Learn to play bass guitar like Mike Dirnt from Green Day – lessons in the techniques that made Walking Contradiction and Jaded such classics – with tab and chords
When 14-year old friends Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Pritchard formed Sweet Children in 1987, they could never have imagined how successful their endeavours would become. Before guitarist/vocalist Armstrong and bassist/vocalist Pritchard, augmented by drummer Tre Cool (who replaced original incumbent Al Sobrante in 1990), embarked on the road that would lead them to garner countless awards and rack up worldwide record sales of 65 million (and counting), both the band and Pritchard changed their names, with Pritchard adopting the noise he’d make while playing ‘air bass’ at High School and the band itself adopting a moniker that allegedly reflected their fondness for marijuana. From Pritchard and Sweet Children, Mike Dirnt and Green Day were born.
Dirnt was born in Rodeo, California on 4th May 1972 to a heroin-addicted teenage mother who put him up for adoption at six weeks old. His adoptive parents divorced when he was six and Dirnt was raised by his mother’s second husband. In 1990, a day after Dirnt graduated from high school, Green Day embarked on their first tour having already released their debut album, 39/Smooth, which showcased their frenetic post-punk sound. After a couple of EPs and a second album, Kerplunk (1992) sold well, they were snapped up by Reprise, releasing Dookie in 1994 which has sold 15 million copies to date, helping establish the band as major players. Ten years later, a more accessible sound and a greater stylistic diversity culminated in a ‘punk rock opera’, the wildly successful American Idiot.
Dirnt has played Fender Precision basses (currently through a Mesa/Boogie backline) since the mid-’90s, and Fender honoured him with the release of a signature model in 2004. Although a diehard pick user, he often moves from a light to heavy pick halfway through a show as he likes to dig in where appropriate, and an aggressive tone is a Green Day and Mike Dirnt trademark. He invariably comes up with a bassline that covers the necessary supporting role and adds intelligent melodic elements without ever dominating the song. When you check out our examples (all but one of which are culled from the 2001 compilation International Superhits) bear in mind that he’s often singing backing vocals at the same time, and that much of Green Day’s material is delivered at punishing tempos.