Drum Media (WA) | 21.02.13 | Issue # 326
Drum Media (NSW) | 12.02.13 | Issue # 1147
Inpress (VIC) | 13.02.13 | Issue # 1261
Time Off (QLD) | 20.02.13 | Issue # 1615
THIS IS GROWING UP
From hosting a talk show to a plane crash – a lot has changed for Blink-182 since they made their last trip to Australia nearly a decade ago. While vocalist/guitarist Tom DeLonge is married with two children, runs numerous companies and is putting together the soundtrack for his second film, Daniel Cribb discovers he’s still making time to pen dick jokes for their appearance at Soundwave.
“I just got a picture of a vagina with eyeballs and a moustache on it yesterday from my friend,” Blink-182’s Tom DeLonge, 37, laughs down the line from his studio, Jupiter Sound, in California, assuring that he is still the same fart joke-fuelled pop punker he’s always been. It’s lunchtime and he’s taking a timeout from recording demos for a new album with his other band, Angels & Airwaves, that will coincide with the band’s second feature film due out in a couple of years. “This will be a very large project with hopefully many, many things that come along with it. I can’t really talk much about it, but this will probably be one of the more exciting things that I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of,” he explains.
If it’s anything like the band’s film debut, Love, sci-fi fans will be lining up out the door. It’s no secret that DeLonge has always had a fascination with the unexplained and extraterrestrial (see Blink-182’s Aliens Exist). After receiving some Gone Squatchin’ attire for Christmas from his managers, his interest is currently consumed by Big Foot. “I wanna find Big Foot like everyone else and if I can contribute, then I shall. He’s out there – he might even be here in the studio with me at this moment… my fascination with strange topics is what keeps me sanely insane,” he laughs. “It’s the one thing that pulls me out of worrying about music all day long, is when I start thinking about weird stuff like that. It’s a lot of fun.”
Such subject matter has drifted away from Blink-182’s music, but they’ve still kept their signature sound, as evident on their debut independent release, Dogs Eating Dogs, which sees them split with Universal Music after 15 years, cutting their ties with major labels for good.
“It’s amazing, we’re finally free. We’re able to do whatever we want to do. I mean, with a label, if you ever want to record something, you can’t, because they own it, so then you have to go to them and say, ‘Hey, we want to record something’, and they say, ‘Okay, we’ll get back to you and see if the funds are available to pay for it’. Then they get back to you and they say, ‘We don’t have the funds to do it’. It’s just a big joke, you know. You have to ask them to make music… I thinkDogs Eating Dogs is a much better example of what our band can do in these times, rather than when we were on a major label.”
With DeLonge first announcing their split with Interscope on Twitter with a picture of Mel Gibson in Braveheart in the midst of yelling “freedom”, one might assume the title Dogs Eating Dogs could, in some way, be a reference to the cut-throat world of major labels.
“It’s not. Mark [Hoppus, bass] came up with that – it was a lyric out of one of the songs. He sometimes gets in these interesting moments when he’s flying to and from Europe, back over here, where I think he kind of investigates and swims in the waters of the back of his mind. Sometimes he digs into some dark places – and I think most artists do that – and that’s really where that term came from. It showed its face in the song and it just seemed like a really great line, because everyone can interpret it in different ways.
“To me, it’s just very representative of humanity – the constant fight to get ahead and the constant fight to win summed up in three words. To everybody, that’s what’s great about art – it’s different and what I liked about it was it was ambiguous at best, so people can kind of think it means a few different things.”
Before the band went on an indefinite hiatus in ’05, the vocal split between DeLonge and Hoppus was almost 50/50, but both Dogs Eating Dogs and 2011’s Neighborhoods seem to be more DeLonge-heavy. “It’s not intentional,” Delonge says. “I mean, I’m more prolific now in my career than I’ve ever been. I’ve had a lot of experience over the past ten years, with all the Angels & Airwaves stuff and scoring movies, it comes naturally, or comes more naturally and quicker to me now than it ever has in my life, and you know, I’m a hard worker and I’ve got my studio and I like to be productive.”
