How does Green Day make a comeback? By dissing the government, rocking hard on an elevated stage in a prison yard as helicopters swarm above, and then lighting the place on fire. It’s the band’s new music video for “Know Your Enemy,” the first single off their May 15 release 21st Century Breakdown— and it’s epic. Watch below.
Filmed in downtown Los Angeles last month with director Mathew Cullen (who also helmed Weezer’s “Pork and Beans” video), the three-minute clip opens with a cautionary statement: The government is watching. Images flash by of video cameras, chain-link fences with barbed-wire, and spotlights as the trio kick into the track and frontman Billie Joe Armstrong snarls a call to arms: “Do you know the enemy? / Insurgency will rise / Don’t be blinded by the lies / In your eyes.” Soon, the stage is up in flames and Armstrong, with his mic stand turned upside down, is glaring directly into the camera. It’s an aggressive return after a five-year absence — and it’s vintage Green Day.
“It was definitely the biggest video I’ve ever done,” Cullen told MTV. “It has a lot of really big visuals, because I was trying to match the song, which is huge. The video is Green Day performing. There isn’t another single person in it.”
“Know Your Enemy” is a perfect example of 21st Century Breakdown‘s bombastic, classic rock sound. Split into three parts — Heroes and Cons, Charlatans and Saints, and Horseshoes and Handgrenades — the concept album owes more to the Who and Queen than it does the Sex Pistols. It’s an arena-filling work chock full of crunchy electric guitars, surprising (and multiple) movements, and even piano ballads.
Green Day will hit the road this summer on a 38-date North American tour. In preparation, the boys treated fans in their hometown of Oakland, CA, to a surprise performance, during which they played the new album in its entirety and unveiled their elaborate stage set. Check out photos here.
WATCH: Green Day, “Know Your Enemy”