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Interview with Green Day’s Mike Dirnt – The Band, Music, Gear and More

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  • Oct 15
    Interview with Green Day’s Mike Dirnt – The Band, Music, Gear and More

    Green Day is an American punk rock band formed in 1986 by vocalist/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong and bassist Mike Dirnt. For much of the group’s career, the band has been a trio with drummer Tré Cool.

    Green Day has sold more than 75 million records worldwide and has won 5 Grammy awards. Recently I was fortunate enough to catch up Mike Dirnt for a quick interview in Hollywood, CA.

    Let’s start from the very beginning, like all good stories. What first drew you to music as well as the bass?

    As a kid, I was kind of raised on radio and I was always humming and thinking songs in my head.  Its funny, when I first met Billy in Fifth Grade, the first conversation we ever had was regarding songwriting. I do not know and I do not remember how it ended up being that way. I found out that he played music and I was impressed.  That conversation was weird and prophetic. We were talking about a country song as well as country songwriting in general. Our conclusion was that it is music and it is something that we are drawn to.

    I understand. As we know you grew up in California, which has a very reputable music scene. How did this influence your career and your music?

    It’s funny that you mentioned that because we are now actually in the process of doing a documentary on the history of East Bay Punk Rock. It started as a documentary regarding Green Day up until 1994. We had all these interviews in and we realized that nobody knows shit about what and where we come from. Like all good stories we should start at the beginning, and now this documentary became something that is not only about Greenday. That is the anchor, and where it ends the ship is ready to sail for Greenday.

    The California and the East Bay Sound are actually very interesting. We need to understand that there is great music everywhere and it exists on all levels, even if you use crappy gear, etc. No matter what it is, it needs to pass the campfire test. If it is a good song and you can just grab an acoustic guitar and play it around a campfire with nothing else going… and if it’s still a good song then there’s magic; the California music scene has that. Influences from around the world, sunshine, it is a multicultural scene, multi ethnic, cosmopolitan, etc. All these formed a unique music.

    Any mentors or people that inspired you?

    I am just inspired by good music. When I was a little kid, I used to love bands… The Beatles, the Stones, Led Zeppelin… so many. And what was different is that there was constantly great music on the radio. After that I got into heavy metal; Cliff Burton was a big inspiration for me, Van Halen, etc. Bottom end I am constantly inspired by all kinds of music and mostly good songs.

    Lets move on to more recent history. What is Greenday doing now and what are the future plans for Greenday.

    We just finished recording “Revolution Radio”. The single “Bang Bang” is out now and it’s off to a blazing start. We just filmed the video for it yesterday. I have to say that it is a really menacing position to the song. I cannot give much away but…its really cool. After that we are getting ready to travel around the world and perform to our Greenday family around the world.

    You have been with Greenday for… I don’t know 20 – 25 years. How is the songwriting process in the band?

    You know, I get this question a lot.  The process keeps changing. Sometimes Billy comes in and has all the parts down, therefore he has complete control. Sometimes we just all jam together and we exchange ideas. One thing we still do is that we always exchange ideas and work on the structure together. I always try to create counter melodies, maybe polyrhythms and hooks, as long as it fits the song.

    You just mentioned that you are preparing to go on the road. Any touring advice for other musicians/bass players?

    Be ready for everything to go down the drain, appreciate it and think of that as part of the adventure. You need to have a conversation with yourself.  Always…  something is going to happen. The bus might break down, disagreements… something is going to happen. That is when you need to understand that these experiences are what are going to define you as a band. Any group of guys can go on the road, but all these experiences are going to solidify you as a band and these experiences are going to transfer into your music.

    Everybody loves talking about gear. How do you achieve your fat sound? I heard some of your latest recordings and I loved it.

    On this new record “Revolution Radio” I used a tobacco-burst, road worn bass with a maple neck I just started playing with that and it sounded great. When it came down to recording, I plugged that into the Fender Super Bassman and just used the DI. Simple process. This simple configuration just sounds amazing.

    Now I am actually using the latest Fender Bassman 800. I worked and collaborated with Fender in order to design this amp.

