2016 Showdown: Battle of the Pop-Punk Veterans

Frank Maddocks
Green Day

With a slew of Gen-X acts releasing albums this fall, experts weigh their punk (and pop) credentials to determine who has the best chance at a second run.

Green Day

Formed: 1988, Berkeley, Calif.
Album sales to date: 26.9 million, according to Nielsen Music
Pop peak: Dookie may have vaulted pop punk into the mainstream in 1994, but a decade later it was American Idiot that took the band (and the genre) to Broadway.
Punk peak: Frontman Billie Joe Armstrong dropping trou and starting a massive mud fight at Woodstock ’94.
Chance of success: Revolution Radio (Oct. 7) features boisterous, anti-gun-violence single “Bang Bang” — Green Day’s first No. 1 on the Mainstream Rock chart in seven years. “What they’re putting out is actually going to hold up in [today’s] landscape,” says SiriusXM Alt Nation programmer Jeff Regan.

Jimmy Eat World

Formed 1994: Mesa, Ariz.
Album sales to date: 3.2 million
Pop peak: 2002’s Bleed American sold 1.6 million copies, with the group’s signature song “The Middle” hitting No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Punk peak: The band members recorded Bleed American on their own dime after Capitol dropped them.
Chance of Success: On the heels of Taylor Swift lip-syncing “The Middle” in an Apple Music ad, they’re trotting out a new LP, Integrity Blues, on Oct. 21 on RCA. “They have a sensibility in how they play that comes across in their recordings,” says producer Butch Vig.

Sum 41 

Formed 1996: Ajax, Ontario, Canada
Album sales to date: 3.7 million
Pop peak: “Fat Lip” hit the top of the Alternative chart in 2001, but singer Deryck Whibley’s since-fizzled romance with more-pop-than-punk princess Avril Lavigne takes the cake.
Punk peak: After years of alcohol abuse nearly killed him in 2014, Whibley made his first phone call to... Iggy Pop.
Chance of success: With the new crowd-funded LP 13 Voices set to arrive Oct. 7 on Hopeless Records, the now-sober Whibley and co. are ready to rock. Says Regan: “They took the guitar and smacked you over the head with it.”

 

Taking Back Sunday

Formed 1999: Amityville, N.Y.
Album sales to date: 2.8 million
Pop peak: The Long Island emo torchbearers’ career has been more slow burn than big bang, but in 2006 their sole Hot 100-charting song, “MakeDamnSure,” reached No. 48.
Punk peak: Dissing their ex-pals in Brand New in 2002, igniting the biggest feud in emo history.
Chance of success: TBS spent its summer on the Taste of Chaos Tour, and on Sept. 16 it released Tidal Wave — its third studio LP in five years. “They’ll probably do great touring and pull in people as they go,” says Regan. “Hopefully radio people.”

 

Yellowcard

Formed 1997: Jacksonville, Fla.
Album sales to date: 2.8 million
Pop peak: Ocean Avenue sold 1.8 million copies, had its title-track second single crack the alternative rock charts and earned it soundtrack synchs in everything from Spider-Man 2 to The O.C.
Punk peak: Enlisting Sean Mackin, a violinist who does backflips onstage. Hard to get more punk than that.
Chance of success: Sept. 30 sees the release of a self-titled swan song LP, followed by farewell tour dates that will take the group through at least March 2017. “It’s tough — they’re not as much a brand name,” says Regan. “But they’ve written some hits.”

This article originally appeared in the Oct. 8 issue of Billboard.