How Green Day, My Chemical Romance and Kid Cudi inspired Juice
From their formation in college to nearly a year and a half on the road touring, the seven members of Juice have created a diverse landscape consisting of retro R&B, pop, alternative and hip-hop. Juice demonstrates a narrative cycling through struggles with anxiety, depression and uncertainty.
Juice’s new single “Make Pretend” grapples with the reality an individual faces after getting out of bed and the anxiety associated with the easiest day-to-day tasks. Stringing together 2000s alternative-inspired guitar riffs and a rhythmic albeit infectious chorus, Juice have turned fear into a thing of beauty.
“‘Make Pretend’ is an anxiety-riddled daydream about the process of lost love,” Juice says. “The narrative inside the character’s head swings quickly between sporadic confidence and optimism and an inability to deal with life outside of his bedroom. From the start, the song took on the energy of the early 2000s alternative rock of our childhoods. You know, like 1994 Green Day meets 2004 Green Day.”
Finding inspiration from Green Day, My Chemical Romance and Kid Cudi, Juice shared with Alternative Press which tracks influenced them while writing and recording “Make Pretend.” You can listen to “Make Pretend” in full and check out what songs Juice cited as inspiration below.
Green Day – “Jesus Of Suburbia”
CHRISTIAN ROSE: American Idiot was the most popular album in America when we were in fourth grade, and it was the first album I remember asking my parents if I could buy. They weren't fans of the cursing. As I got older, I identified more and more with the anti-establishment messaging, especially as a young Black kid in Indiana.
“Jesus of Suburbia” is one of my favorite songs ever. Rock music can feel flat and uninspired sometimes—any genre can—but “Jesus of Suburbia” is the opposite of that phenomenon. Nine minutes and eight seconds, a character study and a manifesto, five distinct sections, each one hooky and memorable. It was the first track that helped me understand that pushing boundaries is the best way to approach music.
Green Day – “Are We The Waiting/St. Jimmy”
ROSE: I like “Are We The Waiting/St. Jimmy” for similar reasons to “Jesus Of Suburbia”, but the tracks really clicked as my favorite when I saw Green Day live in 2010 at Lollapalooza. To sing “Are We The Waiting,” nothing less than an anthem, with a crowd of thousands of people on a summer night was special, but when it dropped into “St. Jimmy” everything became wonderful chaos. “Make Pretend” has a thread of Green Day's “St. Jimmy” chaos running through it, as well as some boundary pushing a la “Jesus Of Suburbia” (although it's much shorter).
Green Day – “Waiting”
MICHAEL RICCIARDULLI: My first iPod came with me everywhere. This seemed natural being that the first album I bought on the iTunes store was American Idiot. As soon as I came around to the band's other projects, I was waist deep. Around the time of Green Day’s 2000 release Warning, a lot of songs, most notably alt and rock ones, seemed to be increasingly more rife with layers and depth. They all had this wall-to-wall 360-degree sound—massive yet contained. I was entranced. Everything sounded so wide compared to the music of other eras. The amount of ear candy littered throughout a given song rendered a guitar-crazed youth utterly helpless. As a kid, it felt like Green Day, a band who’d experienced widespread critical acclaim, and who were capable of filling an arena, had crunched that arena down to the radius of my ear canals, or shrunk it down to the square footage of the unsightly 2000s sedan I was listening in.
One of my all time favorite songs of theirs is “Waiting.” The song is relatively conservative in terms of layering compared to anything off of American Idiot. It makes fantastic use of doubling though, a technique we rightfully ran into the ground on “Make Pretend.” You can really hear it fill out the song on the main guitar track of “Waiting,” which anchors everything nicely with its classic, era-specific progression. It sort of has this right up in your ears kind of feel, highly personal, almost too personal. We’ve been after that sound a lot lately. The thing I really love about the song though is the structure and movement of it. It’s highly dynamic, and it flows like a rock song might if it tried to bastardize a classical sonata form.
