Billie Joe Armstrong‘s profanity-laced tirade at the iHeartRadio Fest in 2012 was not one of the Green Day singer’s finer moments, but it did lead the frontman to seek treatment for substance abuse. Recently, during a guest appearance on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, Armstrong reflected on his issues, detailing the extent of his troubles with alcohol and why he started drinking in the first place.
Why Did Billie Joe Armstrong Start Drinking?
“I get massive stage fright,” admitted the singer. “It’s the anticipation of all day going on and getting ready to go onstage in a stadium or something.”
“I started on I think around the record after Dookie where I would get so nervous. Around Insomniac, I started drinking more before shows and I was like, ‘Hey, that works. I’m just gonna keep doing that,” says Armstrong. “So that’s when I started, and then I realized, ‘Well, I keep drinking after the show too,’ and I’m drinking during the show. It just kind of happened.”
Billie Joe Armstrong Shares the Extent of His Drinking
“I mean I used to smoke dope all the time, but after we had our first kid I couldn’t be high around him. But alcohol ….,” Armstrong told Maron. “I was just in my early 20s and I was trying to do what other guys my age were trying to do at the time, and then the alcohol just sort of became an issue and it started to kick my ass.”
Explaining how it affected his personality, Armstrong told the comedian and podcast host, “I’ll be fine for a few drinks and then some other guy sort of starts to come into the picture. Not angry, but I sort of turn into everyone’s drunk annoying uncle. It can get really funny and it can get really fun, but then it turns to where I can’t switch it off. I’ll be up drinking to four in the morning or something.”
The singer says that there were occasionally other drugs involved in what he described as “human garbage can moments,” but that once he started drinking, he wasn’t able to shut it off.
Things started to come to a head in the early 2010s. “I think some of my actions were just getting crazier and crazier. Publicly there were things that started going down like I’d just wake up the next day, like blackouts. So I would hear about it and you start feeling that shame and guilt and self pity and all that fun stuff,” explained the vocalist.
When asked about if his bandmates were concerned, Armstrong replied, “I think a little bit from time to time that I could hurt myself. But they like to party and I’m not gonna get in their way. But it was like, ‘Why are we getting kicked out of this place?’ ‘Oh Billie’s on the bar.'”
As stated, Armstrong entered rehab in 2012 after the iHeart Radio festival incident. He revealed to Maron that he remained sober for another five years until he decided to have another beer. “It was fine for a while, but then steadily you’re back in your old ways and I’m older and it hurts my body and it was hurting me emotionally more and hurting my family more,” says the singer.
What Are Green Day Up to Now?
After Armstrong’s stint in rehab, Green Day rebounded. Their Saviors album is due this Friday (Jan. 19) and the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers are expected to return to the road this summer. Check out more of Billie Joe’s visit with Marc Maron, as they break down his early love of metal and Midwestern alt-rock, discuss Billie Joe recently learning one of metal’s classic riffs through YouTube and more.
Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong Guests on the WTF With Marc Maron Podcast
25 Big Albums Turning 30 in 2024
These are the biggest albums turning 30 in 2024.
Gallery Credit: Lauryn Schaffner