I was talking with a fellow Green Day fan the other day about the countless nonsensical arguments people have over whether Green Day is “punk,” is “punk enough,” is “power punk,” is “pop punk,” or just “punk sellouts.” It boggles my mind, these conversations spread over the Internet and in person, the constant arguments people have over what defines punk and who is eligible to be called punk or even listen to it or attend shows, apparently. I continued by saying that I just don’t understand why people diss Green Day so much in regards to their “punkdom.” While I intellectually understand the arguments, I said, “these guys are punk to their soul, and because of them and their stardom, many fans of Green Day, if they so choose, are exposed to the world of punk. They are like a gateway drug to the history of punk, and even if people don’t enjoy their music, punks especially should be proud that they keep punk alive for new generations to be exposed to.” She liked the phrase, “gateway drug to the history of punk.”
Proof in point that GD is a gateway drug is Billie Joe Armstrong’s induction speech of Iggy Pop and the Stooges at last week’s Hall of Fame induction. He never gives “good” speeches because it’s not really his thing and he gets really shy and nervous for the most part when he has to pull out a piece of paper and read it (see as an example the speech he gave in 2006 when Green Day received the “Spirit of Liberty” Award from People for the American Way), but one of the great highlights of the speech is that you could tell how much he loved and how damned happy and excited he was to be inducting Iggy and the Stooges into the Hall of Fame. He then rattled off a list of about 70 bands that considered Iggy and the Stooges their inspiration. Eldon from the Green Day Community was kind enough to compile a list of the bands that he mentioned.
List of bands Billie namechecked in his speech! (in order):
The Ex (I’m iffyest on whether he said this, but I’m pretty damn sure)
The Dead Boys
Die Toten Hosen
The Exploding Hearts
Gang of Four
The Gun Club
Guns N Roses
New York Dolls
Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Real Kids
Siouxsie & The Banshees
Stiff Little Fingers
The Sex Pistols
Queens of the Stone Age
The White Stripes
And then the censor at the end makes it hard for me to tell if he said another band, but who knows, that’s at least 99% of it hahah!
ENJOY! If you don’t know ‘em…CHECK ‘EM OUT
I’m pretty sure that the last band he mentioned that the censors bleeped was “and my own fucking band, Green Day, too!” Eldoon is right, check out this list of bands if you don’t know them because whether you call yourself a punk or not, the bands that he mentioned are great and powerful and each band will cause you to learn more about this music that exploded out of rebellion and rage and in its way, took over a little part of the world.
I recently wrote about the Pinhead Gunpowder show that I traveled to see out in Berkeley in February. I had the time of my life, was happy to support a woman suffering from cancer, see my friends, head to 924 Gilman for the first time, and see PHGP because I love the music, and yes, I happen to really like members of the band, particularly some guy named Billie Joe Armstrong. Some punk out in the East Bay decided to write a comment on the blog, calling the group of people I was with, “a bunch of losers.” Why were we losers? In his mind, we were only there to see Billie Joe and we wouldn’t like this band for any other reason than that. Fair enough, I suppose, even though he assumed a lot about me from one post without reading anything else I’ve written about Green Day or my life on this blog.
I was having dinner with friends when I read his comment, and I could easily have not approved it, but in this case, I was interested in his reasons (like I didn’t know what he was going to say in the first place) and wrote back then and there. I should have waited until I got home to reply, but I have tried my best to balance my fangirldom with real life commentary and was pissed and interested in knowing why he wrote that we were “losers.” He replied and implied that we were a bunch of losers because we were women traveling to see PHGP because of Billie Joe, and apparently, that is a not a good enough reason to see a band. Really, if that were the case, no one would see any band because of any member of it. He then went on to call me a bitch and a “women child,” telling me to “grow up” while complaining about my writing and misspelling “merrit” at the same time. Oh, and apparently punks don’t call themselves punks anymore.
There goes at least one idea of Gilman’s wall of ‘dont’s’ posted at the front door, “No Sexism.”
To be fair, maybe he was pissed that I mentioned that Aaron wasn’t very nice that night and seemed to have issues with the women in the audience, too. I know I had my issues when a fan screamed as Billie Joe walked into Gilman myself. What I wrote was meant to express how happy and determined I was to be a part of a special night at a special place with my friends that I had only recently heard about that made me feel part of a community and history that felt like home. I am a Green Day fan for sure, but this guy assumed (and I assume it was a guy myself) so many things based on the title of this blog and lines within the piece, that it made my head spin.
Billie Joe was recently featured in the gay-themed magazine, “Out.” It’s a great article and features a blog-only addition that can be found here. In the blog-only article, Billie Joe talks about what it means to be “punk rock.” He mostly focuses on the fact that the music brings together a community of somewhat like-minded people. Personally, I don’t care if you argue about the meanings of punk until you turn blue and drop dead. All I know is that I don’t know but one thing: it’s the music, stupid, that forms the community. It’s high time that punks stop arguing over every little thing and remember the sense of community, whether you are a punk, whether you don’t call yourself a punk anymore or whether you’re a bitch woman child. And for those young and old fans of Green Day that weren’t exposed to punk properly back in the day (or half-exposed to it like me), enjoy the gateway drug and the history and future as well.
ON WHAT IT MEANS TO BE “PUNK ROCK”:
That’s like a 10 part answer. I think of it as something that you need to have of your own. For me it’s about community. I think it’s kind of spiritual in its own way, because people fight over it so much and the meaning of it. It’s a sense of self-discovery. But also a new set of ideas and a new poetry, a new music that you discover that you notice that no one else is really into, or goes against what other people are normally into. It’s like you’re free to be an individual and taking on new ideas and challenging old ideas. I think it has a lot to do with burning down the establishment to create something new. But at the same time, you find relationships within that too. It’s something that’s supposed to empower you. It’s about starting something new. Part of the problem with a lot of punk rock is that people believe that it’s supposed to be one thing. Everything for me starts off with punk rock when I’m writing songs — it’s almost like I’m stripped down to the bare bones of music again. It’s kind of in my DNA in this point.
-Billie Joe Armstrong, OUT Magazine, Popnography Blog