MAKING THE ALBUM: 2013-2014
Taking a Needed Break & Writing New Songs
As the trilogy came out in late 2012, Billie Joe Armstrong remained quiet. He had hidden away with his family and was overcoming his addictions. It was a rough time for him, but also a necessary one for him to get healthy. After years of heavy drinking and drug use, it was time for him to get clean.
On March 14, 2013, Rolling Stone published the one and only interview Billie Joe did about his addiction and new sobriety. He went into detail about everything, but he also confirmed that he was still writing music:
David Fricke: Have you started writing songs again?
Billie Joe Armstrong: I write guitar riffs. I'll come up with melodies in my head and write 'em down in here [picks up his iPhone] and keep a little log going. Let's see... [He punches his iPhone screen. A scrappy acoustic-guitar riff comes out of the tiny speaker.] Stuff like that. I always write lyrics.
DF: Can you tell a difference in what you're writing, because of your recent experience? Is there a "rehab" album in the works?
BJA: It's too early. I feel I have to wait this one out. I don't want to jump in and get myself overwhelmed.
I can only take it one song at a time. I just want to write good songs that people will love, which is a tough thing to do. It would be great to do another rock opera, but using more lo-fi technology. I love shitty-sounding records [grins]. I'd love to do more stuff with Green Day that is 100 percent live. Sometimes I wish we would have recorded our last records that way - that 'Exile on Main Street' feel, where you just get some good tones and go.
One thing I can't do is anything half-assed. I want to make sure everything is right, that the song is fully realized. I think of the first Ramones album and the first Clash album - those songs are fully realized, well played. You can almost hear them doing it in a practice room. You can tell how time goes on, when you fast-forward to [the Clash's] 'Sandinista!' You know all that stuff was done in the studio.
DF: Actually, the first Clash album was produced by their live-sound engineer.
BJA: Yeah! It's a brilliant record. I want to make sure that while we're evolving, we still sound like a unit.
That month, Green Day began their 99 Revolutions Tour in support of the trilogy. The played across North America and Europe before ending the tour that August.
These Paper Bullets
Also on March 14th, some more news surround Billie Joe was revealed: As the New York Times reported, Billie Joe had signed on to write songs for the Yale Repertory Theater's production of These Paper Bullets, described as a "rock ‘n’ roll updating" of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. The play was adapted by Rolin Jones and directed by Jackson Gay, and takes inspiration from the Beatles, centering on a band from Liverpool dealing with romance and the music industry in London.
In March 2014, the New Haven Reister described the play:
Its modish-ness, if you will, is due to the triumvirate’s cheeky choice of taking Shakespeare’s four bachelor soldiers returning from battle to 16th century Messina, Italy, and transporting them to 1960s London, to become the wildly triumphant rock ‘n’ rollers The Quartos, whose resemblance to The Beatles is purely intentional.
The article also described how Billie Joe ended up writing eight songs for These Paper Bullets:
Jones, who’s met with Armstrong several times to discuss his film adaptation of “American Idiot,” Green Day’s Broadway musical, explained his idea to Armstrong.
“I talked him through ‘Much Ado’ because he said, ‘You know, I barely finished high school’” said Jones. “He leaned back, stared at me and was like, ‘OK. Let me get this straight: You’re going to rewrite Shakespeare and I’m gonna rewrite The Beatles — right?’
“A few days later, he had the first song,” Jones said. “He’d written it, played the drums, the bass, the guitar, crafted a demo. Then three days later, another one came through.”
Armstrong wrote eight songs for the show, five of which The Quartos perform live, and three heard over record players and jukeboxes, Jones said.
“This man’s crazily gifted,” Jones said. “And they sound amazingly like Beatles from, like ‘Help!’ to ‘Rubber Soul.’”
On March 9th, one of Billie Joe's new These Paper Bullets songs was released online: "Follow You Around."
These Paper Bullets ran from March 14 through April 5, 2014.
