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Mike Dirnt

Green Day

"Bass playing to me is the anchor, but it's also finding your song within the song". In this episode, Ernie Ball artist and Green Day bassist Mike Dirnt discusses his beginnings with bass and guitar, his love of playing, and his relationship with Ernie Ball.

Transcript

Mike Dirnt:
Base playing to me is the anchor, but it's also finding your song within the song. In a way, I like to think that it's so open it's not definable. There's so many different styles of playing. There's guys that, you know, the base the lead instrument in the band. There's guys that hold it down very, very well rhythmically. And then there's guys that are just looking for one little moment. One little note that makes that thing happen.

Mike Dirnt:
My introduction to playing music was probably when I realized that most of the bands that I like, play guitar. So I actually started off playing guitar and then my mom had an old pawn shop bass, and I jumped on that. Had two strings, an E and an A. I met Billy in the fifth grade and he already played guitar a bit. I've always gone back and forth, with a bass and guitar. I am a bass player 100% but it's funny because growing up, people say you have to be either or. Well, I've always, since I was five years old, sat up at the piano and banged on it too. I don't think people should be afraid to approach any instrument. I think your heart and your soul are going to gravitate towards one of them eventually. But introduction to music is really not being afraid of instruments and being able to walk up to them and put your hands on them.

Mike Dirnt:
You know when we were kids, we would try to play anywhere we could. The school dance, to the little keg party, to somebody's backyard. That same play anywhere and everywhere carried over into touring. We would play vets halls, to living rooms, to really anywhere we could be. We put all of our stuff in one storage unit, saved up all of our money from any show and any odd jobs we had. Bought a van and went.

Mike Dirnt:
I've always played Ernie Balls off and on. When you're a kid you try every string you can get your hands on. Last few years I've been playing Ernie Ball strings on my basses. They have a great even sound across them. You don't get a dead string ever, and I'm not breaking them, which is good because I put them to the test. I need a set of strings that isn't going to fatigue on me and go dead after a couple takes or in the middle of a set. That's important, especially for people that can't afford to buy a new set of strings every three days, every week or two. When I was a kid, a set of strings lasted as long as each one broke and that's it. So there's many shows where I broke two or three strings.

Mike Dirnt:
Playing all the time as kids, it was always like this is the best thing I have going in my life. It wasn't until we wrote and recorded our second record Kerplunk with Tre, and the way we were playing and jelling, that I realized, "Oh wow, I'm in one of my favorite bands."

Mike Dirnt:
The simple thing for me is, I mean you listen to what I do. Some of the stuff I do sounds easy and it's hard, and some of the stuff I do is easy, but at the end of the day it can be as simple as just, when I [inaudible 00:03:54] it's that little eyebrow lift in it or whatever. It's simple, but it's super fucking catchy. So find your moment.

Mike Dirnt:
I think my favorite part of being a musician is the satisfaction that we get when we've written a song or an album that you know is going to stand the test of time. It's going to pass the campfire test. Just an acoustic guitar and a campfire 50 years from now, it's still a great song. Then you've created some sort of indelible ark and that's a really gratifying thing. It's like having another kid. You just absolutely love it and it's a part of your family forever.

Mike Dirnt:
Writing music has given me a voice that's going to be here a lot longer than I am. I know that the music that we're creating, that Green Day is creating, is the most important thing I'm ever going to do in my life. I'm blessed to have found that voice and it's created a really amazing festival for us to grow and learn and experience life in all of its different facets. So, to me, if I was working 40 hours a week and I had gigs on the weekend, I'd still be just as happy. That's what I do. Maybe even happier because I'd had a lot more free time.

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