Earlier this year, Tom DeLonge of the pop-punk trio Blink-182 was divided from the group on alleged claims that he refused to enter the studio to record new material. NME reported today, June 27 that DeLonge would actually be open to reconciling their differences and rejoining the group, although Hoppus and Barker seem to be dead set on the friendly divorce.
While promoting his new graphic novel at San Diego Comic-Con, DeLonge was asked what it would take for him to record with Blink-182 again, sporting the answer: “probably just a few phone calls.”
Bassist and singer Mark Hoppus however recently stated on the Das Process podcast that although they’d been friends for years, you have to consider the great changes people go through as they grow up, and that while “the love is still there,” they have drifted apart beyond their ability to work together.
Blink-182 was born of DeLonge and Hoppus in the early ’90s in a suburb of San Diego with former drummer Scott Raynor. The group’s maturity blossomed as they experienced more mainstream success evolving through their breakout album Enema Of The State, but the almost childish, fervent desire to stay light and bright stuck true with their followup title Take Off Your Pants And Jacket and songs like “First Date”. It wasn’t until their eponymous release (just before breaking it off), that the group started to really experience an incredible change that, like many, this writer felt was a little off-kilter for their taste; almost a combination of what was great about +44, the early stages of what would become Angels And Airwaves, and what was left of Blink-182; they entered the studio with wildly differing expectations.
There is definitely a case to be made for musicians growing apart over the years, but it isn’t unheard of for the decades to span on and friends to stick together and still enjoy making music together. In Blink’s case, it’s difficult to imagine that being option being available to them.
For a group that was borne of an era where screaming guitars and teenage angst were hot and popular, growing and changing into a more complex and interesting group was a difficulty. Doing it at the end of that era — a time when music was rapidly changing and the ever boundary-hoping and flexible genre of pop music was fast encroaching upon rock musician’s territories on the radio — is even more so.
The transition that Green Day experienced from their much more serious endeavor Warning (2000) that gave them the kick-start to ramp up production of rock operas and inspired alternative rock records no doubt lost them the contingent of fans that had stayed true even after many had given up on them following Dookie‘s major label debut in 1994.
It would be, and has been, a jarring experience hearing a band that was made famous for singing about girls, teenage woes and anything with the most flippant attitude possible to suddenly become more invested in experimentation and delve into more complicated topics. That perhaps is the most obvious reason for the emergence of early side projects +44 and Box Car Racer; the members needed to distance themselves from Blink’s reputation in order to explore variants of their sound and attempt to reach a new audience, as many musicians do. In this case, it’d probably be best if they took a page from that idea and ran with it. Leave Blink, start anew, put the history they had together to rest, for old time’s sake.
DeLonge’s successful side-project Angels And Airwaves represents his passion as an artist changing both genre and perspective. Let’s face it, Tom isn’t 23-years-old anymore, and more than that, he’s not really a “punk-rocker” anymore, but then neither is Hoppus and Barker.
The group has grown up, and their best chance for continued success in a healthy and length music career is ultimately to let Blink-182 be put to bed, not replace a key member and pretend we didn’t notice. While the move to supplement Matt Skiba was met with some praise as a singer who could actually sing was now taking the stage, it ripped out the heart of what Blink had always stood for: unintelligible noise and completely unserious live performances that still somehow managed to feel fun and impressive.
Nobody can sing like DeLonge can without actively trying to imitate him, and while that isn’t really a comment on his ability as a singer, it is a comment on how he’s defined Blink’s sound. His voice is the voice. It’s the one you think about when you hear the band’s name. Trying to disassociate yourself from it, even if he wasn’t a very capable vocalist all those years, is heartbreaking and disappointing. Matt Skiba, try as he might, is a good musician, but he’s no DeLonge and he can’t hope to repaint the picture and redefine its face this late into its lifespan.
While the trio makes a solid, dynamite group, it would be best for everyone, the fans especially, if they dropped the name and built from the ground up. Stronger and more capable a group Blink-182 may be now, it isn’t Blink-182 anymore. It’s something newer, stranger, and for all intents and purposes, better than what it was before, but any true fan will tell you: we don’t want better, we want the band we know. As exciting and interesting as recordings and performances by these three sounds, Blink-182, they are not.