Insomniac (Green Day album)

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Green Day Insomiac.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 10, 1995 (1995-10-10)
RecordedDecember 1994 – May 1995
StudioHyde Street Studios, San Francisco, California
Green Day chronology
Singles from Insomniac
  1. "Geek Stink Breath"
    Released: September 25, 1995
  2. "Stuck with Me"
    Released: December 27, 1995
  3. "Brain Stew / Jaded"
    Released: July 3, 1996
  4. "Walking Contradiction"
    Released: August 20, 1996[1]

Insomniac is the fourth studio album by American rock band Green Day, released on October 10, 1995 by Reprise Records. Recorded as the follow-up to the band's multi-platinum breakthrough Dookie, Insomniac featured a heavier sound and bleaker lyrics than its predecessor. Lyrically, the album discusses themes such as alienation, anxiety, boredom, and drug use. It received generally positive reviews from critics, who praised frontman Billie Joe Armstrong's songwriting and sarcastic sense of humor. Four songs were released as singles, "Geek Stink Breath", "Stuck with Me", "Brain Stew / Jaded", and "Walking Contradiction".

Though it peaked at number 2 on the Billboard 200 chart and was certified 2× Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America[2] in 1996, Insomniac did not have the sales endurance of its predecessor Dookie, largely due to its slightly darker lyrical tone and its heavier and more abrasive sound.[3] Insomniac has sold over 2,100,000 copies in the United States according to Billboard as of 2012.[4] The album was reissued on vinyl on May 12, 2009.[5]


Much of the album was written in a small, Cape Cod-style home in East Oakland, California.[6] After the release of Dookie, Tre Cool's wife gave birth to their first child, and Cool noted that "I can hit the drums harder than I ever thought I could. Having a kid is trying – you have to watch your temper all the time – but it enhances the experience of playing in the band."[6] Eschewing the typical punk rock ethos of creating cheap, low-quality recordings, the band strove to perfect its sound on the record. Cool experimented with different cymbal sounds on nearly every song on the album, while Armstrong and producer Rob Cavallo developed the ritual of lining up several guitar amps and testing each one to achieve the desired sound.[6] Much of Insomniac was recorded in short, high-energy bursts. Before takes, the group would drink excessive amounts of coffee, "squeeze every last drop of energy" into the recordings, and then rest immediately afterward.[6]


David Browne of Entertainment Weekly described Insomniac as "14 slices of hearty anarchy, played with a follow-the-bouncing-spitball compactness and vigor."[7] The album features bleaker, more pessimistic lyrics than those of Dookie.[7] However, Rolling Stone noted that the lyrics exemplify "cold-eyed realism, not trendy nihilism or bleak despair."[8] Armstrong's vocal delivery on the album has been described as an "adenoidal vocal whine."[8]


The album begins with "Armatage Shanks", which explores disassociation and the lack of identity, with Armstrong feeling "Stranded / Lost inside myself."[8] "Brat" takes the perspective of a "snot-nosed slob without a job" waiting for his parents to die in order to receive his inheritance.[7] "Stuck With Me", the second single of the album, talks about being too weak and too much of a push-over to stand up for yourself. "Geek Stink Breath", the first single, discusses methamphetamine use, including side effects such as the formation of facial scabs and an accelerated pulse.[8] "No Pride" talks about a narrator at the bottom of society, who doesn't mind being there, since he has no pride. The angst-ridden "Bab's Uvula Who?" begins with the lyric, "I've got a knack for fucking everything up," backed by a "brutal, unforgiving wall of sound."[8] It is followed by "86", which discusses the rejection Green Day faced from the 924 Gilman Street music club in Berkeley after the band's rise to fame in 1994.[9] "Panic Song" exhibits a pessimistic view of the world, describing it as "a sick machine breeding a mass of shit."[7] It begins with a "pummeling" instrumental introduction that has been compared to The Who.[7] It was inspired by Armstrong's panic attacks caused by his anxiety issues and bassist Mike Dirnt's panic attacks he has suffered as a result of being born with an enlarged mitral valve in his heart.[10] "Brain Stew", the third single off of Insomniac talks about insomnia and is quickly followed by "Jaded". "Westbound Sign" is about Billie's wife, Adrienne, moving to California with him. "Tight Wad Hill" talks about how the activities teens once did (like getting high) is no longer fun anymore. The final track, "Walking Contradiction" was described as an anthem for "anyone who has chafed against the bounds of the demographically correct, computer-coded, image-conscious mid-'90s."[8]

