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Green Day Rock Under Watchful Eyes in "Know Your Enemy" Video

April 24, 2009 9:26 AM ET

Green Day's "Know Your Enemy" is a straightforward rock & roll call to arms, a plea for revolution that declares "Silence is the enemy against your urgency." The NoCal trio's new video for the song off their upcoming 21st Century Breakdown is similarly direct: nobody stars in the clip aside from the band, who rock on an urban rooftop, but they're far from alone — they're under the constant watchful eye of surveillance cameras, helicopters and satellites in a Big Brother trope that recalls Nine Inch Nails' clip for "Survivalism." Like many Green Day songs, the power of the video is its deceptive simplicity.

The clip's director calls "Know Your Enemy" "definitely the biggest video I've ever done. It has a lot of really big visuals, because I was trying to match the song, which is huge," Mathew Cullen told MTV. Rather than rely on characters or narrative like the clips from the band's prior album, American Idiot, "Know Your Enemy" utilizes a host of camera tricks. There's closed-circuit camera footage, night vision and also a split-second moment when the lens is mounted to Mike Dirnt's bass. The most powerful visuals are reserved for the 2:40 mark, however, as Green Day launch into the final chorus in front of columns of towering flames.

21st Century Breakdown is due out Friday, May 15th, and the band's tour begins July 3rd in Seattle. Rolling Stone's David Fricke recently caught one of the trio's Oakland, California warm-up gigs, where the band introduced Breakdown and even provided lyric sheets for the concertgoers. As Fricke noted in his review, "21st Century Breakdown is a rock opera in which the rock always comes first."

Related Stories:Photos: Inside Green Day's Hometown Throwdown
Green Day Swing for the Fences on 21st Century Breakdown
Green Day's Build Up to the "Breakdown": A Look Back at the Punk Trio's Career

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Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

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