Green Day lashes out at Wal-Mart policy

By | May 21, 2009 at 10:06 AM

Green Day has the most popular CD in the country, but you won’t be able to find it at your local Wal-Mart.

The band says the giant superstore chain refused to stock its latest CD “21st Century Breakdown” because Wal-Mart wanted the album edited for language and content, and they refused.

“Wal-Mart has become the biggest retail outlet in the country, but they won’t carry our record because they wanted us to censor it,” frontman Billie Joe Armstrong said in a recent interview.

While Wal-Mart sells CDs from acts known for raunchy content, they offer customers the “clean” version of those CDs, which are edited for content that may be objectionable. But Armstrong maintains that there is nothing dirty about Green Day’s record.

“They want artists to censor their records in order to be carried,” he said. “We just said no. We’ve never done it before. You feel like you’re in 1953 or something.”

“21st Century Breakdown” contains curses and some references that are considered adult.

Wal-Mart said that it is the company’s longstanding policy not to stock any CD with a parental advisory sticker.

“As with all music, it is up to the artist or label to decide if they want to market different variations of an album to sell, including a version that would remove a PA rating,” Wal-Mart spokeswoman Melissa O’Brien said. “The label and artist in this case have decided not to do so, so we unfortunately cannot offer the CD.”

But guitarist Mike Dirnt said that Wal-Mart should sell the CD regardless of its content.

“As the biggest record store in the America, they should probably have an obligation to sell people the correct art,” he said.

Not being sold at Wal-Mart did not stop the band, which kicks off a U.S. summer tour in Seattle on July 3, from landing at the top of the album charts this week. Since its debut on Friday, “21st Century Breakdown” has sold about 215,000 copies.

The album is the follow-up to their multiplatinum, Grammy-winning CD “American Idiot” and like that record, deals with weighty topics. While “American Idiot” spoke to the frustration over the presidency of George W. Bush and the Iraq War, this CD speaks to the sentiments of losing one’s innocence and widespread confusion in mass society.

While Armstrong, Dirnt and drummer Tre Cool are still top sellers without Wal-Mart, Armstrong said the store’s policy is disappointing, considering it has become the dominant seller of CDs amid the decline of traditional music stores.

“I mean, what does that say to a young kid whose trying to speak his mind making a record for the first time? It’s like a game that you have to play. You have to refuse to play it.”

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