Biography by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Out of all the post-Nirvana American alternative bands to break into the pop mainstream, Green Day were second only to Pearl Jam in terms of influence. At their core, Green Day were simply punk revivalists, recharging the energy of speedy, catchy three-chord punk-pop songs. Though their music wasn't particularly innovative, they brought the sound of late-'70s punk to a new, younger generation with Dookie, their 1994 major-label debut. Green Day weren't able to sustain their success -- Dookie sold over eight million, while its follow-up, Insomniac, only sold a quarter of its predecessor -- yet their influence was far-reaching because they opened the doors for a flood of American neo-punk, punk metal, and third wave ska revivalists.
Green Day were part of the northern California underground punk scene. Childhood friends Billie Joe Armstrong (guitar, vocals) and Mike Dirnt (bass; born Mike Pritchard) formed their first band, Sweet Children, in Rodeo, CA, when they were 14 years old. By 1989, the group had added drummer Al Sobrante and changed its name to Green Day. That year, the band independently released its first EP, 1,000 Hours, which was well-received in the California hardcore punk scene. Soon, the group had signed a contract with the local independent label, Lookout. Green Day's first album, 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hour, was released later that year. Shortly after its release, the band replaced Sobrante with Tre Cool (born Frank Edwin Wright, III); Cool became the band's permanent drummer.
Throughout the early '90s, Green Day continued to cultivate a cult following, which only gained strength with the release of their second album, 1992's Kerplunk. The underground success of Kerplunk led to a wave of interest from major record labels; the band eventually decided to sign with Reprise. Dookie, Green Day's major-label debut, was released in the spring of 1994. Thanks to MTV support for the initial single, "Longview," Dookie became a major hit. The album continued to gain momentum throughout the summer, with the second single, "Basket Case," spending five weeks on the top of the American modern rock charts. At the end of the summer, the band stole the show at Woodstock '94, which helped the sales of Dookie increase. By the time the fourth single, "When I Come Around," began its seven-week stay at number one on the modern rock charts in early 1995, Dookie had sold over five million copies in the U.S. alone; it would eventually top eight million in America, selling over ten million copies internationally. Dookie also won the 1994 Grammy for Best Alternative Music Performance.
Green Day quickly followed Dookie with Insomniac in the fall of 1995; during the summer, they hit number one again on the modern rock charts with "J.A.R.," their contribution to the Angus soundtrack. Insomniac performed well initially, entering the U.S. charts at number two, and selling over two million copies by the spring of 1996, yet none of its singles -- including the radio favorite "Brain Stew/Jaded" -- were as popular as those from Dookie. In the spring of 1996, Green Day abruptly canceled a European tour, claiming exhaustion. Following the cancellation, the band spent the rest of the year resting and writing new material, issuing Nimrod in late 1997. Their long-awaited follow-up, Warning, was released three years later.
Biography by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Led by guitarist/vocalist Gavin Rossdale, Bush became the first post-Nirvana British band to hit it big in America. Of course, they became a hit by playing by the grunge rules -- they had loud guitars, guttural vocals, stop-start rhythms, and extreme dynamics. Formed in late 1992 by Rossdale, Bush landed an American record deal before they had a British label. Sixteen Stone, their debut album produced by Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley (producers of early-'80s hits by Madness and Elvis Costello, among others), was released in late 1994 by Interscope Records. By the end of December, Bush's "Everything Zen" video had landed in MTV's Buzz Bin and the album began to take off; by spring of 1995, the record had gone gold, despite a stack of bad reviews. By that time, the band was successful enough in the U.S. to land a British record deal, although they weren't able to match their American success in the U.K.
Over the course of 1995, Sixteen Stone became a major hit in the U.S., with "Little Things" reaching number four on the modern rock charts in the spring; later that year "Comedown" and "Glycerine" both reached number one on the modern rock charts, as well as crossing over into the pop Top 40. Despite their success, Bush received scathing reviews from the press and many alternative rock insiders who believed the group was manufactured. To counter such charges, the band asked Steve Albini -- notorious for his abrasive productions for not only Pixies, Nirvana, and PJ Harvey, but also countless indie bands -- to helm its second album. The resulting album, Razorblade Suitcase, was released in time for the Christmas season of 1996. Razorblade Suitcase was greeted with mixed reviews that were nevertheless more positive than those surrounding Sixteen Stone, and the album entered the U.S. charts at number one, as well as made some headway in the U.K. However, by the spring of 1997, the album had stalled somewhat, producing only one major hit in "Swallowed," and reaching only double platinum status. Deconstructed, a collection of electronic remixes, appeared in late 1997, and in the fall of 1999 Bush returned with The Science of Things. In late 2001, they went back to basics with the guitar-driven album Golden State. Although it didn't storm the charts like previous albums, fans still supported Bush. A sold-out tour across North America followed. During this time, Helmet guitarist Chris Traynor was added as a touring member. Shifts within the band, however, took a sharp turn several months later when founding member Nigel Pulsford announced his departure in May. Pulsford, who had started a solo career as well as a new family, left without much drama and disapproval. Traynor stepped in to fill his shoes.