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NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. punk rock band "Green Day" may be debuting their new musical on mainstream Broadway this week, but the trio says they aren't turning soft but following a natural progression from their 2004 album "American Idiot."
The band's new musical, which carries the same name and songs from that blockbuster Grammy-winning album, opens on Broadway on Tuesday evening.
"This is not 'Oklahoma' -- it's 'American Idiot'," singer Billie Joe Armstrong told Reuters in an interview. "It's live and right in your face, flesh and blood."
Critical notices are due out Wednesday. Previews have drawn a younger audience than typical Broadway previews, but the show is still a far cry from the raucous crowd-surfing of their early concerts.
The show follows the lives of three disaffected, post-9/11 youth and features sex, drugs and the ravages of war. It includes all the songs from "American Idiot," some hits from their 20O9 album "21st Century Breakdown" such as the single "Know Your Enemy," and a few new songs.
Armstrong said the musical was simply the aftermath of "an ambitious record" and reflected the way it was written "as a play or rock opera or whatever you want to call it."
"It made us more ambitious musicians, and strange opportunities and strange unpredictable things start to come your way," he said. "You have to challenge your fans. Otherwise it would just be boring, and they have to expect it and expect the unexpected, especially with us."
But what would punk's innovators like the Ramones or The Clash think?
"I think they would have loved it. The Clash on Broadway, hello?" bassist Mike Dirnt said while the whole band laughed. "They challenged themselves to the same degree ... who knows, but if I had to imagine, I would think they would love it."
Dirnt added more seriously: "The greatest thing you do for your fans is to keep forging ahead and following where your music takes you."
After the musical, that journey takes the band to the June 8 release of the video game "Green Day: Rock Band," by MTV Games and Harmonix.
"A lot of brick and mortar record stores are just gone, you can probably buy video games in more stories in American than you can records," said Dirnt. "You can either embrace it or be afraid of it."
And the band is touring the United States after a European tour in mid-year, with Joan Jett and Courtney Love opening the concerts.
"It's going to be a woman-dominated show, so I will be bringing out my dress," quipped Armstrong.
Reporting by Christine Kearney, editing by Mark Egan and Philip Barbara