June 29, 2011
Emily's Army is a four member band based in the East Bay.
Emily’s Army is a teenaged punk band that first made headlines because the drummer, Joey Armstrong, is the son of Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong, but they have a lot to offer other than family connections. They play the kind of fast, loud, poppy punk rock that’s been making kids go nuts ever since the ‘70s and they have such a positive message—their debut album is called Buy Don’t Be a Dick, and they revel in raising awareness for Cystic Fibrosis research —that you can’t help but smile when you hear them. They’ve been touring up and down the West Coast (their home base is San Francisco), and they spoke to us about the appeal of punk, having fun, and being inspired by comedy.
Your guys’ bio on MySpace says you’ve known each other since you were four years old. Is that true?
Joey Armstrong and Max Becker: Yup.
So how did you guys go from being friends to being in a band?
Cole Becker: Well, Joey had been learning drums since he was a little kid. One day, we watched School of Rock, which is a really inspirational film, and I decided to take up guitar and Max took up the bass, and we all played together. And Travis came along a little later and we formed a band.
Wow, so School of Rock literally inspired you to form the band?
Travis Newman: Yup.
As far as punk rock goes, did you guys all grow up on punk rock, basically, like with Joey’s dad and everything?
Joey: I mean I did, and I’ve listened to punk rock since I was little, and Travis did too. But Max and Cole grew up with the complete opposite of that.
Max: A lot of James Taylor. It’s just what we grew up on. It’s not anywhere near what we do now.
What attracts all of you to punk?
Joey: Well, not only the sound of it, but also the people too, they’re really interesting and they’re not at all fake. It’s more of a community. We met some punk kids yesterday, and they told us next time we go by there, they’ll have a house for us to stay at, and you just meet cool people through punk like that.
You guys recorded your album in four days, what was that recording process like?
Joey: It was very simple, and it was basically just how we play. It wasn’t anything new for us. That’s how we’ve always done it. We don’t try to spend too much time on detail because then it ruins the fun for us.
Cole: I mean, we’re not a perfect band, we’re not perfect at our instruments, so that’s what we sound like. There are parts where you can tell we messed up in the recording, but we don’t try to fix them, ‘cause that’s not who we are.
Do you feel like there’s any pressure with your dad being “the Green Day guy?” Or is it all positive, your association with him?
Joey: I feel some pressure, just ‘cause we’ve been getting a lot of good press, and as much as we try to avoid the whole “Green Day Jr.” label or whatever, we’re gonna get it put on us. I just push past it—we’re a different band than Green Day. We’ll do what we want and we’ll play how we play.
Is it fun to be your age in a touring band? Do you wake up and you’re like, “Man, this is awesome?”
Travis: Yeah it’s crazy. It’s just nuts. We’re a touring band while most of our friends are on vacation or are at home or with their families. But it’s crazy that we’re the same age as some kids who have never played an instrument before and we’re touring around.
Yeah, that is pretty crazy. Do you get homesick at all on tour?
Joey: Not really. I don’t think we get homesick cause we’re all here, we see each other everyday, so we don’t miss home. I think if one of us was gone across the world, then we’d probably get homesick ‘cause we’d miss each other. We’re basically like family. Of course we miss our other families, but I don’t think we get homesick.
Check out some tracks from Emily’s Army below!
Emily’s Army – Track: “I Wanna Be Remembered”
Emily’s Army – Track: “Broadcast This”
Emily’s Army – Track: “West Coast”