Ten Minutes With... Blink-182's Tom DeLonge
Reunited and it feels so good. Sure, Peaches & Herb sang the line first, but it equally applies to the members of Blink-182. After a five-year, somewhat acrimonious, hiatus, the perpetually adolescent punk band decided to reunite for an amphitheater tour this summer. Hitfix caught up with vocalist/guitarist Tom DeLonge just before the start of the outing, which concludes Oct. 4 at New York's Madison Square Garden (although there are rumors of European dates to follow).
As famous for their high-school level hijinks on stage as such hits as "What's My Age Again," "All the Small Things" and "The Rock Show," DeLonge, bassist/vocalist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker have been garnering some of the biggest audiences-and the best reviews-of their career this summer. DeLonge discussed anxiety, when we'll get a new Blink album, and, of all things, insurance with Hitfix.
Q: What is the most exciting part of the tour for you?
A: I think the big talk of the day is how big the tour is. I tell people that we used to do 8,000 people a night. This one is going to be very many 20,000-30,000 [capacity venues], so I think that right there is freaking us out a little bit.
Q: You told the San Diego Union Tribune: "I have a lot of anxiety right now about this tour and how big it is. " What's keeping you up at night?
A: Well, I'd be fine if all those people weren't staring at me...
Q: Other than that...
A: Other than that...but the cool thing about this band is if we ever mess up or do anything horrible, it makes the show better and people laugh at us and they feel good, so that's good...Most bands, if something goes wrong, they cower and walk off stage and fire people. Not us.
Q: What goes through your head when you look over on stage and see Travis and Mark?
A: Sometimes, it feels a little like "The Twilight Zone." Where am I and how did I get here, you know. But at the same time, to be honest, it feels like that's where you're supposed to be and that's who you are. The only thing that's odd, I think, is we all have so many other things going on in our lives too.
Blink, that's all we ever did for the longest time, and then now, it's like we've got companies. I've got Angels & Airwaves, which we're releasing a motion picture and an album for free right after the first of the year. So I've got that going on and those guys are producing bands all the time, so we have all these respective projects that are very much active parts of our lives.
So I think when you're sitting there looking at these guys, you're so used to being younger and your whole world being around it, but now we've got this much bigger world, but at the same time, the band's bigger than it's ever been, so it's crazy.
Q: We hear about these bands that the only time they see each other on tour is during the 90 minutes they're on stage together. Is that how it is with you guys?
A: No, I don't think so. We'll see how it goes. We're all going to bring our families out. We'll all have different buses, for sure. I mean, I've got kids and they've got kids, but even before we had kids, we had separate buses.
I don't know what the rhythm is going to be, but I do know that when we get to practice and start playing, it's funny, you know. And the couple of shows we played already, we're already back in to saying the crazy dumb shit we always say. It's one of those things that's going to come very quickly where people are going to go, "God, I forgot how much they talk!" So regardless of what we do during the days and whether we hang out, don't worry, the shows are going to have plenty of chemistry, I think.
A: Well, we threw out a lot of names and a lot of these bands contacted us, like Fall Out Boy and Weezer, in particular. And it really seemed to fit the spirit of what the show was going to be like. You know, Live Nation, the tour promoter, was adamant about a certain type-- or not a certain type, but a certain size-- of band they wanted to see on the show. And to be honest, there's not that many bands these days that have a very consistent strong following --at least that would fit with Blink-182. We were very, very fortunate that out of the woodwork came Weezer and Fall Out Boy right away. That seemed to make a lot of sense
Q: Are you bringing the acts out to play with you?
A: I don't know. You know, Angels & Airwaves just went out with Weezer and that's what they had me do. I got up and sang "The Sweater Song" with them... It would be very funny with Blink, you never really know...We did bring out Robert Smith one time, from the Cure, to sing "Boys Don't Cry," but at that time we weren't playing any kind of time code, so we played it like a punk band, 10 times faster, and he was totally drunk and he got lost and he's got all his make up on and stuff and he's looking back at us, like what are you guys doing and we're like, "Oh no, we don't know what we're doing either... but 17,000 [are] people watching!" I don't know if we'll bring people up or not, we might just need to concentrate on pulling off what we need to pull off.
Q: You seemed very aware that we're going through tough economic times. Lawn seats are $20 at most. Venues are pricing some tickets as low as $6.75. Are there any concerns that such low pricing may start to devalue the music experience?
A: I think we devalue it ourselves by going up there and doing some of the shit that we do. I think that's really more important of a topic. But it was really important to us, with the economy and everything. That was something I brought up right away: we have to figure out a low ticket price. The compromise with TicketMaster, Live Nation and all the parties involved was amazing: $20 all in: parking and everything. I mean you can't do that any more. Just normally, all the tickets for all these bands to play these venues, after you pay parking and pay your service charges, you're, like, in for 50, 60 bucks. That's pathetic. Who has that kind of disposable income these days? Especially our fans who are in their twenties and teens; they just don't.
Q: Live Nation brought in State Farm to underwrite your tour and No Doubt's tour. Insurance seems awfully adult for a band that celebrates not growing up.
A: I know! Isn't that weird? I thought that was weird too. But I think the way it was explained to me, and it makes sense, is State Farm is competing with these Geicos and these other one-stop shops for early drivers. And at the end of the day, when you're 16 years old, you're going to start driving and you need to get insurance, so I think it does make sense for them, but God, I think ... I'll be honest, I think a lot of these companies come out [and] sponsor Blink and after the first show, they're going to go, "Oh my god, they're ruining our company what are we going to do? "
Q: Can we talk about what's going on with the new album? There are titles of a couple of new songs floating around out there.
A: It started out, my daughter wrote a story called "The Night the Moon was Gone" and I thought that was a rad title. That will probably be an Angels & Airwaves song. The song that we have is called "Up All Night." It's an amazing song. It blows me away how easy music comes out of Blink. It's really good; people are going to love it I think.
The album remains to be scheduled because I am launching the motion picture and album for Angels & Airwaves. It's kind of the work of my life that's getting ready to happen so I have to figure out how and when all these things fit together because Blink is still getting offers to play the biggest shows in the world. So I'm going to have a really important big year next year with Angels & Airwaves, but then again, Blink is one of the biggest bands in the world already. I don't know, it's going to be weird oceans to navigate, but all of it really good and all of it really exciting.