American Idiots and the New Punk Explosion
Author: Ben Myers – IMP Publishing
Green Day have sold 50 millions albums worldwide, and with their most recent offering, American Idiot hitting number one around the world last year, self-confessed fan Ben Myers has chosen his timing well with the publication of the first biography of the band. Charting their success from their suburban family background, Myers navigates us from their very beginnings -forming in high school- to finding their feet in the West Coast punk scene, playing low budget venues, following their steps through the nineties, to the pinnacle of their career to date, the release of American Idiot, which shot to #1 around the world. Whilst many punks accuse Green Day of selling out because – shock horror- they’re successful and have albums that are listened to by millions of people, as opposed to just a few punks in a pub ‘keeping it real’, Myers argues their case, defending their ‘punk ethics’ throughout and not hesitating to put down those who really have made their fortune through commercialised pop-punk (the snipes at Good Charlotte throughout are perfect).
Green Day have gained mentor-like status to many of the bands that managed the crossover between punk and the mainstream, but unlike so many of them ( Blink etc) Green Day have maintained their credibility, highlighted by their multi-faceted political observation, American Idiot. One of the most enjoyable aspects of this book is that Myer’s personal relationship with the band gives it a human touch. It not only charters the band’s life, but also Myer’s – with bittersweet memories and stories. Even if you’re not a hardcore Green Day fan, this is essential background reading, arguing the case for bands who’ve made it into the mainstream, giving a well rounded and knowledgeable history of the punk scene in the last 3 decades, and whilst there’s no denying it’s a personal account – it’s a perfect blend of fact, nostalgia and charm.