Geek Stink Breath

Album: Insomniac (1995)
Charted: 16
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Songfacts®:

  • "Geek Stink Breath" is about amphetamine and methamphetamine drug use, describing in unglamorous detail what it's like.

    A slow progression Killing my complexion
    And it's rotting out my teeth
    ...
    And I'm picking scabs off my face
    Every hour my blood is turning sour


    Green Day lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong wrote the song from experience, but isn't taking a stand on drug use. His songwriting style at the time was to lay bare whatever he was going through without making a judgment, so he wrote a song about being tweaked out on meth in the same way he would write about being bored ("Longview") or living in squalor ("Welcome To Paradise").
  • This was the first single from Insomniac, Green Day's fourth album. Their first two albums were released on the independent label Lookout, which specialized in punk bands from the Berkeley, California area. Their third album, Dookie, was issued on the major label Reprise and became one of the best-selling albums of the '90s. This put high expectations on Insomniac, which was rushed a bit to keep their momentum going. "Geek Stink Breath" did pretty well, earning significant airplay in the fall of 1995, and the next single, "Brain Stew," also made an impact, but compared to Dookie, Insomniac under performed, selling a mere 2 million copies in America as opposed to 10 million. This didn't bother the band a bit; rooted in punk rock, they didn't need an excess of money or fame to light their fire, and their hectic schedule was wearing them down. They were happy scale back a bit and let EDM have its day while pop-punk faded. With the weight of expectations lifted, they spent more time making their next album, Nimrod, which they were very happy with. Released in 1997, it also sold 2 million.
  • Most depictions of methamphetamine use explain the rush of euphoria that make it so appealing, but not this one: Everything described in the song is unpleasant. It probably did more to discourage drug use than any public service announcement ever could.
  • The title doesn't come in until the very end of the song, when Armstrong sings about one more side effect of meth use: geek stink breath.
  • This song made its debut months before the release of Insomniac. On December 3, 1994, while still on the Dookie tour, Green Day made an appearance on Saturday Night Live. In addition to performing their current single "When I Come Around," they were told to perform either of their previous singles - "Longview" or "Basket Case" - for their second number. As a bit of rebellion against their management and the media, the band played a very crude version of "Geek Stink Breath" as their second song. It became Insomniac's first single when the album was released in October 1995. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    George - Islip Terrace, NY
  • If you're afraid of dentists, don't watch the music video, which takes us inside a mouth for a real-life tooth extraction.

    After making four videos for their Dookie album, Green Day decided not to make any for Insomniac, but then Billie Joe Armstong got an idea. His friend had done too much crystal meth and needed to have a tooth pulled, so Armstong thought it would be fun to record the procedure and turn it into a video for "Geek Stink Breath." He called up Mark Kohr, who had directed the videos for "Longview," "Basket Case," and
    "When I Come Around," with his idea. In a Songfacts interview with Kohr, he told the story:

    "He says, 'Mark, I have this friend and he's getting all his teeth pulled out because he took too much crystal meth, and I was wondering if you could film it.' I said, 'Sure, absolutely.'

    We didn't have really high-definition small video cameras at that time - it was still film. But I worked on a job where somebody was working with this long metal rod that had a lens on the end of it and a little light, and you could hook it up to a big 35mm camera. So I called up Julia Roberts [not the actress], who was the video commissioner at Warner, and I said, 'Julia, Billie called me and he said he wants me to shoot his friend who's having a tooth taken out because he took too much tweak. How about I write up a budget for you in case they want to complete the video?'

    Of course they wanted videos because they wanted promotion, and I wanted videos because that's what I loved to do, so I wrote up a budget. We bought a jacket and tie for their friend who was having his teeth pulled. He wasn't actually having all his teeth pulled out - it was just one. We actually shot it where he was having it done, which was at the UCSF school of dentistry, and we got permission to shoot it.

    We shot a little bit of him in the waiting room, walking, and then we shot the tooth. Billie and his wife Adrienne were there with their new son, and we talked about maybe doing these things to round out the other part, like a performance, but have it feel like you're on speed and grinding away. So I did all this layering. We had that little set built - the red room - and I shot it this time with a little camera on a stick. It was like a selfie-stick camera but no one had selfie sticks at that time. So it had a different look.

