Green Day singer/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong has a herculean talent for taking the personal and making it universal. The 51-year-old pop-punk icon has spent more than three decades translating his fiery thoughts and emotions into anthems that make the band’s fans feel seen as they shout along.
On the group’s latest single, the punk bossa nova “Dilemma,” Armstrong tackles his alcohol addiction and trip to rehab in such clear-eyed lyrics as, “I was sober, now I’m drunk again/ I’m in trouble and in love again/ I don’t want to be a dead man walking… Welcome to my nightmare/ Where dreams go to disappear/ Sit around in rehab/ Feeling like a lab rat.”
“It definitely deals with mental health and addiction,” Armstrong told People magazine about the song from the band’s new album, Saviors, due out Friday (Jan. 19). “When I say, ‘I was sober, now I’m drunk again,’ that could be looked at two different ways. It could be someone going, ‘F-k, yeah. I was sober, now I’m drunk again,’ at a party, or it could be someone that’s fallen. That’s what it means to me, anyway.”
Armstrong went to rehab in 2012 in the wake of a bizarre onstage meltdown at the iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas during which he ranted about the group’s time being cut and smashed his guitar. On Howard Stern’s SiriusXm radio show on Wednesday morning (Jan. 17), Armstrong said he’d been sober for “five years and I thought that I could go back and be like a normal drinker again. And I think I was for a little bit and then it just escalated. It got to a point where I was physically and mentally drained and I just felt terrible. I got tired of feeling tired.”
The singer told Stern “Dilemma” was written while he was drinking and that it’s one of the most honest songs he’s ever penned. “There’s like no metaphor or anything like that,” he said. Armstrong has been detailing his struggles with anxiety and substance use since the earliest days of Green Day’s career as a snotty, snarling trio on the Berkeley, CA underground punk scene in the early 1990s. He most famously did so on their 1994 major label debut, Dookie on the hit “Basket Case,” in which the singer chronicled his crippling anxiety attacks, as well as on “Geek Stink Breath” from their 1995 follow-up, Insomniac, in which he detailed the harsh effects of methamphetamine use on his body.
Now sober, Armstrong said he no longer drinks and did not enter a program to deal with what appears to have been a relapse following his 2012 rehab stint. “I ended up being around a bunch of really good friends that don’t drink,” he told People. “There’s a lot more sober people — I’ve noticed that, and maybe because I was the only one that was hammered before, that now I notice that people are more sober now, and it was just something that I was unaware of, because I was s—tfaced or something.”
The married father of two sons — fellow musicians Joey, 28, and Jakob, 25 — said his sobriety is helping him feel more present for his family, which includes his wife of 29 years, Adrienne. “For me, alcohol gets in the way of everything, from my relationship with my family to just trying to get a good night’s sleep. It gets in the way of my happiness,” he told People. “So that’s why really I wanted to quit, and I was done. So with the friends that I have, I’m still able to go out and go listen to some music, see some band or go to a party — and it’s still a fun, sexy kind of evening, even though there’s no alcohol.”
The best part for Armstrong, he said, was that he can wake up the next day and he might be a bit tired, but “now there’s no shame and hangover and all that s–t. I feel really good.”
Green Day’s visit to Stern’s studio also included Armstrong laughing as he listened to a recording of him singing a sweet song as a five-year-old and the singer’s emotional backstage meet weird with Eddie Van Halen in 2007, during which the late Van Halen guitarist cried and shredded on his guitar as they spoke.
Watch Armstrong talk about “Dilemma” with Stern and watch the video for the song below.
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 800-662-HELP (4357) is available 24/7.
The post “Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong Says ‘Dilemma’ Tackles Substance Use, Mental Health With Zero Filter: ‘There’s No Metaphor’” by Gil Kaufman was published on 01/18/2024 by www.billboard.com