Billie Joe Armstrong, from Green Day to Broadway



In 2004, Green Day, the punk-pop band fronted by Billie Joe Armstrong, released a Grammy-winning album called American Idiot. Instead of looking inward for his material — as Armstrong had done when he wrote songs about his anxiety, relationships and panic attacks on the albums Dookie and Nimrod — he decided to write about politics: specifically, the alienation and anger he felt during the presidency of George W. Bush.

"In the beginning, right after 9/11 and watching the sort of tanks going into Iraq and these embedded journalists going in live, it felt like a cross between war and reality television," Armstrong tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "So I just felt this great sort of confusion, like, someone needs to say something. ... For me, I felt this moment of rage and patriotism, I guess, if you'd want to call it that. So that wrote itself in probably 30 seconds."

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