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Inside Green Day's 21st Century Punk Explosion: Backstage Photos

August 10, 2009 2:54 PM ET

With Green Day in the throes of their 21st Century Breakdown tour, Rolling Stone caught up backstage with Billie Joe Armstrong, Tré Cool and Mike Dirnt before their concert at Philadelphia's Spectrum for an exclusive look at the trio's latest and craziest tour yet. After years on the road, Green Day still know how to have a good time, stocking their area backstage with Rock Band and tequila. "I get more fun where I drink tequila," Cool tells RS. The band kicked off their tour with a July 3rd concert in Seattle, with the band performing material from Breakdown, their most complex and ambitious album to date.

Go backstage with Green Day in an exclusive photos gallery.

"It's a marathon every night," Armstrong says of the band's concerts. "I know people say they put 100 percent into their shows, but I think we go beyond the 100 percent a lot of bands actually put into their shows." On this tour, Green Day have kept up their tradition of breaking down the wall between performer and fan, often inviting members of the audience to join them onstage. In Philadelphia, one lucky girl in the crowd got to share vocals with Armstrong on American Idiot's "Holiday," while one dude in the crowd who correctly identifies "Jesus of Suburbia" was in the key of C-sharp is handed a guitar and joins the band in their performance of the song.

After showcasing the 21st Century Breakdown material, bassist Mike Dirnt relishes in digging into the trio's older catalog like "Longview" and "Welcome to Paradise." "I get excited. Some of the old stuff, when you're only playing three chords, you can go ballistic," Dirnt tells RS about shifting from the complex Idiot/Breakdown tracks to the Dookie days. The retro portion of Green Day's concert also features Armstrong Super-Soaking the crowd with water guns, showering the audience with rolls of toilet paper and launching T-shirts into the crowd like it was in between innings at a baseball game. "I just don't want to let anyone down," Armstrong says.

For much more on Green Day from backstage and the front row of their Philly show, check out the new issue of Rolling Stone, on stands now.

Related Stories:
Green Day Pack Club-Size Intimacy Into Seattle Arena at Tour Launch
Green Day to Perform at VMAs, Billie Joe Armstrong Ready for "Memorable Experience"
The New Issue of Rolling Stone: Green Day Fights On

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

More Song Stories entries »
 
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