GONNA RIDE THE WORLD LIKE A MERRY-GO-ROUND: “Nuclear Family”
“I don’t even know what the fuck ‘Nuclear Family’ is about!” - Billie Joe
Yo, it’s Saturday night! Here’s a Saturday night song for you to pogo to, at the club or in your kitchen or whatever.
Like the previous single off of ¡Uno!, “Nuclear Family” is a return to a more straightforward punk sound after the expansion in influences that had started with Nimrod and carried all the way through to 21st Century Breakdown. It’s fast power pop with a basic chord structure, a lot like the songs off of Dookie, and it pulses all the way to the end.
But let’s focus on Mike and Tre for a moment, because they’re the reason I’m posting this song. Billie Joe is a great singer, a great guitar player, and a fucking brilliant frontman, but Mike and Tre are the powerhouses of this and most other Green Day songs. They’re like goddamn tattooed Energizer bunnies.
Billie Joe himself has called Mike “the best bassist in punk rock,” and literally the only thing that makes me hesitate in my impulse to agree is the fact that Paul Simonon is still alive. Mike has stamina, rhythmic ability, and a fantastic ear for melody. The lines that he writes are often what take Green Day’s songs to the next level, with circling hooks that propel the song forward even as they build an intricacy into the melody. Listen to his solo in this song and tell me I’m wrong, I dare you.
Tre Cool - where does one even begin with Tre Cool? His “crazy motherfucker” persona? The one ball myth? The dude is larger than life in a way that even shows in the way he plays the drums - look at how much movement he puts into it, and then go watch some other drummers. He doesn’t bother to conserve any energy, and yet he constantly explodes with it all the same. My dad, watching a Green Day concert with me once, said “that man might as well be Keith Moon reincarnated,” and in fact at the beginning of his career Tre did play in a wild, uncontrolled style very similar to Keith Moon, but he made an effort to become more reliable (not toned down, just more… rhythmic, really) for the band, and in the process became one of the best drummers playing today. His fill for “Basket Case” alone puts him in that category. As Patrick Stump, himself a very good drummer, said of Tre in his speech for Green Day’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction: “He makes it look easy.”
Green Day is a band that manages to be greater than the sum of its parts, but it only does so because each one of those parts - Mike, Tre, and Billie Joe - are so extremely good at what they do. There’s no dead weight, there’s just a whole lot of talent and passion driving each other on, and in the process creating something, well, pretty fucking great.
- Jacqui // @sandovers