The album's cover art came from collage artist Winston Smith, who was asked by band frontman Billie Joe Armstrong how he could make such intricate pieces of art in such short times. Smith replied, "It's easy for me. I am an insomniac." Armstrong himself has stated the album's name came from his own insomnia, which was often induced by being woken up during the night from his at-the-time 8-month-old son screaming.
One of the album's most defining features is its Darker and Edgier tone. The music has a far more abrasive and aggressive sound, while the lyrics are much bleaker and grimmer. Due to this, Armstrong knew that the album wasn't going to have the same explosive success as Dookie, and his predictions were proven true as Insomniac failed to have enough sales endurance to surpass or even level Dookie. Critics were generally positive towards the album, while some were more lenient than others about nitpicking about the band's lack of notable progression.
Despite the album's general disappointment compared to Dookie, it did bring us one of the band's most popular 90s songs: "Brain Stew".
- "Armatage Shanks" (2:17)
- "Brat" (1:43)
- "Stuck with Me" (2:16)
- "Geek Stink Breath" (2:15)
- "No Pride" (2:19)
- "Bab's Uvula Who?" (2:08)
- "86" (2:47)
- "Panic Song" (3:35)
- "Stuart and the Ave." (2:03)
- "Brain Stew" (3:13)
- "Jaded" (1:30)
- "Westbound Sign" (2:12)
- "Tight Wad Hill" (2:01)
- "Walking Contradiction" (2:31)
I'm a troping contradiction:
- Close on Title: Geek. Stink. Breath.
- Darker and Edgier: Compared to Dookie in terms of themes and sound.
- Design Student's Orgasm: The cover art is part of a collage made by Winston Smith called God Told Me to Skin You Alive. Here's the full image.◊
- Divided We Fall: "No Pride".To hell with unity
Separation will kill us all
Torn to shreds and disjointed
Before the final fall
- Drugs Are Bad: "Geek Stink Breath" is about the detrimental effects of long-term methamphetamine use on the human body.
- Epic Instrumental Opener: "Panic Song". The vocals don't come in until nearly two minutes into the song.
- Gross-Up Close-Up: The "Geek Stink Breath" video has graphic closeup footage of a friend of the band getting their tooth pulled.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: "No Pride".You better swallow your pride
Or you're gonna choke on it
- "I Am" Song: "Bab's Uvula Who?" basically spends 2 minutes telling you how prone to anger the narrator is.
- The Insomniac: Billie Joe has confessed being this. During the time where his sleep was even worse, due to him being woken up at night by his son crying and screaming, he made this album.
- Miniscule Rocking: "Brat" and "Jaded" are both less than 2 minutes long. In fact, "Panic Song" and "Brain Stew" are the only songs that are over 3 minutes long.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Mostly a 6, with a few songs even reaching a 7, such as "Bab's Uvula Who?" and "Jaded". "Geek Stink Breath" is also a borderline 7.
- New Sound Album: Due to its being Darker and Edgier.
- One-Word Title: "Brat", "86", "Jaded"
- Real Life Writes the Plot:
- The album was named for Billie Joe suffering from insomnia due to being woken up by his baby child at night. Additionally, "Brain Stew" really encapsulates the dulling feeling of insomnia.
- "Armatage Shanks" was named after the British company Armitage Shanks; Billie Joe saw their logo on a toilet during their first tour in England and decided to name a song after it.
- "No Pride" deals with Billies feelings of anger toward the underground punk community from which he came when they rejected him after he "went mainstream" when he released Dookie.
- "86" derives its lyrics from a conversation Billie Joe had in a pub called Gilman, where all punk kids used to go and which was a popular venue for underground music. Getting "86'd" means getting kicked out, which leads us to assume that Green Day got booted from that place after Dookie came out.
- "Panic Song" encompasses the feeling of a panic attack, which Mike and Billie Joe suffer from, Mike especially due to him having an enlarged mitral valve in his heart that causes panic attacks to be induced. (Mike also contributed with some of the song's lyrics and had a very fast bass solo at the start of the song.)
- Billie Joe tweeted that "Westbound Sign" is about Billie Joe's wife Adrienne moving from Minneapolis to California to be with him.
- Sanity Slippage Song:
- "Brain Stew" is explicitly about this, caused by insomnia.
- "Panic Song" encompasses the feeling of having a panic attack, as Billie Joe and Mike have.
- Siamese Twin Songs: "Brain Stew" and "Jaded". In fact, both songs were unseparated when released as a single in 1996.
- "Bab's Uvula Who?" gets its rather strange name from a 1976 sketch on Saturday Night Live called "Babs' Uvula", in which a uvula specialist tells a knock-knock joke to his patient Babs.
- "Armatage Shanks" takes its name from the British toilet company Armitage Shanks.
- The artwork title, God Told Me to Skin You Alive is taken from the song "I Kill Children" by Dead Kennedys.
- The Something Song: "Panic Song".
- Unflinching Walk / Captain Oblivious: The "Walking Contradiction" video has the three band members causing mass mayhem in their city without as much as being aware of it.
- Word Purée Title: "Bab's Uvula Who?"