Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Adrienne Armstrong Q&A Preview

Just to tide you over until Thursday, here is the introduction to the Adrienne Armstrong Q&A, and also a couple of questions and answers.
I hope you'll read the whole thing Thursday. She was very open and gave great answers. Also, be sure and read the accompanying story that runs Thursday for an announcement on Campaign Green Day.

The first lady
Adrienne Armstrong, wife of Green Day frontman, talks about her life in Mankato and what came next

By Amanda Dyslin
Adrienne Nesser, living in Mankato in her early 20s, had a long-distance friendship and flirtation with a guy so interested in her, he and his band planned two tours around Minnesota just so he could see her.
Green Day wasn't famous at the time. In Adrienne's own words, they were just another band she had seen a couple of times in the Cities.
They were both also seeing other people. But there was something pretty powerful that must have connected them over a distance of thousands of miles. There had to be. Otherwise, she never would have agreed, on a whim, to leave her home state of Minnesota to move to California to be with him.
Just weeks later, they were married July 2, 1994, Adrienne was pregnant with the couple's first of two sons, and Green Day's album "Dookie" became a household name. All of this seemed to happen over night.
Finding Adrienne and talking to her about all of this was a big part of our Campaign Green Day mission. Today, we accomplish that goal as Adrienne talks to us about life in Mankato,
including her favorite Pagliai's pizza toppings, how quickly her life changed when she headed West, and also the big question we've been pursuing for weeks: Would Green Day ever come back to Mankato to play a show?

FP: I couldn't get anyone to clear this up for me: Was it because of you that Green Day started coming to Mankato and playing shows? Or was Mankato a part of their early touring locations?
AA: Umm ... probably. : )
He booked a mini tour that started in Sioux Falls, S.D., and then came through Mankato, Minneapolis, to Beloit, Wis. So yes, to see me. Very Romantic ... .

FP: A few people who knew you said your decision to move out West to marry Billie Joe happened quickly. It was like one minute you were here and then you were gone. Was that how you remember it, too? Were you scared?
AA: Billie Joe had asked me to move out to California and give us a try. I was Totally scared. But super excited. It was a new adventure, and I was ready. I had a big garage sale -- sold as much as I could, including my favorite blue creepers, packed a mini U-Haul and drove out with my 15-year-old brother and my friend, Holly, who was already making the trip. I figured I'd give it the summer and see what happened.

More on Thursday!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Adrienne came through for us

Adrienne answered all of my questions today! (After she took a break to rollerskate beside Billie Joe while he went for a run. I thought that was pretty neat.)

She was honest and thoughtful, and I think all of you will love reading about her life here in Mankato and afterward. I'll tease you with a couple of questions and responses tomorrow.

To read the whole story, with all 16 of her answers, visit http://www.mankatofreepress.com/ on Thursday, scroll down to the Currents section and click on the story link.


Hurray! New word from Adrienne

I know many of you are checking back to see if we've gotten word from Adrienne, so just to let you know ... WE DID!
Adrienne left me a voicemail on Friday, and I didn't get it till this morning because I was out of the office.

Here's what she said:

Hi Amanda. This is Adrienne Armstrong calling. Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you. I've been trying to just enjoy these last couple of weeks with our family before Billie Joe leaves on tour next week.
I have not forgotten about those questions, so I will work on those. I'm in San Diego right now for preproduction for the tour, and I'll be back to a computer this weekend and early next week. So I will try and get you those questions answered as soon as I can. And hopefully by like Monday or Tuesday.
So, I will try you back again another time. But, yeah, I hope you are well. It's so crazy to talk to someone from Mankato. It's been a while.
All right, I'll talk to you soon. Bye.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Prison, Nirvana and Meat

A little break from Green Day to talk about the Meat Puppets.

