s most influential trios.