Wed, 17 Jun 2009 15:01:31
The world needs Blink-182. That's an undeniable fact.
The Southern California punk rockers are bringing "fun" back to rock music this summer with their highly anticipated reunion tour. Tom DeLonge, Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker are officially back. It's a momentous occasion for so many twenty-somethings who fondly asked "What's My Age Again?" while watching American Pie in 1999. There are a lot of them too! They'll be filling up venues to see Blink-182 rock all summer, and there's no doubt that San Diego's finest will deliver the goods.
In many ways, Blink-182 are the perfect American rock band. Their songs are infectious, fast, hilarious and party-ready. What's a better cure for all of the U.S.'s problems right now? Nothing, really.
Vocalist/guitarist Tom DeLonge spoke to ARTISTdirect.com in this exclusive interview about Blink's comeback, the summer tour, the future, swearing a lot and why their stage show will be the perfect cross between George Carlin and Iron Maiden.
Are you ready to hit the road?
I think…I'm not packed [Laughs].
How does it feel to be back with Blink-182?
It's awesome. It's kind of tripping me out a little bit. I'm completely blown away by the size and the enormity of this tour. We're doing 30,000 people in multiple cities; it's insane.
Blink-182 really captured a crucial period in a lot of fans' lives. You're going to have fans in their late '20s at the shows that were super into you in high school. Does that trip you out?
Yeah, it does. Maybe they're bringing younger brothers or something too—packing it down. It's not like the band has been on the radio and really present over the past few years [Laughs]. I think it's going to be amazing, and I hope the fans get what they're looking for. I will be there to see if we're good too [Laughs].
What do you plan on giving them?
I think it's going to be the most amount of rock production that you can do with the most amount of bad words mixed together in a beautiful soup.
So George Carlin meets Iron Maiden?
Yes! That's a really, really great way to look at it [Laughs]. I think so.
What sparked the urge for you guys to get back together and hit the road?
I think there's no real secret that after Travis' accident the band was able to very quickly brush aside all of the old bullshit that we had. Inevitably the conversation comes up like, "What are we going to do? Are we going to jam again?" No one had any objections to it. I'm in the middle of recording an Angels & Airwaves album and finishing up the motion picture we've been doing for three years, so I have a lot of other things going on as well. Those guys are producing. Travis is playing with DJ AM. I think we all said, "Well shit, maybe we could do a tour?" The next thing you know all of the agents and managers got fired up and, bam, we have the biggest tour of our career. As slow as we were going, everyone else was running, and here we are. It's catching us by surprise. I think it's really going to be an electric experience for the fans. This is going to be a brilliant tour.
When you guys first got back into the rehearsal room was the chemistry instantly there again?
We didn't start playing at first. We just started hanging and then we started bouncing ideas from studio to studio. In many ways, it was! There's a crude sense of humor that never went away. There were some big conversations in the beginning obviously about how we got to where we are now and who we are. Also we talked about where we were over the past few years. It was a little awkward at the beginning, but it wasn't that big of a deal considering what Travis went through. We were able to brush all of that shit aside really quickly.
You guys grew up together and you have a bond that you can't ever really break.
That's exactly what it is. Things that are great inevitably hurt bands. When you grow up, get married and have kids, then your priorities have to be directed towards your family, you know? It's not simply you and your buddies traveling in a van, doing whatever you want and leaving the city the next morning. Once you have families involved, it's really not about that. You have to make all these plans and put in all these controls that safeguard that element of your life. I think that's what starts to pull at bands and make things more difficult as you go on. With Blink, we spent so many years together that there was definitely so much history. This tour seems like we're reliving the good parts—which was a lot of it. It's going to come across really well.
Do you feel like your different as men and musicians now? What's the general consensus?
Yeah, we are different. Mark does a lot of producing, mostly in the scene which we came out of. Travis has been doing all of these hip hop things, producing and doing collaborations. I've been producing. God, with Angels & Airwaves, we've produced all of our own records, there's the feature film and we've done crazy epic documentaries. There's a lot of experience after Blink. So to come back into this, it's interesting. I remember thinking in one way we were going to pull a lot of these elements in and in the other way, it works just the way it is. It's funny because I think about when I went to see The Police play. I was imagining and asking, "What are they going to do?" Sting was taking all of these people on stage with him and he was doing all of these crazy New Age type songs and shit. Then all of a sudden, you see The Police play and they had an epic stage show but the songs and the way they played them were very stripped down and how they always were. I think that's what people want to hear. It's a long-winded answer, but I'm basically saying we have a lot of experience and we've changed a lot and we want to pull in some of those elements, but at the same time, Blink works in a very specific way. That's with me really drunk saying a lot of bad words.
Your setup with LiveNation for the $20 tickets is really encouraging for fans too.
Yeah, I think that, in many ways, Blink was the sum of modern suburban America. The tour is going to have this sense of nostalgia. It is what it is and you don't need to tamper with it too much. People are coming there for a very specific reason, and they're going to get it.
You guys were the summer of '99 for a lot of people, and there's going to be a real happy vibe all around.