It was a plane crash drummer Travis Barker was involved in 2008 that was the catalyst for the Blink-182 reunion, but the problem for Australian fans was it was also the thing stopping them coming Down Under. “I don’t blame him one bit; if I was him, I’d be doing the exact same thing. It’s a big hurdle to get over. I think like anybody else your logical steps are making decisions and challenging yourself and preparing emotionally for that kind of stuff, but I can’t even pretend to know how somebody does that, because it’s monumental… we haven’t been down there in a very long time, so I think we’re all looking forward to some really good stuff. It’s gonna be good – I’ve got like three or four dick jokes that I’ve been saving.”
The last time Blink-182 toured Australia was in 2004 to promote their self-titled album. Blink-182 saw Hoppus, Barker and DeLonge rent a house just outside of San Diego and spend months there writing. But with Hoppus spending half of his time at his second home in London and, until June 2012, hosting his own talk show, plus with Barker working on his solo material, amongst a slew of other commitments, it’s hard to get the band in one room for long enough to catch up, let alone write and record an album.
“My aim was specifically to write music together and not apart, because for Neighborhoods we weren’t together at all – we just weren’t even really talking. This one was, ‘Let’s write music together, and let’s try and show a more progressive form of the band’. What I wanted to do was make [us] challenge Blink’s legacy to be more modernised with larger landscapes and more delicate compositions.”
Admitting that Neighborhoods suffered due to the lack of communication, DeLonge believes it was an imperative step in getting the band back on track. “I wouldn’t change anything about that, very specifically because we were able to do it and it was an important conduit to get the band working again, and that’s really what its goal was. Its goal wasn’t to be the greatest Blink album, its goal wasn’t to be the greatest album – the goal was: can we make an album? And we did and now we can move on to make better stuff.”
BACK FROM THE BLINK
It was Tom Delonge that initiated Blink-182’s indefinite hiatus in 2005 – a decision that left fans worldwide, and even Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker, in shock. With two releases out since reforming in 2009, Delonge looks back on the band’s time apart.
“I feel good about it, you know. It was something that gave me an entirely different career experience. It made me into who I am, rather than just being the guy from Blink, and that’s important to me because I have a lot going on in my life – I have a technology company, I have a shoe company, I am making feature films, I have multiple albums out and I’m doing a lot of big stuff. I’m running fan clubs for Jack White and The White Stripes and Pearl Jam and Blink and a bunch of others that are launching. All that stuff came out of that hiatus and my challenging myself to be just me. That way when I come to Blink I can offer so much more because I’m not just one specific thing, I’m a complex dude,” Delonge laughs.
“So it was a really great thing for me and a really great thing for the band, for everyone to kind of rebuild themselves independently and come back and offer so much more. A lot of the time bands don’t have that ability, and then what happens is, they stay within the confine of their four walls for their whole career and they never branch out and become themselves personally, and when they do, they come back with much more of a solid foundation of what they know their limits are and what they are unlimited with and what they can bring to the table, and that’s when it gets really exciting, I think.”
But when he called the hiatus, it wasn’t specifically for those reasons; they were simply a byproduct of the hiatus. His initially motives were far more simplistic. “At the time, it was I needed to be with my family, and [Blink] weren’t communicating and I kind of lost control of our ship a little bit. When everyone needs time and support in different ways but no one’s communicating, things get defensive and offensive very quickly and that’s really what happened. Same old story – petty things built up and then everyone starts filtering the situation differently. Very normal, very human.”
Blink 182 will be playing the following dates:
Wednesday 20 February – Allphones Arena, Sydney NSW
Friday 22 February – RNA Showgrounds, Brisbane QLD
Saturday 23 February – Soundwave, Brisbane QLD
Sunday 24 February – Soundwave, Sydney NSW
Tuesday 26 February – Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne VIC
Wednesday 27 February – Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne VIC
Friday 1 March – Soundwave, Melbourne VIC
Saturday 2 March – Soundwave, Adelaide SA
Monday 4 March – Soundwave, Perth WA