I interviewed Cris Kirkwood today to write a preview story of the Meat Puppets show at the What's Up. What an interesting guy. Funny, too. Kind of a smartass, actually. My first question had something to do with the fact that the band has played Minnesota numerous times in its 28-year career, but only in the Twin Cities. So I asked why they decided to venture outstate this time. He said something to the effect of: "Because that's what we do. We get tired of playing in our living rooms. So they have these amazing new inventions called cars, and if you get in them and push the pedals and buttons, it takes you different places. Pretty amazing." I was like, "Yeah, I guess I should try that some time. Moving on ..." Heehee.

The bulk of the interview, I must admit, had to do with their relationship with Kurt Cobain and Nirvana and the MTV "Unplugged" concert. It was cool getting some insight into that concert since it was so close to the time when Cobain shot himself. So many rumors and myths have swirled around about whether Cobain planned the show to appear like a funeral, like maybe his own funeral. Cris was able to put some of those to rest, I think.

He was surprisingly candid throughout, even joking about his recent two-year prison stint for assaulting a security guard with a "deadly weapon," also known as a baton. (The same security guard that ended up shooting him in the back!) He's definitely been through some stuff. His wife actually OD'd, and he suffered from addiction for a number of years, himself.

Anyway, fun interview. Be sure and check out the story. It will run Friday, July 3, and the Meat Puppets show is Thursday, July 9, at the What's Up. I'll totally be there. Should be fun.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Nothing wrong with that

Still no word from Adrienne, everyone. Thank you for all the e-mails, though! I know that’s what everyone is waiting for. And I promise to run to this blog and update as soon as I hear anything. I mean, her fella is heading off on a long tour pretty soon here. She’s got much more important things to do than answer 16 loooong questions.

Anyway, I periodically Google “Green Day Mankato” to see who’s buzzing about our campaign on the Web, and I often come across a great Green Day fan site at www.nothingwrongwithme.com … They’ve been so kind to be supporters of our mission. So I thought I would give them a plug as well. Here’s one of the latest posts they made for us. : ) (Oh, and there will be more of those Mankato Green Day stories to come that everyone seems to like reading about, including the lovely Delfina below.)

Mankato’s Green Day Stories
Posted by Delfina

I don’t know why I’m so tickled by this, but it’s just so damn cute! It’s like a punk rock fairy tale.

As you know (I posted about this a couple times in the sidebar, and here’s the full story if you missed it), the Free Press of Mankato, MN has launched a campaign to bring Green Day to play in their town, where Green Day has a cool little history. They played there in their early days, before Dookie, and they went there primarily, it seems, because Adrienne lived there at the time, and uh, one of the boys just couldn’t stay away. I remember Tre mentioning this in Behind the Music (I think that’s where it was). He said Billie Joe kept suggesting that they should go on tour to Minnesota, and Mike and Tre were like, “Why Minnesota? Hmmm…? Oh… Adrienne!”

I’m nowhere near Minnesota so it doesn’t affect me personally if Green Day play there or not, though I’m certainly rooting for the folks in Mankato and hope they get their wish. What I think is just so sweet and interesting are all the stories that people have been sending in to the Free Press reminiscing about Green Day’s times in Mankato. You can read them all on Amanda Dyslin’s blog. One of my favorites is this one:

I guess my big Green Day story involved playing on a street corner with Billie Joe once while he was in town. I was actually playing Green Day songs with a few of my friends in front of the Barmuda Triangle trying to make a few bucks off of drunk people when he came out of a bar with Adrienne (who I only casually knew) and he jumped in and played along. He was so drunk that he couldn’t hit the high notes in the chorus of “Christie Road” — that was funny.

I can imagine Billie Joe doing that even now if he got the chance.

There are also some terrible-quality videos (hey, it’s more punk rock that way, right?) of a show Green Day played at a farm in 1992, and stories about that event as well. You can see enough to tell that the crowd — and it was quite a crowd — is absolutely loving it. The videographer tried to take some close ups of Tre, but all you can see is a funny halo of green hair.

And in the latest post, Amanda Dyslin got an email from Adrienne. Keep up the good fight Mankato!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Adrienne Armstrong Questions

Here are the questions I e-mailed to the lovely Adrienne Armstrong yesterday. No word yet, but she's obviously very busy, and I told her no rush.

