By EW Staff
Updated November 07, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

Green Day fans have adopted a new favorite band — and it’s not Good Charlotte. Over the last month, the hot topic among Hot Topic-shopping ”Dookie lovers” has been a mask-wearing, Devo-worshipping quintet called the Network. Why the fascination? Despite its synths, the group’s debut, ”Money Money 2020,” sounds inescapably familiar. Aficionados insist its three-chord songwriting, snotty vocals, and big tom-tom rolls could only be the work of Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong, Tre Cool, and Mike Dirnt.

The trio denies it’s been Networking, and Armstrong’s Adeline Records, which released ”Money Money 2020,” isn’t talking. Nonetheless, a source close to Green Day confirms that the band is, in fact, three fifths of the Network. ”They wanted to experiment with a new sound,” he says. As for the Network’s other two members, the source would only deny a report that they were recruited from Devo. The band’s first gig, at L.A.’s Key Club Nov. 22, may provide clues.

In the meantime, Green Day, er, the Network are waging an elaborate Web campaign. One highlight: a video clip of a fake press conference collapsing into a melee when a reporter mentions Armstrong & Co. Armstrong responded on with an audio message: ”F — – the Network. Those guys are totally spreading rumors.” Sounds like he’s having the time of his life.