June 20, 2012


Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong Not Crazy About Anarchists

Stefan M. Prager
Stefan M. Prager

Punks often dabble in and promote an anarchist lifestyle, so it might come as a bit of a surprise to some fans to learn Billie Joe Armstrong—frontman of arguably the biggest punk band in the world—has some serious reservations about anarchism as a way of life.

In a recent (excellent) interview the Green Day singer gave to Rolling Stone's David Fricke, Armstrong touched on being a member of the uber-rich 1 percent but feeling like he's still part of the 99. Fricke pointed out the band's upcoming album Tré! has numerous references to the Occupy movement and he asked Armstrong if he had checked out the Occupy protests in his hometown of Oakland, CA. Armstrong answered with an oblique, "Um, yes and no."

"We wanted to be part of it in some way," Armstrong said. "I thought it was about working people and where we come from. But Oakland got really complicated when the anarchists started coming in. I'm not into that—smashing the windows in a small business." So basically, he doubts the practices of anarchism when they make life harder for the working class. And Armstrong—who sang John Lennon's "Working Class Hero" for an Amnesty International charity comp and volunteered for Habitat for Humanity after Hurricane Katrina ravaged New Orleans—is all about the working class.

"It's interesting: Cops are 99 percenters. Firemen are 99 percenters," Armstrong said. "That's where the anarchists are confused. This is much broader than you think it is."

In spite of his (for most of us) unimaginable wealth, Billie Joe doesn't feel like he's part of the dastardly richest 1 percent. "I feel like a 99, but technically I'm a 1," he said. "I know that's where I come from—the 99—even though I can afford for my kids to go to a good college."

Aside from #OWS references, we can apparently expect Green Day's upcoming album trilogy to sound more immediate and "garage band"-esque than the last two punk operas they composed. "We wanted something punchier, more power pop, somewhere between AC/DC and the early Beatles," Armstrong said. "Even my son asked me, 'Dad, would you ever go back to playing songs like from Dookie and Kerplunk?'" Ha! Billie Joe's kid wants him to play the early stuff. That's hilarious, adorable and proves the kid is being raised right.