Green Day have had a bumpy career. After garnering buzz around their debut album, they blasted out the doors with Dookie. Following that high-point, they began a steady decline in sales and hits (minus the tear-jerking “Good Riddance”). Then came the Bush Administration, and the major come-back which was American Idiot, which surged the band back into stadiums and sold-out worldwide tours. Despite all that momentum, 21st Century Breakdown struggled to maintain the same level of enthusiasm with fans, despite it being a good album.
Then came the slogging 3-album trilogy, disappointing Revolution Radio, and a new Greatest Hits album – none of which sparked any major hits (and Billie Joe Armstrong’s stint in rehab after the trilogy I’m sure didn’t help those albums).
So now we are in 2018, and Billie Joe Armstrong surprised everyone by announcing an EP with a new side-project called The Longshot. The three songs on it, possibly paving the way for a full album, begs the question: why? Did Armstrong need a break from his GD bandmates? Did he want to expand his musical hemispheres? Did he figure a fresh band could give him a fresh start at radio?
I ask, because when listening to The Longshot, the songs sounds…a lot like Green Day. The strongest track is the opener “Love is for Losers”, which surges on a Johnny Thunders riff, handclaps and bubble gum chorus that would have fit well on Nimrod or one of GD’s overlong Uno!, Dos! or Tres!. It hints at a desire for a throwback sound, but second song “Taxi Driver” comes on and sounds much like modern Green Day without the political fire. One could possibly glean the ghost of underground 80’s punk in the repetitive chorus, but the sheen on the production makes it clear this is still be engineered for the radio. It’s energetic, but feels like a fun trifle instead of a meaty tune.
Final track “Chasing the Ghost” opens with muffled vocals with Armstrong lamenting that he’s “standing in the shadows, where have all the good times gone?” before opening into a big, echoing pop rock chorus. It’s a lyrical downer but a musical upper. The theme of trying to recapture one’s youth appears to be what really ties the EP together; Spitting on the idea of love (“Love is for Losers”), dreaming about cars and aimless cruising (“Taxi Driver”), and wanting to go back to carefree partying (“Chasing the Ghost”).
The leads me to conclude that The Longshot is Armstrong’s midlife crisis band. After spending the last few years railing against all the dark, terrifying events our world is going through, and against our awful President causing most of the problems, it feels Armstrong wanted to throw himself back to the simpler days of writing songs about getting high, drinking and wayward youth, and he didn’t feel he could write those songs with all the baggage in Green Day.
This is a lot to hypothesize based on 3 songs, and perhaps the full length will give a better sense of what Armstrong hopes to accomplish with this new project. Until then, sample the EP below: