Armatage Shanks

Album: Insomniac (1995)
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Songfacts®:

  • "When I wrote that song it was right before Dookie came out, and I was really at odds with myself," frontman Billie Joe Armstrong said of "Armatage Shanks" in an interview with Spin.

    "I was like, man, do I really want to do this? A lot of the time I was thinking about suicide, how it's so easy to kill yourself, but so hard to stay alive. I was in a breakup with my then-girlfriend, a total, raving punk rocker who didn't approve of me being on a major label. She moved down to Ecuador, saying she couldn't live in a world with McDonald's and such. It was f--king me up pretty bad."

    Armstrong wrote about the same girl (Amanda) on Green Day's 1997 hit "Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)."
  • This song had its debut far ahead of its release on the 1995 album Insomniac. At the height of the Dookie tour, the band was asked to perform at the MTV Music Awards on September 8, 1994. MTV asked them to perform "Basket Case," but when it came time to perform, the band played "Armatage Shanks" without telling anyone beforehand. For many months the song's title was not even known. That live version even got tagged onto many international live bootleg CDs under the title "Lost Inside Myself." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    George - Islip Terrace, NY
  • The phrase "armatage shanks" never shows up in the lyric. Rumor has it that Armstrong borrowed it from a British brand of toilets, Armitage Shanks, but altered the spelling to avoid trademark issues.

Comments: 13

  • Anthony from AucklandThis sounds like a song about w*nking
  • Billy from Birmingham, United KingdomIt's called 'Armatage Shanks' Because Billie Joe was in the toilet at the BBC in London and he noticed it on the urinal and named the song after it because the song is about his life metaphorically getting pissed down the drain.
  • Adam from Chicago, IlThis song is actually about Billie Joe feeling stranded, lost, and maladjusted. He was going out with a girl who then moved away from the States to elsewhere because she was sick of America and the band signing on to a major record label and this really took a toll on Billie. He wrote the song prior to Dookie's release which explains why they decided to play it at the awards which they thought was a funny joke. Armitage Shanks is a British toilet manufacturer which is where the name of the song was thought of (they changed the spelling of armitage to avoid any lawsuits). This song title felt well suited because thats how Billie felt at the time. He was doubting himself about his music career, his life in general while thinking of suicide, and yet how much work is needed to stay alive, yet so easy to let it all go down the drain
  • Joanna from Scotland, United KingdomI only know that Armatage Shanks is a toilet company because when I was little, the text engraved into my toilet was Armatage Shanks. I remember staring at it for ages xD

    Why did they name the song after a toilet company, by the way? :o
  • Alex from Loveland, CoYes, Hannah, it is on Insomniac! I like your name because it's like the same spelled both backwards and front. Your probably like "NO duh"
  • Tanya from London, United StatesIts on Insomniac hannah...
  • Hannah from Melbourne, AustraliaIs this on any of they're albums?
  • Adam from Olney, Ilgreat song one of my all-time faves by billie and the guys this is the reason i got into punk rock fook all the glamour $hi!
  • Takashi from Tokyo, JapanProbably the most pessimistic song on Insomniac, which is why it's my fave GD song.
  • Tanya from London, EnglandOne of my fave lines by green day ever in this song - "i must insist on being a pessimist, Im a loner in a catastrophic mind" - Great song
  • John from Houston, TxArmitage Shanks toilets seem to be in every pub bathroom in England. I bet that's where they came up with it. You see those words every time you whizz -- they also do a roaring trade in urinals.
  • Kieran from D.c., VaI'm not sure if the song's title is related to the toilet bowl manufacturer, but it would make sense because in the song lead singer Billie Joe is talking about being alone and losing it which could refer to his life going down the drain. That's the closest I can come up with. One of my favorite Green Day songs ever.
  • Wilfred from Melbourne, AustraliaThe title of this song is also the name of a toilet bowl manufacturer. Does this have anything to do with the song, because I have never heard it? (and the lyrics are not posted here, as of 10/05/2005).
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