"It's May be the Darker side of pop culture," says Green Day singer-guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong, referring to the corner of melodic punk that his band and Blink-182 occupy in the music world. Appropriately, the bands have titled this eight-week trip – the first time these two have traveled together – the Pop Disaster Tour. "We're going to be bringing out our big production," says Armstrong. "We're going to be biting heads off bats."
For Blink's set, bassist Mark Hoppus promises a stage show with "a bunch of fire and cool lights to distract people from our poor musical performance."
Alas, nothing truly disastrous is planned, the most insidious idea being Blink's suggestion that the headliners trade set lists and perform each other's songs. ("That won't happen," says Armstrong with a laugh.) But listeners weary of teen pop will find no better antidote than this showcase for loud, melodic California punk by the wiseguy masters of the field. Both bands will play seventy-five-minute sets. Jimmy Eat World will join them for the first month of touring.
Though Armstrong argues that Green Day and Blink-182 really don't sound very much alike, Hoppus acknowledges the debt that the newest generation of punk bands owes Green Day. "They were a huge inspiration for us," he says. "Green Day breaking punk rock into the mainstream consciousness really helped us and opened up people's minds to our kind of music.
"We probably have a lot of the same fans, for sure," Hoppus adds. "At heart, we come from the same scene. The music is a little more melodic, it sticks in your head and has a positive message."
Hoppus says Blink plan to work some vintage punk songs into their set, much as the band did in 2001, performing a version of "Hope," by the Descendents. When the spring tour ends in June, Blink will begin work on a new album, likely to include songs written on the road during Pop Disaster.
For support act Jimmy Eat World, a daily thirty-minute limit will mean tapping even deeper into punk-rock history. "We have to play Ramones-style and play as fast as we can," jokes guitarist Tom Linton, who still expects the Arizona emo-rock act to squeeze in about ten songs each night. "No rock talk between songs."
Green Day haven't toured the U.S. extensively since 2000, so Armstrong has high expectations for a show that will likely focus on big hits and requests, and sometimes the pulling of fans up from the audience to play punk guitar. And he says the presence of rival acts can only inspire each band to more intense performances. "I look at it as a challenge, as a sort of drag race," Armstrong says. "I'm looking for people to walk away saying, 'Whoa! That was a great show!'"
This story is from the April 25, 2002 issue of Rolling Stone.