It’s an understatement to say that 2012 didn’t turn out the way Green Day had planned. The veteran punk trio had worked themselves like crazy recording a trio of albums, filming a pair of documentaries and lining up tour dates in support of the LPs.
Even for a band with decades of experience in the game, it was a big chunk of responsibility to bite off. Singer Billie Joe Armstrong, bassist Mike Dirnt and drummer Tré Cool seemed up to the task, though, until the plan got derailed in September when Armstrong went on a rant at the iHeartRadio Festival in Las Vegas and subsequently checked into a rehab facility to deal with unspecified substance issues. Dates were canceled, promotional appearances went by the wayside and an ambitious roll-out — that some said only a band with GD’s clout could pull off — seemed headed for a crash.
“At this point, they’re legacy artists because they’ve been around for a long time, so fans will keep following them,” Rolling Stone associate editor Simon Vozick-Levinson said. “Even if they took a year off, it’s a mistake to count them out.”
Regardless of whether the three albums ever live up to the platinum and multi-platinum heights of the group’s past endeavors, he was certain fans will turn out for the trio’s legendarily raucous live shows. If Vozick-Levinson was advising them on how to get back on track, he said it would involve hitting the studio and working on crafting one solid effort. “There are some excellent songs on those albums, but maybe it was too much throw out in a short period of time,” he said.
“Go in the studio and spend a year working on one album.”
Released in September, ¡Uno! has moved just under 280,000 units so far, while November’s ¡Dos! is at 140,000 and December’s ¡Tre! has sold less than 100,000 to date, according to figures provided by Nielsen SoundScan. The release of the final album was pushed up a month to assuage fans holding tickets for the canceled shows.
Clearly, the trilogy suffered because Armstrong wasn’t around to promote it, but Entertainment Weekly staff writer Kyle Anderson wasn’t so sure the results would have been different if he had been. “The trilogy is something of a mess and it sounds like Green Day making three records,” he said. “Maybe they would have made more videos, but I remember talking to people over [last] summer about how they were into the idea of Green Day not doing something thematic again [after a pair of concept albums].”
With little information available about what ailed Armstrong, Anderson said it might behoove the singer to come clean with his fans about his rehab stint. “My advice for anyone coming out of rehab is you need to be as honest as possible,” he said.
“Let the audience know what happened, explain what you were going through. That will immediately recast the narrative for them: now they’re a band on the comeback that had to recover from something. You can’t just go back out on the road and pretend nothing happened, though I can’t imagine they would.”
Videos for songs from ¡Uno! (“Oh Love,” “Kill the DJ,” “Stay the Night,” “Troublemaker” and “Nuclear Family”) ¡Dos! (the band-less “Stray Heart”) and the “Twilight” soundtrack song “The Forgotten” made their way into the world amid Armstrong’s rehab stint to keep up interest in the 37-song collection.
Then, on New Year’s Eve came the good news that the band would finally hit the road in North America starting March 28 with a show in Chicago. (A spokesperson for the band said there was no information on what other promotional plans are in place beyond the new dates, at press time.)
Regardless of how they restart the engine, Vozick-Levinson wasn’t so sure a weepy Oprah interview route was the way to go. But considering the way the media is today and the intense scrutiny that will follow Armstrong as soon as he resurfaces, he suggested some kind of sit-down might make sense.
As for what the band should do next, Anderson suggested goosing the dates with a compilation of the best tracks from the trilogy plus some unheard leftovers. “They need a shiny new piece of product or a video that stars Billie Joe that has some production value and announces, ‘We’re back!’ ” he suggested. “If they just go back out on the road, it doesn’t feel like enough of a return.”
On top of that, a booking [or two] at one of the premier festivals, such as Coachella or Lollapalooza, could also help remind people of GD’s place in the rock firmament.
What do you think Green Day should do to rev things up this year? Let us know in comments below.
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