One week from today will mark Blink-182’s first release as an unsigned artist in nearly 20 years. We were lucky enough to catch up with bassist/vocalist MARK HOPPUS after a particularly busy day in the studio finishing the tracks for their forthcoming EP Dogs Eating Dogs to ask him all about this next step in Blink-182’s career, as well as get the lowdown on the end of his Fuse TV show Hoppus On Music and his thoughts on the Neighborhoods cover album currently circulating the internet.
INTERVIEW: Scott Heisel
What were you working on in the studio today?
Today, we were working on getting some songs ready to send to mix. Tom was recording some vocal ideas. I was finishing up all of my vocal parts. I played bass on a song. We’re wrapping up the session and getting ready to turn it into mix, so we had to make all of the hard decisions today.
So kind of a smorgasbord of things to do?
Yeah. Just wrapping everything up, the last bits and pieces we’ve been working on for the last couple weeks.
So the EP is called Dogs Eating Dogs. What can you actually tell me about the songs?
I can tell you there’s a song called “Dog Eating Dogs.” There’s a song called “Disaster,” but that might change. There’s a song called “The Day After Christmas” [now called “Boxing Day” –ed.] and it’s this folky, acoustic-guitar thing. It’s different than anything Blink have ever done. Travis played on this electronic drum kit behind it, so it’s got this real kind of indie, strange, cool vibe to it. It’s catchy and it makes you want to dance. “Dog Eating Dogs” is very punk rock [with] aggressive guitars. Tom wrote a song called “I Got My Eye On You” [now called "Pretty Little Girl" –ed.] that’s about his wife; it’s a love song. [The EP is] kind of all over the place, but we always like that.
So it’s not necessarily a holiday-themed release?
Yeah. There are no holiday-themed songs. The closest it comes to being about the holidays is [“Boxing Day”] but it’s actually kind of a sad lyric because the lyric is, “I’m empty like the day after Christmas,” like the day after Christmas, all the anticipation and everything and you open presents on Christmas day, then the day after Christmas you’re like, “Oh, I’ve got to wait another whole year. I’ve opened all of my stuff and there’s nothing really to look forward to. It’s all so far away now.”
Are you just doing a digital version of it or will it exist in some physical format?
We’re talking now to try to get it into a physical format, as well. Originally it was just going to be digital, but the response on Twitter and everything else I’ve seen has been that the people want something they can actually hold in their hands and collect, so we’re talking with our management to figure out a way to get physical copies made. I don’t think they’ll be made in time for the Dec. 18 release date, but we’re trying to get something in the future that people can actually have in their hands.
I’m sure you’re aware that your vinyl became really a big deal in the past year or so, with a lot of your older records getting reissued. Then there was a delay on the Take Off Your Pants And Jacket LP that Mightier Than Sword Records was supposed to put out. A lot of kids are still wondering what happened with that, and I know you previously expressed that you were going to be looking into that. Do you have any more information for your fans that purchased that?
The company that we were working with that licensed the albums to come out on vinyl ran out of money, so, as I understood it, someone else was coming in and taking that over, but I haven’t heard anything in months about it. It’s honestly something that is out of our control and not something that we are happy about happening at all. It sucks.
Since you have fulfilled your contract with Interscope, do you have less control over your back catalog now than you did before? Are you going to be able to do your own deluxe reissues if you’d want to down the road, or is that something they completely control?
It’s something that we would have to work with Interscope to do in the future. They still own the masters for those songs, and we didn’t leave Interscope on bad terms or anything at all. It was just a parting of ways, and if we wanted to reissue some things, I’m sure they’d be cool with it and we’d figure out a way to make it happen.
What are Blink’s plans for 2013?
We’re continuing to write more what I hope is great music. It’s exciting. It’s really been good because the band is in a better place than we’ve ever been since we formed and a long time before we formed, and everybody is in the studio and we’re working together as a band. For Neighborhoods, we’d get together and work on things and we’d split up, and it was kind of cool to do it that way because it gave us all space to do stuff. On this EP, we’ve spent a lot of time in the studio together, and I think that makes all the difference. Everyone’s really excited and bouncing ideas off of one another and it seems like there are no barriers or anything standing in our way to do whatever we think is fun. That’s all we want to do as a band anyway. When we started Blink, we had no ambitions or goals or anything other than writing music and having a good time doing it, and that’s where we’re back to now.
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Looking back now on the recording process and the fallout from that record, are you happy with Neighborhoods? Do you think it accomplished what you wanted it to accomplish, or did it let you down anywhere?
No. I love Neighborhoods. I think I’m proud of Neighborhoods. I’m proud of the songs we wrote for it. It’s a documentation of us reforming as a band after a very difficult five years and trying to find our way through that. I listen to it now and I hear things that I think could be different about it, but I’m happy with every single record we’ve ever recorded, and I think that’s just the nature of being an artist. Once you let things go, you always want to go back and revisit it and change certain things about it. But no, I love Neighborhoods. I think it’s a learning experience for us as well to compare those songs that we recorded at the end that, I think, are the standout songs of the album, and then this EP—how we’ve done this EP. The feeling in the band is better than it’s ever been.
