And Finally Artist News Beef Of The Week

CMU Beef Of The Week #241: Blink 182 v Blink 182

By | Published on Friday 30 January 2015

Prior to this week, if you had any interest in Blink 182 (which I realise is possibly an oxymoron), you would have been forgiven for assuming that the reunion the trio embarked upon in 2009 was about to grind into action again.

Blink 182

They split in 2005, of course, following growing tensions between band members. Bassist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker almost immediately formed new band +44, while guitarist Tom DeLonge eventually re-emerged with new project Angels & Airwaves. Not a word was spoken between the two sides until 2008, when Barker was involved in a plane crash which left four of the six people on board dead.

This tragedy became the catalyst for DeLonge to re-establish contact with his former bandmates and their subsequent reunion of the band. There were tours, festival shows and, eventually, in 2011, a new album, ‘Neighbourhoods’. Which it is OK for you to have completely forgotten about.

“The reason the band broke up was really stupid in the first place; it’s not like anybody had sex with each other’s wives”, DeLonge said at the time. “Though, for how bad we hated each other, that should have been what happened. The band got so big that the machine running the band took over. We were burnt out, we needed a break, but the machine won’t let you do that. The band had stopped communicating because the machine was so big”.

Since then, the world of Blink 182 has been generally less dramatic, though there were a few significant events. There was an Australian tour conducted without Barker, who had understandably developed a fear of flying, and their departure from Universal/Interscope, an EP release and live shows for the tenth anniversary of their ‘Blink 182’ album. Oh, and they headlined Reading/Leeds last year.

Then, finally, at the tail end of last year DeLonge told Alternative Press that the band had found a “partner” with which to release their seventh album, and that come the new year they would be “going pretty hardcore” on recording that.

So there’s a potted history of the last six years of Blink 182 in 300 odd words. You might think that recap was a bit longer than necessary, but really I’ve been easing you in for the next 1500 words, which concern just 48 hours of this week. Make sure you’re sitting comfortably, we’re going to be here for a while.

Right, so, on Monday a press statement went out from Blink HQ. Rather than saying, “hey, we’re all in the studio having a great time recording this album”, as you might have expected based on DeLonge’s comments from late last year, it informed fans that the guitarist was now out of the band “indefinitely”.

“A week before we were scheduled to go in to the studio we got an email from [DeLonge’s] manager explaining that he didn’t want to participate in any Blink-182 projects indefinitely, but would rather work on his other non-musical endeavours”, said Hoppus and Barker.

But fear not, the remaining two members of the band would still play their upcoming headline performance at Barker’s Musink festival in California, with Alkaline Trio’s Matt Skiba filling the hole left by DeLonge. Though they were a little vague on what this all meant for the long-term future of the band, possibly because they weren’t yet sure themselves. But there were “no hard feelings”, the statement said. This had simply been a necessary and mutual decision between bandmates.

“To all the fans”, DeLonge wrote in an Instagram post later that day, “I never quit the band”. Which somehow ruined that whole air of consensus.

“I actually was on a phone call about a Blink 182 event for New York City at the time all these weird press releases started coming in”, he continued. “Apparently those releases were ‘sanctioned’ from the band. Are we dysfunctional? Yes. But, Christ…”

In a statement then sent out by his publicist, he added: “The ONLY truth here is that I have commitments that limit my availability this year. I love Blink 182 and I’m not leaving”.

So, hey! That’s all a bit confusing. And that sudden ‘limited availability’ doesn’t really chime with what DeLonge said at the end of last year. But perhaps, if everything is considered together, what we are to take from all this is that DeLonge got some sudden other commitments requiring him to step away from some of the band’s planned activities, but any departure is very temporary.

Though why the word “indefinitely” in the first statement? Well, DeLonge sort of implies that that might have been a miscommunication; maybe his bandmates hadn’t actually signed off on the quote put out in their name.

“The press release that came out today is 100% from Travis and me and we stand by it 100% because it’s all true”, Hoppus quickly told Rolling Stone. “There’s no ambiguity”.

And I do mean ‘quickly’; all this backwards and forwards took less than a day. What did bands do before the internet, where you can go from press statement, to retaliation, to lengthy Rolling Stone interview in under 24 hours?

Clearing up why there could be such a breakdown in communication, Hoppus explained that he and Barker had not spoken to DeLonge via anything but email for months. And then often only through the guitarist’s manager. Nonetheless, they had managed to sign a new record deal in December and book studio time starting on 5 Jan. Then comes an email from DeLonge’s manager, claims Hoppus, stating that “Tom. Is. Out”. Which does seem pretty clear.

