The Longshot: A First Reaction To Billie Joe’s New Band’s EP
Billie Joe Armstrong has been teasing new stuff from his new side band The Longshot all week on Instagram. Last night, the Green Day frontman dropped the first three tunes from their debut album, Love Is For Losers, that he promises will be “Coming eventually sooner or later. Probably sooner…”
As an aperitif for the record which will no doubt be surprise-released in a similar style, the three tracks are from the classic Billie Joe school of songwriting: couple of chords, a fiendishly simple melody, and an echo of 1950s Buddy Holly in places that’s got the spirit of pure Americana embedded in it. Yer man Armstrong has not gone down a Converge-shaped rabbit hole. Neither has he decided that The Longshot is to be his vehicle for any dormant prog-rock ambitions. This is the sound of the man having a bit of a goof and letting off some steam during Green Day downtime, and the relaxed, fun feeling carries through in the vibe of the songs as clearly as a freshly-squeegee-d windscreen.
First track, Love Is For Losers, is a mid-paced, three-chord breeze through Billie Joe’s songbook that’s perfect for hot cars on long afternoons. As is the aptly-named Taxi Driver, which gives an easy-going nod to the Ramones at their most placid and laid-back. Finally, Chasing A Ghost has a slightly more stadium-chomping, Springsteen-y tang to it, with a massive chorus of the sort that Billie Joe probably comes up with 10 times a day while humming. All three sound casual and cool, but all are also imbued with the magic touch of one of the finest songwriters of his generation instinctively being able to write a catchy, hummable punk song as though it were no more difficult than falling off a log.
Of course, if it sounds familiar, then that’s down to that same reason: this is Billie Joe. This is what his songs sound like. But what’s cool about The Longshot is that it’s got a loose, garage-y vibe to it. Without the pressure that no doubt comes with something that’s going to have the Green Day name stamped on it, there’s a stress-free feel to it all, of people just cranking out some songs for their own sake, just because they felt like playing a bit of guitar and scratching an itch. And it’s heartening to hear that a musician as humongous as Billie Joe still fancies doing that.
Words: Nick Ruskell