Green Day turned blind eye to Armstrong issues
Meltdown: Armstrong of Green Day
Green Day bassist Mike Dirnt admits the band were working too hard to look out for each other – and so they turned a blind eye to frontman Billie Joe Armstrong’s personal issues.
That resulted in his onstage meltdown last year, which sent him to rehab and derailed the band’s three-album release plans.
Armstrong told last week how he’d lost control of his personal circumstances and only vaguely remembered the moment during Green Day’s set at the iHeartRadio Festival in LA.
Now Dirnt tells Rolling Stone of the experience: “It was very tense. They locked us in a room for about six hours. I won’t say ‘locked’ – but I didn’t want to hang out in the hallway with everybody’s entourage. I felt like a rat in a cage.
“When Billie showed up, it was, ‘You’re not right; what’s going on?’ I kept an eye on things and it just went progressively downhill. Me and Billie don’t play like 12-year-olds any more, but at one point I was like, ‘Let’s goof around.’ We ended up wrestling backstage – I thought, ‘If I can just get some of this out of him.’ But with the mood depressants and alcohol it doesn’t end up a jovial party.”
When Armstrong went ballistic on stage, Dirnt says he found himself supporting his bandmate. “I actually agreed with the rant. But I was watching my friend and going, ‘You’re out of your fucking mind.’ And we were dealing with a shitshow.”
But the bassist reflects the signs were there long before the breakdown: “We all turned a blind eye to it – ‘Everyone, deal with your own shit.’ We were working so hard since American Idiot. There is so much stuff we have written and done in between records that hasn’t even come out. I look at it and go, ‘What kind of pace is that?’ Anybody would crack under half of that.”
Green Day are a different band as a result of their recent experience, says Dirnt. “The biggest change right now is in our lives, especially for Billie,” he reports. “We were forced to stop, let the dust settle and reflect on everything in our lives, not just our accomplishments. Listen to the silence. Listen to your life. Be present, not just think about what’s going on next week, next month.
“The backstage doesn’t need to be a bar – and that’s OK with me. That’s just time-killing, coping mechanisms. Also, we don’t have to say yes to every opportunity in front of us. My thing is: good, bad or ugly, I gotta support my boy. I’m gonna back him up, and then I’m going to take it the next step further with him. And we’re gonna do it offstage, too.”