Call me suspicious.
Let me begin by saying I've been a Green Day fan since I was 9. Long before my preteen heart was ripped out and stored on The Jonas Brothers' tour bus (thankfully it was returned to me) I had a Green Day poster in my desk where most people had a picture of ponies or their baby brother. At any given time you could have opened my portable CD player and found a very scratched and chipped copy of Dookie. And although these days there are probably a couple bands I know better, there is no band I've studied as long and hard. Most bands I like, I've been following nearly since inception, learning about them as they went along. Green Day was formed 7 years before I was born and went another decade before I noticed them. I had a lot of catching up to do. After almost another decade I can tell you I did my studying like I was getting paid for it (which I hope I am one day, otherwise damn) and what I learned is: the members of Green Day are posers.
I know, I know, that's the worst insult in the music business, but let's think about it for a minute. Three men in their forties, married, raising teenagers; they aren't exactly your vision of "Punk Rock Gods". In fact, there is something significantly un-punk about punk rock dads.
Let's add to that the idea that they are sellouts. The term "sellouts" has been tossed around in association with Green Day nearly since the early 90's and it's no secret that they survived on the hypocritical fruits of 1991, but MTV recently raised an interesting question: Is it even possible to sell out anymore? We as punks represent a scene that by definition sold out over 20 years ago. Every new band hits the ground decked in their sponsors' gear. That Warped tour we plan our summers around is presented by Vans and sponsored by energy drinks and clothing companies that take the individuality and the scissors out of our outfits. Bands make the cash to make new music by getting you to by t-shirts with their faces on them. The underground scene we live in survives on the fragile system of selling out.
Now here's why I don't believe Billie Joe Armstrong is in rehab. He's not stupid. In the past he's had one DUI. The rest of the time he's been a seemingly model citizen no matter what he cakes around his eyes. He's a performer, a husband, a good father (I had the privilege of seeing his oldest son perform on the Warped stage this summer) and a guy that knows the music business and how to work it. I once saw him speaking about his first experience with real punks saying he was afraid of them, so of course he became one of them but he likes to think he's one of the nicer ones. His lifestyle, his attitude, his career, none of it has ever screamed junkie.
But now, with their first punk rock album in almost ten years looming, sellout chants echoing and their political views nowhere to be found, they have reinstated their image so hard it's almost unbelievable. They've been louder, decked in more makeup and sporting their "I'm just too cool to give a F***" attitudes. They've joined instagram making their usernames references to their upcoming albums. They filmed a music video for their first Uno! single "Oh Love" and filled it with alcohol, cigarettes and naked women, creating the illusion that they're still young and cool and ready to party. Then right before the album drops, they pull a stunt at a popular, multi-genre festival that is just too big to be ignored and follow it up with a message from their rep saying "Billie Joe is checking into rehab for substance abuse".
Alert the media. Forget the fact that he's in rehab, for the first time in history a rep has given a reason for a rehab visit. Drugs. How rock'n'roll is that?
As I write this I'm looking at the multiple Green Day posters on my walls and wondering what they would think of me calling their personas a marketing strategy. But that's all I think this is. And I think it's working. I saw someone post on Facebook after the VMA's that they had just been saying Green Day sold out and they were wrong.
If Billie Joe is in rehab, I apologize and I wish him and his family an easy time. If he isn't, which I assume he isn't, I salute him. I congratulate him. And I label him a sellout once and for all.