Except for Green Day's appearance at Neil Young's annual Bridge School concert in November, the platinum-selling California punksters have been missing in action. Billie Joe Armstrong was reportedly holed up in his new Oakland home penning lyrics for their follow-up to 1997's Nimrod, but their record company was mum about the band's progress and whether or not the band had hired a new producer to replace Rob Cavallo, who had worked on their first three albums for Reprise. But Armstrong himself blew the lid off all the mystery in a hand-written Christmas missive he sent to the band's label. "Tis the season.com and stuff. We're getting ready to record our songs around the months of March and April," Armstrong wrote. "We found a new producer by the name of Scott Litt. He seems like the right person for the job. As long as he can put up with [drummer] Tre [Cool], I think he'll be fine."
One would think so, since Litt was the man behind the knobs for six R.E.M. albums, albums by the Replacements and Patti Smith, and Nirvana's posthumous Unplugged in New York. "I'm excited about [the album]," said Litt. "Some of the songs I've heard are really special."
In Armstrong's missive, he specified that the new opus would be finished some time this year and that it would be more upbeat than their earlier records. "We're really excited about the new songs. The overtone in the lyrics seems to be more positive. Not in a Prozac sort of way, but more in the sense of surviving and living to tell about it, and taking on new challenges."
Among the new challenges are the trio's plans to film a documentary on the making of the new record, and to continue working on a photo magazine that will cover ten years in the life of Green Day. "I know it's taking a long time so bear with us," he continued. "It's tough looking through so many pictures of the same three ugly mugs."
While Green Day has been on their two-year hiatus, bassist Mike Dirnt hasn't let any grass grow under his feet. This week he released an album, Bored in the U.S.A., with his side band the Frustrators, on Armstrong's Adeline Records.
In less-cheerful news, a fan filed suit against the band in Utah's Third District Court this week. Yukiko Fukunaga claimed that she received permanent damage to her right ear after attending a Green Day concert at the Saltair Pavilion in Salt Lake City on Nov. 29, 1997. Neither the band's label or management had any comment.