In 2002, Green Day and blink-182 embarked on what was called the Pop Disaster Tour. Green Day was touring in support of Warning, blink in support of Take Off Your Pants And Jacket. In July, blink released California, their latest “comeback” album and – as I’m sure you already know – their first without founding member and guitarist Tom DeLonge, which they supported with a massive amphitheater tour this summer. Later this month, Green Day will release Revolution Radio, their first album since the disappointing ¡UNO! ¡DOS! ¡TRÉ! album trilogy that not only flopped commercially and critically, but also landed Billie Joe Armstrong in rehab. Although they have already announced stadium shows across the UK, Europe, and the rest of the world in support of Revolution Radio, Green Day has only announced a run of small club dates in the US.
Why? Here’s my theory.
2002 was fifteen years ago already. Green Day and blink both have new records for the first time after a gap of extended inactivity. Could Pop Disaster Tour 2.0 be on the horizon for 2017? Tom DeLonge certainly seems to think so if his random and unexplained post mid-September is any indication. blink’s summer tour ends this week, so an announcement confirming or denying this very speculative and generally evidence-lacking conspiracy theory could be imminent.
There’s a meme that’s been floating around that talks about how 2016 seems to be mirroring 2001 in terms of pop culture (Pokémon, a Clinton running for president, etc). Regarding the musical landscape, they mention blink-182 having a #1 song. Sure, this meme is funny because it’s kind of true, but I would argue that this year is perhaps closer – at least in terms of pop-rock – to late 2003, early 2004. blink-182 had just released their untitled/self-titled album and I Miss You was sitting at the top of Billboard’s Modern Rock Tracks chart. Green Day was gearing up for the release of American Idiot. Twelve years later, blink just released California and Green Day is releasing Revolution Radio later this month.
Both of these pop-punk giants gave us records that certainly have their high points and their low points. They’re both fast, sometimes poignant, with hooks that soar wayyyy above many of their peers. But what’s interesting is to think about the parallel timelines of both bands, and how they came back stronger than when they left us. In the case of Green Day, it’s been four years since the ill-fated trilogy; we haven’t heard any new music from blink since 2011’s Neighborhoods (excluding the Dogs Eating Dogs EP a year later).
After almost a half-decade of silence from both bands, they returned within four months of each other with singles that shot almost directly to number one on the Billboard charts.
blink’s track Bored To Death sat on the top for five weeks straight before the full release of California, which shot number one on the Billboard 200 in its first week, selling 186,000 copies (172,000 of which were “pure album sales”). Green Day’s Bang Bang leapt from number five to number one on Billboard’s Mainstream Rock Song chart only three weeks after it was released back in September. According to a post on Billboard, the five-to-one jump is the “the fastest [ascent] (from a chart debut) since Foo Fighters’ Something From Nothing needed only two weeks in November 2014. Prior to the Foos, no song had taken three weeks or fewer since Metallica’s The Day That Never Comes in 2008, meaning that Green Day’s speedy sprint to the top is a rare achievement.”
California, despite its hiccups, is undoubtedly blink’s best work since the 2003 untitled/self-titled album. Revolution Radio picks up where 2009’s 21st Century Breakdown left off, pretending as if the trilogy never even happened.
In a modern musical climate where fame can come and go like a comet, the massive comebacks of both Green Day and blink-182 after 20+ years of kicking is nothing short of impressive, if not completely mind-boggling. Over the last few years, I’ve condemned a Green Day album and published a eulogy for blink-182 on this site. Yet here we are, with both pop-punk giants sitting on the top of the world once again, perhaps together on the road soon enough.