03 Feb My Life in Blink-years
I’ve been avoiding this… Ever since news broke out of the blink-182 camp, I’ve tried my very best to stifle all thoughts of the current state of one of my all-time favorite bands. Before I share my opinions and ideas about the drama at hand, let me give you a chronology of my life, coinciding with the history of Mark, Tom, Travis.
The first encounter between Mark Hoppus and Tom DeLonge can be traced back as early as August of 1992, roughly one year after I was born. As I was probably learning to walk and speak, Mark and Tom writing music in southern California and busting their asses trying to make their little punk rock band a success.
Fast forward to the year 2000; Scott Raynor is out and the legendary Travis Barker is in. Blink has a couple successful releases under their belts by this point, and have begun their meteoric rise to fame with their smash record, Enema of the State. The songs captivated audiences, and almost single-handedly brought pop-punk into mainstream music. At the time, I was like any other angsty 9 year old boy; immature and starting to utterly detest the boy bands on the radio. I found solace in blink-182. My parents listened to shit so I was indifferent about music as a whole; however, my first vivid musical memory comes from this time.
I was sitting in the back of my Aunt’s van (yeah, remember when people used to drive legit vans around?). It was gorgeous spring day, and I think she was driving my cousins and I home from school. We were listening to the New York pop station, z100 when “All The Small Things” came on. I remember hearing a sonic difference between blink’s sound compared to The Backstreet Boys or The Spice Girls, though I didn’t the presence of mind to know what set them apart. My Aunt was mindlessly singing along and for some reason, the 4th grade version of me gravitated towards the “work sucks/I know” lyric. Yup, one borderline curse word on the radio was all it took to make “All The Small Things” my favorite song, and blink-182 my favorite band. Kids, am I right?
I started to take a real interest in music soon after and began playing drums in my middle school band because of Travis. My neighbor back then, who I still consider to be one of the best drummers I’ve seen in person, would come over every other week or so to teach my brother and I some stuff on the kit. I wasn’t really conscious of musical genres at the time either, but there was an obvious correlation to the songs I wanted to learn, and the type of music I’d ended up falling in love with: Green Day, Weezer, Less Than Jake, and of course, blink-182. I looked for other bands like them and I finally started discovering music on my own, but no band ever compared to blink for me. I was hooked, even obsessed. There was an embarrassingly long stretch of time that blink was literally the only music I listened to.
I started a band in high school out of my basement (playing blink songs and other pop-punk covers) like countless other suburban punks, and began playing shows in the area. I even played our high school Battle of the Bands in a blink shirt, which they placed us last in for because we played “Dammit” in lieu of the 3 originals we showed the teachers at rehearsals, and because we got the entire auditorium to scream the “did you hear he fucked her” lyric. I fantasized about a reunion after Travis’ plane crash, I nearly cried when they reunited at the Grammy’s, and I saw them play live for the first time on the same stage at PNC Bank Arts Center that I graduated high school on after the worst summer of my life.
Basically, blink-182 has been there every step of the way with me. They helped shape the man I am today, and it is absolutely crushing me to see them as they are now. If you are reading this post, this blog, or blogs like this, you probably have a pretty good sense of the story. I hate the fact that I have to write this fucking article because what I’m about to say in it may be a harsh realization for not only you, the reader, but for me as well.
First of all, let me start by saying I don’t want Tom DeLonge in blink-182. It kills me, but that’s where things are at right now. He’s not into it. There are some staggering quotes from Mark and Travis in their most recent Rolling Stone interview. I can’t say anything for the validity of this, but apparently Tom didn’t even listen to the final mixes of Neighborhoods; a telltale sign that he didn’t give a shit what the finish product sounded like (a product he sung the majority of). Not only that, but he’s the sole reason the recording for their follow up to the Dogs Eating Dogs EP kept getting postponed. I understand Tom has prior commitments to Angels & Airwaves, but Mark and Travis have other shit going on as well; and is there anything more hypocritical than Tom lobbying for a record deal to make the blink album happen? This is the very same man who released his Love record for FREE because he didn’t believe in paying for music in that way. Tom has plagued blink’s existence since their reformation and it just seems best for everyone to close the book on blink-182 right here. I don’t fault the man for following his dream in AVA and doing something he’s passionate about, but there had to be better ways to handle it.
Second, an even more painful realization, blink can’t exist without Tom; legally or sonically. The band can’t continue at ⅔ strength. The three stars that collectively form the constellation that is blink-182 simply burn too bright on their own. It isn’t like the band is amicably parting ways a nondescript member. They are removing one of the predominant songwriters and one of the band’s distinct voices in a petty mess that is drawing close comparisons to a divorce. Even the most casual blink fan will notice the absence of Tom DeLonge’s raw high pitched vocals and unique tone. I don’t know if the songs will sound authentic no matter who Mark and Travis put in his place, stage left. Plus, everyone is either a “Mark Guy” or a “Tom Guy.”
What I want is a new +44 record. When Tom DeLonge initially left blink 10 years ago, all three parties continued making music in some capacity. Mark and Travis created a supergroup of sorts and released the record When Your Heart Stops Beating while Tom was off doing Angels & Airwaves. While that record was the band’s only release in their 4 years of existence, I still listen to that album today. In my opinion, this record has the strongest lyrics Mark has ever written, and the songs are a great mix of pop-punk, alternative, and even elements some electronic music. I think if they came back now, in the wake of all this drama with blink, +44 will get the appropriate attention and maybe will be able to prosper in today’s music scene. I think starting a bit lower on the totem poll will show us what Mark and Travis are made of. Can they compete in music today? Will they stay hungry? Inspired? Will Mark be writing with venom in his pen again like he did on “No It Isn’t?” I’d rather get the musical answers to some of these questions, rather than hear an uninspired blink-182 record.
Tom DeLonge has been trying to stress the fact that he didn’t technically quit the band; it’s just that other commitment limit his availability to, well, be in the band. He has yet remove “Blink-182” from his social media accounts and has even posted a video of new material after his infamous facebook message with the hashtag, songs without a home. On the contrary to this point, he had his managers inform blink that he couldn’t work on the new record, and the way all the events that transpired have been eerily similar to how it all went down 10 years ago. All of this brings me to my final point, and I hope I don’t regret bringing this up in the future, but here it is: Should we hold on to hope?
I don’t know if Tom sees it this way or not, but it appears to me that Angels & Airwaves is dead in the water. His fascination with space has gone from being a theme of AVA, to a novelty, to an almost annoying obsession and gimmick. I haven’t been interested in anything AVA since the 1st half of the Love Pt. I record, and a large portion of the Angels fanbase is comprised of angry blink kids. Longtime friend David Kennedy had no part in the most recent record, and Tom now has to lean on newest member, Ilan Rubin for songwriting help. Blink-182 is the sole reason Tom was able to start (and fund) AVA in the first place and I don’t know if one entity can exist without the other. Travis seems genuinely bummed about how Tom has acted and the way everything happened, and I feel like there is nothing, aside from his family, that is more important in this world to Mark than blink-182. These guys used to be friends; best fucking friends. I know they don’t really “hang” like they used to, and have resorted to communicating through managers and lawyers, but who’s to say one of these guys won’t show some initiative and pick up the goddamn phone. I know blink built a legacy with countless teens on the wings of punk rock and potty humor, but it’s time to grow up. It’s time to stop bickering like children, admit that EVERYONE in this situation was wrong (not just Tom; but Mark and Travis for the way they handled things), and sort this out like men. Don’t let the events of a decade ago unfold again. Don’t let history repeat itself. Grow the fuck up, guys. Please. We are begging you.