Ode From Billie Joe

Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong has retained his love of three-chord power-punk hooks—and his puckish, sardonic sense of humor—since the band emerged from the Cali club scene in the early ’90s. With Father of All Motherfuckers, the band showed it had lost none of its flair for melodic mayhem and political disruption. He obliged us with some thoughts about the road less traveled, raising the volume during quarantine and the words he, um, carries with him.

You guys have been at it for a third of a century; what keeps you rockin’ after all these years?
We’re addicted to rock & roll music. We’re always up for the reckless adventure on a road less traveled. Plus I’m a high-school dropout, so what else am I going to do?

Before Father of All Motherfuckers came out, you described it colorfully in an IG post: “This record is the new soul, Motown, glam and manic anthemic. Punks, freaks and punishers! The Dirty messy. The Stink. The lyrics are like a party and lifestyle of not giving a fuck. The life AND death of the party. Not political. Surviving in chaos. The real shit. Me @mikedirnt and @trecool of the Green Day cut through the bullshit.” Can you, um, elaborate further, given the perspective of the last six months?
“Surviving In Chaos” is tattooed on my butt cheek.

Starting with Dookie in 1995, you’ve picked up 20 Grammy nominations and won five. What would it mean to get nominated again?
We dig it! It’s fun to get nominated. It’s funner to win. It’s like crashing a party and taking over the DJ booth with loud guitars.

You’ve done a bunch of cool covers since the lockdown, including Wreckless Eric’s “Whole Wide World,” Adam Schlesinger’s “That Thing You Do,” The Bangles’ Prince-penned “Manic Monday” and Tommy James’ “I Think We’re Alone Now,” and they fit you like a glove. What inspired this “No Fun Mondays” series?
People are really bummed about quarantine. The pandemic took all the fun out of 2020, for me included. I wanted to occupy my time with recording cover songs. I put out “I Think We’re Alone Now.” Fans seemed to appreciate it, so I kept going. I guess it was like a weekly love letter to the fans.