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
"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.'"