Title and artwork[edit]

God Told Me to Skin You Alive

Before the name Insomniac was decided on, the band considered naming the album Jesus Christ Supermarket[11] and Tight Wad Hill. Insomniac was originally the working title song for "Brain Stew" on demo. After visiting collage artist Winston Smith for the album cover, Billie Joe Armstrong asked him how he managed to make such intricate pieces in such short times. Smith answered: "It's easy for me. I am an insomniac."[12] Armstrong himself has said that the album title comes from his own insomnia, after having been woken up frequently during the night due to his son’s screams. Armstrong also mentions his insomnia in the song "Brain Stew".

The collage on the album cover was created by Smith[13] and is called God Told Me to Skin You Alive, a reference to the Dead Kennedys song "I Kill Children". The cover art contains an image (the dentist) that was originally used in a collage featured in the inside cover art of Dead Kennedys' album Plastic Surgery Disasters (1982). Smith knew drummer Tré Cool from Green Day's time at Lookout! Records and told Cool that if he ever needed album artwork that he should call him.[12] The cover art features several hidden images: a naked woman, three fairies, and several other ghostly faces in the flames.[12] There are also three skulls on the entire album cover and back, one for each member of Green Day. One of the skulls requires the viewer to tilt the piece at an angle. The hidden skull is taken from Hans Holbein's 1533 painting The Ambassadors.[12] Green Day's version, however, is slightly different from the original, with the woman holding Armstrong's iconic Sonic Blue Fernandes imitation Stratocaster rather than an acoustic guitar.[12]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[14]
Alternative Press4/5 stars[15]
Entertainment WeeklyB[7]
The Guardian2/5 stars[16]
Houston Chronicle3/5 stars[17]
Los Angeles Times3/4 stars[18]
Rolling Stone3.5/5 stars[8]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide4/5 stars[19]
The Village VoiceA−[21]

Insomniac did not have the big sales or airplay as the singles from Dookie, but it was generally well received by critics. It earned three and a half out of five stars from Rolling Stone, which said "In punk the good stuff actually unfolds and gains meaning as you listen without sacrificing any of its electric, haywire immediacy. And Green Day are as good as this stuff gets".[8]

Entertainment Weekly gave the album a B with particular praise for Billie Joe Armstrong, stating that: "Fans needn't worry about Armstrong, a new father, rhapsodizing over the joys of changing diapers or whining about being a wealthy rock star. Once more, the songs relate the travails of a pathetic, self-loathing goofball whose sense of self-worth is continually reduced to rubble by sundry jerks, authority figures, and cultural elitists."

However, Green Day was slightly criticized for not progressing as much as their predecessors. Entertainment Weekly stated that: "Insomniac does make you wonder about Green Day's growth, though. Between albums one and four, The Clash, to take an old-school example, branched out from guitar crunch to reggae, dub, and Spectorized pop. By comparison, Green Day sound exactly the same as on their first album, albeit with crisper production and, ominously, a palpable degeneration in their sense of humor. The few hints of growth are fairly microscopic: a tougher metallic edge to a few of the songs ... and lyrics that are bleaker than Dookie's."[7]

AllMusic similarly noted that "they kept their blueprint and made it a shade darker. Throughout Insomniac, there are vague references to the band's startling multi-platinum breakthrough, but the album is hardly a stark confessional on the level of Nirvana's In Utero. ... While nothing on the album is as immediate as "Basket Case" or "Longview," the band has gained a powerful sonic punch, which goes straight for the gut but sacrifices the raw edge they so desperately want to keep and makes the record slightly tame. Billie Joe hasn't lost much of his talent for simple, tuneful hooks, but after a series of songs that all sound pretty much the same, it becomes clear that he needs to push himself a little bit more if Green Day ever want to be something more than a good punk-pop band. As it is, they remain a good punk-pop band, and Insomniac is a good punk-pop record, but nothing more."[14] Robert Christgau opined "[Armstrong's] songs conceptualize his natural whine with a musicality that undercuts his defeatism."[21]

The album was included at number 8 on Rock Sound's "The 51 Most Essential Pop Punk Albums of All Time" list.[22]

Singles and commercial performance[edit]

Insomniac debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, selling over 171,000 copies its first week of release.[23] The first single released from Insomniac was "Geek Stink Breath". The song was successful on both Top 40 and rock radio stations and peaked at number 27 on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay.