"I Run NY"
While Green Day was busy touring, an unexpected new song with Billie Joe was released. Comedy hip hop group The Lonely Island worked with him for their third record, The Wack Album, released on June 7, 2013. Billie Joe appeared on a hilarious song called "I Run NY." Beyond Green Day's own "Nightlife," this marks Billie Joe's second foray into hip hop music.
Like Sunday, Like Rain
On September 16, 2013, tentative news broke the Billie Joe may be involved in a new movie called Like Sunday, Like Rain. This was confirmed two days later when Loudwire published the exclusive news: The upcoming indie drama was starring Leighton Meester, a struggling musician who becomes the guardian of a 12-year old music prodigy; Billie Joe was cast as her character's boyfriend. This marks Billie Joe's first major role in a film. He had previously appeared in a few films (such as This Is 40) and on a few TV show episodes. Frank Whaley served as the writer and director for Like Sunday, Like Rain, and it was being filmed that summer in New York City.
Like Sunday, Like Rain premiered at Raindance Film Festival in the United Kingdom on September 27, 2014; it made its US debut at the Mill Valley Film Festival on October 6, 2014. In March 2015 it got a limited theatrical release in the US, and has since been released on DVD.
On January 23, 2013, a new documentary was announced: Broadway Idiot would document the making of the musical adaptation of Green Day's 2004 album, American Idiot, which quickly found its way to Broadway. The film premiered at the South by Southwest Music Festival on March 15th, and on October 11th it was released in certain movie theaters around the US. It has since been released digitally and on DVD.
Billie Joe + Norah Jones - Foreverly
On October 23, 2013, fans were surprised to learn that Billie Joe was releasing a new album... but not with Green Day. Instead, he had teamed up with Norah Jones to recored an album of Everly Brothers covers. Foreverly would be a reinterpretation of the Everly Brothers' 1958 album, Songs Our Daddy Taught Us. The first song the unexpected duo released was their cover of "Long Time Gone."
The whole album was recorded in only nine days. Billie Joe told Stereogum how the project came about in the first place:
It all started with Stevie Wonder. [laughter] We sang together with Stevie Wonder and his band and a whole bunch of people, that’s how Norah and I first met. Then … well, I got into the Everly Brothers’ record a couple years ago and I thought it was just beautiful. I was listening to it every morning for a while off and on. I thought it would be cool to remake the record because I thought it was sort of an obscure thing and more people should know about it, but I really wanted to do it with a woman singing because I thought it would take on a different meaning — maybe broaden the meaning a little bit — as compared to hearing the songs being sung by the two brothers. And so my wife said, “Why don’t you get Norah Jones to do it?” and I was like, “Well, I kinda know her.” Well, I mean, we had Stevie Wonder in common. And so I called her and she said yes. So it was kinda like a … well, I keep saying it was kinda like a blind date.
Norah Jones added:
It was, yeah. It was kinda like jumping into something. You know, we’ve both done a lot of different things in our careers but jumping into making a whole record with somebody is definitely the bigger commitment. I think we agreed to go into the studio for a few days just to try it out, remember? And we ended up pretty much doing the whole record in about five days. It was really fun. And then we went back a few months later to revisit it and do a few extra songs over again.
Billie Joe also mentioned how the covers album related back to Green Day:
Well, me and [bassist] Mike [Dirnt] have always sang harmonies together, ever since the beginning of Green Day. One thing I’ve always loved is… I like being in a band or a group atmosphere, so with me and Mike, even in the earliest songs that Green Day wrote there were always two singers. I don’t know. The average listener might be like, “Well, that’s not punk rock” or whatever in regards to this record, but I like doing different things — it’s fun, it makes life more interesting.
In mid-November, they released a music video for the song "Silver Haired Daddy Of Mine," and on November 25, 2013, the album Foreverly was released.