The focus is heavily on Mankato, because that's where I am, of course, and that's where The Free Press readership is centered around. But don't worry, far-away GD fans. There are a couple of questions about the band in here, too. (No, I did not send the questions to her in alternating purple and blue lettering. That is solely for your benefit.)

1. Tell me a little bit about your college experience at MSU. Were you a studier? A partier? On the student senate?
(Also, what year did you start here, and what year did you graduate?)

2. Why sociology? What interested you about the subject and what career did you have in mind?

3. You seemed to have a ton of jobs while you were here. Your Mankato friends have listed Pier 1 Imports, the Piercing Pagonda, Pagliai's and The Jungle among them. Am I missing any? Any favorites among them?

4. Do you have any favorite moments in Mankato? Any night or event or time that really stands out for you when you think about your colleges years here?

5. I read you met Billie Joe in 1990 at a show in Minneapolis. Had you heard their music before that show? How famous would you say they were at the time?

6. Was it difficult having a relationship long-distance when Billie Joe was on tour after you'd first met? Especially being such a pretty girl in college with so many boys running around? : )

7. I couldn't get anyone to clear this up for me: Was it because of you that Green Day started coming to Mankato and playing shows? Or was Mankato a part of their early touring locations?

8. Talking to people around here now, it seems like the band was playing shows everywhere here in town: garages, basements and that show on a farm
near St. Peter. Was it really like that? Or was it just a few shows that just sort of popped up when they happened to be here?

9. Did you have any idea in the early days of your relationship that Green Day was going to hit the big time?

10. A few people who knew you said your decision to move out West to marry Billie Joe happened quickly. It was like one minute you were here and then you were gone. Was that how you remember it, too? Were you scared?

11. It seems as if shortly after you were married, "Green Day" and "Dookie" became household names. What was that time like for you? Was it strange to suddenly be living the life of a celebrity? Is it still strange?

12. What's your life like now?

13. What are your roles at Atomic Garden and Adeline Records? Does that keep you pretty busy?

14. Do you still keep in contact with anyone from the Mankato area?

15. And now for the $65,000 question. What do you think our chances are of getting Green Day to come back to Mankato to play a show some time? Are small markets like ours pretty much out of the question at this point?

16. Also, what are the chances we could get you to come back some time? We'd throw a big party in your honor, catered by Pagliai's. It'd be like a college reunion. I've got dozens of e-mails here that prove a lot of people would definitely show up to see you.

Update: Adrienne Armstrong interview

Adrienne e-mailed back and said she's flattered and would be happy to do an interview. I e-mailed her a list of questions, and she's going to squirrel away some time this week to answer. She's apparently having some family time during the next couple of weeks before Billie Joe goes on tour. I'll update more if I hear anything else.

: )

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

BREAKTHROUGH: Adrienne Armstrong contact!

OK people, major, major breakthrough. I received this e-mail today. We got through! We did it!

hello Amanda,
I have been getting emails from friends and family saying you are
trying to get ahold of me. I hear you know some old friends of mine... the Rueda family.
Well, its nice to "meet' you.
How can I help you?
adrienne armstrong

Here was my giddy response ...

Oh my gosh! Is this really you? I'm so excited!

A little background ... I am the arts person here at the freep, and for years I had heard stories about you and about Green Day's presence in
Mankato. I thought it was so cool that our little berg once had this neat little punk scene. So I first of all set out to uncover the real stories --
why Green Day had been here at all, where they actually played, what other bands were a part of the scene, etc.

You were also a name that came up often. Obviously because of who you are married to, but also because everyone looked at you so fondly. The
Ruedas have nothing but glowing things to say, and old friends of yours and acquaintances who have e-mailed me their stories about you all said you
were this beautiful, sweet, punk-rock girl who everybody had a crush on.

This little history-gathering project then sort of snowballed when we said, "Hey, let's launch a campaign to try and get Green Day to come back here
and play a show." Crazy, I know. They're obviously WAY out of our league, too pricey and the Alltel only seats 7,000. So we got a couple of charities
on board and have been sort of plugging away at marketing to try and see if we can't make contact in some way. The girl whose farm Green Day played at
in St. Peter actually works on things like this in L.A., so she's working on contacting CAA.

