John Kiffmeyer

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John Kiffmeyer
John Kiffmeyer 1990.png
Kiffmeyer performing with Green Day in May, 1990
Background information
Also known asAl Sobrante
Born (1969-07-11) July 11, 1969 (age 49)
El Sobrante, California, U.S.
  • Musician
  • producer
Years active
  • 1986–1995, 2015 (musician)
  • 1995–present (producer)
Associated acts

John Kiffmeyer (born July 11, 1969), known professionally in music as Al Sobrante, is an American musician, best known as the former drummer for the punk rock band Green Day.[1] His name of Al Sobrante is a reference to his hometown, El Sobrante.[2] His work with Green Day resulted in about 961,000 albums sold, which are mostly from the compilation album 1,039/Smoothed Out Slappy Hours.[citation needed]


Kiffmeyer was born in California on July 11, 1969. His first exposure in the punk scene was as the drummer of the band Isocracy.[3] The group was popular in the East Bay, and mainstays at the famed club, 924 Gilman Street.

Kiffmeyer is most well known for his time in Green Day; after Isocracy broke up, he joined Mike Dirnt and Billie Joe Armstrong in 1987 to replaced original drummer Raj Punjabi and form Sweet Children, which was later renamed Green Day.[4] Because of his experience and knowledge of the underground community, Kiffmeyer was able to get the young band on its feet by placing calls to friends, among them prominent figure of the East Bay Larry Livermore. The first few performances took place at Contra Costa College, where Kiffmeyer was a journalism student. On the strength of an early performance, Livermore vowed to release a Green Day record on his Lookout! Records. The group's first full-length effort, 39/Smooth, would feature a Kiffmeyer original, "I Was There", which documented the band at that place in time. Being a fan of Ozzy Osbourne, it was he who inspired the mini-covers of some famous songs, such as "I Don't Know" by Ozzy Osbourne and "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynyrd Skynyrd during the bridge of "Disappearing Boy," a practice that is still carried out today.

In 1990, he attended college at Humboldt State University in Arcata, California.[5] While Kiffmeyer was attending college, Green Day members Billie Joe Armstrong and Mike Dirnt accepted drummer Tré Cool into the band, which Kiffmeyer "graciously accepted".[6] In 1991, he worked as executive producer for Green Day album Kerplunk. Kiffmeyer later joined the band The Ne'er Do Wells, leaving abruptly in 1994. Following a stint with punk band The Ritalins, he became manager of The Shruggs until their split. In 1998 he was the executive producer of The Great Lost Trouble Makers Album by The Troublemakers, a garage band from Sacramento, California.

He now lives in San Francisco and is married to experimental filmmaker and San Francisco State University professor Greta Snider. He works as a Director of Photography, specializing in green screen and producing mainly commercial work.

On April 16, 2015, Kiffmeyer joined Billie Joe Armstrong and Mike Dirnt on stage during a Green Day concert at The House of Blues Cleveland, Ohio where the trio performed as Sweet Children, playing songs that they had not performed since the 1990s including "Sweet Children", "Green Day", "I Was There", "Don't Leave Me" and "Dry Ice".[7]


  1. ^ Kimpel, Dan (May 1, 2006). How they made it: true stories of how music's biggest stars went from start to stardom!. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 47. ISBN 978-0-634-07642-8. Retrieved July 31, 2010.
  2. ^ Small, Doug (2005). Omnibus Presents the Story of Green Day. Omnibus Press. p. 12. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  3. ^ Small, Doug (2005). Omnibus Presents the Story of Green Day. Omnibus Press. p. 12. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  4. ^ Small, Doug (2005). Omnibus Presents the Story of Green Day. Omnibus Press. p. 12. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  5. ^ Small, Doug (2005). Omnibus Presents the Story of Green Day. Omnibus Press. p. 17. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  6. ^ Small, Doug (2005). Omnibus Presents the Story of Green Day. Omnibus Press. p. 19. graciously accepted |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  7. ^ Hendrickson, Matt (April 17, 2015). "Green Day Return to the Stage With Raucous, Career-Spanning Cleveland Gig". The Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on April 21, 2015. Retrieved June 10, 2015.