On March 17, 2014, a final video for "Kentucky" came out:
In 2014, Green Day announced that they'd be releasing a new compilation as part of Record Store Day 2014. On April 19th, a demos album called Demolicious was available on CD, vinyl, and cassette. It includes 17 demo tracks and one acoustic track. Nearly all of the songs were included on ¡Uno!, ¡Dos!, or ¡Tré!; however, Demolicious did include one new song: "State Of Shock." That song title was shown during the making of film, ¡Cuatro!, and fans were excited to get to hear one extra trilogy song.
Billie + Avicii = "No Pleasing A Woman"
For my next album I got myself Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, Brandon Flowers of the Killers, and even Chris Martin into the studio – this is so great for me, I have always admired them all.
In a July interview with Rolling Stone, Avicii confirmed that the song he did with Billie Joe Armstrong is called “No Pleasing A Woman.” A week later, we got to hear a two-minute clip of “No Pleasing A Woman” when it was uploaded to Team Avicii’s SoundCloud. The song features Billie Joe on vocals. The low-quality song clip is no longer on that SoundCloud, but it is still available elsewhere. Listen below:
Unfortunately, when Avicii's album, Stories, finally came out in October 2015, it did not feature "No Pleasing A Woman." There is no word on whether there are any plans to release it. For now, we'll just have to be content with the recording above. Avicii is planning to release a new album in 2016, so there is the possibility that "No Pleasing A Woman" could appear on that record.
East Bay Punk Documentary
On June 3, 2014, Green Day announced their involvement in an upcoming documentary called EAST BAY: By the Punx, For the Punx, About the Punx. It chronicles the East Bay punk scene from which Green Day, AFI, Rancid, and many other punk and alternative bands arose. The film is being executive produced by Green Day, and directed & co-produced by East Bay native Corbett Redford. It does not have a set release date, but this should be announced in the coming weeks.
This documentary will be separate from Green Day’s previously announced pre-Dookie film showing the band from 1987 to 1993. That does not yet have a release date, but the band did begin working on it in October 2013.
See the full press release below:
In the mid 1980s, on the eastern shores of the San Francisco Bay, a fuse was lit. As the shadows of the 1960s counterculture gave way to the Reagan 80s, disillusioned kids growing up in Berkeley and its surrounding suburbs discovered punk rock… and each other. Together, with amplifiers, copy machines and hearts blazing, they fought to carve out a movement of their own, and changed music, art and literature forever.
EAST BAY: By the Punx, For the Punx, About the Punx is the story of how the East Bay’s unique and thoughtful style of punk rock arose, sending out ripples from the incredibly diverse community of misfits that banded together around Berkeley’s 924 Gilman. Today, the world at large knows about some of the bands who emerged from this scene like Green Day, Rancid & AFI, but their success is just the tip of the iceberg; the roots of this inspiring story go deep into the underground.
Drawing from over 150 interviews, footage from hundreds of live shows, and thousands of archival photos and flyers, the story of the East Bay punk scene is told by the people who were there; its unlikely beginnings, its struggles and triumphs, and how it continues to be influential today.
The documentary EAST BAY: By the Punx, For the Punx, About the Punx is being executive produced by Green Day and directed & co-produced by East Bay native Corbett Redford, alongside a production crew of local musicians, artists, and friends from the East Bay punk scene, including Kamala Parks, Robert Eggplant, Greg Schneider & Dan Abbott, with art contributed by Aaron Cometbus, Tim Armstrong, Janelle Hessig, Jesse Michaels & more…
The film will be a definitive telling of an unforgettable story, drawing from a wide variety of viewpoints. Production is still very much in progress, and we welcome other voices who have something to add to the story.
We are looking for archival photos, flyers or video (casual or live show) footage of any individuals or bands that participated in the 1980 – 1994 era of the East Bay punk scene. Some of the bands that we are focusing on include: Neurosis, Christ On Parade, Isocracy, Corrupted Morals, Operation Ivy, Soup, Crimpshrine, Mr. T Experience, Green Day/Sweet Children, Rancid, Blatz, Filth, Sweet Baby, Econochrist, Spitboy, Jawbreaker, Fifteen, Pinhead Gunpowder, The Gr’ups, Schlong, AFI, Tilt, Kamala and the Karnivores,Samiam, Monsula, Cringer, Raooul, Yeastie Girlz, The Tourettes, Black Fork, The Skinflutes, Sewer Trout, Fang, Special Forces, Nuisance, The Lookouts and other bands of interest from the 1980-1994 East Bay punk scene.
