NEW YORK — In an era where downloaded singles far outpace the sales of complete CDs, putting out a concept album seems a quaint, if not futile, way to present new music.
If any act can restore the lustre of the complete album, it may be Green Day: Their 21st Century Breakdown, released this spring, continues in the tradition of the band’s Grammy-winning American Idiot album, with key characters, political themes and compelling story that is told track by track, with elaborate artwork to further illustrate its themes.
“There are three different acts to this record,” says bassist Mike Dirnt, speaking in a cellar of a hotel. “There’s a lot of content. We almost treated it like a vinyl record, therefore giving more for people to hold on to and call their own.”
Frontman Billie Joe Armstrong compares the process to writing a novel.
“You try to come up with more creative ways that the songs relate to each other, and they sync back into each other,” says Armstrong, the band’s chief vocalist, guitarist and lyricist. “That makes a listener want to go back and investigate an album.”
Plenty of fans have initiated at least a first probe of the album: It’s sold over 700,000 copies since its May release, and thousands get an in-depth examination nightly with the band’s current nationwide tour.
The group’s last CD, 2004’s American Idiot, sold millions of records and won the group two Grammy Awards, including Record of the Year honours in 2006 for the brooding song Boulevard of Broken Dreams.