Recently, we asked Green Day's management if it would be possible to get an exclusive interview for GDA, our first ever. After some coordination, it was agreed that I could interview them in Omaha (a show I had already planned to attend). I found out on Wednesday afternoon that I would be interviewing them on Saturday, but fortunately, I had already been preparing a list of questions in case it worked out.
Before I go any further, I'll tell you that I had a LOT more questions on my list than there was time for. So, if you're wondering why I didn't ask something in particular, it's probably because we ran out of time. That is the only thing I would change about my whole experience if I had the opportunity.
The arrangement was that one of the tour managers would meet me at the back entrance of the arena before sound check. After going through two layers of security, that's exactly what happened. I was the only non-crew person in sound check (!) and it simply felt surreal to be in that position. I enjoyed it greatly but was, of course, also thinking about how the upcoming interview would go. I wanted to represent GDA and the fan community in a way that would not leave a bad impression while also getting some good discussion from the guys.
After sound check, I was walked back to a room with a couch and a few chairs. I was able to get comfortable and had some help to set up my recording equipment — thanks again to Lauren Banjo and Daniel, my son, for helping me get exactly the right device for recording the interview. In just a few minutes, in walked Billie, Mike and Tre. I have to say that, in all the times I've seen them, they have never looked better. They seemed relaxed, happy, and bursting with good health. They all sat down, and we got started.
Aside from running out of time (though, to be honest, it would have taken hours to work through all my questions), I'm reasonably pleased with the way it all turned out. The guys were so incredibly nice and seemed to be totally engaged in the moment we were all sharing together. They really thought about their answers and seemed to enjoy the discussion. Here's the first installment of the interview — we talked about music, touring, and special shows. I did you all a favor and removed a lot of my rambling when I was asking the questions. Enjoy!
Mike: You said it, 'passion.' We only know how to do this one way — give 100%. It's just driven into us, I guess.
Tre: It's the way we're wired.
Mike: The music moves us the same way with the energy from the crowd.
Billie: I agree. We love what we do. I think there've even been times when I thought, 'Maybe I'll take it easy tonight,' and then as soon as you hit the stage, it's just 'All systems go!' It's just a natural response for me. Really no other way to explain it.
Mike: I always think, 'I don't know if I'll always be able to give what 100% is today, but I'll always give 100% of what I have to offer.' I don't think these engines know how to run any differently.
J'net: Well, it's awesome. Your fans appreciate it so much. I wish you guys could just sometimes sit out in line, y'know? We get in line as early as we can and we compare notes ... "Well, we're driving from Kansas City as soon as the show's over..."
Mike: You guys should film some of that. We never get to see it, it's cool! Film some of that interaction and maybe post some of that stuff too, it's rad!
Billie & Tre: Yeah!
J'net: [thinks to self: challenge accepted!] I'd be glad to do that, yeah. I mean, everybody would, even the people who know how to do that [technical stuff] … like Billie, he's pretty good with all the Facebook Lives and Instagram.
Billie: Yeah, I'm getting pretty awesome — Billie Joe Zuckerberg!
J'net: Right … 'Now where's the off button?...'
Billie: Thank God for two young sons, man! They can tell you everything.
Mike: I have to call my wife [laughs]. My wife's still young, she knows how to do that shit!
J'net: Music is an emotional experience, and some of your songs are so emotional. Do you ever feel overcome by the emotion when you're performing, or are you somehow in performance mode so you can rise above it?
Billie: I definitely go there. Like that line 'I'm like a son that was raised without a father,' — that's a button-pusher for me. Also with Forever Now, and also lately with playing '21 Guns' acoustic … when I get emotional is when I hear people singing along — when I hear voices that loud. I think with Green Day, we create an atmosphere that's as close to a European crowd that you can get — with people singing along, almost like a soccer anthem. And I love seeing people who are normally self-conscious when they lose it. I try to push people to just lose it when they come to our shows. Some nights, people are so pent up with energy, they don't even know that they have inside them. And I try to get people to dance like no one's watching and sing like no one's listening — just go for it!
Green Day in Omaha, 8-12-2017 — Photo by Jack Yates
J'net: Do you have favorite show moments that you like to think back on?
Billie: Smashing my guitar against the Subaru just the other night was pretty fun. [laughs] That's a first. I've never done that before.
Mike: There are favorite moments of each show. We go backstage after the show, and we talk about all the rad things that happened.
Billie: There's so many different things that we see going on in the crowd. There was a guy that was like an ex-hippie that was in the house the other night, I think in Portland. He was in the back, and I could see him just dancing and singing all night long. He was probably about the same age as my brother — about 65, and it was fun to just watch him. That's the kind of stuff I like to remember. "
Watch for the next installment of the interview! We’ll also be sharing more of the audio from our favorite moments.
Read Part 2 of the this interview. We talk to Green Day about their latest project