The tune I play and sing during The Bro Show intro (and outro) is the Green Day song Basket Case. An MTV video of this iconic track catapulted the band and their Reprise-backed Dookie LP to the top of the charts in 1994. The song's opening lyric makes the perfect prelude to our show: Do you have the time to listen to me whine?
FULL DISCLOSURE : Despite my protestations to the contrary during many episodes (“We’re not whiners; we're all about solutions!”), I’ve been known to whine like a toddler when the mic's not on.
When it's time to bring an episode to a close, I use the Basket Case chorus to play us out of an episode with these last musical observations and questions: Sometimes I give myself the creeps; Sometimes my mind plays tricks on me; It all keeps adding up; I think I'm cracking up; Am I just paranoid? Or am I stoned?
I intentionally recorded the above clips as “room” recordings, meaning the room is being recorded—not the control panel through which the instrumental and vocals are routed. The goal of this setup is to simulate as much as possible the feeling of a live performance.
In these recordings, I am playing a single, custom-crafted guitar-like instrument made by my brother WT—and further modified by moi. This instrument allows me to play bass, rhythm and lead simultaneously. Bass and guitar strings are tapped or slapped (not strummed or picked) with the fingers of both of my hands to accomplish this.
The dark out-rigging pipes above and below the neck keep the guitar from twisting as it's struck and also move it away from my body to facilitate my vigorous drum-like playing style. WT and I are still trying to decide what to call this unique instrument. One idea was to call it a “kitar” (i.e., drum kit + guitar) and then position it an instrument for drummers designed by a drummer—since my first instrument was a drum.
While playing this instrument, I am also singing my vocals into the guitar amp via a microphone. Between the mic and the amp is a vocal processor which produces the occasional live harmonies you hear and acts as a live mixing board. This processor eliminates the need for studio mixing and over-dubbing vocals.
As promised during the S04 E17 podcast, here follows the full version of Basket Case as I performed it:
Both critics and reviewers of the Green Day catalog often find themselves stumped by Armstrong's seeming obsession with dark or psychologically disturbing topics in his writing. He inadvertently deals with this issue when he shares his rationale for writing Basket Case during an interview.
After my son Joe's accidental death by automobile-to-bicycle collision and my own diagnosis of stage four cancer ten days later, I was suffering from PTSD. I fully believe that listening to and watching several well-chosen Green Day songs has provided some of the psychological relief Billie suggested in the quote above. Moreover, after writing an open letter of thanks to Billie Joe, Jon and I got VIP tickets to their Chicago concert from the Green Day road manager.
Therefore, for good reason I unabashedly love Billie and GD.
Amazingly, I take a fair amount shit for being an enthusiastic Green Day fan—even from family! To this criticism and other implied or overt attempts to ridicule me, I simply say: