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Excerpt: Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong on ‘¡Uno!,’ ‘¡Dos!’ and ‘¡Tre!’

The following in an excerpt taken from the November 2012 issue of Guitar World. For the full story, as well as features on Jimi Hendrix, Marty Friedman, Lynyrd Skynyrd and more, pick up the issue on newsstands now, or in our online store.

The band, its label and its management also came up with the idea to release the three discs in succession rather than put them out all at once or as a set. ¡Uno! comes out September 25, ¡Dos! hits on November 13, and ¡Tré! will be released on January 15, 2013.

It’s an unconventional move, but one that’s perhaps more attuned to the short-attention-span digital era. Even at the height of the record biz, double and triple albums were a tough sell. And with so much attention on single song downloads these days, even a single-album release is risky business. But then again, the idea of a punk band doing a rock opera seemed pretty crazy back in 2004.

Each of the new discs has its own stylistic character, more or less. Classic Green Day predominates on ¡Uno! whereas ¡Dos! is more in the raunchy garage-rock mode of Green Day’s 2008 side project, the Foxboro Hot Tubs. “It’s a real Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas kind of death-trip vibe,” Armstrong says, “like a party out of control.” ¡Tré! is more of a mixed bag. It contains some of the set’s more reflective songs and some of the most epic arrangements, complete with string and brass orchestrations.

Armstrong says that the pop-punk material is what came pouring out of him first. “Just because I’ve been doing it for so long and I love that kind of music,” he says. “It’s just in my DNA at this point. On the last record I veered away from it so much, to the point where I sort of drove myself crazy. But the last record did have a song called ‘Murder City,’ which is a straight-up Green Day punk-rock song, and it ended up becoming my favorite song on that album.

“So with the new stuff, that kind of thing just came naturally. I think that the first songs that were written were ‘Stay the Night,’ ‘Nuclear Family’ and ‘Carpe Diem.’ So there was this power-pop thing happening. Then it became, like, ‘Guys, no ballads. Let’s just write rock and roll!’ But all of a sudden ‘Oh Love’ came out. It’s not really a ballad, but it’s not a power-pop song either. It’s powerful, but it’s slower and it’s got a groove to it. It’s kind of something we haven’t really done before, and at the same time it’s pretty epic.”

For the full interview, pick up the November 2012 issue of Guitar World now in our online store.

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