Music: Platinum Punks

Blink 182 relish their role in keeping self-made Rock music in the Top 40

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Blink 182 just wants to have a good time while playing thier music.



You be the judge, invites Mark Hoppus. Blink 182 is either an offensive trio that says bad words or a fun Punk Rock band.

"I think it really depends on who you talk to. I think it's different for every person," says the bassist and vocalist who, with Tom DeLonge (guitar and vocals) and Travis Barker (drums) comprise the multi-platinum rockers with a frat boy sense of humor who like nothing better than to keep us guessing what they will do next.

Don't look now, but they are back with a new album, Take Off Your Pants and Jacket (the title has to be said out loud to fully appreciate it). It's a follow-up to the flushingly successful Enema of the State, which sold more than seven million copies worldwide.

They had considered putting a big bear on the cover of the newest collection and calling it Genital Ben, but Take Off Your Pants won out over it and about eight other possible monikers.

Every album title has its own story, Hoppus says. This one was suggested by Blink's guitar tech.

"We were laughing so hard when we heard it," Hoppus explains.

"It sounded perfect."

Behind the humor, though, there is substance, he adds. "The media plays up the humor as a band. Sometimes the music gets lost behind the sense of humor. For people who listen to us for more than the last couple of weeks, they know what we are all about, where the band is coming from."

And what is Blink 182 all about?

"Basically our songs are pretty genuine songs about life and love and family and things in life that are important to people," he replies. It's just that sometimes those songs come wrapped under some pretty wild titles.

Blink doesn't mind having fun along the way, Hoppus assures. They started the band to have fun.

"Our first priority is music, and the second is having a good time while playing it," he says. A lot of people seem to be afraid to have fun. They take Rock too seriously, Hoppus adds.

"Definitely, people take themselves way too seriously, especially in the music industry," he says. "People are so serious about themselves. They are full of themselves and start to believe their own press. We came up in the Punk Rock scene. There wasn't all that egotism."

That's helped Blink keep a sense of perspective, he suggests, as the band continues to be embraced by fans swelling far beyond a typical Punk cult following.

"I think more and more people are finding out about us as we tour and as the word spreads," Hoppus says.

Three singles — "What's My Age Again," "All The Small Things" and "Adam's Song" — from Enema of The State took up residence on MTV and Alternative, Rock and Top 40 radio formats. The album stayed on the Billboard charts for more than a year. Last year's live The Mark, Tom and Travis Show (The Enema Strikes Back) sold more than 1.5 million copies, recorded on a tour in which 300,000 tickets were sold.

"When we first started the band all we wanted to do, the biggest dream in the whole world was to have a record in stores that people could buy," Hoppus says. "We thought it would be the be all and end all, a huge deal."

Nobody is more surprised at how it all snowballed than the band is, Hoppus says.

"I think we have reached people because we are very genuine as a band," he adds. "We don't put on a front. We don't act like anything we are not. We write good songs. The lyrics are very genuine. People can totally relate with them. When somebody tells us, 'When I heard your song it sounded like you were writing about me and my life,' that's a huge compliment. I want everybody in the world to feel like we wrote a song about their life."

DeLonge calls the new album the hardest, fastest record the group has ever made — "way more Punk Rock than our previous records."

"It's definitely a harder record and way faster than before," Hoppus says. "It's pretty much up to the people to decide what they think about it. I honestly for real think this is the best work so far."

Despite their successes in the Top 40 world, Blink 182 flies its Punk flag proudly. "We grew up in the Punk Rock scene. I consider us a Punk band," Hoppus says. "There are all the reasons other people tell us we're not Punk. Whatever people want to label us is fine."

The band is proud that they have encouraged more people to consider the Punk genre. "We love being an avenue for people to be turned on to all the great bands and to find out how great Punk is," Hoppus says.

He also believes the music scene needs a new direction, away from the processed drivel prevalent in the mainstream. "There's way too much Pop music," he says. "It's not about songs or music right now. It's about image and celebrity, finding good-looking people who can dance and look sexy. We need another band like Nirvana that makes good music again."

Hoppus says he sees Blink's role in all this as trying to keep Rock music alive. "We are carrying a torch for bands who play their own instruments," he says. "We are definitely not the best, most accomplished band out there. At least we write our own music, and our mistakes are our own, nobody else's."



BLINK 182 plays Riverbend on Monday with New Found Glory and the Alkaline Trio.

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