Punk rockers Green Day have been a radio airwaves staple for more than two decades. Forming in 1986, the Cali-based band gained traction as part of the Bay Area’s DIY-club punk scene, giving way to monumental mainstream success that includes platinum albums, five Grammy Awards, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and more.
Moreover, Green Day’s credited with reviving the U.S.’s mainstream interest in punk rock, largely through the breakout success of their major label debut Dookie (1994). Ten years and multiple albums later, the Trio - vocalist/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, bassist Mike Dirnt, and drummer Tré Cool – revitalized themselves by releasing wildly successful rock opera American Idiot (2004), which garnered a stage adaption and Broadway debut.
These days, the band retains its powerhouse status, having recently dropped Revolution Radio – and they’re launching a supporting North American Tour tonight (March 1). To celebrate, AXS searched high and low to bring you some tidbits you may not know about one of America’s most beloved rock bands.
1. Green Day was barred from the DIY punk club where they cut their teeth
The spot that was the fledgling band’s springboard - 924 Gilman Street – banned Green Day from playing its stage, after they signed a major record deal. Green Day signed with Reprise Records for Dookie’s 1994 release, resulting in the punk rockers being labeled as “sell-outs.”
2. Their decades-long ban at Gilman was temporarily lifted
While Green Day’s stardom still reigns, the band was permitted to return to the DIY punk venue’s stage in 2015. The trio played a surprise benefit concert there, coming “home” to the all-ages non-profit for the first time in 21 years.
3. They released two albums and changed drummers before finding fame
Prior to signing with the big boys, Green Day released two studio albums with now-defunct indie label Lookout! Records. 39/Smooth (1990) is the band’s only effort featuring original drummer John Kiffmeyer, followed by sophomore set Kerplunk (1992) with Tré Cool on the kit.
4. The band once toured in a bookmobile
Believe it or not, the dynamo trio once operated on a supremely marginal budget. Prior to releasing Kerplunk, the band packed themselves into a converted bookmobile as a means to tour cross-country. Finally landing on the east coast, it was there that Green Day starting making key connections - and a name for themselves.
5. Billie Joe Armstrong owns a used-guitar shop
The frontman and guitarist owns Broken Guitars, a used-guitar store in Oakland, California. Armstrong and his business partner’s retail shop focuses on buying, trading and selling vintage-only axes and amps.