included singer Tom DeLonge and drummer Travis Barker’s excellent Box Car Racer, DeLonge’s mediocre Angels & Airwaves, and Hoppus and Barker’s less than thrilling +44.
While solo and side projects were continuing apace – effectively pushing the various members further and further apart – Blink-182’s regular producer Jerry Finn died of a brain haemorrhage. Around the same time, Travis Barker barely survived a plane crash, sustaining severe burn injuries. A chance meeting in the hospital between DeLonge and Hoppus allowed differences to be resolved.
“When something as horrible as that happens,” says Hoppus, “all the pettiness of arguing about whether or not we’re going to do a particular tour goes away. It brought us back together, however, on a friendship level. By the time we ended up talking to each other again, all the stuff we had argued about those years ago had long since passed. Everyone was in a much better head space, and ready to be friends again. There was no rehashing of old arguments, no old scars were opened. After the first day everyone was just laughing and hanging out together.
Ultimately Blink-182 is really about friendship, and when that started to suffer the band suffered. When the friendship came back the band came back, too.”
Will we get to see, then, with the new Blink-182, the juvenile delinquency of old? The trouble with infantile humour is that once it’s out of nappies it loses its appeal, no?
Hoppus is having none of this, and, cough, pooh-poohs the very notion of the band now playing it straight and serious.
“That’s always been part of the band. We’ve been written off largely as just a joke, but we’ve always had one foot firmly in the jokey world – that’s our personality. That said, if people take the time to listen to the albums, they’d know that we actually have some quite poignant songs, deep tunes such as Adam’s Song, Stay Together for the Kids, and so on. But you know, we’re not afraid to make fun of ourselves, and as much as people write us off for that, the people that like us relate to it and enjoy it. Essentially, we’re just being ourselves.”
Was there ever a sense of expectation within the band that you had to behave or perform in a certain way in order to appeal to people who liked the crude stuff? “We’ve always tried to dismiss what people expect us to do, because when you try to figure out what people expect of you, and then act or record or write in that manner, you’re missing the target.
“If people react more to honesty in music then it’s obvious that we want to do different things and evolve, and not to repeat ourselves. We’ve stayed close to the core of where we started, musically, which is very melodic, anthemic, upbeat, but we also want to move forward. At the moment we’re recording our new album, and although I’d like it to be out this year I can’t see it happening.”
In the meantime, Blink-182 are out there again, larging it up, dropping their trousers and making as many puerile jokes as they can get away with about the shape of that, the size of this and, whoa, bro, getta loada her. What profound life lessons, one muses, have they learned in the past 20 years? “Respect for one another,” replies Hoppus promptly, “and how great the band is in our lives.”
Timing-wise, I guess the world was just ready for something like that. I don’t think anyone, especially Justin, expected it to be so big. We’ve all been in a band [DeYarmond Edison] since we were 15 and, basically, that whole time we just incubated. We didn’t aggressively try to tour at all. We just rehearsed a lot, played local shows, and recorded. Then when we decided to move to North Carolina to focus on the band, DeYarmond Edison broke up and Megafaun was formed through this kind of momentum that we’d had going. We’d never written songs before, we’d never recorded ourselves before – all that stuff was just totally new to us. With the first record, we were just pumped that a label we liked wanted to put it out. That was the first step. Then Gather, Form & Fly being put out by a European label was like, ‘Whoa, holy cow!’ Being able to come over and tour Europe actually felt really natural – if we’d gone over on our first record, we wouldn’t have been nearly ready.
Yeah, it was awesome. It was a little hectic, because making a record consumes you, and those who love you have to be very patient with you when you’re making a record, because you forget to do That was amazing. I don’t know how anyone can try and top an experience like that – all these old friends who’ve been doing this for years, then they get together once a year and see each other, and the camaraderie is high, and the energy is very positive and ample. What an awesome, awesome experience for us. We were totally on vacation that day. It was probably the most worthwhile day of our whole touring career.
The beard situation is in a state of flux right now. Brad’s had some sort of facial hair basically since he was 20, and I think the rest of us all just love having beards, because you don’t have to deal with razors on the road. But I shaved my beard completely off about a month ago. And Joe has trimmed his, so seeing the shape of his face for the first time in four years is weird. So it won’t be that unified a thing any more. But the beard thing was funny, especially in Europe. For the most part, in Europe, you do not have beards. If you do, they’re very trim – a two-day growth at most. So to have three dudes with very large beards walking around together someplace, and it just so happens that we’re six to eight inches taller than anyone else around us, it makes us just look so, so strange. We’re really a sight to behold, let me tell you.