I got my first tattoo at the age of 12. How punk is that?
Matt Skiba is helping Blink-182 write the next chapter as they prepare for a UK tour. He tells MARION McMULLEN why joining the punk pop favourites has been a natural fit for him
IT WON’T take Matt Skiba long to pack his bags for Blink-182’s UK tour next month. He’s perfected the art of minimalist packing and is planning to fly from Los Angeles with everything he needs squeezed into a backpack.
“I’ve a bit of a competition with (fellow band member) Mark Hoppus on how little our luggage is,” he laughs. “I travel as lightly as possible. I never check luggage.
“All our gear – our amps, guitars and whatever – is here in the States and is sent to the UK on a slow boat to one of the ports like Liverpool and we’ll have some clean clothes in the road cases.
“I always travel light when the band tours, compared to my ex-wife. She once had a suitcase for just shoes.” He adds with a chuckle: “Maybe that’s part of the reason we’re not married any more.”
Blink-182 started playing in a San Diego garage 25 years ago and went on the sell more than 50 million records worldwide.
Matt, previously of Illinois punk band Alkaline Trio, became the band’s singer/guitarist two years ago following the departure of Tom DeLonge. He stepped in to perform two shows at the Musink Festival and the dates were so successful he then went on to work with Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker on the band’s bestselling album California.
“The Musink Festival was a big show and I was lucky it went really well. Tom had just exited the band and they had shows lined up and asked me to join them.
“They have recorded a lot of songs that’s for sure, I had to learn them all quickly.
“When we got together to record that album, we knew we had to at least try and put out one of the best Blink-182 records to date,” explains Matt.
“It had to hold up to the other great Blink records so there were no half measures, that was not an option, but it was also a great deal of fun and I think that comes across.”
A deluxe version of California has just been released and the trio will be touring the UK throughout July with dates including Cardiff, Nottingham, Leeds, Birmingham, Newcastle, Manchester and Liverpool.
“I love coming over to the UK,” declares Matt. “It’s the best music there is. I grew up with tons of English music. We had a television show called 120 Minutes on MTV here in the States and I grew up watching punk rock videos and alternative bands.
“Most of my all-time favourite bands are from England. Acts like David Bowie, The Who, Joy Division, The Smiths, The Damned. I actually interviewed Dave Vanian from The Damned a couple of weeks ago. I love, love English music and what came out of Manchester. I sort of discovered English music, but my family introduced me to music as well and we took piano lessons as young children.
“I listened to stuff on the radio and stuff my parents were listening to. Then I discovered punk rock and that was a game-changer for me.”
He got his first tattoo before he was 13 – “How punk is that!” – and his favourites include a fighter pilot skeleton on his elbow and a cover-up panther tattoo.
“My parents were confused at the time. They were like ‘Is that even our kid? Where has this kid come from? I’d be in my bedroom punching holes in the walls and everything. We’re now really close though and they are not confused any more.”
The 41-year-old says he feels at home in Blink-182, but he had to deal with a backlash from some quarters initially.
“I have been doing this a long time, but when we play together it is like playing for the first time, but I think people were a little confused,” says Matt, “and wondering what it was going to mean. I had people calling me ugly and gay and I was like ‘Is that supposed to be an insult? F**k you.’ I put them in their place. It is just so ignorant.
“The only social media I’m on is Instagram and I’ll post a picture or write something and not look at it ever again. I don’t really care, but I must be doing something right – no-one’s ever said I’m not a good singer or guitarist.” Go to blink182.com for UK tour dates.
Former Alkaline Trio front man Matt Skiba, on stage with Blink-182
Matt, centre, joined Blink 182 after they parted ways with Tom DeLonge. Right: One of his inspirations, Dave Vanian of punk band The Damned