The second single, released exclusively in the United Kingdom, was "Stuck with Me". The song was moderately successful in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand, but was not one of the group's bigger hits in the US.

The third single from the album was "Brain Stew/Jaded". The two were separate songs (tracks 10 and 11 on Insomniac), but they were released together as a single and a music video.

The last single from the album was "Walking Contradiction".

The song "86" was released as a promotional single in Spain and Germany.[24]

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Billie Joe Armstrong, except where noted; all music composed by Green Day, except where noted.

1."Armatage Shanks"2:17
3."Stuck with Me"2:16
4."Geek Stink Breath"2:15
5."No Pride"2:19
6."Bab's Uvula Who?"2:08
8."Panic Song" (lyrics written by Mike Dirnt and Armstrong)3:35
9."Stuart and the Ave."2:03
10."Brain Stew"3:13
12."Westbound Sign"2:12
13."Tight Wad Hill"2:01
14."Walking Contradiction"2:31
Total length:32:49
Japanese version
15."I Wanna Be on T.V." (written by Sam McBride and Tom Flynn; originally performed by Fang)1:17
Total length:34:06
Australian tour Souvenir Edition live EP (also known as the Live Tracks EP)
1."Welcome to Paradise" (live)4:06
2."One of My Lies" (live)2:25
3."Chump" (live)2:39
4."Longview" (live)3:30
5."Burnout" (live)2:03
6."2000 Light Years Away" (live)2:49
Total length:17:11


Green Day




Year Chart Position
1995 US Billboard 200 2
1995 Spain (AFYVE)[26] 14
1995 Canada Albums (The Record)[27] 2
1995 Australia (ARIA) [28] 5


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Austria (IFPI Austria)[29] Gold 25,000*
Brazil (Pro-Música Brasil)[30] Gold 100,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[31] 2× Platinum 200,000^
Germany (BVMI)[32] Gold 250,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[33] Platinum 200,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[34] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[35] 2× Platinum 2,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone


Year Song Peak chart positions
US Airplay[36] US Alt
US Main

AUS[43] UK
1995 "Geek Stink Breath" 27 3 9 22 1 40 16
1995 "Stuck with Me" 46 24
1996 "Brain Stew/Jaded" 35 3 8 35 1 28
1996 "Walking Contradiction" 70 21 25 19

In popular culture[edit]



