Green Day is an American rock trio formed in 1987. The band has consisted of lead vocalist and guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, bassist and backing vocalist Mike Dirnt, and drummer Tré Cool for the majority of its existence. The band is credited as one of the two main bands, along with The Offspring, who put the punk revival into process, though they have been described as a "sell out" band by notable members of the punk rock community.
Green Day was originally part of the punk scene at 924 Gilman Street in Berkeley, California. The band's early releases for independent record label Lookout! Records earned it 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. and 15 million 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. The band's eighth studio album, 21st Century Breakdown, was released on May 15, 2009.
Green Day has sold over 22 million records in the United States. They have won four Grammy Awards; Best Alternative Album for Dookie, Best Rock Album for American Idiot, Record of the Year for "Boulevard of Broken Dreams", and Best Rock Album for the second time for 21st Century Breakdown.
In 1987, friends Billie Joe Armstrong and Mike Dirnt, 15 years old at the time, formed a band called Sweet Children. The first Sweet Children show took place on October 17, 1987, at Rod's Hickory Pit in Vallejo, California where Armstrong's mother was working. In 1988, Armstrong and Dirnt began working with former Isocracy drummer, John Kiffmeyer (also known as Al Sobrante). Kiffmeyer served as both the band's drummer and business manager, handling the booking of shows and helping the band establish a fan base. As said in the film Punk's Not Dead, Armstrong cites the band Operation Ivy (which features Tim Armstrong and Matt Freeman of Rancid) as a major influence, and a band that drove Armstrong to form a band.
Larry Livermore, owner of Lookout! Records, saw the band play an early show and signed them to his label. In 1989 they recorded their first EP, 1,000 Hours. Before 1,000 Hours was released, the band dropped the name Sweet Children, according to Livermore this was done to avoid confusion with another local band Sweet Baby. The band adopted the name Green Day, allegedly due to their fondness of marijuana.
Lookout! would release Green Day's first LP, 39/Smooth in early 1990. Green Day would record two EPs later that year: Slappy and Sweet Children, the latter of which included some older songs they had recorded for Minneapolis indie label Skene! Records. In 1991, Lookout! Records released 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours, a compilation of the 39/Smooth, Slappy, and 1,000 Hours EPs. In late 1990, shortly after the band's first nationwide tour, Sobrante left the East Bay area to attend college. The Lookouts drummer Tré Cool began filling in as a temporary replacement, and when it became clear that Sobrante did not plan to commit to the band full time, Tré Cool's position as Green Day's drummer became permanent. The band went on tour for most of 1992 and 1993, and played a stretch of shows overseas in Europe. The band's second full length album Kerplunk sold about 50,000 copies in the U.S.
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 overdriven guitar, fast, manic drums, and relatively high-treble bass. Most of their songs are fast-paced and under four minutes. 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, proto-punks The Who, and power pop pioneers Cheap Trick. Armstrong's lyrics commonly describe alienation, ("Jesus of Suburbia", "Boulevard of Broken Dreams", "Road to Acceptance", "Disappearing Boy", "Castaway") hysteria ("Basket Case", "Panic Song", "American Eulogy"), 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", "Give Me Novacaine"). 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.