Frank Maddocks

'I think the world is ready for big guitars and big drums — and the truth,' Green Day drummer tells EW

September 01, 2016 at 12:00 PM EDT

Back in the fall of 2012, Green Day had an ambitious plan to release three albums in the span of three months. But while promoting the first installment, ¡Uno!, that September, frontman Billie Joe Armstrong had a public meltdown on stage and subsequently sought treatment for substance abuse. Now, after four years — and a successful stint in rehab — Armstrong, 44, drummer Tré Cool, 43, and bassist Mike Dirnt, 44, are pumped for their return with Revolution Radio.

“We’re ready to rock,” Cool tells EW. “All those health issues are behind us. We’re going into this record cycle with a lot of gratitude, a lot of humility. We just really do enjoy the s— out of being in a rock & roll band with our best friends.”

For their 12th studio album, the guys “went down and dirty,” says Cool. They built a new studio named Otis in Oakland, their hometown, and worked without a producer for the first time since 1992’s Kerplunk. “No one’s closer with [Billie] than Mike and I,” the drummer comments. “[We were] trying to make the music and the voices in Billie’s head come to life.”

The sessions were also top secret. “We didn’t tell anybody that we were recording, except our wives,” says Cool. “We gave ourselves enough time and we weren’t watching the clock. [That] took the pressure off.”

The resulting record echoes themes of 2004’s watershed American Idiot: It brims with stadium-size statements like lead single “Bang Bang,” which addresses America’s mass-shooting epidemic. “The song is dangerous, and it captures the spirit of the new record,” Cool explains. “I think the world is ready for big guitars and big drums — and the truth.”

But while Revolution features “Bang Bang,” the hyperpolitical “Say Goodbye,” and other topical songs, Cool says Armstrong wrote many of the lyrics prior to this year’s cartoonish presidential election. “I wish we could take credit for being supergeniuses and having crystal balls,” he jokes. “But our balls are normal, like everyone else’s.”

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