Santa Maria Sun / Humor
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 9
Green decadesBillie Joe has multi-generational Krider appeal
BY ROB KRIDER
Back in 1993, I was 19 years old and I had it all figured out. I was going spend my life traveling from one concert to the next, partying and interviewing famous rock bands for Rolling Stone magazine. It may sound like I was being naïve, but I did have a backup plan. If things didn’t work out with Rolling Stone, I always had Spin magazine as my second choice. This plan seemed logical because I was young and I knew everything, plus I scored a very cool job writing for a little startup magazine in the Bay Area. The monthly magazine was called Deadtrees. (Get it? It was a “paper,” which comes from trees that were cut down and had died. We thought it was funny back then.) My job for the magazine was to go to concerts and music festivals, be young, party, and then come back with a cool story. Since the statute of limitations has passed, I will admit rum was involved, and the whole adventure was all very Hunter S. Thompson-esque.
Before our first issue was to come out, I took a road trip to San Francisco to see a punk band at the Warfield Theater called Bad Religion. I was all set for my first press assignment. My editor scored me some free tickets to the show, but he couldn’t pull off backstage passes (I was on my own for that—nobody had ever heard of our magazine since it didn’t exist yet). Like any good journalist, I had my little pocket spiral-bound notepad and pencil, and I was ready to take notes about whatever craziness happened with the headliners. But before Bad Religion would take the stage, I had to endure some unknown opening band. I hadn’t heard of them and really didn’t care at the time. The rumor flowing through the crowd was the opening band was comprised of some local kids from Berkeley. They were called Green Day.
Three zit-faced teenagers came out to a very plain and undecorated stage. The only thing on the stage was a bass amp, a guitar amp, a simple drum kit, and two large potted plants. The lead singer, Billie Joe, plugged in his guitar, stood in front of the mic, and then everything changed. He absolutely rocked the Warfield! Green Day had just arrived. The energy was insane, the music was loud and great, and the crowd swirled and moshed upon itself. It was like everyone forgot that Bad Religion was even going to play later that night. I really wasn’t sure there would be any stage left when Green Day finished their set.
I walked out of the Warfield, and my ears were ringing; I had songs I had never heard before joyfully stuck in my head. I drove to Streetlight records in San Francisco, which was open as late as the bars, and found a lone Green Day CD in the racks of the local music section. I played the album (Kerplunk) in my beater 1977 Honda Civic all the way back home. In fact, that CD didn’t leave my deck the entire year.
When I got home, I told my editor, “Stop the presses!” My article was not going to be about Bad Religion (who?) because Green Day blew them off the stage. The graphic for my story was the album cover from Kerplunk, and the story was published in the first ever issue of Deadtrees in November of 1993. The rest is punk rock history. In 1994, Green Day signed to Reprise Records, released an album called Dookie, put a video on MTV, and became a household name. But the fact of the matter is, it all started after I wrote a great review of their show in the first issue of Deadtrees, a new magazine no one had ever heard of, and probably had only six readers, two of which were my parents. You’re welcome, world.
Not surprisingly, Deadtrees died a year later, and I needed another job. Obviously, since you are reading this in the Sun, I didn’t land at Rolling Stone or Spin (they were too corporate rock for my taste anyway). Green Day went on to create one successful album after another and even created a play called American Idiot. I got married and had a couple kids, leaving my rock-n-roll lifestyle behind me. Eventually I got a job at the Sun (not reviewing concerts) and then the strangest thing happened: My 13-year-old daughter became the world’s biggest Green Day fan.
My daughter owns all of the albums, all the videos. She has seen American Idiot the play, follows the band on Twitter, and has a copy of Rolling Stone with Billie Joe adorning the cover up on her bedroom wall (no, I didn’t write the interview). She absolutely loves Billie Joe. I remind her occasionally that she is 13 years old and he is 41. She doesn’t care, she loves him! When I remind her that her super old and super uncool dad was a Green Day fan before she was even born she says, “Whatever, I love them. Their new songs are soooooo good.” I always tell her, “No, the songs on Kerplunk are good, before the band sold out.”
“They didn’t sell out! They were just trying to get their music out to as many people as they could so the whole world could enjoy it,” she whines.
“Whatever, I got the T-shirt in ’93.”
“Oh my God! Do you still have the T-shirt? I want to wear it to school!”
“No, your mother, my wife, whom I love, threw it out in 1996 when we got married.”
“Yeah, sometimes she does.”
Green Day was going to come home and play at the Greek Theater on the U.C. Berkeley campus. My wife and I thought it would be fun to take our daughter to her first concert that didn’t star Miley Cyrus or the Wiggles. When we told her we were taking her to see Green Day in Berkeley, she was absolutely ecstatic: “I’m going to stage dive with Billie Joe!”
“Slow down; you’re 13.”
At the show, Green Day didn’t disappoint. They still rocked like it was the ’90s. My daughter and I stood side by side, jumping up and down, screaming the lyrics to “Jesus of Suburbia” (yes, I know some of the new songs too, they are pretty good). It was a magical moment. I never thought in 1993 when Green Day blew my mind that exactly 20 years later I would be in Berkeley, sharing the enjoyment of punk rock next to my 13-year-old daughter. Thank you, Green Day.
Rob came back from the concert once again with his ears ringing and the song “Christie Road” stuck in his head.