Tuesday, October 16The Voice of London

Green Day Finally Reveal the Magic Behind American Idiot Album

11 years later, Green Day and director John Roecker finally show behind the scenes of American Idiot’s songwriting and recording in the 96-minute documentary Heart Like a Hand Grenade.

Words: Karolina Zilenaite, Subeditor: Alex Hurd

Fan art of "American Idiot", Credit: cruocitae
Fan art of American Idiot album, Credit: cruocitae


With over a decade gone, it seems only fair to give an inside look into one of the most celebrated albums in punk rock history. Starting as a simple idea, American Idiot turned into a 13-track punk rock opera masterpiece.

Following Green Day for nine months, the director John Roecker (independent film maker) presents Heart Like a Hand Grenade (note, it’s describing the logo of the album, clever). The film gives a taste of what actually happened behind the black, white and red coloured album.

“We wrote a big chunk of songs, and even throughout the process of that, we kinda knew that we needed to raise the bar. It was just a matter of it happening.” Mike Dirnt, the bassist, reveals this as an opener to the main part of the documentary. It’s with this attitude that Green Day went into the studio and worked for nine months on a record that would leave a mark on the world of rock music.

Heart Like a Hand Grenade artfully incorporates clips of the songs in the studio with snippets (or in the case of “Jesus of Suburbia” a whole bloody 9-minute song) of those tracks being performed in practice rooms and live on stage. The mixture of clips (including Billie Joe giving tips on how to drink responsibly, and Mike and Tré going skinny dipping) give a good sense of how one idea turned into something mind-blowing.

With insights from the band on how the songs came to be, a hard-core Idiot (the name of Green Day’s fandom, Idiot Club) will excitedly eat up the facts, giving a new dimension to the Grammy-winning American Idiot.

If you want that extra appreciation of how one song “American Idiot” gave birth to a whole album, then Heart Like a Hand Grenade will give you exactly that.

You can rent and buy the documentary on Vimeo