If Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader can run for president, why not Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong? With the release of the band’s new album, Warning, a little over a month away, Armstrong has donned a black suit and red tie and hit the campaign trail with a his own clichT-ridden political advertisement on the Reprise Records Web site (www.repriserec.com/gdpromo/green.ram).
The streaming minute-long clip, billed as “a public service announcement for the youth of America,” features Armstrong sporting a hardhat while he presses the flesh with construction workers and school children, poses with his dog and sits on a park bench with his wife (played by drummer Tre Cool in drag). The camera also shows Armstrong sharing a power shake with his running mate, bassist Mike Dirnt. In the background, a voiceover touts Armstrong as “a leader with a flair for leadership and the ability to lead,” with “drive, determination and stick-to-it-iveness.” His campaign slogan? “Burning a Bridge to the 21st Century.”
Directly following the pro-Armstrong clip is an anti-Armstrong smear ad, asking, “What do you really know about Billie Joe Armstrong? Did you know that he’s a dick? And that he has a really ugly wife?”
All kidding aside, though, Armstrong says that Warning (out Oct. 3) doesn’t necessarily offer up too much in the way of political commentary, though some of the songs do tackle topical concerns. “I’m not really much of a politician,” says the singer, “but a song like ‘Warning’ is . . . it’s just sort of how like there’s always these warning labels — ‘don’t cross these lines,’ ‘don’t do this,’ ‘don’t do that,’ — and how it can become really suffocating. I hate being told what I can and can’t do. Pretty soon we’re not going to be doing anything and all of us are going to be ordering our groceries through the Internet.”
Armstrong says the idea for another song, “Fashion Victim,” sprang out of a shirt Tre Cool sported that was riddled with bullet holes and bore the legend, “Versace Fashion Victim #1.”
“I just started coming up with lyrics about fashion victims, and how you’re supposed to have the perfect body to fit these perfect clothes and you go into these stores and there’s these clothes that were designed for eleven-year-old Japanese girls,” says Armstrong. “It’s been part of our society the whole time, but now I think it’s sort of escalated into where fashion models are donating their eggs for $20,000 a pop so that you can make these perfect human beings. To me, that is sort of parallel to Hitler’s perfect society.”