Today marks the international release of Green Day's latest project, Demolicious, an album of demos stemming from the trilogy they started working on more than two years ago. As a matter of fact, it was exactly two years ago on April 11th that Billie Joe announced the trilogy on Twitter and the announcement video was released. Now we're getting an 18 track album gives us a glimpse of the unpolished sound Green Day puts forward as they work out the tracks and prep them for their journey into the final form of a cleaned up mixed and mastered Green Day album.
It's not very often that Green Day fans get to hear the different stages of a song before the final polish is added. It inevitably leads to conversation of comparison between the two versions of the songs and makes you wonder "why did they remove that" or "why did they change the lyrics here?"
Demolicious opens up with a very powerful version of "99 Revolutions", a perfect opener with one solid statement that stays true throughout most of Demolicious, holy shit those guitars sound great. The song feels louder, the guitars sound stronger and not as clean or perfect as on the final version. I immediately think back to a picture Billie posted on Instagram from their studio after the albums were released with the hashtag #reallyloudguitars. Yes, give me more of that. Here's a little sample between the two versions, it starts with the album version, then goes into the Demolicious version.
The trilogy albums had a clean sound to them compared to previous Green Day albums, even more so when compared to the large anthemic guitar sounds of American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown. Green Day's guitars always felt like they could fill the whole room, and on the trilogy, they mostly felt constrained. This was probably one the most common criticisms I saw from fans when talking about the trilogy. The demos give us a taste of the loud dirty guitars that so many of us love.
Some time back Mike Dirnt posted on Instagram, "This is how Uno, Dos, and Tre would have sounded if we were still on Lookout. I love it! ", and there's definitely that feeling reminiscent of the Kerplunk and 39/Smooth days. It's rough, it's not perfect, but it has some character to it in a way that makes you feel like you've been invited to listen to Green Day in their practice space.
I've seen comments from fans who have said things like "if they released this album it would have done better than the trilogy" or some variation on that. There are a lot of variables playing in to our perception of what this album is or what could have been. Right now we're comparing it to the versions we got two years ago, and I'll say I like most of these over their more polished counterparts, mostly because the guitars are louder and I like the gritty sound. It's impossible to know how people would have perceived an album like this if this was how we got it the first time around.
However, a benefit of someone finding and listening to Demolicious for the first time is that it's so much easier to digest 17 songs at a time than it was 37, which we got over the few months the trilogy was released. Many fans have their ideal track-list from the trilogy with the songs they love the most ("Lazy Bones" better be at the top of everyone's list).
Reactions that we've seen so far have been pretty much mostly positive. The few negative reactions were from people who were never fans of the trilogy songs and felt there was no way to improve them. Nearly everyone else seems to feel like Demolicious is an album presenting these songs in a more approachable and engaging way. For example, the acoustic version of "Stay the Night." It's one of the few songs on the album that steps away from the louder guitars and it's only Billie Joe and his guitar on the track. Billie is singing a bit higher and softer than in the two versions that feature the whole band. To me, that song feels like a whole different song in that tone. It feels more personal, there's almost a vulnerability in it. It goes from a song saying "hey baby, stay over" to a much more poignant "don't leave me alone." I love it.
My only criticism on Demolicious is the lower quality of a few songs, including the new track "State of Shock". Yes, I'm aware it's a demo album and all that, but the difference in quality going from "Carpe Diem" to "State of Shock" and "Let Yourself Go" is a bit startling. It's not like jumping down to iPhone quality, it's just enough of a drop to make them stand out like a sore thumb. My best guess is that these were recorded outside of their Jingletown Studios, where I assume the majority of the demos were made. But in the grand-scheme of what this release is meant to be, that's not a major issue.
I'm the kind of fan who loves to see behind the scenes. Whether it's making-of documentaries like Cuatro or even a blooper reel from a movie or series that I love. While a finished product can be ingested as a singular piece of art, there's something satisfying to me to see the process of how it's made or how it came to be. I think that's what I like most about Demolicious. It gives us a peek at what Green Day sounds like unfiltered when they're not in front of an audience. It's like finding out a model you find attractive is even more attractive without the pound of makeup and photoshop touch-ups. I'm happy Green Day decided to release this, and now I'm curious as ever what kind of mindset they're in as they start writing for their next project.
Written by @andresgda