Fall Out Boy have never been shy about acknowledging their debt to Green Day, whether covering “Basket Case” during their 2007 tour, or citing the band as a major influence on both their initial formation and their subsequent desire to expand beyond punk rock’s four-chord template. “If I hadn’t ever had a chance to hear an album like [1994’s] Dookie, I don’t know where I would have ended up,” Pete Wentz told Time in 2013. At the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony Saturday night, the Midwestern pop-punk idols once again waxed effusive in praise of Billie Joe Armstrong, Mike Dirnt and Tré Cool.
The two bands have shared stages before — including the 2009 Video Music Awards, when Wentz spontaneously jumped onstage (along with dozens of other audience members) during Green Day’s performance of “East Jesus Nowhere” — but there was something undeniably special about seeing the two biggest pop-punk bands of their respective generations gathered around the same podium at Cleveland’s Public Hall.
Green Day joined the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility, alongside Lou Reed, Bill Withers, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. The “5” Royales were inducted in the Early Influence category, while Ringo Starr was given the Hall’s Award for Musical Excellence.
Fall Out Boy’s induction speech for Green Day:
Patrick Stump: Let me ask you a question: What is punk rock? That seems like that should be an easy enough question to answer but kids and critics argue about it with the fervent and furious devotion of opposing religious sects, political parties, or Star Wars fans. So I guarantee that someone somewhere will be pissed off (and come on, what’s more punk than pissing people off?) when I say that one of my all time favorite punk bands is Green Day.
So, I remember the first time I heard Green Day. Give you a little background: I was a little bit of a music snob when I was a kid. My dad was a Chicago folk singer and he was very psyched to see all the punk bands of the day. And he played a lot of fusion jazz when I was younger, so you can imagine I was pretty out of step with my friends who were punk fans. So one day some friends got me to sneak out of class, and mostly we just went home and listened to this cassette tape that one of them had. It was Dookie. So the thing that struck me right off the bat was how musical it was. It was all the things that you’d expect from punk rock: it was angry, it was loud, it was fast, but there were these subtle hints of an awareness of music theory and music history that was wise beyond its years. Now, other kids had Guns N’ Roses and Nirvana and all those things later. 1994, none of that was good. This, this one I was like, “This is mine.”
After that, I was all over it. I tried to dress like them, I tried to play my dad’s music real low like Billie Joe did. I followed every interview, I watched every TV performance. And the more immersed into the world I got, the more I thought that this band was one of the greatest. You have to think to yourself, “Wow, how’d they get all these guys in one band together?” The thing that kills me is how in so many bands, you feel like maybe there’s some dead weight…you want to see them in the Hall of Fame but maybe they had that one guy who was just along for the ride…maybe that one guy who wasn’t so great at playing but he always volunteered to drive the van or whatever. But with Green Day, every player, every sound that came out of these three guys was as important to the entire thing, including the one guy.
Billie Joe’s signature snarl and strong, sarcastic lyrics, that eternally youthful voice, those bright, open chord structures. The way a silhouette of him playing guitar would be as recognizable a posture to any punk rock kid as Michael Jordan’s mid-air dunk is to sports fans. Mike Dirnt! And those bass lines…up there with the likes of James Jamerson and Jaco Pastorius as one of the most identifiable bass players since the invention of the instrument. Tré Cool…you have a drummer named Tré fucking Cool. That is the coolest thing ever. And there’s not a drummer under the age of 30 who didn’t spend their entire summer trying to learn…to play that rapid-fire fill in the beginning of”Basket Case” just like Tré. And guess what? No one can. The passion, he makes it look easy. It’s incredible.
Pete Wentz: Now, no one else can do anything the way Green Day does. I have this distinct memory of Billie Joe. He was interviewing at MTV somewhere around the album Nimrod, where he said something along the lines of, “I don’t want to be making punk rock the rest of my life.” Sorry man, you still are.
When you followed up Dookie with a single about methamphetamine, and another in two movements, that was pretty punk rock.
When conventional wisdom demanded another fast rock punk song and instead you put out a stripped down ballad single that became the go-to prom song for a decade, that was pretty punk rock.
When you put out a three-companion album in a year — in an era of digital singles — that was pretty punk rock.
When you put out an acoustic folk album at a time when radio was ruled by obviously Green Day-inspired pop-punk, that was pretty punk rock.
When, in an era of basically no socially conscious discourse in pop music, you put out a scathingly political rock opera and somehow managed to make that career-redefining, that was insanely fucking punk rock. Not to mention your alleged involvement in side projects like the Network and Foxboro Hot Tubs.
Everything you guys do is punk rock in the sense that you’ve never gone the easy route, the obvious route, the safe route. You’ve never repeated yourselves, you’ve never done anything to please the suits. Suits aren’t really pleased by changed, but when a great band plays a set of their hits, there should be a lot of change. Like Queen, the Who or the Clash, the best bands go on to defy and define the labels they get saddled with…the best bands are legend on record and onstage.
Now I have to say, the impact that Green Day has had on pop culture…when we walk through an airport, about 80 percent of the time when someone takes a picture with us, we hear them walk off like, “Holy shit, I just got a picture with fucking Green Day!” That’s totally true. Now Fall Out Boy has never had the honor of playing a show with Green Day, and honestly part of us kind of likes it that way. Because Green Day is honestly one of the best live bands on the planet right now. If you’ve ever opened for them, they put on a show that’s so epic and engaging, that the audience absolutely forgot about you halfway through their first legendary singalong chorus and an assault of confetti cannons. If you’ve ever played after them…sorry.
This is a band that’s so in tune with their audience that let a random kid onstage and play in the band. In arenas. They literally fulfill that improbable daydream every kid has playing onstage with their favorite band. That’s not image consultants, clever A&R, or media training, but by cutting your teeth in community halls and basements and crust punk squats. So let some Reddit feed argue the definition of punk rock. Me? I already have my answer. It is our great honor to induct Green Day into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.