    Full interview at Bass Musician Magazine: HERE

Brian's picture
on October 15, 2016 - 3:27am

Green Day is an American punk rock band formed in 1986 by vocalist/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong and bassist Mike Dirnt. For much of the group’s career, the band has been a trio with drummer Tré Cool.

Green Day has sold more than 75 million records worldwide and has won 5 Grammy awards. Recently I was fortunate enough to catch up Mike Dirnt for a quick interview in Hollywood, CA.

Let’s start from the very beginning, like all good stories. What first drew you to music as well as the bass?

As a kid, I was kind of raised on radio and I was always humming and thinking songs in my head.  Its funny, when I first met Billy in Fifth Grade, the first conversation we ever had was regarding songwriting. I do not know and I do not remember how it ended up being that way. I found out that he played music and I was impressed.  That conversation was weird and prophetic. We were talking about a country song as well as country songwriting in general. Our conclusion was that it is music and it is something that we are drawn to.

I understand. As we know you grew up in California, which has a very reputable music scene. How did this influence your career and your music?

It’s funny that you mentioned that because we are now actually in the process of doing a documentary on the history of East Bay Punk Rock. It started as a documentary regarding Green Day up until 1994. We had all these interviews in and we realized that nobody knows shit about what and where we come from. Like all good stories we should start at the beginning, and now this documentary became something that is not only about Greenday. That is the anchor, and where it ends the ship is ready to sail for Greenday.

The California and the East Bay Sound are actually very interesting. We need to understand that there is great music everywhere and it exists on all levels, even if you use crappy gear, etc. No matter what it is, it needs to pass the campfire test. If it is a good song and you can just grab an acoustic guitar and play it around a campfire with nothing else going… and if it’s still a good song then there’s magic; the California music scene has that. Influences from around the world, sunshine, it is a multicultural scene, multi ethnic, cosmopolitan, etc. All these formed a unique music.

Any mentors or people that inspired you?

I am just inspired by good music. When I was a little kid, I used to love bands… The Beatles, the Stones, Led Zeppelin… so many. And what was different is that there was constantly great music on the radio. After that I got into heavy metal; Cliff Burton was a big inspiration for me, Van Halen, etc. Bottom end I am constantly inspired by all kinds of music and mostly good songs.

Lets move on to more recent history. What is Greenday doing now and what are the future plans for Greenday.

We just finished recording “Revolution Radio”. The single “Bang Bang” is out now and it’s off to a blazing start. We just filmed the video for it yesterday. I have to say that it is a really menacing position to the song. I cannot give much away but…its really cool. After that we are getting ready to travel around the world and perform to our Greenday family around the world.

You have been with Greenday for… I don’t know 20 – 25 years. How is the songwriting process in the band?

You know, I get this question a lot.  The process keeps changing. Sometimes Billy comes in and has all the parts down, therefore he has complete control. Sometimes we just all jam together and we exchange ideas. One thing we still do is that we always exchange ideas and work on the structure together. I always try to create counter melodies, maybe polyrhythms and hooks, as long as it fits the song.

You just mentioned that you are preparing to go on the road. Any touring advice for other musicians/bass players?

Be ready for everything to go down the drain, appreciate it and think of that as part of the adventure. You need to have a conversation with yourself.  Always…  something is going to happen. The bus might break down, disagreements… something is going to happen. That is when you need to understand that these experiences are what are going to define you as a band. Any group of guys can go on the road, but all these experiences are going to solidify you as a band and these experiences are going to transfer into your music.

Everybody loves talking about gear. How do you achieve your fat sound? I heard some of your latest recordings and I loved it.

On this new record “Revolution Radio” I used a tobacco-burst, road worn bass with a maple neck I just started playing with that and it sounded great. When it came down to recording, I plugged that into the Fender Super Bassman and just used the DI. Simple process. This simple configuration just sounds amazing.

Now I am actually using the latest Fender Bassman 800. I worked and collaborated with Fender in order to design this amp.

Full interview at Bass Musician Magazine: HERE

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