Did you feel like the album received the attention it deserved in a live setting?
Absolutely. For me, I make no illusions that people are gonna wanna hear a couple of new songs, but they’re also going to want to hear “The Rock Show” and they’re going to want to hear “What’s My Age Again?” and “All The Small Things” and “Dammit” and “Carousel” and all the songs from the back catalog—and that’s great. When I go see a band that I’ve liked and has a number of albums out, I don’t want to hear all just their new stuff. People always want to hear new music, but when people go to shows, they want to hear the stuff they grew up listening to, and I like that about our band. I like that we can play “After Midnight,” which we wrote last year, and then we can play something that we wrote almost 20 years ago.
What do you view as your responsibility as far as keeping Blink’s legacy alive?
I don’t know. I don’t really think in terms of that. The thing that’s always been the most important to me as far as our band has been that we do what we feel is right. We don’t try to guess what people are going to like and try to hit a target of what we think people expect from us. We’ve always done our best work when we just keep our heads down and do stuff that we like ourselves, and I like that we haven’t written the same album seven different times. Every album sounds different. Every album does something different. Every album expresses something different, and I like that about our band. I just want to keep writing good music and keep having fun. I think that the destruction of our legacy would be to just sit back and go, “All right, you know what? We’re just going to tour every two years and we’re just going to do a compilation tour.” That’s not exciting to me. That’s degrading to our legacy, which is, to me, to play all of those songs and keep recording new things and keep feeling vital and relevant and making something that we like. There’s nothing like the feeling of completing a song and driving away from the studio and thinking, “Wow, There’s some really cool stuff on there.” There’s nothing like that, and I never want to stop feeling that way.
Tom DeLonge’s other band, Angels And Airwaves, are releasing an EP on the same day that Blink are releasing your new EP. Was that not talked about beforehand?
It was a total coincidence and something Tom didn’t even realize was happening. He called up maybe a week ago and was like, “Hey, I just realized that Angels are releasing something on the same exact day that Blink are and it totally slipped my mind, and somebody alerted me to it, and I totally don’t want to offend you or Travis or have it be weird or anything.” And I said, “Dude, just do your thing. It’s not weird to me. It’s not weird to Travis. It’s fine.”
Do you plan on going out and buying a copy?
I will probably ask Tom for a free copy. [Laughs.]
You’ve been really busy with Blink throughout the past year, but you own a studio and you have done a lot of production work and co-writing with bands in the past. Is there anyone you’re working with right now or that you’re planning on working with in the future?
No, not really. Right now I really enjoy focusing on Blink as what I do. I loved doing the TV show with Fuse. I’m not doing that anymore. I’m not producing any bands. I’m not co-writing with any bands. When I’m not doing Blink, I like being home with my family and doing stuff in the U.K. and being part of that experience and it’s, knock on wood, a very happy existence right now. I like the pace of what I’m doing, and I like the time that I have to spend with my family and the time I have to focus on the band I’ve loved for 20 years now.
You mentioned the Fuse show. So is Hoppus On Music completely done or just on hiatus?
No, it’s done. We’re not doing a show anymore.
Was that your decision, or was that their decision?
It was their decision, but I totally understand their decision. It’s an expensive and difficult proposition for that show. To have a full staff of crew, writers and producers, fly me over and put me up in a hotel and have the full studio with cameramen, audio engineers and everything else. I think it was just way too expensive to have the show continue, but the Fuse people are awesome. They’re such rad people that love music and want to do good work, and I still support them no matter what.
A few weeks ago, there was a band called Future Idiots who put out a cover album of Neighborhoods. Are you familiar with that?
Oh, no, that’s rad. Is it good?
They tried to cover each song as though it was an old Blink-182 song—like playing it in your “old” style, so it’s fast skate-punk. I didn’t know if you were familiar with it or not, and I was just curious what you thought about your fans reinterpreting your material?
I think that’s awesome. That’s really cool. That’s an honor that people would spend that much time to recreate something that we recorded. That’s awesome. I’m going to check it out now.
Some people were upset because they felt it was disrespectful to the band.
I can’t really comment on that because I haven’t seen it, but just from what you said, it doesn’t offend me at all. It sounds cool. Honestly, I’m so stoked that our band have become this multi-generational thing, in that people that come to the shows have been people who were there 20 years ago and there are people that are there for their first concert—and having it be a Blink-182 concert is so rad. It’s such a honor to have people still come to the shows and still want new music. It’s so rad, and if a new band are coming up and referencing something we did or whatever, I think that’s great.
What are some new albums you’re anticipating?
The new Future Idiots album. alt