We're a very summertime band. That's one of the great things about coming out of San Diego. We played really fast. I grew up skateboarding my entire life. I know to a degree, it was for Travis, we grew up worshipping the band The Descendents—another Southern California punk band singing about girls, friends and food. That pretty much sums up your early high school career for a lot of people. The cool thing was, we never took ourselves too seriously. We took we did very seriously and we tried to write the best songs that we could, but we never got so full of ourselves that if we fucked up we'd get pissed. If we ever fucked up on stage, it always made the show better. We'd play the show three more times, sometimes in the dark to prove we could play it. I think the spontanaeity of it is what really gave the people the feeling that they could do it too [Laughs]. They'd see us doing it, and they'd be like, "Oh my God, we could do that!" That's the beauty of punk rock music! That's what U2 said about The Ramones. They saw The Ramones play and said, "We could do that too!" I think that's what Blink is.
You guys gave kids a different kind of release. You came out at the end of grunge and existed throug Korn's era. Whereas Korn gave kids a raw catharsis, you provided a different catharsis. It was fun and more about the party.
I think that's a really good take. Obviously all of the Nirvanas of the world and the Korns and Limp Bizkits were going on at the time. However, Green Day and Offspring were very different from Blink even though we were all in the punk scene. I think we were the first band that was probably full of as much personality as we were of hooks—maybe even to our detriment [Laughs]. I think people related to us three. We were all so different. Mark is like the more relatable mainstream guy. Travis really is that hip hop, grew-up-in-a-bad-neighborhood kind of kid. I'm very much the snotty indie rocker art guy or something [Laughs]. To be honest, I don't really like indie rock that much though [Laughs]. I don't know how to describe it because I listen to Arcade Fire, Mark listens to Motion City Soundtrack and Travis listens to The Game [Laughs].
With Blink, kids could have their own favorite member. That was missing throughout the '90s because bands became more and more singular in terms of identity. You three were all so different.
Yeah, we really were. It was great. With Blink, everybody related to a very specific person. That's funny that you say that. I've truly come to sense that over the years. Actually, I saw it massively when the band broke up because there were waves of people spitting venom at each other depending on which band they liked [Laughs].
It's a testament to everything coming together and working the way it did. You were more like a classic rock band in the sense that each band member was extremely different, like Led Zeppelin. They even had their own symbols.
It's true, and I agree. There are so many conversations to this day about who was really responsible for the better part of Pink Floyd, which singer [Laughs]. I grew up hearing all of that stuff. People would ask, "Who was your favorite guy in The Beatles?" Blink always aspired to have that healthy challenge at least as far in the sense of songwriting. We loved the idea that Lennon and McCartney were always trying to push each other to be better. Mark and I always tried. I don't think anyone would put Blink and Beatles in the same sentence, but I will because, fuck, I can [Laughs].
Well you captured a time for a lot of fans, so that makes a lot of sense. You were their Beatles.
Maybe we were like the semi-retarded Beatles to them [Laughs]. I'm going to repeat one of the coolest quotes I've ever heard. Pete Townshend came to San Diego speaking and doing a solo thing in front of a large audience. I had the story relayed back to me that Pete was telling the audience that his kid asked him how to play a Blink song. Some of the older people in the audience were chuckling and he was like, "No, you don't understand. To my kid, Blink is The Who." That, to me, was such a validation obviously. That's beyond. I don't really believe anybody would want to repeat that except those kids, but it makes sense. The kids that grew up with our band weren't going to grow up listening to The Who, The Beatles or Led Zeppelin. They needed their own band to relate to. It's like that with every generation. We were a modern rock band—just like The Who was for their time. I think it's really important for critics not to give new bands shit because there might be an old band that did it better. That's not the point. Every generation needs their own band to do what it is they do for them.
You had a certain spirit that permeated everything. There was time where your fun vibe so important and necessary right around the turn of the century.
How bad do people want that now? The economy is in ruins. We've had a couple wars. It seems like it's not getting any better. So why don't we all get together and make at least a one-evening revolution. That's why I grew up listening to punk rock music. That's why slam-dancing was an important thing for kids. You've got to get your aggression out some way. You've got to go out and vent. I think it's great however people do it. Whether they join these weird dance clubs in East L.A. or they go and slam around in a circle to a punk rock band, they need to express themselves.
What's after this tour? Are you going to do an album or are you right back to Angels?
Well, that's the big debate—how do we fit it all in, how's the tour going to go and how are we going to get along. Right now, everything's amazing. None of us expect that anything is going to go past this. There's so much success already permeating around this tour. For me, the big issue is I'm dropping a motion picture and an album for free right after the first of the year with Angels. It's the biggest, most massive release of my entire career and probably the greatest work of my life to this date, so I'm going to be a little busy with that. But, we're getting offers for Blink to headline the biggest shows in the entire world. So it's like, "What are we going to do? Can we get out there?" It's not an easy thing to have two bands that are doing really well, so I don't know! I'm open to whatever. Blink's going to release a song, we started working on some great music. It comes so natural to Blink. The new song is so good. It sounds like us, but it's got an element of Rush in it. I think people are going to love it. It's like Rush, Floyd and Blink all in the same song. It'll make people excited for what comes next. We've just got to figure out the schedule, I guess.