On the eve of the release of their most ambitious record yet, everything is coming up roses for the quadruple-platinum, potty-mouthed lads of Blink-182.
The Lords of Flatulence
At 2 o’clock on a Monday afternoon at a state-of-the-art recording studio in North Hollywood, there’s a ruckus in the lobby as three musicians from Blink-182 make their way up the stairs to the loftlike lounge. As they settle down on the thick-cushioned armchairs, bassist-vocalist Mark Hoppus is offered a stick of gum. “No thanks,” he says with a cherubic grin. “I’m working on my bad breath.”
Hoppus starts talking about one of his original tunes, “Can’t Hardly Wait,” when all of a sudden he raises his right butt cheek a few inches off the chair to release a pent-up fart, which sends his bandmates up into the laughter stratosphere. “Fans love that,” Hoppus says.
“Tell him about the hummus,” says guitarist-vocalist Tom Delonge.
“Oh yeah,” the bassist replies, excited about further discussing his flatulence. “This guy almost died one time when we all ate a bunch of hummus.”
That wise-guy attitude, coupled with their penchant for relentless references to whacking off, taking dumps, pulling off-the-wall pranks, and getting hummers, is what has made Blink-182 — Hoppus, Delonge, and drummer Travis Barker — arguably the most successful pop-punk band in history. And these guys are no slouches when it comes to lyrical depth and musician-ship. Their catchy melodies about adolescent soul searching, heartbreak, and confusion — delivered with soaring vocals, frenetic energy, and hooks to die for — have struck a nerve with millions of teen- and college- age fans, a phenomenon that, in turn, has led to quadruple-platinum album sales, multiple hit singles, sold-out arena shows around the world, and numerous accolades and awards from the likes of MTV
That fan base is destined to expand even further, thanks to the June release of Blink-182’s most ambitious studio album, to be called (as we go to press) Take Off Your Pants and Jacket. Although thematically, lyrically, and vocally similar to their three previous studio releases, Take Off marks a clear departure, as they opt for an edgier sound marked by off-kilter time signatures, polyrhythmic workouts, thumping basses, and harder, fuller-bodied guitar playing.
“It’s probably the most collective, collaborative, of any of the records we’ve done,” Hoppus says. “Our previous records consisted of songs that Tom has come up with or songs that I’ve come up with. This time, it was a lot of, ‘Well, here’s an idea for a song,’ and then we’d all contribute as a group. We worked a lot of different ideas into this one.”
“It’s rad,” Delonge says with enthusiasm. “When I’m writing songs on the guitar, I can’t play them in weird timings because I have to sing at the same time and think of the melody and the words and all the changes. What’s worked really well this time is, we’re all in the studio going through the songs together, where Travis can say, ‘Well, here’s a way to play this tune a little differently,’ and then he can concentrate on making the timing kind of fucked up, but sounding cool and different. That’s what makes each of the songs more unique. I think the record represents another step forward for us.”
I ask if other titles were considered. “Absolutely,” Delonge replies. “What Rhymes With Venus; We (Collectively) Love Your Mom; and Genital Ben.”
“I wanted to call it If You See Kay,” Hoppus adds. “Get it?”
Delonge grew up in the San Diego suburb of Poway. “I was your typical middle-class, suburbanite skate-boarding kid,” he remembers. “In fact, skateboarding was my number-one priority. Every day, every night. I skateboarded the whole entire time. What we used to do for fun, too, was cause havoc around town. We’d make these dummies and then beat them up in front of cars, or throw them on cars on the freeway, or hang them from telephone poles and traffic lights. We would also demolish people’s mailboxes.”