  1. ^ Green Day Album & Song Chart History | Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  2. ^ "RIAA Certificates for Insomniac" Archived 2007-06-26 at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ Green Day: Behind the Music
  4. ^ Archived 2013-08-01 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved Feb 3 2013
  5. ^ Fitzmaurice, Larry (13 March 2009). "Green Day Reissue Entire Catalog on Vinyl". Spin. Archived from the original on 2017-03-08. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d "Green Day: From Punk to Platinum". Rolling Stone. Jann Wenner. December 28, 1995. Archived from the original on 2017-10-03. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Browne, David (October 20, 1995). "Insomniac". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on October 16, 2015. Retrieved September 27, 2012.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Coleman, Mark (November 2, 1995). "Insomniac". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on April 2, 2013. Retrieved February 26, 2012.
  9. ^ Case, Wesley (May 3, 2013). "A brief guide to Green Day". The Baltimore Sun. Tribune Publishing. Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
  10. ^ Myers, 2006. p. 22
  11. ^ ""Twitter"".
  12. ^ a b c d e ""Winston Smith Gallery: God Told Me to Skin You Alive (Insomniac), 1995"". Archived from the original on November 29, 2001. Retrieved 2006-10-12.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link).
  13. ^ "The Montage Art of Winston Smith" Archived 2006-03-23 at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ a b Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Insomniac – Green Day". AllMusic. Archived from the original on September 16, 2012. Retrieved September 27, 2012.
  15. ^ Raub, Jesse (June 22, 2010). "Green Day – Insomniac". Alternative Press. Archived from the original on August 29, 2010. Retrieved February 12, 2016.
  16. ^ Smith, Andrew (October 13, 1995). "Green Day: Insomniac (WEA)". The Guardian.
  17. ^ Arnold, Gina (October 15, 1995). "Green Day's Fourth More of the Same". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved June 16, 2019.
  18. ^ Ali, Lorraine (October 8, 1995). "Green Day: Something for All". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on January 13, 2016. Retrieved February 12, 2016.
  19. ^ Catucci, Nick (2004). "Green Day". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian (eds.). The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. pp. 347–48. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  20. ^ Weisbard, Eric (December 1995). "Green Day: Insomniac". Spin. 11 (9): 118. Retrieved February 12, 2016.
  21. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (November 14, 1995). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved February 12, 2016.
  22. ^ Bird, ed. 2014, p. 73
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Green Day 86 - Eighty Six Spain Promo CD single (CD5 / 5") (72974)". Archived from the original on 2013-12-11. Retrieved 2013-12-06.
  25. ^ a b Insomniac liner notes. Retrieved 2011-10-13
  26. ^ Salaverri, Fernando (September 2005). Sólo éxitos: año a año, 1959-2002 (1st ed.). Spain: Fundación Autor-SGAE. ISBN 84-8048-639-2.
  27. ^ "HITS OF THE WORLD". Billboard. Retrieved 2018-12-21.
  28. ^ Steffen Hung. "Green Day - Stuck With Me". Archived from the original on 2012-11-11. Retrieved 2012-09-27.
  29. ^ "Austrian album certifications – Green Day – Insomniac" (in German). IFPI Austria.
  30. ^ "Brazilian album certifications – Green Day – Insominiac" (in Portuguese). Associação Brasileira dos Produtores de Discos. Retrieved 4 May 2019.
  31. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Green Day – Insomniac". Music Canada.
  32. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Green Day; 'Insominiac')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie.
  33. ^ "Japanese album certifications – Green Day – Insominiac" (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan. Retrieved 9 July 2019. Select 1995年5月 on the drop-down menu
  34. ^ "British album certifications – Green Day – Insomniac". British Phonographic Industry. Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Insomniac in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  35. ^ "American album certifications – Green Day – Insomniac". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 
  36. ^ a b "Green Day single chart history". Billboard. Archived from the original on April 5, 2013. Retrieved 2007-07-16.
  37. ^ "Green Day - Billboard Singles". AllMusic. Retrieved 2010-10-26.
  38. ^ "Top Singles - Volume 62, No. 21, January 08 1996". RPM. Archived from the original on 2012-10-20. Retrieved 2010-10-26.
  39. ^ "Top Singles - Volume 63, No. 3, March 04 1996". RPM. Archived from the original on 2012-10-20. Retrieved 2010-10-26.
  40. ^ "Rock/Alternative - Volume 62, No. 11, October 16, 1995". RPM. Archived from the original on 2012-10-20. Retrieved 2010-10-26.
  41. ^ "Rock/Alternative - Volume 62, No. 24, January 29, 1996". RPM. Archived from the original on 2012-10-20. Retrieved 2010-10-26.
  42. ^ "Rock/Alternative - Volume 63, No. 24, July 29, 1996". RPM. Archived from the original on 2012-10-20. Retrieved 2010-10-26.
  43. ^ Steffen Hung. "Australian charts portal". Archived from the original on 2009-08-13. Retrieved 2012-09-27.
  44. ^ "SNL Transcripts: Elliot Gould: 05/29/76: Babs' Uvula" Archived 2006-12-30 at the Wayback Machine.


  • Bird, Ryan, ed. (September 2014). "The 51 Most Essential Pop Punk Albums of All Time". Rock Sound. London: Freeway Press Inc. (191). ISSN 1465-0185.

External links[edit]