Blink-182 plot life without alien-hunting Tom DeLonge on 'California'
(L-R) Travis Barker, Mark Hoppus, and Matt Skiba of Blink-182.
Blink-182 are finally seeing eye-to-eye again.
“There’s definitely more unity,” agrees founding member Mark Hoppus. “We really have a renewed sense of purpose and fun and energy. It’s a whole new chapter.”
And much of that, the 44-year-old bassist and vocalist admits, is due to the introduction and influence of Alkaline Trio frontman Matt Skiba, now filling the shoes of AWOL singer-guitarist Tom DeLonge (who has claimed he’s taking a break from Blink to focus on researching and writing about UFOs and extraterrestrials — no, seriously). Luckily, you’d never know DeLonge is gone from the band’s recently released seventh studio disc California: It delivers the same blend of wiseass pop-punk firecrackers and sincere arena-rock anthems — all spurred by drummer Travis Barker’s hyperkinetic stickwork — while continuing their understandable evolution beyond the toilet humour of their misspent youth.
Before touching down in Toronto Sunday night for a show at the Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, Hoppus dialled in to discuss their new vision, long-term goals and writing songs about Tom.
Did you ever think you’d still be in this band after 25 years?
No. Never. We never anticipated that our band that started off in a tiny garage in San Diego would end up being in this position 25 years later. I couldn’t be happier.
Based on the mood of California, it does seem you’re enjoying yourselves. Did you go into the album with a different attitude?
We really just abandoned ourselves to the whole experience with this album. We just went in to make a great Blink album without over thinking or second guessing ourselves or caring if something sounded like old-school Blink or like something we wouldn’t normally do. And that was because we were all in the studio at the same time, instead of recording separately. It was three dudes playing music, in a room, with immediate feedback from one another — and a producer who just pushed us to keep writing and writing and not get bogged down. And it was the best thing for us. It was for me, anyways. I don’t think we could go back to doing things the old way.
With Tom gone, did you ever consider changing the band name?
Nah. Travis and I have been in Blink 182 forever. And this band has always felt like Blink 182. When Matt first came on board to play some shows last year after Tom dropped out, it felt like a Blink 182 show. I guess we could have started all over with a different name, but we didn’t feel like that was the right thing to do.
When you did those shows, were you already planning to make Matt a member?
It really worked out organically on its own. Once we got through the rehearsals and played those shows, his enthusiasm — and the crowd’s enthusiasm for him and their embrace of him — was so much more than we could have ever even hoped for that it just seemed like the next right step to get in the studio and see if we could write songs together.
So do you see this lineup as a long-term thing or just a temporary situation?
It feels more like this is going on for the long-term future. Obviously we’ll see what happens over the years, but it sure feels like home.
Why does the new album have so many songs about California?
(Laughs) You know, we didn’t set out to write songs about California or have it be so West Coast-centric. But about three-quarters of the way through the album, we noticed we had a song called California, and one called Los Angeles and one called San Diego, and we were referencing California punk bands we grew up listening to, and specific streets and sites in California and L.A. I guess we’re just a product of our environment.
How many of these songs are about Tom?
None. But I’ve come to realize that anything I write, people will always see it through that lens. If I’m writing about a breakup with somebody or being angry, they go, ‘Oooh, is that about Tom?’ But none of it is. All that bad blood is gone.
So, if you decided to leave, would you be cool with the other two carrying on as Blink?
I have no idea because I would never call it quits if there were still life in the band. This is everything I love to do, so I couldn’t just see myself saying, ‘Nah, I just don’t feel like doing Blink anymore.’
BLINK’S CALIFORNIA PUSHES THE ENVELOPE
Tom who? Fans who fear Blink will suck without singer-guitarist Tom DeLonge might be surprised how seamlessly Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba slips into his Vans — and into these pop-punk firecrackers and arena-rock anthems. But those hoping for some old-school toilet humour may be bummed by their odes to sanity, sobriety and their SoCal homeland. An eye-opener either way.
3.5 (out of 5)