A preview of Marc Spitz's latest book, Nobody Likes You: Inside the Turbulent Life, Times and Music of Green Day, appeared in Alternative Press a few months ago. I liked what I read, especially the nice long quote from none other than Bryan Jones of Horace Pinker. Just based on these excerpts, I was really looking forward to the book. Besides, this is an official biography where the band members, along with a number of key people, were interviewed directly. So why do I feel like Nobody Likes You is an excerpt from another, much longer, yet-to-released, biography for Green Day?
Nobody Likes You is very well researched. At 190 pages, there are no glaring topics not mentioned. I loved how the whole Gilman Street area mindset/sell-out backlash is discussed with prime quotes from Fat Mike and Jello Biafra. This section was probably the most thorough analysis of what selling out meant to the area and it's well put. However, once the band members' beginnings, the band's formation and Dookie are discussed, the three main albums before American Idiot are merely touched on. As a fan of Nimrod (their best album in my opinion), I wasn't so pleased to see it be made light of as a mere transitional record.
By the time that American Idiot is discussed, I felt like skimming through this part. The deal is, this is where the book unceremoniously ends. American Idiot is a fine album, but its themes and time of release seem more important than the actual songs. Yes, there is some really biting commentary on post-9/11 America in these songs, but do I really want to read multiple pages about how this "matters" to a populist mindset? Nope.
All this said, Nobody Likes You is a very good read. It's written by a fan who cares about the band. It's gripping and it doesn't really slow down until the end. Yet it feels like a lot of the band's life between '95 and '03 is just exposition. I argue that those times are really important and should be more dug into. How did these guys adjust to being fathers and rock stars at the same time? How were the relationships between their friends and family change after the band became famous? How were they grounded even when they had millions in the bank? Why did they start acting like this super-serious rock band shortly after American Idiot came out? What's with all the eyeliner and all-black look? These questions are just the beginning. Here's to hoping for a future 300-400 page biography on the band.