Green Day Frontman’s Public Meltdown

Billie Joe Armstrong, the frontman of pop-punk trio Green Day, entered rehabilitation on Sunday following a public outburst at a music festival on September 21.

Armstrong flew into a rage dur­ing Green Day’s performance at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas. Midway through their 1994 hit, “Basket Case”, Armstrong stopped playing when he saw the teleprompter read “1 minute” and launched into an expletive-filled rant concerning the band’s set being cut short.

“You’re gonna give me f***ing one minute?” Armstrong shouted after the music stopped. “Let me f***ing tell you something… I’ve been around since f***ing nineteen eighty-f***ing-eight, and you’re gonna give me one f***ing minute? You gotta be f***ing kidding me!”

Armstrong proceeded with, “I’m not f***ing Justin Bieber, you mother***ers,” earning scattered ap­plause from the audience. “Let me show you what one f***ing minute f***ing means.” Armstrong then smashed his guitar and threw the bro­ken pieces into the audience as the band abruptly walked offstage. But not before cursing a few more times, giving the middle finger to the cam­era, and throwing his microphone across the stage.

This was not the only time Arm­strong has made the news for erratic behavior. On September 2, he was hospitalized in Bologna, Italy, for what Mike Dirnt told MTV was “se­vere dehydration, influenza” forcing Green Day to cancel a performance. The singer also made the news when he verbally attacked Bon Jovi, telling the Belfast Telegraph they are “the worst band” he has ever toured with.

While the outburst, or “meltdown,” at iHeartRadio is certainly an indica­tor of a serious problem, some would say that it was only a matter of time before Armstrong exploded. The three members of Green Day are not clean-cut choir boys–Armstrong, bassist Mike Dirnt, and drummer Tre Cool have all admitted to habitually using substances like amphetamines in their earlier years. The name “Green Day” means, as defined by Dirnt, “a day with lots of green bud where you just sit around taking bong hits.” Furthermore, Armstrong has had struggles with alcohol in his past – a 2003 arrest for DUI suggests that his outburst and subsequent rehab stay are both alcohol-related.

“While he was in Vegas, he was drinking a lot,” admitted Claudia Su­arez Wright, the ex-wife of drummer Tre Cool, to Celebuzz.com. “The night of the show he had been drinking.”

The band released a statement on Sunday, announcing that Billie Joe Armstrong was seeking treatment for substance abuse, along with an apol­ogy to those that they may have of­fended with the outburst.

This statement came two days be­fore the release of “¡Uno!”, Green Day’s highly anticipated ninth studio album. “¡Uno!” is the first installment in a 38-song triple album, which in­cludes “¡Dos”! (to be released on No­vember 13) and “¡Tre!” (to be released on January 15, 2013).

Armstrong, whose lyrics have al­ways been very introspective and personal, alludes to some personal troubles in “¡Uno!.” A departure from the operatic style and political agenda of 2004’s “American Idiot” and 2009’s “21st Century Breakdown”, “¡Uno!” is 12 tracks of unabashed, unadulterated hedonism; a self-described “party” by bassist Dirnt. The album themes include one night stands, drug and al­cohol use, and unrestricted fun. But is the album really as fun as advertised in the months prior to its release?


In retrospect, Armstrong’s “melt­down” at iHeartRadio seems to have been foretold by his lyrics. The first track of the album, “Nuclear Family”, opens with the words “drinking an­gel’s piss, gonna crash and burn”, af­ter which Armstrong sings “scream, scream, screaming bloody murder / like a nuclear bomb and it won’t be long until I detonate.” On “Trouble­maker”, he sings “easy come and go, gonna go it alone / gotta knock your­self out with a shot of Patron.” He describes himself as “a mess” and “a nervous wreck” on “Fell For You,” as “a f***ing clown” on “Angel Blue,” and loudly proclaims “I don’t give a f*** anymore” on “Let Yourself Go.” The later songs paint a picture of painful loneliness as the singer watch­es his youth and those he cares about slowly slip away – on “Sweet 16”, he softly sings “Old days are fine, but are left so far behind,” and on “Rusty James” he asks, “where the hell is the old gang at?” before sadly proclaim­ing, “there’s no one left around.” Ev­ery track on the album seems to have been written in a state of anger or isolation, hinting that Armstrong has been enduring problems at home for several months.

The outburst has inspired multiple memes on Facebook, and video of the event has elicited personal reactions from many. “I agree with his state­ment,” Ben Hall, a freshman, com­ments. “I think it’s good that he’s mak­ing a point that real bands aren’t getting as much time as all these pop groups.”

The aggression Armstrong dis­played towards Bieber and, by exten­sion, his mentor, Usher, who performed before Green Day at iHeartRadio– could certainly be interpreted that way. In their song “Kill the DJ,” Armstrong describes the current state of popular music as “Sodom and Gomorrah in the century of thrills.” This allusion to the biblical “city of evil” could be the product of a deep satisfaction with the current popularity of electronic pop.

On the other hand, maybe the out­burst wasn’t that deep at all. “He ain’t no Justin Bieber,” says Steven Hoff­man, a junior and music industry ma­jor. “I think he was a little too drunk and his whole rock star status got to his head.”

It is unknown how Armstrong’s rehab stay will effect Green Day’s up­coming tour, set to begin on Novem­ber 26 in Seattle. Several promotional appearances in support of “¡Uno!” have already been postponed, along with a September 28 performance in San Francisco. However, a summer 2013 European tour has already been announced on the band’s web page.

Further cancellations and post­ponements seem unlikely; for a band as hard-working as Green Day, one night of heavy drinking and a short stint in rehabilitation are unlikely to interfere with something as grand as a world tour.