Non-East Bay bands we are looking for archive items for that relate to their association with the East Bay/Gilman: Screeching Weasel, Flipper, Dead Kennedys, Avengers, NOFX, Victim’s Family, Fugazi,Nomeansno, Bikini Kill, Bad Religion, MDC and more.
You can learn more about “EAST BAY: By the Punx, For the Punx, About the Punx” at their official website. You can also like and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to keep up with the latest information.
On July 19, 2014, it was announced that Mike Dirnt would be co-producing a new independent film called Crickets with Green Day’s longtime manager, Pat Magnarella. The script was written by Alfredo Botello, also an old friend of Mike’s. As the Hollywood Reporter describes:
The story, by Botello and Jack Umbrella, centers on the relationship of two estranged brothers. One, an aspiring stand-up comic, is dying of a terminal illness. He asks his brother, a depressed office drone, for one last request: to go on stage and perform his material for him to see if he ever really had talent. What he doesn’t reveal, though, is that he has an even bigger surprise in store.
Mike says that the love-hate relationship “feels very real.” As he stated, “I’ve been — and a lot of people have been — affected by illnesses and it’s a very relatable thing.” Mike’s wife of 5 years, Brittney, had recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. The couple were hopeful and staying strong, and were sharing their journey and fight against cancer through Instagram.
Script writer Alfredo Botello says of Crickets, “It’s something I’ve been working on a while back. I wanted to write something about the topic of death that was touching but not too sentimental.” As Mike also added, “I’m just kind of tired of junk food movies. Here’s something that’s a feel good, feel bad, and feel everything movie.”
In addition to producing Crickets, Mike Dirnt would also do what he does best and help out with the music for the film.
On September 5, 2014, Billie Joe was confirmed for his biggest movie role yet: He was set to star in an upcoming comedy called Geezer, about a 40 year old rock star whose family forgets his birthday. Billie Joe was reportedly to have the lead role, alongside Selma Blair, and the film was directed by Lee Kirk. Playing a rock star sounded like it would be a good fit for Billie Joe!
Lee Kirk told Variety about working with Billie Joe:
The initial seeds for ‘Geezer’ were planted a couple of years ago, when my son was born within weeks of my fortieth birthday. Billie Joe Armstrong brings an exciting authenticity to the film. He’s a dad, he’s a musician and he’s an incredible talent.
Variety also revealed that Geezer will include new songs written and performed by Billie Joe.
Geezer is set to premiere at the Tribeca film festival in New York City in April 2016.
Beating Cancer & Getting Married
On May 16, 2014, Mike Dirnt shared an important personal message on the official Green Day website regarding his wife, Brittney:
Dear Green Day Family,
Recently my wife Brittney was diagnosed with breast cancer.
We have started our battle and she is enduring treatment as we speak! We want you to know that Brittney (Batmansmom) is strong and with the help of Amazing doctors, support from family, and positive thoughts/prayers from our Green Day family, SHE WILL BEAT THIS!
This is going to be a challenging year, but we are determined to get though this as quickly and
openly as possible.
Throughout 2014, Brittney, battled breast cancer. After months of struggle, chemotherapy, and keeping a positive attitude, she finally beat it in 2015. She had her last surgery in January.
Green Day's touring guitarist and "official unofficial" fourth member, Jason White, also battled cancer. In late 2014 he was diagnosed with cancer of the throat. Luckily, he made a speedy recovery as well.
On a lighter note, Tré Cool found love again. He got engaged to Sara Rose Lipert in January 2014, and the couple married on October 11, 2014.