DETAILS: You recently finished your second stint performing in the Broadway production of American Idiot. Any plans to take the show on the road?
Billie Joe Armstrong: We'd take it anywhere that will have us. There's also talk of a film, with Dustin Lance Black potentially writing. We'd probably do the soundtrack, and I'd play a part if it's good. But then, the Who's Tommy was kind of a nightmare.
DETAILS: You've said that, prior to recording the album American Idiot, you came to New York and did a lot of partying. Did you think about that while playing the drug-pushing character St. Jimmy?
Billie Joe Armstrong: That's more the main character, Johnny—going from being a big fish in a small pond to swimming with sharks. I had a tendency in my past to get caught up in partying too much or making bad decisions. Stealing a limo from David Letterman during the Insomniac tour—I got into a little bit of trouble. In 2003, I ended up in jail with a DUI, and I definitely regret that.
DETAILS: You have two sons. Have you had any "Do as I say, not as I did" moments?
Billie Joe Armstrong: I was the youngest of six, no father, so it was total chaos. I was exposed to drugs and sex early on but had no one to educate me on it. There's an honesty in our family—my kids and I are able to talk about things without me putting the fear of God into them.
DETAILS: Has being a father changed you?
Billie Joe Armstrong: It's hard. I've been playing rock and roll since I was 16 years old, and now I have a 16-year-old. There's no better meter for knowing your age than seeing a real 16-year-old. People always think they're so young at heart. I see my son, and I'm like, "Aw, fuck, I feel old."
DETAILS:: There was a huge "punk or not punk" debate when Green Day first broke through in the early nineties. You just released your 11th album, the live Awesome as F**k. Does being punk still matter to you?
Billie Joe Armstrong: On a certain level, but that's always been a love-hate thing with me. And for the first time in my life, I realize how shit on we were by our own community. I get so mad that when I run into these people on the street, they're lucky I don't have a fucking knife in my boot. The only thing we ever did was realize our potential and push it. I did get nostalgic for the old days at one point, but now? No fucking way.
DETAILS: That album title, again, is Awesome As F**k. Apparently you don't care about selling records at Wal-Mart.
Billie Joe Armstrong: The title came from when we went to Lollapalooza in 1992, when the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Ice Cube were on the bill. Mike [Dirnt] was holding up a sign that said "Ice Cube: Bad as Fuck." Then at all of our live shows kids starting holding up signs saying, "Awesome as Fuck." It was a tribute to them.
DETAILS: It's the second live album in five years. Why another one?
Billie Joe Armstrong: American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown bookend each other, and it's the end of an era. On a lot of live records they overdub the guitars or vocals. This one was just us. There are no bells and whistles, and we were like, "Damn, we sound good."
DETAILS: So if those records are bookends, what's your thinking for the next one?
Billie Joe Armstrong: It's just sketches on my computer. If I feel like writing a surf song, I do it. I think all of our new records will have some kind of concept behind them. I love storytelling. The story is in the process, too, not just the lyrics. Exile on Main Street is the perfect example. It's an amazing record, but the story behind it is even better—tax exiles who recorded this masterpiece in a dirty basement. I miss playing music with Mike and Tré. I feel like I'm just jerking off making these demos.
DETAILS: Over the past few years, the band's political messages have become increasingly amplified. Is there a risk to that?
Billie Joe Armstrong: It dawned on me at the end of the last tour that things had become heavy. It's a fucking balancing act, man. And you don't want to always write about politics just for the sake of writing about politics. I don't want to become Rage Against the Machine. Bono is having dinner with George Bush to get money from him. I don't operate that way. I stick to my opinions.
DETAILS: Meanwhile, the political climate gets more and more toxic.
Billie Joe Armstrong: The Democrats are a bunch of fucking pussies. It was so smart for the Republicans to embrace the Tea Party: "We don't believe everything you say, but we'll listen to you." I get more confused every day. Then I feel like I'm not doing enough. It starts to make my head explode. Maybe I should go talk to the troops in Afghanistan.
DETAILS: You could just write an anti-Palin song. Or is that too easy?
Billie Joe Armstrong: I listen to the shit that comes out of her mouth, and I'm just in awe. These are Sunday-school teachers becoming politicians. Mike Huckabee? He's the guy that diddled you while holding the Bible. He's so soft-spoken, so Mr. Rogers. Palin is the same—it's this sneaky way to make Americans feel comfortable, but you know they're rotten to the core.
DETAILS: Do you worry what's going to happen in 2012?
Billie Joe Armstrong: You mean like the ancient Mayans did? Nah. [Laughs]