In an exclusive interview, Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong tells EW that the band’s new CD, 21st Century Breakdown, "stands on the shoulders of American Idiot."
"We had the opportunity to be more creative than ever before," he continues, "[because] we have a lot more listeners out there." He’s right about that. The punk-rock trio’s politically-minded 2004 concept album has sold 12 million copies around the world, and earlier this week it was announced that American Idiot is being turned into a musical by Tony-winning Spring Awakening director Michael Mayer. EW spoke to Armstrong about Breakdown, out May 15, the upcoming musical, and why he doesn’t get mad if you compare his band to Yes.
Entertainment Weekly: Were you surprised when Michael Mayer approached you about turning American Idiot into a musical?
Billie Joe Armstrong: Well, I didn’t know I was writing a musical when we were doing it. But the idea of it becoming one was just so crazy that it could work! I always liked records they could make a film out of, like Quadrophenia. Theatrical records. I loved Ziggy Stardust. They were some of the influences when we were writing American Idiot, and I did listen to a little bit from West Side Story and Hair and stuff like that, just to think outside of the box.
Are you much of a theater-goer?
No, not really. I used to hear show tunes a lot when I was a kid, and I used to sing them. Annie Get Your Gun, stuff like that. And I guess some of that has been an influence on me. But I never thought that we would end up actually doing a musical out of our record.
What is the musical going to be about?
It’s about coming of age in a really politically-drivenclimate.It’s pretty chaotic, and it’s not by any means a conventional way of [doing] a musical. And that’s why I liked Michael Mayer so much because of what he did with Spring Awakening. When I saw that for the first time I was like, this is not your grandparents’ musical. He’s going for it. He has a sense of anarchy in the way he approaches his craft.
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