American band Green Day announced details of a new album, with the artwork surprisingly including a photo from a Belfast riot.
Yesterday (24 October), Green Day announced details of its 14th studio album, Saviors. Amid the excitement, eagle-eyed fans quickly pointed out that the album artwork consists of a photograph of a Belfast riot taken during the Troubles.
With an imminent new album and likely accompanying tour, local fans hope the artwork indicates the band’s return to Northern Ireland for the first time in six years.
Green Day – American pop-punk giants
Green Day is a pop-punk band from California that currently consists of frontman Billie-Joe Armstrong, bassist Mike Dirnt, and drummer Tré Cool.
The band released its debut album, 39/Smooth, in 1989 and has since released 13 albums, including hits Dookie (1994) and American Idiot (2004).
Green Day’s most recent album came out in 2020. The coronavirus pandemic led to the supporting tour’s postponement, but the band eventually toured in 2022, bringing its show to Dublin in June along with Amyl and the Sniffers.
Saviors – Green Day’s 14th studio album
Yesterday, Green Day released the single ‘The American Dream is Killing Me’ and announced its 14th studio album – Saviors – due for release in January 2024.
The album artwork is a photo of a young boy smiling while he holds a rock in front of a burning car.
Steele-Perkins was part of the Exit Photography Group, whose work documenting poverty in UK cities led to Belfast in the late 1970s, where they made the connection between poverty and the ongoing Troubles.
“I intended to cover the situation from the standpoint of the underdog, the downtrodden: I was not neutral and was not interested in capturing it so,” said the photographer.
“I began to see that my work in Northern Ireland had always been a celebration of the resilience and unyielding way that the Catholic community resisted”.
Steele-Perkins returned to Belfast in 2008 to photograph and interview the same subjects he encountered thirty years previous. Both sets of photos appear in his 2021 book, The Troubles.
Inspiration or appropriation? – reactions to Green Day’s album artwork
Green Day’s reasons for adopting Steele-Perkins’s photo for the Saviors artwork could be manifold. The aesthetic certainly represents punk’s anti-establishment ethos.
Could the artwork also be a nod to Belfast’s 1970s punk scene, which included bands like Rudi, Protex, and Stiff Little Fingers?
Or could it be a case of appropriation? BBC News reports a Reddit user calling the artwork an example of “wealthy, comfortable Americans using gritty imagery of civil strife to show how edgy [they are]”.
Whatever the reason, local Green Day fans remain hopeful of one thing: that the band return to Belfast for the first time since 2017.