Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong Talks 2012 Onstage Meltdown + Rehab: ‘My Foundation Was Cracked’
There has been a lot of change since Green Day recorded their trilogy of albums in 2012, but the most public of those changes came in the fall of 2012 when Billie Joe Armstrong went on an onstage tirade at the iHeart Radio Festival. That public meltdown brought to a head a bigger issue that was Armstrong's substance abuse and despite the band getting ready for a major promotional push of touring, they put everything on hold while the singer went to rehab. Now, in a new interview with Rolling Stone, Armstrong and those closest to him revisit that incident and the decision to enter rehab.
For those who don't recall, Armstrong became visibly upset when a clock in the audience visible from the stage clicked down the time remaining for their stage set. The vocalist went on a rant, stating, "I've been around since f--king 1988, and you're gonna give me one f--king minute? You gotta be kidding me! I'm not f--king Justin Bieber, you motherf--kers. You gotta be f--king joking" as his time ticked away. Armstrong smashed his guitar, while Mike Dirnt also wrecked his bass before the band walked off. In retrospect, they now say they probably shouldn't have been part of the pop-leaning festival.
"Once a punk, always a punk is really what it comes to," says the singer. "Sometimes you feel like that dirthead kid who for some reason is running for homecoming king. But we have to blame ourselves for putting ourselves in that situation. We have the ability to say no." The vocalist also stated of the rant, "Honestly, dude, I can remember a word that came out of my mouth."
Dirnt adds that while he agreed with Armstrong's rant, he wasn't cool with what led up to it. "What I couldn't agree with was seeing the degradation of my friend," says Dirnt. "The f--king path had gone too far. And he didn't even see it yet. It was, 'We're done. Recognize it. I can't think about playing with you right now. You got to get right.'"
During the stint in rehab, Dirnt wrote him a letter stating, "If we make it through this and we get back together, we're either going to be stronger than ever or we're going to not be doing this."
American Idiot Broadway director Michael Mayer told Rolling Stone that Armstrong was "the most functioning addict I've ever seen in my life," adding, "It seemed to go in phases as opposed to being a constant thing. It was not like he was drunk or on on drugs all the time. But he'd go into these meltdowns occasionally, and it became harder for him to recover."
Armstrong says that while he appeared high functioning on the outside, that wasn't the reality of his life. "The other part of my life was falling apart slowly. My foundation was cracked," says Armstrong. "Honestly, I don't know if I would be around [if I hadn't gone to rehab]." But coming out on the other side of rehab, the vocalist is enjoying his time with the band and watching his own kids get involved in music as well. "I want to be an empty-nester. I want to watch my kids go through their experiences. I don't want them to have to deal with that kind of darkness ever in their lives."
The singer and his band are set to return this fall. Revolution Radio is on the books for an Oct. 7 street date, and they just announced their first tour dates for the run. Check them out here.
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