Two years ago, Billie Joe Armstrong was driving into Manhattan when he came across a throng of protesters.
The experience inspired the title track of Green Day’s new album, Revolution Radio, a collection of songs about the chaotic state of America in 2016.
Most songs touch on pressing social issues: “Still Breathing” is a scorcher that, according to Armstrong, “Goes from the life of a junkie to the life of a gambler to the life of a single mother and a soldier and how we’re all kinda intertwined.” The most incendiary song is lead single “Bang Bang,” written from the perspective of a mass shooter.
Revolution Radio is Green Day’s first album since Armstrong went to rehab in 2012 for prescription-pill addiction, which forced the band to postpone dozens of tour dates in the wake of their trio of albums released that same year, ¡Uno!, ¡Dos! and ¡Tre! Armstrong recovered, but the band was soon sidetracked by more adversity.
Thankfully, by late 2015, both White and Brittney Dirnt were in remission, and Green Day began work on a new LP at their studio in Oakland, producing themselves for the first time since 2000’s Warning.
T was, like, just stuff going on in everybody’s lives and then suddenly I had a couple of songs out of now so that’s just kind of the way it starts.
You think?! [Big laugh] I think that t’s some really good songs on t.
Everyone said, “Oh, my God, I’ve never really heard of someone doing that,” but it was like coming up with almost like string arrangements for using a bow on songs like “Outlaws” and “Forever Now.” It was really fun.