After the success of Kerplunk, Green Day got several representatives of major record labels attempting to arrange meetings with the band and get them signed. The band declined all of these advances until they came across Rob Cavallo of Reprise Records. They felt he was the only one they could talk to and connect with and were impressed by his previous work with The Muffs.
Green Day left Lookout Records and signed with Reprise, which caused their original fans to call the band "sellouts". The club Green Day performed at, 924 Gilman Street, proceeded to ban the group from performing. Tim Yohannan, the owner of 924 Gilman Street, would later become the subject of Nimrod track, Platypus (I Hate You), written by Armstrong.
Cavallo listened to the first demo tape for the album and sensed he had stumbled upon something big. Dookie was mixed by Jerry Finn. The band and Cavallo felt the first mix was unsatisfactory, and it was mixed again. Green Day claimed they wanted the album to have a dry sound, similar to the Sex Pistols album and Black Sabbath's first albums.
The album included several different experiences by each of the members and touched upon subjects such as anxiety and panic attacks, masturbation, sexual orientation, boredom, mass murder, divorce and ex-girlfriends.
The album's lead single, Longview is commonly associated with it's signature bass line that was written when bassist, Dirnt was under the influence of LSD. Welcome to Paradise was originally on the band's previous album, Kerplunk and was re-recorded to sound less grainy for Dookie. Basket Case is related to Armstrong's anxiety and panic attacks and feelings of going crazy. An ex of Armstrong is the subject of She, Sassafras Roots and Chump. When I Come Around is about his wife, who was then his ex-girlfriend. Coming Clean is about Armstrong coming to terms with his bisexuality when he was 16 and 17.