Green Day Cares?

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One of the biggest role models from the "I don't care" era has done a complete 180-degree turn.

Using their famous three-chord melodies, the spiky-haired trio Green Day have been lambasting President George W. Bush.

"It was a little hipper to be apathetic (back then)," says singer-guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong. "Right now, it's more about facing danger. That's what growing up is all about."

However, their new album, "American Idiot," isn't all about politics. It was written with a narrative, making it a "punk opera" of sorts. The central character is a rebellious teen named Jesus of Suburbia.

"It's about a kid that is trying to find his beliefs and his ethics, coming from a broken home, being fed up with his hometown and his local 7-11," said Armstrong, who still circles his eyes with black eyeliner.

All three members of Green Day say writing their new album was the toughest project they've faced in 15 years together.

"We were up to the challenge. We're probably the best Green Day-type band there is out there," said bassist Mike Dirnt, referring to the dozens of neo-punksters who have mimicked the band's signature sound.

Armstrong said the album's cultural criticism was spawned from channel-surfing these last few years.

"Reality television meets news and war ... tanks going into Baghdad with splashes of Viagra commercials in between. I was just so confused about what was going on. It comes from that standpoint," he said.

But why the sudden interest in politics?

"It's unavoidable. Being in the United States right now, what's been going on the past couple of years ..." Armstrong said with a shrug.

Drummer Tre Cool added that it's important for those in the public eye to make their opinions known.

However, band members don't want to be labeled as activists. Instead, Armstrong said, Green Day is just continuing a long tradition of teaching through music.

"I've gotten most of my education through music whether it's the Dead Kennedys or Clash records or just something like the Replacements," he said. "Music can make a difference in people's lives. It's not just there for entertainment."

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