Question: When are Green Day not Green Day? When they're the Foxboro Hut Tubs apparently. Or so it might seem.
On Dec. 8, a new gang of garage rockers calling themselves the Foxboro Hot Tubs launched a website with the six-song EP Stop Drop and Roll available as a free download. It didn't take long for music fans to realize that this new band might not be so new after all; in fact, the songs soundedsuspiciously like Green Day experimenting with a new sound.
With the Internet ablaze with speculation, the songs were pulled a short time later and replaced with a clock that clicks through to the band's MySpace page, featuring only three tracks: "Stop Drop and Roll," "Mother Mary" and "Ruby Room." (The other EP tracks -- "Red Tide," "Highway 1" and "She's a Saint, Not a Celebrity" -- are lost in cyberspace.)
While the site features no group photos, and both Green Day and the Foxboro Hot Tubs aren't responding to media queries, the Internet buzz grew so deafening that the mainstream media had to react.
Despite no label backing, "Mother Mary" was added to so many radio stations in the past few weeks that the song actually cracked the Billboard Modern Rock chart. "Mother Mary" debuted at number 30 in the current listing and will jump to 21 in the Feb. 9 issue.
"We discovered the Foxboro Hot Tubs songs online and immediately recognized the voice and loved the catchy melodies," says Lisa Worden, music director of taste-making KROQ in Los Angeles
While many are guessing that the tracks are representative of Green Day's upcoming new album, there's also speculation the cuts come from the band's scrapped Cigarettes and Valentines album. The masters were stolen from the studio in 2003, and the band decided to start from scratch with American Idiot rather than rerecord the lost tracks. The band later said the Cigarettes songs weren't up to par.
Quality is, of course, subjective, and MusicRadar's assessment, having heard the three songs on the Foxboro MySpace page, is that, Green Day or not, they kick a donkey's ass and then some. "Stop Drop and Roll" features the same kind of raucous punk-meets-Cuck Berry guitar work that Billie Joe Armstrong has traded in for years. And "Mary Mary" is a hook-filled dream; its backing vocals bear more than a passing resemblance to that of Green Day's.
So, the question remains: Exciting new group eyeing a brilliant future or a newly minted classic band testing the waters? You decide.