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Insomniac, released 24 years ago today, was a marked departure from the breakthrough Dookie. It was darker, harder and went from Dookie’s iconic apathy of ‘I declare I don’t care anymore’ to rage, fuelling lines like ‘I must insist on being a pessimist.’ Though there was a mixed reaction from fans surprised by its harshness, most critics reacted positively. Rolling Stone praised it, saying:

"‘The beauty of classic punk rock lies in its utter simplicity: Crude rhythms, rude attitude, pumping adrenaline and a loudly pronounced point of view are key. Once you get sucked in by that formula, any punk band sounds good at first — because the musical rush is so basic, familiar and overwhelming. That’s also the reason most punk bands — and records — ultimately turn out to be crap. In punk the good stuff actually unfolds and gains meaning as you listen without sacrificing any of its electric, haywire immediacy. And Green Day are as good as this stuff gets.’"


The album's name was a homage to cover artist, Winston Smith. Billie Joe asked how he managed to put together the cover art, 'God Told Me To Skin You Alive,' in 38 hours. He responded ‘it’s easy for me. I’m an insomniac.’ Billie has since said he wishes they’d stuck with the original title, ‘Jesus Christ Supermarket,’ though.

Following Dookie, this era predictably saw many memorable moments. On February 25, 1996, Jay Leno’s green room was found in a mess, with peanut butter spread over couches and an Elmo doll hanging from a noose – which, of course, was Green Day’s doing. On November 21, 1996, Billie Joe was infamously arrested for indecent exposure after mooning a crowd at the Mecca Auditorium in Milwaukee. Green Day were nominated for Best Alternative Rock at the 1996 American Music Awards, but lost to Pearl Jam. They lost Best Artist to Garth Brooks, who refused to accept it. The Insomniac Tour was the first time Green Day invited a fan onstage, with Billie saying:

"‘The first time we did it was on the Insomniac tour. We were having a kind of weird show, the crowd wasn’t really involved. So I was like, screw it, I don’t wanna play, does anyone else wanna play the song? So some kid came up and did it, and it completely changed the show. It’s like you’re bringing the whole crowd on stage every time you do it.’"


Four music videos were released: Geek Stink Breath, Stuck With Me, Brain Stew/Jaded and Walking Contradiction.

Insomniac also, of course, prompted the angry mother’s letter that inspired Reject.



What's your favourite track from Insomniac? Do you have any Insomniac era memories? Head to the Insomniac thread on our forum to discuss it with other fans.
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