AltPress.com Exclusive: A conversation with Blink-182’s Mark Hoppus
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 a band in a really, really long time.
What was the first song that you guys played once you got back together in one room?
We still haven’t. We haven’t been in the same room playing instruments together at the same time. The way that we’re writing songs now is coming up with different ideas. We’re still in the beginning stages of writing the album. We have a handful of songs that we have in many stages. I have probably 10 different song ideas that I’ve brought to the table, and Tom has a bunch of ideas, and Travis has ideas. So we kind of start off with something that maybe I’ll work on in the studio for a while and I’ll show it to Tom and he’ll jump on that. Same with Travis. But we haven’t sat down as a band together and been three people in a room playing the songs together.
Is that strange for you?
No, it’s just kind of the way that recording works now, and the way that we work as artists. It was like that on the last Blink record, too. We had played some of the songs together live, some of the songs we wrote parts of and kind of built songs and played as a unit afterwards. And I’m sure that we will continue to write songs. It’s really cool to have both tools at hand, where you can get in a room and everybody works together on things or you can go and just basically sketch out a song and build it from there. There’s a lot of tools that we can use creatively. I guess that’s a long answer.
Producer Jerry Finn, who passed away last year, was obviously a huge part of your band over the past decade. How have you guys broached the idea of recording a new record without him?
To be honest, we were just in the studio right now going through old Blink songs and just remembering Jerry being in the studio with us. I honestly still feel like he’s in the studio with us, because for me, personally, everything that was about recording and being in a studio, I learned from Jerry. He was such an amazing producer and friend and collaborator and he was so open with his knowledge and his love of music and the way that things worked. He wasn’t a producer who sat in the background and did his thing or whatever. He was always just right in the mix with everything. He really was generous with his knowledge, and I feel like we learned everything from working with him. So I still feel like he’s with us.
A huge part of why you guys reconnected was Travis’ plane crash, but was there any initial conversations after Jerry passed?
Not really. We’ve talked at great lengths, obviously, about Jerry’s passing. When Jerry’s service was, Travis was still in the hospital and not able to go, so I was the only one that was actually able to be there.
Looking at the music that both you and Tom have made since Blink went on hiatus, is there a specific song that Tom wrote that jumped out at you as a really good song?
I thought that “The Adventure” was a really cool song. I thought that was a cool jam.
How long did it take for you to listen to Angels & Airwaves objectively after it came out?
The first time I heard it I feel like I listened to it objectively. With all the other stuff aside, as a fan of music and as a fan of Tom’s music, I hope I was able to listen to it objectively.