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Green Day Prep Lost ‘American Idiot’ Doc ‘Heart Like a Hand Grenade’

John Roecker film chronicles making of band’s 2004 rock opera featuring rare concert footage

Jon Blistein Sep 16, 2015
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Green Day will finally release Heart Like a Hand Grenade, the “lost” documentary chronicling the making of their Bush-era protest album/rock opera, American Idiot, with a wide release scheduled for October 10th, DIY reports.


(From left) Tré Cool, Billie Joe Armstrong and Mike Dirnt of Green Day.

Shot by John Roecker over a period of nine months, the film marks the first time Green Day allowed cameras into the studio. While American Idiot was a critical and commercial success ”” and spawned a Broadway musical ”” Heart Like a Hand Grenade never saw release. It has acquired mythic status among Green Day fans, however, and was screened once, in Hollywood in 2009, for 400 fans, per the Los Angeles Times.

In a statement on Green Day’s website, Roecker ”” a punk stalwart known for his stop-motion animation film, Live Freaky! Die Freaky! about the Manson murders ”” detailed his longstanding relationship with the band and the origins of the documentary. Filmed around the same time as the release of Metallica’s Some Kind of Monster, Roecker recalled Armstrong worrying that the film would falter without the same kind of intense, intra-band drama ”” but the filmmaker wasn’t phased.

“It shows a band on top of their game creating incredible music,” Roecker said. “It is a film that inspires. It is also a very small film. All it took was a box of tapes and one camera. Going back to the D.I.Y. ethic that I was raised with. It was also a risk for the band because this album was either going to take them to a higher level or sink them. Either way I was going to document it.”

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Along with the footage of the American Idiot sessions, Heart Like a Hand Grenade includes rare footage of Green Day performing the album in full at a small theater after recording had wrapped. Shot before the omnipresence of camera phones, Roecker’s footage is reportedly the only video of that show.

“This movie is like a fly-on-the-wall art house piece,” Roecker said. “It is the first time Green Day allowed someone into the studio to film them ”¦ This was 11 years ago and the film you are about to see has never been seen. It became a lost film, an urban legend in some ways. Some fans thought it was not real that it was some sort of prank the band and I created. And finally the little film that could is being released.”

Despite neither releasing new music, nor hitting the road this year, 2015 has been big for Green Day, who were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April. The band has also been working on the follow up to their 2012 trio of albums, with Armstrong telling Rolling Stone in the spring he had about five tracks finished.

“I’m going to take it really slow,” he said. “I’m just going to make sure every moment is inspired and that we have something that’s really special to us. And right now with the songs that we have, it’s going in the right direction.”

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