Barker continued: “It’s hard to cover for someone who’s disrespectful and ungrateful. You don’t even have the balls to call your bandmates and tell them you’re not going to record or do anything Blink-related. You have your manager do it. Everyone should know what the story is with him and it’s been years with it. When we did get back together after my plane crash, we only got back together, I don’t know, maybe because I almost died. But he didn’t even listen to mixes or masterings from that record. He didn’t even care about it. Why Blink even got back together in the first place is questionable”.

Despite this, Hoppus added: “Travis and I are intent on protecting the legacy of Blink-182 and continue to do what we’ve been doing for the past two decades: continue playing the songs”. And “when Tom finally said, ‘I’m not going to go into the studio or play this show’, it was kind of a gigantic relief because at least he finally said it. But to then say, ‘I didn’t quit the band’, it’s just not true'”.

In fact, Hoppus continued: “It’s disingenuous. I just wish Tom does whatever makes him happy and stops holding Blink 182 back from what we all agree that we’re going to do: play shows, record music, continue this legacy and have a good time doing it”.

Which would have been a nice sign-off point after which all parties could step away and let the fuss die down a bit. Or it would have been if DeLonge hadn’t got up the next morning and decided to tweet: “A year ago Mark and I spent a week on the phone with managers debating parting with Travis… Don’t pretend there isn’t more to this story”.

To be fair, I suspect DeLonge realised this was a mistake, because the tweet was deleted. But the damage was done and it was only a matter of time before some journalist or other phoned Hoppus up for a response, allowing the bassist to once again ramble on and on and on and on. And just when you thought this Beef might be reaching its conclusion.

Speaking to Alternative Press, Hoppus explained that the calls to which DeLonge referred took place after the aforementioned Australian tour, you know, the one I mentioned back when we were all much younger. The one where Barker decided he couldn’t do the flights because, well, he’d been involved in a near fatal place crash and so wasn’t especially keen on long-haul air travel.

Well, that tour went ahead fine but, Hoppus recalls, midway through Barker “and the promoter got into a Twitter argument back and forth that was very contentious and was a lot of stress. Tom was upset, I was upset, because it was happening while we were on this tour, and the tour was going very well”. After the tour, still angry at the situation they had been put in by the Twitter spat, DeLonge suggested that the band replace Barker permanently.

Hoppus went on: “It was really just Tom blowing off steam. There were a few days of calls where I listened to Tom, commiserated with Tom and, immediately afterwards, called up my manager and [said], ‘Tom’s upset right now, he’s talking about trying to replace Travis, but I’m not into it. That’s not going to happen’. And sure enough, Tom, after a month, called back up and was like, ‘Hey you know what? I was just angry about it. It was a bad situation, and of course I don’t want to kick Travis out of the band'”.

Then, once again, Hoppus went on at length about the fine details of the break up, painting DeLonge as very much the bad guy in the situation, before again giving his estranged bandmate a get-out by saying: “I think that Tom doesn’t want to do Blink. I don’t think he has fun doing it. I think he has a good time when he’s onstage, but I think that other than that, he just doesn’t enjoy it”.

Is this the end though? Hell no.

We still have DeLonge’s 1000 word Facebook post to go. And, just to clarify, we’re still only on Tuesday here. All of this has taken place in less than two days. “Where to begin?” started DeLonge, with everyone presumably willing the answer to be, ‘somewhere right near the end’. But alas no, because DeLonge’s story started with the band’s original formation in his garage “where I dreamed up the mischief” before giving a detailed account of his view of the last two and a half years.

The communication breakdown began not with him, he said, but with his bandmates. He’d tried to hold things together, he claimed: “The big reset was when I tried to put together a band summit in Utah where we’d talk and work things out. It quickly was narrowed down to three hours in someone’s dressing room in a shitty casino. What I hoped would be a positive get-together away from everything turned into an awkward meeting in a smelly convention hall dressing room”.

“At the end of the day, we’ve always been dysfunctional”, he went on. “Which is why we haven’t talked in months”.

The real problems arose with their new record contract, he said, which initially stipulated that he could not release the new Angels & Airwaves album for nine months, and that the Blink 182 record would need to be completed within six. With numerous commitments already in the diary, this would not be feasible.

“At the end of the day, all of this makes me really sad”, he concluded. “Sad for us. Sad for you – that you’re witnessing this immaturity. I know them very well, and their current actions are defensive and divisive. I suppose they’re doing this as a way to protect themselves from being hurt. Like we all do”.

So there you go. And I think that if there’s one thing we should take from all of this, it’s that a man who co-wrote an album called ‘Take Off Your Pants And Jacket’ just apologised for his band’s immaturity.