Blink-182: Punk-rock Peter Pans
January 26, 2000
Web posted at: 2:58 p.m. EST (1958 GMT)
By Donna Freydkin
Reporting for CNN Interactive
(CNN) -- Anyone who has driven some 25 miles north of San Diego and ever set foot in Encinitas, a delightful surfing town with a killer view of the ocean, knows that slow and low is the tempo there. Leave the road rage and attitude problems at home, because no one's in a rush to get anywhere -- unless it's to hit the pristine beaches that take the place of de rigueur strip malls and gas stations.
So it's no surprise that a town as genial as Encinitas has now given us one of the most absurd, least pompous bands to hit the charts in recent years. You can call this trio immature (the guys don't mind), you can call it annoying, but at least you can't accuse singer-guitarist Tom DeLonge, singer-bassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker of wallowing in their own sense of self-importance or taking themselves too seriously.
"I think people buy our records because they finally see three guys that are funny and have personalities but play serious songs about things they can relate to" says DeLonge. "Kids say they can relate to what our songs are about. They feel like we're their friends."
And that sense of camaraderie has helped these three tattooed every-guys roll right up the charts. 1997's "Dude Ranch" has gone platinum, thanks in part to the inclusion of the single "Dammit (Growing Up)" on the soundtrack to the teen romp "Can't Hardly Wait." And last year's "Enema of the State" has gone multi-platinum, selling more than 2 million copies. "Enema," in fact, debuted at No. 9 on the Billboard album charts last June. And the band's hit single "What's My Age Again?" -- an ode to rank immaturity -- peaked at No. 58 on Billboard's singles charts.
After eight years spent cultivating a local and national following, Blink-182 is making it big thanks to its left-of-center sense of humor and potty mouth celebrations of the lewder side of life. Not that the band's humor is in any way indicative of a laissez-faire attitude toward its music, DeLonge hastens to add.
"We really take our music seriously and we take the band very seriously," says DeLonge. "But we have a lot of personality. So if we're going to write a song about kissing a girl, we're gonna write it. And people think we're a funny band, but we're just realistic, we put our personality into our lyrics."
Blink-182 was formed in the early 1990s in San Diego and sprang from the roots of Southern California's punk rock scene. The band soon followed the well-worn path of groups trying to break onto the national music scene: nonstop touring and performances at myriad festivals and local clubs. And with "Enema of the State," featuring on its cover a dreamy blonde nurse wielding a plastic glove, Blink-182 mocked its way up the charts.
"We were joking about enemas and I said, 'We should call it "Enema of the State."' Enemas are good," says DeLonge. "They're healthy. Clean out the body. You can get your own little kit for home."
The kids are alright
In "What's My Age Again?" Blink-182 pays tribute to the fine art of crank calling: "My friends say I should act my age/What's my age again/Then later on, on the drive home/I called her mom from a pay phone/I said I was the cops/And your husband's in jail/This state looks down on sodomy."
On the same album, "Going Away to College" is a bittersweet ditty about young love: "Please take me by the hand/It's so cold out tonight/I'll put blankets on the bed/I won't turn out the light/Just don't forget to think about me/And I won't forget you."
Given that DeLonge, Hoppus and Barker are all in their mid- to late-20s, one might wonder whether their puerile shtick is about as unrehearsed and spontaneous as the Backstreet Boys' elaborate stage routines. DeLonge has heard it all before.
"We're immature guys playing pranks on people, having fun," says DeLonge. "For real, we're really like that. A lot of people think we just act that way on stage so we can sell records, but we're really immature and stupid, and our jokes are terrible.
"'What's My Age Again?' -- that's really Mark," adds DeLonge. "He's 27 and rolling around on the floor naked. We're always like, 'How old are you?'"
Undressed for success
So, will success spoil Blink-182? Will a glimpse of stardom encourage DeLonge, Hoppus and Barker to grow up, clean up and actually stumble around fully clothed? DeLonge says no. Aside from making decent money and moving into a new house with a view of the ocean, he's still the same buffoon his fans love.
"The thought that people now chase after us on the street -- it's not like I'm Brad Pitt, but every time I go out, I get noticed now and it never used to be like that. It's weird. It's really flattering and makes you feel stupid most of the time."
Not that fame has stopped Blink-182 from aiming higher.
"Everyone else but me surfs. I grew up skateboarding, but I don't even do that anymore. I'll get hurt and die," says DeLonge. "But if I die, I'll sell more records. We're thinking of doing that. Actually dying."
Official Blink 182 site
Universal Music Group
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