This was released as the lead single from Revolution Radio, a collection of tracks about the chaotic state of America in 2016. It was the first song to get the ball rolling. Frontman Billie Joe Armstrong told Rolling Stone that he first demoed the tune in 2014: "I moved into a new studio that I built in Oakland and I just started messing around with different riffs," he recalled. "The first song where I was like, 'OK, I'm onto something,' was 'Bang Bang.' And then the first track of the record, 'Somewhere Now.' I started doing demos and I showed them to Mike and Tre. That's the test. And they absolutely loved it."
The song is written from the perspective of a potential mass shooter. Armstrong explained: "It's about the culture of mass shooting that happens in America mixed with narcissistic social media. There's this sort of rage happening, but it's also now being filmed and we all have ourselves under surveillance. To me, that is so twisted. To get into the brain of someone like that was freaky. It freaked me out. After I wrote it, all I wanted to do was get that out of my brain because it just freaked me out."
Rather than trying to get into the mass shooter's head and understand his crazy rationale, Armstrong was just trying to figure out his character. He said: "I don't know why someone would ever do something that horrific because I know I never would. It's just sort of meant to also reflect the culture a little bit without sounding pretentious."
Armstrong told Q magazine that he was surprised at how aggressive the song sounded. He said: "'Bang Bang' is the most aggressive single we've ever had. I didn't plan on it being that way. I don't want to be the old guy saying 'We're going to show these young whippersnappers how it's done.' It was just 'F--k, this sounds really good.'"
Discussing the song with Q magazine, Billie Joe Armstrong said: "There are so many mass shootings we're desensitized. There was a kid in Santa Barbara, who went on a killing spree, a couple of years ago, and he did these blogs like a manifesto, beforehand. He was suffering from his own insecurity and mental illness. The song's written in the first person, where I tried to put myself in his place."
Green Day played this song at the 2016 American Music Awards. They took a shot at President-elect Donald Trump during the performance, chanting, "No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA."