Green Day Reflect on  

By Bob Vincent

"Back then, I just wanted to write songs I could be proud of and be able to play in five years," Green Day singer-guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong says, recalling his state of mind exactly 20 years ago – on February 1st, 1994, the day his band's third album and big-record-deal debut, Dookie, was released. He has another, earlier memory, just after Green Day got their advance money from Reprise Records, part of the Warner Bros. company, which issued Dookie and is still Green Day's label. "I remember thinking," Armstrong says, "'Let's just record this thing, and make sure we have money left over, so we can pay our rent, in case anything happens."

This is what happened: Armstrong, bassist Mike Dirnt and drummer Tré Cool became overnight rock stars. Dookie rapidly went platinum, then double platinum, ultimately selling more than 16 million copies worldwide and firing Green Day out of their hometown hardcore-punk underground in Berkeley, California, into arenas and stadiums. With 11 studio albums, including the 2004 multi-platinum opera, American Idiot, Green Day are now the most successful punk band in the world.

Armstrong, Dirnt, Cool and Warner Bros. chairman Rob Cavallo – who, as a young A&R rep, signed Green Day in 1993 and co-produced Dookie with them – all spoke at length for a forthcoming Rolling Stone feature on the road to Dookie, its creation and dramatic, commercial aftermath...