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Green Day Talk New East Bay Punk Doc, Playing Club Shows

Green Day is winding down their latest batch of North American tour dates in support of their album Revolution Radio, but while this tour leg will wrap September 16 with a monster gig at the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles, their presence will still be felt stateside thanks to the new documentary Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk.  

Tackling the fruitful music scene that centered around the now legendary club 924 Gilman, Turn It Around nets an Executive Producer credit for Green Day, and in a recent chat with WMMR’s Pierre Robert, Billie Joe Armstrong explains why this documentary took so long to come together:

Billie Joe:  “I think it has to do with just time for people to want to share their experiences and their stories and stuff like that…The thing about our scene that we come from, it’s like ‘Fight Club.’  It’s very local.  So, people would ask about us about this scene when Green Day started getting big, and we didn’t really know how to talk about it.  And we were trying to just mostly be respectful to the other bands and activists and all that. 

When we first got into punk, it was practically illegal.  You couldn’t book a punk band anywhere, so that’s why these backyard parties [were] kinda springing up in the Bay Area…When [924] Gilman was opened, it was like, ‘Okay, how can we keep this place open?’  So, people were contributing in a way, whether it was security or not drinking in the club. That’s what kinda kept the doors open for so many years, which made it a very special place…I think it’s the most interesting punk documentary.  I mean, I know I’m biased to it.  It’s not just circled around the bands as stars [of the documentary] or anything like that; it’s mostly about the contributions of the fanzine editors [and] the activism that was going on.”

As Green Day’s Rose Bowl show looms, it’s easy to forget that this tour cycle actually began with a round of club shows, but for those thinking those gigs were a way to get back to basics, Armstrong and Mike Dirnt say otherwise:

Billie Joe:  “We’ll play anywhere.  I think no matter what size the venue is we always love playing music.  Some bands say, ‘It’s going back to our [roots],” which sounds kind of pretentious or something or spoiled, rotten little brats.  But I don’t know; I just like playing.”

Mike Dirnt:  “Like Billie was saying, a lot of bands will say if they’ve gotten bigger, ‘Oh, man!  I miss [playing] clubs!’ or whatever.  If we miss [playing] clubs, we’ll just go play a club!  It’s that simple.  If I miss playing a house party, I will go play a house party.  The only thing is we have the option of saying, ‘You know, I miss playing stadiums.’  Oh!  We’ll go play a stadium!”

To find a screening of Turn It Around:  The Story of East Bay Punk near you, head to EastBayPunk.com.

To listen to this interview in its entirety, go to WMMR.com.

Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk

Turn It Around: The Story of East Bay Punk. 10K likes. Documentary spanning over 30 years of the California Bay Area's punk music history with a central focus on the inspiring 924 Gilman music...

Erica Banas is a rock/classic rock blogger that loves the smell of old vinyl in the morning.