Billy Joe Armstrong's impromptu participation in a 2014 protest march in New York City was the inspiration for this anti-establishment anthem. "I was in a car coming from Brooklyn to Manhattan and there was these protesters for Ferguson holding up traffic all the way back across the bridge," the Green Day frontman recalled to Rolling Stone.
"I got to where I was staying at and I could see on 8th Avenue there was all the protesters out there and I was just looking out and I wrote about it the day after," he continued.
"I walked out and marched with people a little bit but I was mostly kind of observing and seeing what was happening. It was a trip to see people rebel against the old order. I was just watching this controlled chaos, and it was going and happening all over the country. I was feeling that people don't want to feel obsolete in the things that we care about. That's sort of what the song is about."
Armstrong told Kerrang! the protest-minded tune was inspired by the band's anger at the state of America, and their anxiety concerning the rise of Donald Trump. "The worst problem I see about Trump is who his followers are," he told the magazine in August 2016. "I actually feel bad for them, because they're poor, working-class people who can't get a leg up. They're pissed off and he's preyed on their anger. He just said: 'You have no options and I'm the only one, and I'm going to take care of it myself.' I mean, that's f--king Hitler, man."
Around this time, many African Americans were protesting racist police practices - some NFL players began demonstrating before games while the National Anthem played. In this song, Armstrong addresses the issue of what white people should do to support the cause. His conclusion: shut up and listen. He sings:
We will be seen but not be heard We are Revolution Radio
"The first thing you need to do is get educated," he told Rolling Stone. "Don't try to do this, like, 'Blue lives matter.' Don't try to do the 'All lives matter.' Just shut up and listen to the experience. And then move forward after that."