    We got that video and we had it played on a television on its side and then we shot that with the film camera. We used this big magnet to bend the television information, like a hoop magnet degausser, and then we got the film and we processed it in buckets in a bathtub so it was all gnarly, like pieces of emulsion were chipping off. It was like, scabby. I said to the editor, 'I want you to edit this where your edits are off - where your edits are too soon or they're a little too late. Like you're on speed and you can't press the button at the right time.'"

Comments: 18

  • KerrI don't want to sound rude but Dookie came out in 1994 and Their second album Kerplunk was received really well 39/smooth not so much kerplunk was the reason green day even got to record Dookie.
  • Olivia from Nyc, NyMethamphetamine is meth's real name. Meth is just a 'nickname' (or street name) that people commonly use to refer to methamphetamine so they don't get caught affiliating themselves with them. Another street name is Speed. Speed is a common street names for many drugs.
  • Maria from Vernon, NjFirst of all, brainstew is about how billie had to wake up in the middle of the night to take care of his young son. quote "im counting sheep but running out"
  • Jay from Jackson, Msman that movie was.... gross. and it is about meth ^_^ (dont do meth) i have never done alchohal, drugs, or smokes. so lol. yeah.
  • Tom from Mead County, KyI think this song is about the first hand experience of bille joe using "speed" and how it messes your life.
  • Rebka from Crapville, Wyyou funny kids! my great-grandma wears a girdle! i know cause i saw it!! haha!(and gandalf said so!)
  • Tanya from London, EnglandMy dad cant watch this video because hes scared of dentists as it is.
  • Yuya from Kyoto, JapanI love this video! A bit hard on the stomach, but yet again very entertaining.
  • Brat from Nw Indiana, InA song about methamphetimine.
    "And it's rotting out my teeth" - Heavy meth usage will cause teeth to fall out. Also, a person can hallucinate and believe their teeth are turning in/outwards.

    "And I'm picking scabs off my face" - Taking alot of meth will make you hallucinate and make you think you have little bumps on you.... and you have a compelling drive to pick at them.

    "And my pulse is beating out of time" - Self explanitory. Your heart rate increases.

    "And it sits on a thin white line" - Meth can be snorted. Heh.
  • Aly from Woodstock, Gabrainstew/ jaded is also about meth the term "spun" refers tho being hyped out on meth the lyrics also center around some of the main effects of meth which is not being able to sleep"i'm having trouble trying to sleep" "my mind is set on overdrive", drymouth "my mouth is dry", also "falling into a state of regression" easily describes the come down, of course i didn't write the song so i can't actually say that it is about meth, but it's very likely.
  • Zac from Charlotte, NcSteph... Yeah thats "real" ironic
  • Zac from Charlotte, NcIts about Crystal Meth...
  • Casie from Denver, CoHmmm... The song sounds like,well have u seen Billie Joe's teeth? I believe he had bad breath but whateva. lol I guess I do to.
  • Rob from Santa Monica, CaAt about the same time, the Foo Fighters released "I'll Stick Around", which features an identical chord progression. Of the two, I much prefer this song, mainly for the production (the words are unintelligible). The guitars and drums sound amazing.
  • Dale from Parm, OhIf any of you have ever done meth (I have twice - DON'T!), you know it causes a really dry mouth. The resulting bad breath is intesnified if you smoked it. "Geeking out" is to be high on meth. does that put it together? Again: METH IS BAD! If you have to do drugs, roll a "J".
  • Pat from Northboro, Mathis is a good song. i learned how to play it on my guitar.
  • Matt from Lincoln, NeThe term "Geek" refers to street slang for methampetamine, which explains the title "Geek Stink Breath" (the song is about drug use).
  • Ang from Windsor, CanadaAfter releasing "Warning" in 2000, Green Day will be releasing a new album full of b-sides and will be called "Shenanigans" It will be out in July of 2002.
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