So, anyway, this is how the all-encompassing Campaign Green Day emerged. It's been so fun to read ALL these e-mails about people who were at the
St. Peter show on that farm in 1992, and people who knew you in various ways. I mailed copies of the massive article I did on all of this to Atomic
Garden and Adeline Records to see if it could reach you that way.

Anyway, could I possibly interview you on the phone about your time in Mankato? There are a ton of people here following all of this who would
LOVE to read about that and also what your life is like now.

Thanks so much for contacting me.

Stay tuned!!!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Campaign Green Day hits the radio

Be sure and tune into KTOE Radio at 1 p.m. today. The station has been kind enough to invite Eric Jones of the Alltel Center and me to talk about Campaign Green Day. Don't make fun of me if I sound stupid, though. I'm scared to be on the radio. I'm better in print.

And this just in ... KEYC TV is coming down this afternoon to do a spot on the campaign for the 6 p.m. news. Channel 10, peeps! (The no making fun of me applies here, too.)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Green Day St. Peter Concert

Here's the video taken at the rural St. Peter farm concert ...

Friday, June 12, 2009

Some really good stories about Green Day's history have been coming in since the article came out. Here are a few good ones. Because a lot of these former punk-rock kids are now grown-ups with important jobs, I'm keeping most of them anonymous. But they're still fun to read. One guy even jammed with Billie Joe! ...

Green Day, hedge-divers
I think the famous St. Peter show was at Jenny Frank's parent's house. She was a friend of mine in high school and I was lucky to be there. If I remember right a noise complaint shut down the show in Mankato so it had to be moved.

... If I remember right, my friend Wendy Pongratz in high school dated Tre from Green Day for a short while. We hung out with them when they played at the U of M in Dinkytown. I remember them saying they thought my name was cool.

After the show at the U they did what they called hedge diving. They would crawl up something (a sign or building) and dive into the hedges below.

Of course, this wasn't for me but it was fun to watch. I think Wendy was recruited to make Green Day concert t-shirts the next day. Memories are a little foggy. I lost touch with Wendy and haven't been able to find her on Facebook or anything. I'm not sure if she is married.

... One afternoon I was watching MTV and heard the VJ announce that Green Day was up next. I thought somebody stole their name (I was so out of the loop). When the video came on, I knew it was them.

I jammed with Billie Joe
I was one of the goofy teenagers caught stage-diving in the video of the classic St. Peter Green Day show and I played in a bunch of mediocre bands in the old scene. I guess my big Green Day story involved playing on a street corner with Billie Joe once while hewas in town.

I was actually playing Green Day songs with a few of my friends in front of the Barmuda Triangle trying to make a few bucks off of drunk people when he came out of a bar with Adrienne (who I only casually knew) and he jumped in and played along. He was so drunk that he couldn't hit the high notes in the chorus of "Christie Road" -- that was funny.

By the way, I'm sure that somebody told you this at some point but the kid who originally hosted the Green Day show that moved to St. Peter was Dan Fisher. He was a high school skater at the time. Last I heard he is the owner of Professor's in the open mall in Mankato Place.

The St. Peter show was at my house
I was only fourteen at the time, but I remember how quickly it all happened. My sister, Jenny, called from a show that needed to get moved because it was getting too loud where it was at, and told me that it was Green Day and that there were a lot of people.

I mowed the lawn and got some stage material out to work with. I didn't have much, but when they got there it all came together really quick. The band members found the big empty wooden wire spools in the pasture and climbed up on them to roll them in place by walking on top of them. It looked like a circus act.

I remember a lot of cars. My whole yard was full. In less than an hour my quiet country house turned into a raging punk rock show. My mother, Barb, stayed in the house letting the women in to use the restroom, and keeping the peace, like mothers do. I let people in the hayloft of the barn where I had a small skate park for anyone to use. Everything went really smoothly and we had no problems, and everyone was very courteous.

