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Warning! Green Day Busy With Albums, Side Projects

After playing their final U.S. show of the year last week, Green Day are really getting down to work.

They’re rehearsing new material for their best-of collection International Superhits, which comes out in the fall. At the same time, they’re fine-tuning a new batch of songs for their next studio album. Meanwhile, when he gets a free moment, bassist Mike Dirnt is finishing up the second record by his side-project, the Frustrators. Who said these guys were just a bunch of snotty, irresponsible punks?

“We have a super-serious work ethic,” Dirnt said, an hour before heading to the first of five Green Day band practices this week.

“I don’t know any band our size who practices as much as we do. But playing together is just what we know, and when we’re not doing it for a couple days we start feeling lazy and bored.”

International Superhits will feature 19 of the group’s most popular tracks, including: “Longview,” “Welcome to Paradise” “When I Come Around” and “Basket Case” from 1994’s Dookie; “Geek Stink Breath,” “Stuck With Me” and “Brain Stew” from 1995’s Insomniac; “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life),” “Hitchin’ a Ride” and “Nice Guys Finish Last” from 1997’s Nimrod; and “Minority” and “Waiting” from 2000’s Warning.

The disc will also include two new tracks, which Green Day will record next month with producer Jerry Finn. Finn previously worked with the band on bonus tracks for the import version of Warning, and also has produced Blink-182 and Fenix TX. “Maria,” which was originally released as the B-side to the international version of “Minority,” will probably be one of the new songs.

“It’s just a great punk-rock tune,” Dirnt said. “We were going through some of our stuff recently and we came across it and went, ‘This song is great. We should re-record it and put it out.’ ”

A DVD collecting all of Green Day’s videos will be released concurrently with International Superhits.

Green Day are also looking ahead to their next record, which they hope to have out by the end of 2002 or the beginning of 2003. They have seven songs written and another three under construction.

“The songs are coming out quickly, but we don’t want to force anything,” Dirnt said. “Our thing is just get in there and pound the songs out and let them come out when they’re ready. Of course, we say we’re gonna take our time [to make them right], and then the next thing we know, everything’s all done.”

If the songs already in the can are any indicator, the next Green Day album will depart from Warning’s introspective acoustic shades and return to distortion-drenched punk-rock glory.

“I feel like the last record is so complete that to try to take over where that one left off would be kind of futile,” Dirnt said. “Right now we’re at a really exciting, creative place in our life, so I think it’s going to be a bit more aggressive. Even more than a bit. I just think the fact that we’ve had a nice break from making hard and fast music has made us want to do it [again]. What once was old is now new again.”

Dirnt is also scrambling to finish Achtung Jackass, the second album by the Frustrators, which he hopes to have in stores by February. The disc will be released on Adeline, the label run by the wife of Green Day singer/guitarist Billie Joe Armstrong. The Frustrators (Dirnt, vocalist Jason Chandler, guitarist Terry Linehan and drummer Art Tedeschi) combine punk, pop and ’80s new wave.

“We love the cheesiness of the ’80s, but the music was really good,” Dirnt said. “Terry plays guitar in a real Psychedelic Furs kind of way, but some of the songs are incredibly heavy. I guess what we create is like a fruitcake. There’s a lot of sh- going on in there and for some reason it makes sense.”

The Frustrators album will include a cover of the Cars’ “My Best Friend’s Girl,” as well as “Hide and Seek,” a song about evading managers at work, and “The Crasher,” about a dude who has no friends, so he crashes other people’s weddings and bar mitzvahs. Needless to say, the Frustrators don’t exactly bleed for their art.

“The music is very serious, but we like to have a sense of humor about our lyrics,” Dirnt explained. “I think it’s OK to have a lot of the music be a joke without the music sucking. We have a pirate song which is tentatively unnamed. But the main lyric is a big chant that goes, ‘Have you seen the look in a pirate’s eye when he hears the words “last call.” Step back and clear a path to the bar or someone’s gonna fall.’ That really cracks me up.”

Dirnt’s not the only Green Day member with a side project. Armstrong continues his involvement with Pinhead Gunpowder, and in his spare time drummer Tre Cool plays Latino jams with friends and writes country spoofs.

“I think it’s really good for all of us to do things on the side,” Dirnt said, “because it allows us to grow as musicians. The way I’ve learned to play my whole life is just by playing with different people. There’s no study to it. You just let your music go through your life and it all seems to work.”

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