It’s been nearly 30 years since blink-182 took us to Sombrero, and we still want to go to the rock show with our favorite Warped Tour band. Thanks to their radio-friendly, upbeat melodies and catchy hooks, plus high-energy shows and infectious attitude, they are among the most influential pop-punk bands to come out of the ’90s.
Despite all their irreverent teen-like antics, blink-182 have a history that includes unbelievable success and some not-so-good times. They’ve survived loss, heartbreak, plane crashes and lineup changes, but the band members remain well-grounded and wickedly funny. Indeed, aside from the great tunes and epic videos, I’d say their humor greatly contributes to why fans love them so much; their songs make us laugh, cry, smile and recognize that not all conspiracy theories are dumb.
And after all these years, they’re still playing music on their own terms. Mark Hoppus remains on bass and fronts most vocals, Travis Barker continues to pound the drums, and Matt Skiba anchors the band on lead guitar and vocals. But what makes these guys larger than life? Barker is the poster child for everything and anything cool, Hoppus is a real pro at the top of his game, and Skiba is a great-yet-humble musician. Collectively, they are electric and remain the juggernauts of skateboarding’s musical subculture.
Anyone who is old enough to have gone to a Warped Tour show knows about them. The band started in Poway and were known as Duck Tape, then Figure 8. (Before joining blink, Barker was an Aquabat.) And in those early days, Hoppus was in and out of the band numerous times. Influenced by such greats as Bad Religion, the Cure, Descendents, the Ramones, NOFX, Pennywise and Jimmy Eat World, blink crafted music about aliens, rocks shows, small things, first dates, Jack and Sally, and M&M’s. Hoppus and Barker recently agreed that they count their 1994 demo, Buddha, as their first album, bringing their total count to eight.
At the Back to the Beach festival in Huntington Beach in April, we caught up with Hoppus, who told us he was very excited about the new record they were working on, appropriately titled Nine, adding that it contained some of the best work they’ve done. That was a bold statement considering the success of their 2016 album, California. Set to be released on Sept. 20, Nine will include the singles “Blame It On My Youth,” “Generational Divide” and “Happy Days,” all of which have already hit the airwaves and prove Hoppus wasn’t kidding. These tunes are really, really good. While we live vicariously through their music and expect them to make us feel as if we’re still teenagers, these new songs sound a little more mature . . . kind of like those of us who grew up with blink.
I solicited blink memories via social media and received this response from Jose Johnny Corona that speaks volumes: “‘M+Ms’ is my favorite song. It reminds me of skating around downtown Huntington Beach in the summer with [my] crew of friends, body-boarding, meeting girls and lots of underage drinking. At one of their shows, I remember looking around, and all my friends were there. I felt at home, and all was right with the world.”
Dan Ardis, former drummer of alt-rock band Midnight Hour, observed, “Travis was simply miles beyond other drummers in the genre, and he really gave the band a musical depth and professionalism that wasn’t there prior to his arrival. His contributions turned them into a legitimate global act. He made Mark and Tom better and brought musical credibility to blink that continues to this day. He’s respected by blink’s fans and other musicians alike. Great drummers know how to make the musicians they’re playing with better—that’s Travis.”
Life is good if you’re a local blink fan. New tunes are out, and the band’s tour with rapper Lil Wayne is stopping in Irvine on Aug. 27. Slide into your Doc Martens and check out these alt-rock legends live—you’ll smile like it’s Halloween on Christmas.
Lil Wayne and blink-182 at the Forum, 3900 W. Manchester Blvd., Inglewood, (310) 330-7344. Thurs., 7 p.m. $64-$134; also at FivePoint Amphitheatre, 14800 Chinon, Irvine, (949) 988-6800; concerts1.livenation.com. Aug. 27, 7 p.m. $19-$127.