The show hit its climax when the sheriff, who was extremely considerate for what he had to deal with, showed up and literally pulled the plug to deal with the noise complaints from miles away. Everyone kept on singing, though. They were singing "I Shot the Sheriff" and when they got done singing, everyone got in their cars and scooted away.

Thanks to everyone involved. It has been a pleasure to have the memory of Green Day playing at my house. I do not live there anymore, the tornado took most of it. The house is still there, but the barn blew down in the tornado.
-- Heath Frank

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Adrienne and Green Day story promo

So the big story on Adrienne Nesser and Green Day and Mankato punk comes out Thursday. It's massive. 75 inches, the full Currents cover page, massive runover -- lots of good stuff to read about. And it was fun to write, too. There will be a sidebar on just submitted stories from former friends/acquaintances of Adrienne's that will run just on the Web below the link to the main story, so be sure to check that out. Also, embedded in the story online will be the YouTube video of Green Day's St. Peter concert, so check that out, too. It's grainy and dark and jittery -- totally raw and cool looking. The perfect memento for those 200 attendees.

I plan to cut out a bunch of copies of the story and send them everywhere. First of all, I'll send them to all of Adrienne's businesses in Oakland. Then, I'll give one to Cheryl Rueda to send to the last address she has for Adrienne in California (Adrienne babysat for the Rueda kids when she worked at Pagliai's with Cheryl). Then, on the publicity front, I'll send them to area radio stations to see if they want to help promote our little cause here.

Be sure and tell me what you think!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Six degrees of Kevin Bacon

One of the coolest parts of our little mission to get Green Day are all the connections to the band I get to read about in my inbox every day. I'm getting a ton of e-mails from people saying things like, "My mom is dating someone whose cousin is Mike Dirnt, the bassist." Or, "I used to live with Adrienne," and "I have a family member who works with Adrienne's family member," etc., etc. I even work with a guy who Adrienne babysat for when his kids were young. And I know another guy who lended a guitar to Billie Joe when he was in town. ...So very many strange connections to the band.

So I got to thinking that I bet every single person in Mankato is connected to the band by some degree. I mean, I'm now connected by three degrees, and all of you reading this, well, you can say you're connected through me, so there you go. Four degrees.

That's why I find it so amusing how difficult it is to make contact with celebrities. Such a powerful defense team they have. And for good reason, of course. There are people who feel about Green Day the way that scary British lady feels about "Twilight" (if any of you saw E! Weekend News). I suppose if I had thousands of fans wanting to maul me with lovin' every time I walked down the street, I might hire a few people as a buffer and unlist my number, too.

So maybe if I just make it quite clear, just in case this is the one thing standing in the way of getting Green Day, that I do not, in fact, want to maul the band with lovin'. All of us here in Mankato will keep our hands to ourselves, Adrienne and the band. Gua-ran-teed.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Free Press Sneak Peek

Here is a sneak peek at the story to run Thursday in Currents on Green Day's presence in Mankato, the lovely Adrienne (Nesser) Armstrong, with lots of stories from people who knew her here, and the Mankato punk scene in the early 1990s.

A campaign has been launched to contact Adrienne (Nesser) Armstrong, the first lady of Green Day, who attended Minnesota State University in the early 1990s. Her presence here, as far as we can tell, is what lured in Billie Joe Armstrong, her now husband, and his band Green Day to play a couple of shows here. Despite the fact that the band is now at the global fame level, we're trying to appeal to their sense of nostalgia and get them to play a show in K-Town. And we'd love to talk with Adrienne, who is our own little local punk icon from the past, about her time in Mankato. For details, visit www.katotainment.blogspot.com.

