The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Music -

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.

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