Homecoming Weekend for Emily’s Army

Max Becker (center) sings with brother Cole Becker
(left) while Joey Armstrong drums and Travis Neumann
jams on bass.

Homecoming weekend for high schools across the Bay Area are happening this month. But while most students take their pictures and get sent off to the dance with their dates, one Piedmont High School senior prepared for homecoming in a different way.

Cole Becker is a guitar player and vocalist in the Bay Area-based band Emily’s Army and had not played a show in the United States since July when they wrapped up a summer-long tour that began on Vans Warped Tour around the U.S. and finished up in the United Kingdom. As the other three members parted ways for their freshman year of college, Becker stayed back to finish up his final year at Piedmont High.

The East Bay punk band, which features 18-year-old Becker on guitar and vocals, his older brother Max Becker on bass and vocals, Travis Neumann on guitar, and drummer Joey Armstrong, the son of Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, returned to the U.S. in late July.

They played their homecoming show at the legendary 924 Gilman Street Project in Berkeley. Emily’s Army played one of their first gigs ever here in 2009, when they were just 14 years old.

“It was trippy, man,” Cole Becker said about touring in the U.K. “It was really really great, really rowdy kids. When it’s music time for them, it’s music time,” he said of the passion for music that he felt the British had.

The energy around 8 p.m., about three hours before the band would hit the stage in Berkeley, was already electric. The crowd consisted of high school girls waiting to catch a glimpse of the offspring of one of the greatest songwriters and frontmen of all time as well as local Berkeley punk rock fans, who could tell something special was about to happen.

When asked if the Green Day connection is an advantage or disadvantage, Cole Becker said that it had its ups and downs. He said he first met Joey Armstrong when his dad designed his Oakland Hills estate when the kids were just 4 years old. They became best friends, and began to write music.

“People get on our case about not being original… I do my thing, I play my music, and as long as I’m having a good time, I don’t care about what other people think,” said Cole Becker. He realizes that they carry a huge advantage. “He’s a great producer,” he said referring to Billie Joe Armstrong’s presence.

Armstrong produced their latest album “Lost At Seventeen,” released through Rise Records on June 11.

Emily’s Army entertained the Berkeley crowd with an hour-long set that included their own hits “The Rescuers” and “Lost At Seventeen” along with a Misfits cover that set the crowd off in a good way very quickly.

“Emily’s Army is a band I’ve seen multiple times at multiple venues throughout their existence,” said Lizzie Krause, who attended the show. “This show had the walls packed and was one of their best yet.”

Cole Becker and Max Becker were the stars of the show, jumping together simultaneously at every major moment in their fast-paced, energetic set.

Joey Armstrong wailed away on his brand-new neon green acrylic drum kit that he just received from SJC Custom Drum Company after being recently added to their team of touring artists.

While the guys are at their separate universities for the fall, their show schedule will be toned down a bit until winter break. Armstrong is at San Diego State, Neumann is at UC Boulder, Max Becker is at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and Cole Becker is finishing up at Piedmont High.

“It was a good turnout for a local show.” said Tony Acosta, head booker of 924 Gilman Street, “With band members, guest list, and volunteers we had a little over 300 people present.”

If you missed this one, you will have to wait for the Nov. 30 show at 1-2-3-4 Go! Records in Oakland. So mark your calendars; or just tell Siri to, because these punks put on a good show.