Campaign Green Day Area fans reflect on the early '90s, when a small punk scene thrived and Green Day was part of it
By Amanda Dyslin

It was dark in the middle of the southern Minnesota countryside, somewhere by St. Peter in the summer of 1992.
On a farm with a barn and not much else, there was one light pole casting a shallow light on three guys standing atop 6-foot wide, 5-foot tall wire spools -- a makeshift stage to gain high ground over 200 or so people watching. Next to them was a big, old, beat-up beast of a car pulled up by the owner so 15 or so people could stand on top and gain a better view. One of them had a video camera.
Ben Gruber, then a sophomore at Loyola High School, was there. In fact, he and a buddy had helped haul equipment for the band, and even gave the drummer, Tré Cool, a ride before the show in Mankato. The music was good, he said. A lot more polished than other punk bands he'd seen in Mankato.
He was aware of the five-year-old band, born in Berkeley, Calif., he said. They'd put out a couple of smaller recordings, including their full-length debut "39/Smooth" on Lookout! Records. But they were two years from their breakthrough record, "Dookie," which would have pretty much everyone at the show that night in awe of what they had experienced -- maybe one of the last stripped down, small-scale punk shows Green Day would ever perform.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Adrienne stories from the past

Today I wrote the "Campaign Green Day story" after talking with Ben Gruber, who was in attendance at the famous 1992 St. Peter Gree Day show. I also compiled stories from people here who knew Adrienne, including Cheryl Rueda, who was Adrienne's boss at Pagliai's. Adrienne babysat for her kids, Andre and Marissa. She even took them trick-or-treating during a blizzard one year. Adrienne kept in contact with the Ruedas after she moved. She sent them Green Day shirts and family pictures of her and Billie Joe and their kids. The last contact they had was when Adrienne sent a friend -- the same one listed below, who visited them in California -- to videotape the Rueda kids so Adrienne could see what they looked like as they got older.

One of the Libido Boyz e-mailed today, too, to offer his stories from the past. The Libido Boyz played shows with Green Day on tour and crashed on Billie Joe's couch.

So I have lots of good bits and pieces of nostalgia, and the story comes out on Thursday in Currents. I asked Cheryl if she would send it to Adrienne's address, the last one Cheryl had, and she agreed! It's entirely possible the address is outdated, so let's not get our hopes too high.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Green Day Campaign hits the airwaves

Pete Steiner of KTOE Radio has invited me and Eric Jones of the Alltel Center to come and talk about our campaign to get Green Day. We'll be on the air 1 p.m. June 16. Tune in!

I called Gretchen Kortas (see below) yesterday, but she asked to call me back. It's exactly one day later, and she has not. I'm about to call back. Perhaps, just perhaps, she is the way in.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Green Day, hear us!

Things we will do to get Green Day to come to Mankato ...

1. Hourlong back scratches and/or massages for all band members and crew.
2. A night at Mettler's, with the tab totally on us. (They don't sell Cristal there, do they?)
3. They can host an hour of radio at KMSU and play whatever they want (I'm sure Gully will be up for this).
4. We will rename something in the town "Green Day." Maybe not a road, but how about a bench or a corner or something? How about the corner by my house, Spring and N. Broad. It's a bus stop, too, so lots of people will be able to stand and enjoy "Green Day Corner."
5. They can each take turns petting my dog, who is the best dog in the world.

Well, Dann Saxton of our charity, UnityShows, made the pitch to the booking agent online and an automated response system declined both times. However, Eric Jones at the Alltel said the official talent agency for Green Day is CAA, so we were probably going through the wrong channel.

Also, Eric doesn't think we'll get anywhere with CAA. The band is on tour, and CAA serves as a huge force field in front of them so they don't have to deal with all of us trying to convince them to play in our towns. CAA won't care about our little campaign here.

So, we're back to our original thought: Adrienne is our only hope. We must find her. We must tell her we (the royal "we," as I never knew her when she lived here) love her and that she is a local legend, and we must convince her to get Green Day to perform at the Alltel Center for a reduced charity fee, with a portion of the proceeds going to UnityShows. ... Does this all sound totally impossible and completely out of our realm of ability? ... I know. But it's fun to try. We will perservere!

I got a lead, too. A girl who Adrienne used to live with still stays in contact with her. So I'm going to call her up today. I believe it's Gretchen Kortas, so we'll see if she's listed.

Wish me luck!