AltPress.com Exclusive: A conversation with Blink-182's Mark Hoppus
Posted by Rob Ortenzi on 19-Feb-09 @ 06:05 PM
In case you've been living under the world's biggest boulder for the past few weeks, we have some great news to share with you: After a four-year hiatus, pop-punk kings BLINK-182 have reconvened, with plans for a new album and a summer tour. Alternative Press music editor Scott Heisel recently had the chance to chat with Blink bassist/vocalist MARK HOPPUS about Blink-182's future, what really went on backstage at the Grammys, the status of (+44) and much more.
What was running through your head the second before you guys walked out onstage at the Grammys?
That I wanted a piece of gum. Good thing Travis [Barker, drums] had some because my breath was just rotten. I didn't want to go out onstage in front of a bunch of people with bad breath, you know? You don't want that.
Was the reaction there what you expected?
To be honest, it was really gratifying that the reception has been so strong since we announced that we were gonna continue with Blink-182. It's really made me super happy.
But at the actual ceremony, did you feel like the people in the audience responded the way you wanted them to, or was it awkward?
[Laughs.] The most awkward thing is that they sent us out onto the stage and we didn't know where we were supposed to go. There wasn't, like, a podium or anything. I was the first one walking out there, and if you watch the tape, I'm kind of walking around aimlessly for about five seconds. There was a microphone that came up out of the floor and then I realized that's where we were supposed to go. But I walked out and looked at the camera people and I looked all around the stage and had no idea where I was supposed to go, and I knew it was on live TV, so good thing I eventually saw the microphone.
Obviously this was in the works more than a few days before the Grammys, but it began to leak out that you guys would be presenting an award at the ceremony about three or four days beforehand. Were you disappointed that the news snuck out?
No. To be honest, I was really surprised that the secret kept as long as it did. There were so many people that had to know what was going on for us to be there that for it to come out two or three days beforehand, it was pretty cool, actually. Because then people watching didn't know exactly what we were gonna say or if we were gonna perform live or what the deal was, so it was good to have everyone watching when we finally announced it.
Was there anyone backstage saying, "No dick jokes. No fart jokes"?
[Laughs.] No, but we were backstage and they wanted us to rehearse our lines, and we had like three sentences that we said. They kept telling us, "Please, please just say what's on the screen." They didn't want us to go rogue.
So when did talk of a reunion first commence?
Probably a couple weeks after we first started talking. I dunno, maybe it was longer than that. But I remember sitting in our studio--me, Travis and Tom [DeLonge, guitar]--and we were just talking and hanging out. Tom had just kind of come out to L.A. for the day, and I remember he said, "So, what do you guys think? Where are your heads at" And I said, "I think we should continue with what we've been doing for the past 17 years. I think we should get back on the road and back in the studio and do what we love doing."
Was that verbatim?
I don't know if that's exactly what I said. But it was something like that.
Was that feeling mutual or was there some trepidation?
There wasn't any trepidation. I think all of us had come to the point that we wanted to continue with what we started. It was just a natural thing. It's been, knock wood, a really positive experience so far. Everybody's in a really good place, everybody is really supportive of each other and it's probably the most supportive we've been as
Are the new Blink-182 songs you're working just general song ideas, or did you think of them specifically for Blink?
The songs that I'm bringing to the table are song ideas that I've been working on for the past couple of years. I think that it's the same with Tom and Travis as well. And that's kind of how we've always worked-everyone brings their initial ideas to the table, but the magic happens when the other two people get their hands on an idea and change it into something better than it was. That's something I've always loved about Blink: I can have an idea and the final result is so different from where I thought the song was going. The way that Travis deals with arrangements and rhythms and different ideas that he brings to the table is something that I would never think of. It takes all of our ideas to a higher level. Same with Tom. He'll come up with an idea for a song and for me, personally, if I write something, I love handing it to Tom and Travis and seeing what they do with it. That's the strength. There's this battle within Blink-182 with these ideas and what everyone brings to the table, and there's this tension--not in a negative way--but this pulling of ideas between the three of us that's exciting to me.
Is there a previous Blink-182 album that you're guiding this album toward?
I think we're all in the mind space of anything is possible with this record. It's just like we felt with the last Blink record. If we want to write a song that's inspired by electronic stuff, we'll go that way. We still love playing straightforward rock songs on drums, bass and guitar, so there'll always be a lot of that. We're not really feeling really restricted in any way, and that's what felt really great about the last Blink record. I think this will be a continuation of that.
When do you think the first performance will be?
I don't know yet. We're talking about touring this summer. We're still working on that. I don't know when the exact first date will be. We're actually just this week starting to get into the phone calls and conversations about where our first show will be and how that's all gonna come together. It's really exciting for the three of us to be back in this world and doing what we love and doing what we've been doing for so long.
Back in December, Forever The Sickest Kids announced at one of their shows that they'll be back next year with Blink-182. FTSK singer Jonathan Cook later announced that it was just a joke. Was he in the know, or was that just a complete coincidence?
That was just a complete coincidence.
Have you heard that band?
I have not. I've heard a lot about that comment and whether we were going to be touring with them, but I have not been able to listen to the band yet. It seems like I don't listen to a lot of new music lately, and I'm kind of ashamed of that. I kind of stick with a few CDs that I love and I end up listening to those over and over again.
Are you still a CD man or have you gone over to digital?
I'm totally digital. I haven't bought an actual, hard CD in a couple of years. I buy everything through iTunes pretty much.
Have you made an official decision on what the future of (+44) will be?
I don't consider it done. We'll never say never with anything. As soon as you say, "I'm not gonna do that anymore," you find yourself in a situation where you wanna do that. Shane [Gallagher] and Craig [Fairbaugh] are awesome guitarists and great fun to play in a band with, so we definitely won't say that the band is done. But obviously, for the foreseeable future, all of our energy is going into Blink-182. This isn't a temporary thing. We aren't even calling it a reunion. It's more of a continuation. When I hear a band are doing a reunion, it just sounds fake to me, and that's not how we