Billie Joe Armstrong’s 14 Best Non-Green Day Songs
Billie Joe Armstrong is a man who likes to stay busy. When Green Day aren’t up to much, their frontman can often be found working on other projects, whether that’s alongside the band’s bassist Mike Dirnt and drummer Tré Cool, or venturing further afield in the worlds of folk and musical theatre. Here, we’ve rounded up 14 of the best examples of Billie Joe’s talents away from the day job. From working with up-and-coming UK bands to forming supergroups with punk rock legends, this guy seemingly never stops…
Strangers & Thieves – Jesse Malin ft. Bille Joe Armstrong
This 2019 collaboration between Billie Joe and singer-songwriter Jesse Malin is an energetic dose of feel-good rock’n’roll. Strangers & Thieves featured on Jesse’s album Sunset Kids, but it wasn’t the first time the pair had collaborated, with the troubadour joining the members of Green Day to form Rodeo Queens a decade ago. Together, they released one song, the punk ditty Depression Times.
Turn Me On – Matt Grocott & The Shrives
In 2015, UK rockers Matt Grocott & The Shrives released their jolly single Turn Me On. The track was recorded at Green Day’s Jingletown Studios, and featured Billie Joe on bass, as well as his son and SWMRS member Joey Armstrong on drums. Despite that star-studded collaboration, however, it appears as though The Shrives are now sadly inactive, since their sole album Back In The Morrow dropped in 2017.
If There Was Ever A Time – Armstrongs
Getting together with Joey, Rancid’s Tim Armstrong and the latter’s nephew, Rey, Billie Joe and co. formed a kind of punk supergroup, the Armstrongs in 2017. The band released just one song, If There Was Ever A Time, but it’s a ripper. A raucous, beer-in-hand ode to friendship, proceeds raised by the track were donated to legendary California punk venue 924 Gilman, where their bands cut their teeth in the early days.
These Paper Bullets! Soundtrack
One of Billie Joe’s more surprising ventures was that of These Paper Bullets!, a musical inspired by Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, for which he wrote the soundtrack. Having already tried his hand at Broadway for the adaptation of American Idiot, Billie Joe penned a number of Beatles-esque songs for These Paper Bullets!, whose story was set in 1960s London and followed the fictional band The Quartos.
Broken World – The Interrupters
Billie Joe has a writing credit on this excellent cut from ska heroes The Interrupters’ 2018 epic Fight The Good Fight. Recounting the writing experience in an interview with Dying Scene, Interrupters guitarist Kevin Bivona explained, “We were in Santiago, Chile, and we played a show [with Green Day], and there were a couple of hours before we had to go to the airport, so we were hanging out with Green Day and their families. It was an amazing experience. And [Billie Joe] goes, ‘Hey, I have an idea for a song that I think could be a really cool Interrupters song.’ And he grabbed a guitar, and he kinda pulled Aimee [Interrupter, vocals] and I aside and he played it for us, and he said, ‘I don’t know, I think this would just be a kind of cool thing for you.’ And he played it for us and we said, ‘Yes! We love it!’”
The Boo EP
The Armstrong family are a talented bunch, something evidenced by The Boo, a band made up of Billie Joe and Joey, as well as Billie’s wife, Adrienne, and son Jakob. Their self-titled EP came out in 2011, and is made up of four spiky pop-punk tracks that see Billie Joe revert from guitar to bass. Above all, The Boo is proof that the Armstrong gang are one of the coolest families in rock.
Unforgiven – The Go-Go’s
Another Billie Joe writing credit, this time in the form of a collaboration with pop-rock outfit The Go-Go’s, who’ve been at it since 1978. Unforgiven dropped in 2001 and was a part of the band’s fourth album, God Bless The Go-Go’s, marking the first time the five-piece had released new music in seven years. The song itself is another typically buoyant piece of songwriting from Billie Joe built around some rollicking guitars.
Life During Wartime – Pinhead Gunpowder
Punk rock outfit Pinhead Gunpowder formed in East Bay not long after Green Day got together. Among their ranks is Jason White, Green Day’s long-time touring rhythm guitarist and unofficial fourth member. Pinhead Gunpowder have only released one full-length album, 1997’s Goodbye Ellston Avenue, with the stand-out track being Life During Wartime, a boisterous slab of ’90s pop-punk fury.
Mother Mary – Foxboro Hottubs
‘Foxboro Hottubs’ was the moniker used by Green Day to book secret shows before they released a full album under said name, Stop, Drop And Roll!!!, in 2007. The side-project deals in a sound that leans more towards garage rock than Green Day’s core material, something evidenced by the single, Mother Mary. Billie Joe and Jason White perform under aliases in Foxboro Hottubs – the former going by the name ‘Reverend Strychnine Twitch’, while Jason plays as ‘Frosco Lee’.
Money Money 2020 – The Network
Yet another Green Day distraction, The Network was the new wave project put together in 2003, resulting in their only album (so far), Money Money 2020. The Network perform in disguises, but Billie Joe’s unmistakable vocals are clear and audible throughout. And it’s not hard to work out who might have been behind a band who opened shows for Green Day in the early ’00s. This one has now been laying dormant for many years now, alas.
Roving Gambler – Norah Jones and Billie Joe Armstrong
Possibly Billie Joe’s most intriguing non-Green Day venture, his 2017 collaborative album with singer-songwriter Norah Jones, Foreverly, is a delightful collection of folk songs based on material by The Everly Brothers. Foreverly’s opening track, Roving Gambler, is a fine example of the kind of magic the duo captured – a charismatic tale of a time gone by, the pair’s voices combine beautifully to elevate the song to new heights.
Love Is For Losers – The Longshot
The Longshot specialise in punky power-pop in the vein of Green Day’s more carefree material, captured in all its glory on the band’s joyous 2018 debut LP Love Is For Losers. The record’s excellent title-track is just one such example of the quality to be found across its 10 original songs, but the surprising cover of Ozzy Osbourne’s Goodbye To Romance showcased a band with a talent for reinterpretting a classic, too.
Agape – The Lookouts
Tré Cool was in rough-and-ready punk outfit The Lookouts before he joined Green Day. They released a couple of albums and EPs during the late 1980s, all of which were brought together on the 2015 compilation Spy Rock Road And Other Stories…. Billie Joe played guitar and offered backing vocals on a few of The Lookouts’ songs, most notably this rowdy standout, Agape.
Look For Love – Billie Joe Armstrong
We’re rounding this list off with an honourable mention for Billie Joe Armstrong’s earliest recorded material – the stand alone 1977 single Look For Love, which the future Green Day star produced when he was just five years old! The charming ditty was actually released by Fiat Records and a limited number of vinyl copies were made, which, given Billie Joe’s subsequent global stature, are probably worth a pretty penny in 2020.
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