Pinhead Gunpowder

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Pinhead Gunpowder
OriginEast Bay, California
Years active1991–present
LabelsLookout!, Adeline, Recess
Past members
  • Sarah Kirsch

Pinhead Gunpowder is an American punk rock band that formed in East Bay, California, in 1991. The band currently consists of Aaron Cometbus (drums, lyrics), Bill Schneider (bass), Billie Joe Armstrong (guitar, vocals) and Jason White (guitar, vocals). The band's name comes from a brand of "high octane" green tea served at the Arcata co-op and discovered by Aaron Cometbus during one of his many dumpster diving adventures.


Pinhead Gunpowder was founded in Arcata, California, in January 1991 by Aaron Cometbus and Jon Quittner.[2] Cometbus wanted the name "Pinhead Gunpowder", while Quittner wanted to call it "50 Foot Hesher". Along with vocalist Doug "Douggie Grime" Rogers and bassist David "Atlas" Kimmel, the band played once at a party where Cometbus snapped his bass pedal in half in the middle of the set. Shortly after the show, Cometbus moved back to Berkeley, taking the name of the band and some of the songs with him. Quittner stayed in Arcata with the band and they changed their name to 50 Foot Hesher and acquired a new drummer. A few months later, Quittner left the band and the remaining members changed the name to "Lank".

Back in Berkeley, Cometbus formed the second incarnation of Pinhead Gunpowder with Bill Schneider and Sarah Kirsch[3] of The Skinflutes, and Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day.[4] In June 1991, they recorded their first EP, Tründle and Spring. It was not until April of the following year that the band played their first live show at Punks With Presses in Oakland along with Rancid and The Gr'Ups. The band then released their second EP, Fahizah. In 1993, Kirsch left the band citing personal differences with Armstrong's decision to sign to a major label with Green Day. Kirsch was replaced by Jason White of Chino Horde. Shortly after, the band embarked on a week long tour of Northern California, Oregon, and Washington in the winter of 1994.

Pinhead Gunpowder performed for the first time in many years during February 2008, debuting three new songs, "Anniversary Song", "West Side Highway", and "On the Ave" .

The band released their latest EP, West Side Highway through Recess Records on August 19, 2008. This marked the band's first new release in 5 years.[2]

Pinhead Gunpowder released a greatest hits album called Kick Over the Traces on June 19, 2009.[2][5] Also, Pinhead Gunpowder mentioned that in August or September Recess would re-release on vinyl and CD the albums Jump Salty, Carry the Banner, Goodbye Ellston Avenue, Shoot the Moon and Compulsive Disclosure.[6] All of the albums were re-released in assorted colors in early February 2010 through Recess Records, but quickly recalled and destroyed at the request of the band due to issues with the vinyl pressing. The band last performed at a benefit show at 924 Gilman Street in Berkeley, California on February 12, 2010.[7][8]

Band member, Sarah Kirsch, died in 2012, who had been had been diagnosed with Fanconi anemia, a genetic disorder that can cause leukemia and other cancers.[3]

In March 2021. the band re-issued their entire discography on vinyl.[9][10]

Band members[edit]

Current members
Former members
  • Sarah Kirsch - guitar, vocals (1991–1994; died 2012)[3]


Aaron Cometbus is the primary writer of Pinhead Gunpowder's songs. During Pinhead Gunpowder's first incarnation, Cometbus and Quittner wrote a handful of songs together, including "In Control", "Losers of the Year", "Certain Things", "Brother", "I Used To", "Stab You in the Eye", and "Cuidado" (The last two songs released by Quittner and Cometbus under the band name "Mundt"). Cometbus often borrows songs recorded by his other bands to release as Pinhead Gunpowder songs, including "Train Station" from Shotwell Coho, "The Great Divide" from Redmond Shooting Stars, "Asheville" from Cleveland Bound Death Sentence, and "On the Ave" and "Landlords" from Astrid Oto. Only three Pinhead Gunpowder songs have been written by Billie Joe Armstrong, under the name "Wilhelm Fink". Those are "27", "New Blood", and "Anniversary Song".


The bands influences are Ramones, Joni Mitchell, The Replacements, Generation X, Swiz, Code Of Honor, Avengers, and Cheap Trick. They have also done cover versions of many of the songs by these bands or artists.[11]


Studio albums[edit]

Year Title Label
1997 Goodbye Ellston Avenue Lookout/Recess

Extended plays[edit]

Year Title Label
1991 Tründle and Spring Take a Day
1992 Fahizah Lookout
1994 Carry the Banner Too Many/Lookout/Recess
1999 Shoot the Moon Adeline/Recess
2000 Dillinger Four / Pinhead Gunpowder Adeline
2000 Pinhead Gunpowder THD
2000 8 Chords, 328 Words Lookout
2008 West Side Highway Recess

Compilation albums[edit]

Year Title Label
1994 Jump Salty Recess
2003 Compulsive Disclosure Lookout/Recess
2009 Kick Over the Traces Recess[2]

Compilation appearances[edit]

Year Title Label Contributing track
1991 Very Small World Very Small "Losers of the Year"
1992 Can of Pork Lookout "Benicia by the Bay"
1993 Benicia Take a Day "Benicia by the Bay"
1993 Vinyl Retentive Very Small "Beastly Bit"
1994 Misfit Heartbeat Take a Day "I Wanna"
1996 Lookout Records Lookout "I Am the Stranger"
1997 Humans as Sewage BBT Tapes "Swan Song (live)", "Reach for the Bottle (live)", "Nigel Sings"
1997 The Last Great Thing You Did Lookout "Life During Wartime"
2000 Faux Pas Potpourri - Very Small Records '93-'99 Very Small "Reach for the Bottle (live)"
2000 Might as Well... Can't Dance Adeline "Porch"
2001 Down in Front No Idea "Beastly Bit (acoustic)", "Reach for the Bottle (live)", "Swan Song (live)"
2005 Then Is the New Now Lookout "At Your Funeral", "Life During Wartime"
2006 Second-Hand Suit Jacket Racket Lookout "Letter from an Old Friend"


  1. ^ "Pinhead Gunpowder issues "Greatest Hits"". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved October 11, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d "6 Bands You Didn't Know Were Green Day". Showbiz Cheat Sheet. 2021-02-06. Retrieved 2022-06-16.
  3. ^ a b c "R.I.P. Sarah Kirsch of Pinhead Gunpowder, Fuel, Torches to Rome | Exclaim!". Retrieved 2022-06-16.
  4. ^ "5 Bands That Started as Side Projects". Music Times. 2020-06-02.
  5. ^ "Pinhead Gunpowder detail 'Kick Over The Traces'". Retrieved 2022-06-16.
  6. ^ "Green Day Authority". Green Day Authority. Retrieved 2011-11-01.
  7. ^ "Pinhead Gunpowder album reissues". Retrieved 2011-11-01.
  8. ^ "Pinhead Gunpowder show recap". Retrieved 2011-11-01.
  9. ^ "Billie Joe Armstrong's Pinhead Gunpowder to reissue entire discography on vinyl". NME. 2021-03-23. Retrieved 2022-06-16.
  10. ^ Ruskin, Zack (October 5, 2021). "East Bay punk supergroup Pinhead Gunpowder releases long-awaited reissues". Datebook | San Francisco Arts & Entertainment Guide. Retrieved 2022-06-16.
  11. ^ "Pinhead Gunpowder's Jason White discusses 10 of the band's biggest influences". BrooklynVegan. 2021-04-29. Retrieved 2022-06-16.

External links[edit]