We wanted “Make Pretend” to feel like this—decidedly song oriented. Mid-Green Day track, you get this ultra subtle yet totally iconic sounding guitar solo, a recapitulation of the main vocal melody, followed by a killer descending riff. Going after those sort of guitar melodies in “Make Pretend” was an extensive part of the process that we spent a while on. A lot of that time was dedicated to trying to create little moments here and there. In “Waiting” there’s a key moment that happens during the breakdown, featuring a filtered out strummed guitar track, followed by a classic Green Day fake out re-entrance. The long drawn out yet highly satisfying melodic hook makes the song feel a minute shorter than it actually is, which is undoubtedly the mark of a good one. It’s a masterclass in simple memorable flow.
Green Day – “Macy’s Day Parade”
RICCIARDULLI: I think something I’ve always admired about Green Day is their display of genuine sincerity on projects that often always feature many other opposing forces. We’re always working towards that as a band, trying to weave that through the songs. “Macy’s Day Parade” is no stranger to that. This thing gets me every time. Just saying—grab a nice pair of headphones, go in your room, close your door, shut off your lights and listen to that song. No lie, it’ll sneak up on you. The acoustic guitars are sublime. The lyric feels like a real-time reflection, living inside a comfortably monotone, contemplative piece of music.
For me, the song fosters a slightly more complex human sensation, one of sad hope, two very mild emotions on their own. Billie Joe Armstrong is tapping into the same energy he taps into on “Wake Me Up When September Ends.” Discovering those sensations in the first place and channeling that energy into a song is impressive. Replicating it in numerous others is something special. It sounds a bit reductive, but something I’ve found to be reinforced by an instance like that, is the nuanced intricacy of human sensation—doing it justice in art is a tall task, but an important one at that.
Green Day – “Wake Me Up When September Ends”
MILES CLYATT: A bunch of Tré Cool's tricks have been printed into my DNA as a drummer because American Idiot was the first album I seriously played along to. He does this thing where he accents a 16th note on the snare after the initial backbeat hit. You can hear it all over his playing; an example is when he starts going hard in the second half of “Wake Me Up When September Ends.” I do a similar thing in the “Make Pretend” chorus. For the verse, I went simpler and cleaner like what you hear in “Whatsername.” The aggressive 16th note snare fills are also in there, a Tré staple.
My Chemical Romance – “Teenagers”
DANIEL MOSS: My Chemical Romance’s song “Teenagers” was an influence both instrumentally and vocally for “Make Pretend.” Although “Make Pretend” is a song about missing a girl, we wanted some of that MCR angst and aggression to paint the demented side of what’s going on in the character’s head. We also wanted to emulate the way the guitars and Gerard Way’s vocal play off of each other without ever getting in each other’s way. The guitar acts as a second melody that catches attention in the same way a vocal would. This also continues similarly into the solo section as the guitar line is simple and vocally intuitive-a solo style perfected and influenced by multiple Green Day tracks like “American Idiot” or “Holiday”.
Kid Cudi – “Erase Me”
ROSE: While I loved Green Day as a middle schooler and young high schooler in the late 2000s and early 2010s, my soulmate was hip-hop. I had a similar relationship with hip-hop in that I felt it was flat and uninspired at times, but I never got that feeling when I listened to Kanye West and later Kid Cudi. In 2010, Kid Cudi released a single called "Erase Me" with Kanye West, and while some dismissed it as a pop song that didn't fit Cudi's repertoire, I thought it was one of the greatest things I'd ever heard. It was, for all intents and purposes, a rock song. It's not easy for rappers to make rock songs that work. Even for those rappers who excel at weaving various genres into their work, there’s something about rock that immediately sounds corny when it's mixed with hip-hop. “Erase Me” does not have this problem.
I could do a whole case study on why “Erase Me” is such an effective song, but I mostly think it works because it doesn't take itself too seriously. It uses really simple aspects of rock and hip-hop to highlight the emotions in the song. The whole thing kind of feels like it's poking fun at itself, but all the parts are, like a Green Day song, hooky and memorable, clean and yet chaotic.
"Make Pretend" takes after "Erase Me" in a lot of ways. It blends rock and hip-hop, it's chaotic. It exists in a sort of undefined space where it can’t take itself so seriously that it becomes corny. I think it’s different from Cudi's “Erase Me” or any creative Green Day song in that Juice isn't coming from a genre and pushing that genre's boundaries. Juice has always existed in the undefined space that songs like “Erase Me” live in. I think the song gets away with being a little more introspective and serious. I like thinking about it as a Green Day-inspired foil to Cudi though.