There is no band that means more to me than Green Day.
If I was to pick my own quintessential band, the band who I feel most associated with, connected to the most, the band I’ve had the most love for in my life, it would be them.
When I was in my teens, in my dark teenage days and even the dark days that followed into my 20s they were there for me, they helped me. They screamed and shouted and raged and broke guitars for me.
I’m 32 now, so obviously I’m older and they’re older too but that bond that they forged with me will never be broken. The bond was formed in what seems like a different era and I guess it was a different era. The pre-digital music era, the pre-internet era. When we would go to a record store and buy a physical album to bring home and listen to over and over again. My god I miss that. Most of my favourite albums were bought this way, I suppose my generation were the last ones to go through that, even as I left my teens there were things like iPod and napster that were already changing the way the music industry worked. Now the entire world of music is available to you at the touch of a screen or the click of a button. But back then, it seemed like the world was smaller, it was much harder to find out about bands. When you found a band that you loved and found someone else who loved that band too it felt like you had met a soulmate.
Green Day weren’t the most obscure band and plenty of people in my school knew them and loved them, but I was convinced that no one loved them more than me. They belonged to me, as soon as I heard them I knew they were my band.
I once asked a friend of mine about that idea, the idea of a band belonging to you and feeling like you were who certain songs had been written about…and he looked at me like I was insane… it was only then that I realised how lucky I was. Lucky to be able to connect to music in that way because not everyone does…and that’s fine for them, I’m sure they’re perfectly happy in their lives never knowing what true love really is…I digress…
So, I found Green Day at a particularly troubling time in my life. It can be hard looking back to decipher what was regular old hormone induced teenage angst and what was cold horrible depression. As I mentioned already I’m in my thirties now so it can’t be the teenage hormones anymore can it? When I left home every morning I walked for maybe five minutes to the spot where my friends mother would pick me up and bring us to school. 5 minutes. At about the age of 14 those 5 minutes were becoming increasingly difficult for me to manage, I wanted to vanish and not face the day, no matter what was happening in the world. And I had absolutely nothing to feel so bad about, great family, health, everything, I had everything I could have asked for but still…those mornings used to kill me.
I found an old Walkman and a cassette version of Automatic For The People by REM and began the process of drowning the rest of the world out for that 5-minute walk. Which actually helped a lot. I’m sure a professional would tell you that that was a very unhealthy way to deal with the problem but who cares…and I still do it now! If you see me walking somewhere on my own I will have earphones in, that’s because I hate you…not you personally but all of you…the collective…that’s not true. It’s me I have the problem with!
REM are great and I love them too but they weren’t clicking with me in the right way. The music was great but I mostly had no earthly idea what they were singing about…It was a long time later when I realised what Star Me Kitten meant…
That same friend that I went to and from school with played me the first Green Day song I ever heard. It wasn’t Basket Case or Time Of Your Life, it was When I Come Around…incidentally, the phenomenon of immediately being transported to a previous time and place by listening to a particular piece of music? You know that feeling? Not everyone has that either! I’m serious…
From then I found a copy of Dookie and Nimrod and I was hooked. Not only did I know what they were singing about, I was living out their songs in real life. I was invisible to girls! I didn’t care about anything! I stayed indoors and spent all day masterba…No, no one needs to know that. For the first time, I was listening to music that felt tailored for me. There were other bands that I listen to religiously but they were all second to Green Day.