Simply put, Mike Dirnt is one of the best-sounding, hardest-working, most excitement-generating bassists playing today. As one third from the start of perennial punk-pop upstarts Green Day, Dirnt wields a Fender bass with unrivalled power and panache, and his signature Precision Bass® guitar remains a popular Fender model.
Green Day rose from the raucous late ’80s Berkley, Calif., punk scene to become a gazillion-selling and highly influential act widely credited with nearly single-handedly reviving mainstream U.S. interest in punk-pop rock music. Grammy-winning major label debut Dookie (1994) was a massive breakout sensation; subsequent albums Insomniac (1995), Nimrod (1997) and Warning (2000) all kept the band in the spotlight until 2004, when the Grammy-winning American Idiot reignited the band’s mega-star status, reached number one and supplied their first top-five single, “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” (yet another Grammy winner). Long-awaited American Idiot follow-up 21st Century Breakdown appeared in mid-2009, but not before Green Day essentially released an entirely new album of ’60s-loving originals, Stop Drop and Roll!!!, under the nom de guerre of Foxboro Hot Tubs. All are impeccably fueled by Dirnt’s seismic, insistent and nimble bass work.
Born Michael Pritchard on May 4, 1972, in Oakland, Calif., Dirnt endured an at-times difficult childhood on the road to the seldom-equaled heights of success he attained with Green Day.
In 1982, Pritchard met Billie Joe Armstrong in the Rodeo Elementary School cafeteria. A few years later, an unstable family life led Pritchard to leave home at age 15 (he lived out of his truck and eventually in a room over Armstrong’s garage), supporting himself by working as a cook while he continued to attend high school. Pritchard and Armstrong formed a band called Sweet Children in 1988 that would soon morph into Green Day, and Pritchard adopted the stage name Mike Dirnt. Green Day embarked on their first tour the day after Dirnt graduated from Pinole Valley High School in 1990. Early releases on the independent Lookout! Label 1,000 Hours (1989) 39/Smooth (1990) and Kerplunk (1992) earned the band a solid grassroots fan base.
The rest is history. Dirnt and Green Day slugged it out on the thriving early ’90s indie circuit until Dookie rocketed them to lasting success in 1994. Along the way, Dirnt played side stints with influential Chicago punk band Screeching Weasel and the Frustrators, became an avid Fender bass user, including a ’69 Precision and the hot-rodded custom ’51-style Precision on which his successful 2004 Mike Dirnt signature model is based.
Green Day received its own version of the popular Rock Band video game in summer 2010, featuring the full albums of Dookie, American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown, in addition to selections from elsewhere in the Green Day catalog.
Dirnt’s muscular bass playing remains the foundation on which Green Day’s sound is built, and he remains a close friend of Fender as the band continues through its second hit-making decade.